Ophelia's Reflection | Susanna Jane

Taken from Disobedient Magazine Issue 01

The mirror for me has always given me a horrible sense of self reflection, a brutal reminder for the fact that I am not perfection. The silver gilt edges always appeared so much sharper to me than other people, I think. The flecks of toothpaste on the mirror were always slightly more blurred to my vision, I feel – too much. People use bathrooms to beautify themselves, that’s a given. The time you spend there makes you presentable, right? The hours I spend there are a symbol that I care about myself. I’ve been in here for decades, soaking.

When I was five I stole my mothers’ lipstick and drew a scene on the mirror – there was colour, there were shapes, I displayed my art for everyone to see and didn’t care about the mess I had made or the fact that my mother would be angry when she realised that that I’d been searching through her make up bag again. Now that lipstick is dried out, colourless, rendered unusable by years of self-doubt. It hasn’t drawn a picture in years. Creation or fear? They come as a pair, I soon realised.

When I was ten I stood in front of the mirror and watched forests grow with my own eyes, the vines winding and spiralling up the tree trunks that stood steady on the porcelain floor. I watered the plants until the mirror fell off the wall, until the floor cracked under the weight. Now I slice the vines down with a hacking knife, praying that they will never return. Nature or humiliation? You cannot choose between the two, I soon found out.

At eighteen, I soak myself in a bathtub, my head firmly below the water and my hair floating to the top. Ophelia. Found at a riverbank, roses intertwined with her tresses. Floating. The witches hoped they would be found, avoiding a life of strife and damnation. Breathe. My nose comes above the water, choked up, I am spluttering, I am breathing, I am –

Alive. I stand in front of the mirror and marvel. I may not be graced with flowers, but I look at my reflection and take in, devour, the oxygen that weaves its way in and out of my lungs; photosynthesizing, as the roses bloom and rise through the rot. Cerebral or cerebrale – how I will make them coexist? My lamenting, my mind, my body I cannot choose between them, I conclude. I need them, in this life. In this life where you can bathe until your fingers wrinkle like old prunes, to soak until your breathing becomes muffled, to pick at your skin until it becomes bloody – or you can live. I cannot choose. And I will not choose, because I don’t have to choose. Catharsis, finally.

I scramble to find a pen, and I unlock the door as the light spills in.

About Susanna


Susanna Jane is an 18-year-old Scottish/Italian writer and English Literature student-to-be from Glasgow. An aspiring playwright and digital journalist, she writes a blog on issues that - she feels - are underrepresented in journalism today. Taking inspiration from her own emotions, life and the people around her, her creative work aims to capture the human condition as accurately (and as raw) as possible.

About submitting this piece to Disobedient, Susanna wrote:

In all honesty, I never thought I’d submit this piece. Ever since entering adulthood, I’ve felt an intense sense of failure surrounding my writing career - I wasn’t a child prodigy, I’ve never finished a play and my blog is relatively small. As a result, this has had crippling effects on my mental health and my ability to create. The laptop lay closed, my creative platforms became gradually barer. However, I admire this magazine and what it aims to do. And so, I’ve decided that this is my rebellion against a society that tells me that I should have a perfectly planned out craft and career at such a young age. My rebellion is imperfection, it is having a clunky writing style, it is creating while my self-doubts tell me not to create. So here it is, a piece reflecting my current state of mind, with a hopeful message to others that creating is our most powerful tool and should be utilised - no matter what those thoughts are telling you.

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