Sunday, 30 June 2013

The Broken Mirror.


 
 
By Hannah Begg.
 


The teaspoon clinked gently against the side of the cup. Closing her eyes, she breathed deeply as the sweet steam rose and brushed against her face. The toaster popped; reaching for the crispy slice of sourdough, she let her fingers pause on the rough, hot texture, waiting for her skin to start tingling; quickly dropping the toast onto a plate, she slowly dragged a knife across it, watching the thick, golden honey glisten in the morning sun.
 

Lifting the mug to her lips, her gaze fell upon the shiny surface of the kettle. Momentarily, her own reflection looked back. Gasping in shock, she spun round, heart racing, coffee sloshing out of the mug.
 

It’s okay. Relax. You didn’t see anything. The surface was steamy, it was clouded, the reflection wasn’t accurate.


She waited a few moments, breathing slowly, eyes closed. Reaching for some paper towel, she watched as it soaked up the spilt coffee - rough white morphed into damp, creamy brown. Carrying the coffee into the next room, she curled up at one end of the couch, resting the coffee on her lap, and picked up the small, blue folder. Sighing, she began leafing through the newspaper clippings and doctor’s notes again. Each one was becoming more familiar now. She no longer felt dizzy, or nauseous, as she read them. Pausing when she reached the section at the back with the photographs, she gently touched each one, letting her fingertips rest on the sharp colours, the jagged images...


The only thing I really remember is the pain. White-hot, searing razorblades, sinking claws into my flesh, scratching my eyes, tearing my throat. And I remember a high-pitched, all-consuming noise, shrieking in my mind, making my ears throb. I found out later that it was my own voice, screaming and screaming.


Taking a sip of coffee, her gaze fell upon the object leaning against the opposite wall. With a thin, pink bed sheet carefully draped across its smooth surface, it showed only a faint, ghostly reflection of the room. Quickly looking away, she continued to browse the medical reports. Apparently this was part of the recovery process - accepting what had happened, according to the psychologist. But it just felt so surreal, so separate from her life. The photos showed a raw, un-human creature lying amongst a twisted mess of hospital tubes and bandages, unconscious. How could she connect herself with that?


I’m still me. I haven’t changed, my perception of the world hasn’t changed. The sun still sets each afternoon, the sky becomes deep, dark, golden; the television still rattles each night with tinny laughter and applause.  My opinions and thoughts remain exactly the same - my mind isn’t damaged...

_____________

The fire had started very suddenly, according to the police reports. The flames had instantly leapt onto her shirt. Her brother had managed to extinguish the flames within moments, but apparently the damage was done. She still didn’t know exactly how much damage was done, though - she hadn’t looked in a mirror. In the hospital, the nurses’ expressions told her nothing. The other patients looked away as she moved along corridors. Her own father’s eyes welled up with tears whenever they met her own. But it was the frightened looks from young children, visiting sick grandmothers and grandfathers, that made her start to worry about what a mirror might reveal.


In the early days, the psychologist had told her she wasn’t ready to see her own reflection. One day, she waited until her mother had left the room to visit the hospital cafeteria before rummaging through her handbag. Finding a small eye-shadow kit with a tiny, cracked mirror, her breath caught in her throat as she began to slowly lift it, watching as the reflection moved up her white hospital gown, reaching the rounded top. Slowly, it began to reveal some puckered, raw skin at the base of her neck. Gasping in surprise, she had thrown the make-up as hard as she could, sending it clattering against the opposite wall. A small puff of pink powder burst from the broken pieces, creating an eerie, shimmering glow that slowly settled on the floor. Her body shook with dry, wracking sobs as an agonising sadness began to pour from her heart.

______________

Closing the folder, she took several deep breaths, waiting for her heartbeat to slow. Standing, she carried the empty coffee mug back into the kitchen, aware of her ghostlike reflection moving within the veiled mirror on the opposite side of the room. Refilling the kettle, she carefully looked away from its shiny surface.

______________

Now, it haunts my every waking moment. I know I will be forced to confront it eventually. I fear my own reflection; the fear itself startles me wherever I turn. I close my eyes and see a creature staring back at me; it reaches out and claws its way into my soul, tearing my skin apart, leaving me trembling on the earth. My reflection follows me as I move through each day, it creeps up my spine, and courses through my veins. Yesterday, a cry of shock escaped from my mouth as my own shadow suddenly appeared on a wall in front of me.

The mirror - my reflection - is always there, waiting patiently for me.
______________

Gently placing the coffee mug back on the bench, she turned away from the kettle and retraced her steps back into the living room. She slowly moved towards her veiled reflection, gazing at the ghostly outline staring out from behind the pink sheet. Taking a deep, steadying breath, she moved forwards. It was time.

______________

The mirror has been my nightmare, haunting me. Now, it will be my release.
______________

Her father arrived home late from work. All the lights in the house were on, illuminating the deafening silence. On the kitchen table was a neatly folded bed sheet - the one that had been draped across the mirror since the accident. Peering into the living room, he noticed the mirror was gone. He turned and began to move quickly down the hallway, dread growing heavy in his stomach as he found each room empty. With a sickening fear creeping up his throat, he pushed the bathroom door open, and sank to his knees. Her body was floating in the bath; the water was a bright, glistening shade of red. Her face, gently framed by the water, stared blankly at the ceiling, impossibly white against the blood-red backdrop; her wrists floated near the surface, revealing smooth, deep stripes of open skin.

Floating brightly next to her were large broken shards of mirror, reflecting the light from above.
 
 
 

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