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I've heard that you should never look at mirrors in the dark. Without the light, your eyes have an odd glean of their own. It’s like they are reflective, shining from a light coming from somewhere else. Definitely don’t look behind you either, because the shadows behind you move closer to the glass.
The worst part of all is the part other people don't notice. When your gaze strays from the mirror, the face beneath the glass doesn’t move. It doesn’t follow your lead, it stares, dead on, at the pulse in your neck.
I never used to notice these things. When I was a little girl, mirrors were simply objects to admire my luscious blond ponytails in. I’d stare for ages, smearing bright red lipstick over my mouth. A red stain would stay on my skin for days after. Back then, the mirrors never moved.
I can’t remember when they did, or what I did to cause it. But something snapped out of place one day in my perfectly normal life. As I go about my day, there is the undertow of the mirrors, watching me.
I knew it was wrong. When I was 15 I asked my first boyfriend. We had been kissing in his bedroom. I stared over his neck into the mirror. The image reflecting back seemed mundane, just a horny teenage boy grinding on his girlfriend. But then I noticed my reflection’s distressed eyes. She looked horrified. I noticed her thin arms, held tightly by my boyfriend. And I watched her squirm.
“Babe,” I said, suddenly tearing my gaze away from the mirror to his eyes. He looked aroused and clearly annoyed that I had interrupted him.
“When you look at mirrors, what do you see?”
He laughed. “What do you mean?”
“When you look in, what do you see?”
He turned his head to look at the mirror hanging on the wall. I glanced briefly, then back to him when I saw naked skin.
“I see… a cute girl, and a cool guy.” He laughed again, nervous this time.
“Nothing else?” I probed. There was blood.
“Uhh. A messy room? What are you getting at?”
“They never… move, do they? When you look in them? The people I mean.”
“No…” he said slowly. He looked uncomfortable. I think I freaked him out.
“Do they move when you look?” He asked slowly.
I sat for a silent moment. My eyes chanced the glass again. His reflective self had left. Mine was lying in a heap on the bed.
“No,” I said. Something about me then must had really frightened him, since he made up an excuse for me to leave. I did. He never spoke to me again.
Since then I have kept it to myself. A quick Google search revealed nothing. It was mostly easier to pretend I didn't notice. Walking to work each day, ignoring the reflections of strange looking people on city buildings. If I peer too closely, it looks almost like the world is on fire.
It’s not all bad. In my loneliest hours, I can stand at the full length mirror in my bedroom and stare at myself.
As always, it starts out normal. Then my eyes move on their own, and then my hands do, too. She taps on the glass. I tap back. She smiles a wicked grin. I smile one back. I can get lost in my own eyes. Is she the reflection, or am I? She looks thinner than I, and maybe prettier, too, but the more I stare, the more I notice bruises and scars. I check my own body, and no, nothing there. She has this wonderfully knowing smile.
I must have one, too. I know that things have happened to her. That girl in the mirror.
She taps at the glass. I tap too. Each press of skin on the glass burns. It’s strangely hot.
Those hours stretch, interrupted only by a phone call, or a knock at the door. Living in the city by myself means that I get a lot of visits from my siblings.
My phone rings. I have to answer it.
She doesn’t want me to go. She shakes her head and silently taps the glass. I turn my back to her.