Anne B. Walsh - Do you believe in magic?
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Anne's Randomness

Mirror, mirror

Fair warning, O readers: today's Fiction Friday post is creepy. Very creepy. With this warning, I disclaim all responsibility for nightmares, scary images, or other lasting effects it may have. Or rather, I cackle gleefully at the thought that my evilness has invaded your mind, and run away to continue plotting more evil story twists of evil.
 
Those of you who read my fan fiction have probably noticed a distinct downturn in my production lately. This was not intentional, but may have been inevitable. It is, after all, spring, and tree pollen and other allergens interfere with such small yet necessary bodily functions as breathing. My body-mind connection is also very strong, so that if my body is not feeling well, my mind finds reasons for it. My emotions have been gleefully dragging me through a roller coaster ride for the last couple weeks, and I hate roller coasters with a burning fiery passion.
 
Still, life is not all bad. Tomorrow I get to go see my brother graduate from college (I remember when he was born, when did this happen), two weeks from tomorrow my other brother is being confirmed (same argument but more so), and by the end of this month, my sister won't be a teenager anymore (next verse, same as the first). Plus I have lots of story ideas, like a crossover between Robin Hood and Beauty and the Beast, a couple different takes on Cinderella, and a Sleeping Beauty with a definite touch of DV in it, given that the Prince is a gardener and gets into the Princess's castle not because he's her One True Love but because he knows how to handle briars...
 
I'm also going to have some time to think about those story ideas and maybe get some words logged on them, because I'm taking a week off from work in the middle of this month. It's not the greatest timing as far as my many managers are concerned, but it's kind of necessary if I'm not going to start screaming and running around the floor hitting people with things, which I think everybody wants to avoid.
 
And so, we come to the part of the post you're actually here for, O readers: the story. It's got roots in something we all know and love, but I've worked to make it just enough different that it could be the tale of almost anyone who's ever felt despairing and overwhelmed, and made an impulsive decision based on that feeling. Everybody take a deep breath, get your cuddle buddies ready, and off we go. Thanks in advance for reading, and I'll see you next time!
 
*****
 
He stared at his disheveled reflection in the mirror, feeling the familiar bitterness rise in the back of his throat. For now, he was alone in here, but that wouldn't last.
 
Everything's going wrong, the kind of wrong not even magic can fix. I'm not making the kind of progress I should, and he's getting impatient. And when he gets impatient, he starts getting angry, and any sane person would run a mile to avoid him when he's angry. Only I can't, not if I want to live, not if I want my family to live...
 
"I never wanted any of this," he whispered hoarsely, tears prickling at the corners of his eyes. "I swear I didn't!"
 
So what did you want? murmured a voice in the back of his mind.
 
"I used to know that. But now I don't anymore." He drew a long, shuddering breath, trying to keep himself from breaking down entirely. "All I want now is to get out of this mess I'm in. To find a place where I'm safe, where no one can hurt me anymore. And to make sure my family will be all right, that no one's going to torture them because of my mistakes. But it doesn't look like I can get even one of those things, much less all three!"
 
Are you so sure? The voice was growing clearer by the moment. Maybe I could help...
 
"Who are you?" He turned his head suspiciously, checking the corners of the room to be sure he was still alone. "Show yourself."
 
But I already am. The voice developed an undertone of amusement. Try looking right in front of you.
 
He lifted his head and met his reflection's gaze in the mirror.
 
A sparkle lurked in the eyes which looked back at him out of silvered glass, a sparkle he was certain existed nowhere in his own expression.
 
There's nothing to be afraid of, his reflection continued, overriding his momentary, breathless leap of fear. All I want is to help you get what you want. And I can do it, too. Everything you said, every last word, it's yours for the taking. All you have to do is put your hand against mine.
 
"Why would you do that?" He swallowed against the twin sensations of panic and hope, not sure which one was causing him to feel more ill. "What's in it for you?"
 
Something I've wanted for a long time. But you don't have to worry about that. His reflection smiled slightly, echoing the uncertain curve he could feel on his own lips. As soon as you do this, you won't have to worry about anything, ever again.
 
"That sounds too good to be true." He planted his hands on either side of the sink, leaning forward to stare more intently into his reflection's eyes. "Is it?"
 
Would I lie to you? More accurately, would you lie to you? His reflection's smile grew bolder, more secret. Just put your hand against mine, and you'll have everything you asked for. My word on it.
 
For one instant, he hesitated. Then, before he could change his mind, he raised his right hand and pressed it against the glass of the mirror, his reflection doing the same in perfect synchrony.
 
A shock ran through his body, like a cold chill or the first breathless instant of a nightmare—
 
And then he stood precisely where he had been, staring through silvered glass at the mirror image of himself.
 
That's it? That's all that's going to happen? What did it even do?
 
"So this is what it feels like," said his reflection reverently, lifting its hands to regard them closely.
 
"What what feels like?" he demanded, or tried to. His lips opened and closed, he could feel his throat vibrating, but no sound came out of his mouth. Then he looked around him.
 
His world ended on either side of him at a dark, square frame of wood, barely wide enough for him to stretch out his arms. Above and below him was the same, and behind him the tiled wall curved up and around with no sign of an exit.
 
"Having a body. Being alive." His former reflection looked up at him with unholy amusement dancing in the familiar eyes. "You're the reflection now. I'm the real one. We traded places when you put your hand against mine."
 
What? No! Panicked, he tried to throw himself against the glass, but his body might as well have been made of air. That's not what I wanted—you lied to me—
 
"No, I didn't." His former reflection laughed, the sound low and satisfied. "Everything you said you wanted, you'll have. You're not in that mess of yours anymore, are you? I am, but unlike you, I've got the guts to get myself out of it. And once I've done that, once I've followed through on all those promises you made, your family—or should I say, my family now—will be perfectly fine. As for you, with your wish to be safe..."
 
His former reflection made a twisting motion with two fingers, lifting the mirror off the wall and shrinking it down to handheld size. "You'll be as safe in your little world as I can possibly make you. After all, you started out as the real one here, so as long as you live, so will I. And I'll never have to worry about wrinkles, or getting fat, or losing my hair, because all of that will happen to you instead of me." The former reflection pursed his lips, looking thoughtful. "I wonder how long it'll take me to get tired of being young and handsome, rich and powerful? Probably at least a thousand years."
 
No! he screamed in silence, swinging wild blows at the intangibly imprisoning glass, though in his heart he knew it was already too late.
 
"Nighty-night," said his former reflection with a sweet smile, and slipped the mirror into his pocket.
 
Darkness descended.

3 Comments to Mirror, mirror:

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NotACat on Friday, May 08, 2015 9:38 AM
Yikes…I wonder who this might possibly be ;-) Normally I'd say it couldn't have happened to a more deserving case, although when you're involved there's usually wheels within wheels!
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Geoffrey on Friday, May 08, 2015 10:12 PM
I really like this. Lots of directions to go. Portrait of Dorian Gray, perhaps?

Allow me to propose a question: Are there other people in this world that have swapped with their reflections?
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Amelia on Saturday, May 09, 2015 12:01 AM
Well...that was creepy. And just as I was about to go to bed too. :P Initially I thought his reflection was DV-Draco, then I got to this Draco being trapped in the mirror and figured out what was actually happening. Great (creepy) story :)
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