She stands at the mirror, staring, and it's like looking at a mask composed of lines that a five year old made with a sharpie.
Black on white, slashed through, mismatching her eyes, mismatching her skin.
Once when she was young she broke her vanity mirror. She had never liked the gaudy object (something that her mother made the husband buy for Stokes when he was on a business trip; get to know your stepdaughter more, honey, buy her an outrageously overpriced piece of shit and give it to her with a mumbled, 'here, Stokely, this is for you,' while you bring me back perfume that smells of decayed roses and a string of pearls that looks like a choker). And so while she listened to the parental units argue (her mother cold, language clipped, the husband heated, words like cinders) downstairs in the kitchen, she picked up her hairbrush in her thin fingers, caught her reflection's eye in the glass, and then struck a fatal blow.
The argument came to a halt down below.
No one yelled at her, but it wasn't the first or the last time that her mother would tell her, "I'm very disappointed in you, Stokely."
She stands at the mirror (different, but still the same), staring, and it's like looking at one of those half-bred creatures on the Sci-Fi channel. One of those crude illustrations in her "Monsters and Mythical Beasts" books.
When her mother comes upstairs, arms crossed over her chest, lips in a thin line, Stokely knows to gather her backpack and jacket before she is reprimanded.
They do not talk in the car, and like the mornings before, Stokely walks into the school with the sound of her mother's FM radio talk show buzzing in her ears, the sight of her own haunted, black-on-pale face in the mirror etched in front of her still.