Writing Prompt: Mirror

Have you ever looked into a mirror? I don’t mean looked at the mirror, glancing at your reflection to make sure your makeup is just right or your hair doesn’t look bad or to see just how bloodshot your eyes are before you decide whether or not to call in sick to work. I mean really looked at what’s in there.

Sure, you see your room reflected behind you, but if you really look at it, if you stare long enough, you’ll start to notice little differences. Maybe a book is on the wrong side of the table, or maybe a pill bottle says something different. Maybe you catch a brief moment where your own reflection isn’t quite in step with what you’re doing.

You know how sometimes, when you go to brush your hair or put in some eyedrops or something, how you can’t quite judge the distance and it seems like your reflection is playing tricks on you? That’s because it is. I know, because I’ve watched them do it. I’ve tested it, plenty of times. Your reflection isn’t actually your reflection, it’s someone who looks just like you do, aping your actions, but sometimes they just aren’t very good at it.

Them. The reflections. They’re good at what they do. Too good. But sometimes they goof, sometimes they shimmy left when they should bob right, or move six inches when it should have been three. Stare long enough, you’ll see it too.

They don’t like being watched, though. They don’t like thinking someone’s on to them. They know I’m onto them. They’ve stopped even pretending, and now they change things just to make me seem crazier.

I’m not, you know. Crazy. They want you to think I am, they keep doing things like changing the medicine bottles, swapping them from their world to ours, so if someone looks in the cabinet they see things like Thorazine instead of Tylenol. That’s what the social worker said, anyway. I tried to tell her, but she just made a note and called my doctor.

They figured out how to do more than swap things, too. One of them must have figured out how to step through the mirror, because the other day I found a stack of my books turned into a spiral tower on top of the toilet. My bed is unmade, like someone had a restless night in it, when I know I made it right after I got up. The orange juice is bad even when I bought it yesterday and the roast beef is full of maggots that weren’t there two hours before.

I tried telling them to stop, yelled at my reflection, punched the mirror. That was a mistake. Aside from the obvious issues with pulling glass out of my knuckles, having to clean up the mess, and that I’ll eventually have to explain just why my hand is bandaged to another doctor who doesn’t believe me, it’s a crack.

A crack in reality, really. A little hole that they can slip through. I don’t know how they’ve managed to do things on this side before, but now they’re free and physically here. I can hear him – my reflection – now, tiptoeing through my living room.

I can’t tell if he is trying to be quiet and failing, or being just loud enough to hear to try to scare me, but it doesn’t matter.

I reach down and pick up the largest shard of glass from the mirror. It’s a good size, easily seven inches long and wickedly pointed at one end. Sure, it cut the hell out of my hand, but I needed something, anything, to defend myself with. I can hear him breathing, lurking there on the other side of the bathroom door.

“Harold, are you alright?”

The voice isn’t my own, but of course it wouldn’t be. They want to drive me crazy, and my reflection is trying his best, trying to make me think the person on the other side of the door is just Nurse Conway, checking up on poor little crazy Harold who might have cut himself.

I have cut myself, but I’m not crazy and that’s not Nurse Conway on the other side of the door.

I grabbed the handle. When I open the door, my reflection is going to be shoved backwards and to the left. If I move quick enough, I can bury the glass in his neck before he recovers. I’m ready.

I threw open the door.

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