By JENNY BARDWELL
The boy stood triumphantly in the center of his room, his eyes kneeling in the glory of a new, glossy poster. The stretched picture dominated the room from its place of power, pasted on the bleach white wall. The flawless face of the boy’s hero grinned at its new admirer behind the glittering surface.
“One day, I will be able to look at you from eye to eye. One day, our successes will be equal. One day, I will be admirable too” the boy thought as he gazed lovingly into picture.
Over the years, the boy began to regard his master as a mirror rather than an image. To the boy, the differences between the man and himself had faded from once formidable mountains to small mounds of dirt. The boy had painted himself a picture of his victory so detailed that it felt as if it were mere inches away. His mind wandered to the poster every now and then as he thought to himself, “I am almost there. I just need to work a little harder and be a little more confident. Then I’ll be there.”
The images influence twisted through all aspects of the boy’s life. It tangled in his most important decisions, manipulated his reactions and smothered his thoughts, curling around the boy’s mind, conquering it. Whenever the boy felt confused or nervous, he would remember the face on his wall and remind himself, “One day I will be admirable too. I am almost there, but he was smarter. I need to study more; I need to be more intelligent.”
More years dripped by with the boy, who eventually became a man, still working to become someone honorable. Soon, the days seemed thin and irrelevant, and he spent them pacing in front of the poster instead of stepping toward it. One day, the man tumbled into his daughter’s room and tore a tall glistening poster from the wall. The lifeless smile remained intact as he shredded the picture. He scattered the pieces on the floor, trying to free himself from the rotting grin. The memory of his past self bled as he looked desperately into the eyes of his shocked child. “I am sorry,” his mind screamed, “but I can’t let you cut away parts of your personality to fit into someone else’s template. It’s such a waste.”