Word Count 500
Nest Within a Nest
How effortlessly we nest one life into another, like Russian dolls, each carved carefully to fit together, each a part of a whole, yet each a separate entity. Darlene traced her mirrored reflection, the large doll—seemingly the most detailed. This was the public part of her life, showy yet showing nothing, painted in garish colors to distract the viewer from what lies beneath. Strangers judge superficially.
Patiently peeling away the next layer, exposing the doll nested inside, casual acquaintances and colleagues may think they know us intimately, not realizing how many more layers nest within. Some of our quirks, opinions, preferences, and style might be painted on this doll. But it is still a doll—a mere representation of ourselves. Drawing closer to the mirror, Darlene peered into the reflected eye. She saw only a tiny reflection of herself peering into the eye in the mirror.
She knew what she was looking for—that tiny egg each of us holds inside. The finite evidence of our own existence, repeated infinitely. More layers needed to be breached, however, before even she could fathom so deeply. Layers and layers, each revealing something. Or nothing. Or creating a certain personality for one friend or relative and a different one for someone else. So many people nested into one body.
Tightly fitting, the Russian dolls are easier to nest together than they are to pry apart. The gift of a nesting doll comes not from the object itself, but the trust that the recipient will open the successive dolls carefully, not abusing the privilege of intimate knowledge. Each layer of the doll, each layer of our personality, reveals only as much as we are willing to risk, willing to share with another human being. Darlene had been betrayed too many times to give this trust blithely. Even family had used certain confessions against her.
That was why, when he asked to hear her most candid thoughts, wanted to know her, completely and unabashedly, she had demurred. Yes, he was her husband-to-be, her beloved. But perhaps not her soul-mate, perhaps not the person who should know every dot of paint, every variation of color, every hope, every layer of the dolls nesting together to form who she actually was. Not because she wanted to maintain mystery or secrets, but because she was convinced he shouldn’t know every atom of what she was.
Peering again at the eye in the mirror, Darlene caught her breath. A flicker of something more than her reflected eye was there. Yes, it shone back at her—a pinpoint of light, the golden egg within the nest. She smiled, knowing she was vindicated. His subterfuge hadn’t worked. The egg inside us, the tender yolk of our existence, is for us alone, not to be shared, but to be nurtured, to be the basis for all the other layers.
Darlene turned from the mirror, re-assembled the parts of personality comprising her nest, and greeted her fiancé. The egg remained just hers.