In the Mirror
My mother’s favorite method of decorating the house was to cover as many walls as she could with mirrors. I asked her about it once, and she said it’s not due to any narcissism or desire to admire herself in every room in the house. She said it made the house look bigger. It did, actually. When the mirrors reflected on each other it made all the rooms seem like they stretched out to infinity. However, for me, it made the house creepier, like living in a carnival house of mirrors.
Whenever I walked past the mirrors, I did everything I could to avoid looking in them. I kept eyes averted, daring not to look inside those brass frames. It always felt like they contained darker versions of my own world, and I had a fear of what I would see in there.
My imagination would run wild. Once I thought I saw something in one of the mirrors as I was walking across the landing. When I gathered the courage to look again, there was nothing there but myself and the endless void as reflections of numerous mirrors bounced off each other. I wasn’t able to shake the dread I felt and after that I started intentionally looking away from the mirrors.
However, there was one mirror I could not avoid: the bathroom mirror. The bathroom mirror filled the whole wall in front of the sink. By itself it wouldn’t be too bad but as I was facing the sink, the bathtub behind also had a mirrored door. The two were aligned perfectly parallel, so when you looked into one you could see multiple reflections of the sink and bathtub door mirrors. If you weren’t standing in the way to see it, I bet you could see hundreds of reflections, each reflection slightly darker than the one before. I always felt a sense of vertigo looking into it. Like I might fall into a deep and endless abyss.
But regardless, it was the bathroom mirror, and I had to stand in front of it to do my daily hygiene and fix my hair. I tried not to think of the artificial depth in front of me. I tried to concentrate on my own reflection and not try to look beyond it. I couldn’t help but see … it.
In one of the many reflections, I could see a dark smudge. It was about a seven or eight reflections in. I went to touch it to wipe it off, and it seemed to vanish before my finger got close enough. It was so vague I thought I must have imagined it. Unnerved, I quickly finished drying my hair and got out of the room.
I didn’t talk to anyone about it because I thought it sounded foolish. There’s something in the mirror. Something living about a dozen reflections in. And it sees me too. I did take extra care not to look into any of the house’s mirrors for a while. I blocked them out with my hand so I wouldn’t see what was inside. My own room was mirrorless and the only room I really felt safe. Once I made it there I knew I was okay so it became a daily mad dash from the door to my room.
I still needed to use that bathroom, though. It was incredibly difficult to try not to look into the mirror at all. I was half filled with fear, but I also thought I was obviously just scaring myself with my overactive imagination. If I looked into the mirror, I would see that there’s nothing there and I could go on with my life so just take a quick look and –
The smudge was back. But it was bigger, and it seemed to be quivering like jelly. It seemed to be about a six or seven reflections in.
Something told me to look into the mirror on the bath door. I turned around. The smudge was in that reflection too, but it seemed to be a reflection closer. This would make sense if the bathroom mirror was a reflection of that. But when I looked closer, the smudge was clearly not on the mirror but in the mirror.
I looked back at the bathroom mirror and I nearly screamed. The smudge was now a reflection closer still. I could make out a humanoid shape, but with a constantly pulsing outline that made it look like an amoeba trying to form a gingerbread man shape.
I didn’t want to, but some impulse made me turn around again into the mirror on the bath door. And yes, the smudge was one reflection closer again.
I screamed. I ran out of the room, terrified. I don’t know what I saw, but it seemed to be climbing through the reflections. There was something in that mirror.
That day I decided to never look into those mirrors again.
Two weeks passed by. Although I used the toilet, I never dared stop to look into the mirrors. I stopped taking showers, instead wiping myself clean with wet cloths. My hair started to smell so I started wearing hats. My own personal hygiene was starting to fail, so my mom felt she had to talk to me.
I tried to tell her that the mirrors were scaring me. I tried to tell her about the feeling of falling through the mirror into infinity. I tried to tell her of the dread I felt thinking there was something living in the mirror. She merely looked at me and asked directly if I was taking drugs.
She took my hand and led me into the bathroom. Triumphant and somewhat patronizingly, she ordered me to come into the room and look at the reflection.
I winced. I didn’t want to look into the mirror. But since my mom was there, I was safe, wasn’t I?
I gradually opened my eyes. There was no smudge, no amoebic gingerbread man. Just a reflection of me and my mom, with a background of infinite mirror frames leading into darkness. The dread, however, remained.
Mom ordered me to take a shower. I did so reluctantly. As I was washing my hair for the first time in weeks, feeling its coarseness wash away, I felt trapped inside, knowing just outside were the two mirrors. But I would have to face it, I couldn’t get out of the shower and dry myself off without opening my eyes to see where I was.
When I finished my shower, I opened the door, quickly grabbed the towel, and closed the door again. I dried myself off the best I could inside the tub, but I knew I had to come out sooner or later.
I opened the door. I stepped out, taking utmost care not to look at the mirror. I squatted to get the hair dryer from below the sink. With the dryer in my hand I took a deep breath and stood back up, fearing whatever it was I’d see.
To my relief it was just my reflection looking back at me, with an empty series of reflections behind. I raised the dryer to blow my hair. That’s when I screamed.
The reflection didn’t move. It stood there, looking blankly at me.
I screamed and I screamed. I stepped back. Its eyes tracked mine as I backed off, the only sign of movement. I couldn’t stop screaming.
Suddenly, my mom yelled from downstairs. “Are you coming down, honey?”
Before I could answer, the reflection’s lips moved. “I’m coming,” it said. It coldly turned towards the doorway and appeared to walk out of the bathroom.
I followed on my side of the glass. But outside the door was nothing, as the floor, the doorway all faded into darkness. Terror gripped me as I slowly began to understand my situation, that I was now the reflection on the other side of the glass.
I frantically pounded on the glass. I screamed until my throat became raw. No one could hear me, no one could see me. I was trapped in the endless darkness in the glass.
Occasionally my reflection would come to the mirror. It would never acknowledge me or look in my direction. It would simply look coldly at itself while it performed its daily hygiene. Every time it comes, I find myself a little further away, one reflection back. As I look at myself, I am becoming darker and formless. I scream at it but the reflection doesn’t even flinch, it just turns and walks out of my view, living my life. I am just a smudge.