Are you sure about this?

She stares at me with those sad brown eyes. I take a deep breath, determined to stay strong.

“Yes, I’m sure.”

But why now? Why at all?

“Because I can’t stay stuck here forever. I need to start making things happen for myself.”

Can’t I come with you?

I shake my head. “Not this time. You’ve been wonderful and I couldn’t have gotten this far without you, but now it’s time to move on.”

Aren’t you scared?

“Are you kidding?” I smile in an awkward attempt to keep from crying. “I’ve never been more terrified of anything in my life.”

It’s not too late to turn back, you know.

“Hey, I never said I was too scared.”

Something about her laughter reassures me. Maybe I can do this after all.

So what will you do now?

I shrug. “Keep writing the same way I always have. You’re just the mask. Everything else is already mine.”

And you’ll be okay not having me to hide behind anymore?

I pause and breathe a heavy sigh. “Honestly, I can’t be sure yet. All I know is that I’m tired of hiding.”

You realize there’s no going back from this. Once you let me go, you’ll be on your own. Are you ready to be yourself, your real self?

I smile again. “Who else am I going to be?”

Although she doesn’t respond, I already know what she’s thinking. Five years. That’s nothing to sneeze at.

“I am going to miss you.” This time, I can’t stop the tears. “You know that, right?”

Somehow she manages a smile through her own tears.

You’ll be fine. They’re going to love you.

“How do you know that?”

Like you said, I’m just the mask. You’re right, you don’t need me anymore. Maybe you never did. Everything you need is already yours. So don’t be afraid. Just get out there and be you.

I brush the tears off my face. “I will. Promise.”

We both reach a hand toward each other. Our fingers almost touch across the void, perfectly symmetrical through the glass. Though her face never changes, I can feel her fading away, until at last I’m left looking at nothing but a nameless reflection.

What’s in a name? The face in the mirror has always been mine. Soon everyone else will see it too. No longer a persona, just me.

Goodbye, Ms. Wolfe.

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