Flash Fiction

Flash Fiction: Mirror Mirror

Here’s this week’s #FridayFlash and Author Aerobics: Details Challenge contribution.

Mirror Mirror
by T.S. Bazelli

“Tell me again why we decided to have children?” Susan raised her hands to block out the high pitched sounds of squealing and laughter. Every noise echoed through her body as if she were hollow.

She paused to look at her reflection in the hallway mirror. It was an old mirror, an ugly thing passed down by Alan’s grandparents, framed with heavy oak. The silver had started to oxidize, discoloring the image that stared back. At least it was a good hair day. Her blond locks framed her face in honey waves. The boys fell silent at her approach, they knew not to pester their mother in the mornings.

Alan, leaned over and kissed her briefly. The stubble of his chin rasped against her cheek and she drew back. “Good morning gorgeous. Hungry? You look exhausted.” In the mirror reflection, she watched him juggle pan of scrambled eggs in one hand, and waved spatula in the other, emphasizing the words as he spoke. A few yellow globs fell to the hardwood floors, and Susan felt her eyes drawn downwards. Alan didn’t seem to notice her shudder.

Susan turned her attention back to her figure in the mirror, turning sideways. She cupped her hands around her waist, feeling the flatness of her body. Still a size six. Not bad for a thirty eight year old woman. She let her breath out in relief. “I’ll just have coffee.”

“What time did you get home last night? I didn’t hear the door.”

“Quarter after four.” She watched the two boys giggle and squirm in their seats out of the corner of her eyes. “Elder child, don’t tug your brother’s shirt. Your hands are oily. You know I can see you.”

The boys were dressed in matching green soccer uniforms. The mirror obscured the grass stains, and sticky fingers. She preferred the view. In it, her family almost looked presentable. Susan frowned; she’d always thought the uniforms were blue. She turned around. They were blue, it was just a trick of the light against old glass.

She turned back to the mirror, and pulled her back her hair with manicured fingers, but her eyes were drawn to the reflection of three strips of bacon on a floral plate. Disgusting. It made the whole house smell of pig. She blinked as she turned around to check on the boys. She counted two strips on the kitchen table. Quick fingers, she thought, trying to pinpoint the culprit, but either child could have been guilty.

“Only one piece of bacon each, children. Don’t be little piggies.”

Her eyes flicked back to the mirror. It was hard to see clearly, but she still counted five strips of bacon in the reflection. Susan rubbed at her eyes. The face in the mirror smiled back. Susan raised a hand to her face, fingering glossed lips. The smile she saw in the mirror did not match the lines of the mouth under her fingers.

She reached out to the mirror, fingers making contact with cold glass, and nothing more, leaving oily smudges on the pane, leaving blurred splotches on her reflection.

“Come on kids, finish up. We’ve got to get going or you’ll be late.” Alan’s words were distant, muted. Susan tried to turn around, but found her hands, moving involuntarily to her head, as if the woman on the other side of the mirror, was compelling them. She finished pulling loose strands of hair into a tight ponytail, grabbing Alan’s sweat stained baseball cap, and fitting it over her head. A baseball cap? She saw her mouth moving, but the words were just as foreign.

“Wait for mom, I’m going to come to the game today!” Susan grinned and turned towards the kids, kissing them on the tops of their heads. “and I’m going to cook dinner tonight. Or at least I’ll try.” Susan felt a giggle swell up inside her, unfamiliar, strange.

“I may have to supervise.” Alan’s face was split in a smile, his fingers wandered somewhere inappropriate. Susan grinned back.

The door opened, and the troupe exited the house, her reflection grinning all the way. Wait for me, she thought, she screamed, but no words came out of her mouth, as the door slammed shut leaving her trapped inside the room. She tried to peer out the window, but the angle was wrong. Everything seemed to be a shade of mercury. She heard the minivan doors slide open.

She ran back to the mirror frowning. The surface was cold and inert; she peered through it, as if she were looking through a dirty window. She could not see herself in the glass, but the sun filled kitchen was imperfectly reflected. She tried the living room door, but it would not open, she was trapped in the space visible in the silvered glass.

The kitchen door opened. “Forgot the camera.” Susan’s reflection muttered, stopping briefly in front of the mirror. She smiled. Susan had no choice but to smile back. “Don’t worry. I’ll move the mirror every once in a while so you don’t get too bored.” The other Susan blew a kiss at the glass, winked, and grabbed the last piece of bacon from the table.

20 Comments to “Flash Fiction: Mirror Mirror”

    1. I wasn’t thinking of that episode in particular, though I may have seen it. I know the idea’s been done many times before, but it’s usually to horrific effect. I don’t think I’ve ever rooted for the reflection before 🙂

  1. DUDE. Love it. At first I thought you were getting a little detail-heavy, and that the mirror trick was a bit trite, but then YOU TOTALLY TURNED IT ON ITS HEAD. Well done!!

    1. Yeah it was a little top heavy with the details. I was writing and then realized, oh crap I’ve got no details in there, and that’s the point of this exercise. Hehe good to know my evil plan for the ending was successful. Thanks Kristan!

  2. I liked it a lot. The use of the mirror to refelct her internal struggles was a nice touch. I also enjoyed how the family was kind of oblivious to it. Maybe not the husbnd so much, but the kids definitely. It’s just Mom after all, and it’s just a regualr day. Well written and kept me interested.

  3. Lua

    I love stories with disturbing twists like this one!! Well done, I loved it 🙂 I use mirrors as a symbol a lot in my stories as well, seeing one’s self reflection in reverse can be a strong metaphor!

  4. My first thought was of Coraline. But it seems like the mirror Susan may have a better time of it than the real one… she was kind of crabby. Good story, and good use of detail.

  5. You do a great job portraying Susan and Mirror Susan differences through only details. I’m not sure anyone deserves to be locked up on the other side of a mirror. I wonder how long it will take Alan and the kids to notice the difference. There is a lot here and this could easily be expanded.

    The elder child remark felt eerie, I don’t know that I want to know someone who talks to their children this way.

    1. Thanks Aidan! I wanted to try flipping the expectation that the reflection is the ‘evil’ twin in this piece. I’m not sure either Susan would turn out to be better than the other in the long run, but they are very different. I’m glad it got you thinking about what happens next!

  6. I liked the switch. Seems like maybe Susan should have appreciated what she had a bit more. Her reflection was generous to offer to move the mirror from time to time! LOL

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