Writing is therapeutic, right? That’s what they say, right?
I…recently started seeing a counselor. He suggested I write some of this down as a way to release it. I can tell he thinks I’m off my rocker, but I’ve gotten to the point of not caring. He wanted to refer me to a psychiatrist, but I refused. I don’t want to be medicated.
My instructions for writing this? Along with my normal, mundane fears, I was told to write down the bizarre things. I’ll spare you the regular shit: I’m scared of the future; I worry I won’t reach my full potential; I’m stressed about money; yadda yadda.
I can’t sleep at night anymore, and, hell, I barely manage to grab any sleep during the day, either.
My boyfriend and I love to go antiquing. We went to this little place a month or so ago, where I purchased a mirror. It was beautiful, the damned thing. It was a gilded wall mirror, and it took my breath away when my eyes rested on it. It was expensive, but the shop owner was more than willing to shave a bit off the price. I hung it in the hallway, where cheerful-looking pictures of my family surround it.
After bringing the mirror home, I noticed something…funny. I’d just returned home from my English class at the local college. It was a disgustingly humid day, so I began undressing in the hallway on the way to the bathroom for a shower. As I went by the mirror, I paused for a moment to admire its beauty before moving on. Before it had registered to my brain that something wasn’t quite right, I’d already entered the bathroom.
That’s when it occurred to me that I’d seen something in the mirror.
I backtracked and gazed into the mirror, but the reflection showed nothing that it shouldn’t have. Must have been my imagination, right? I mean, people see things in their peripheral vision that aren’t there all the time.
That night, however, I caught something out of the corner of my eye in the mirror again. This time, I was sure of it-I even shrieked for my boyfriend to come see.
In the mirror, I’d seen a face. Not the entire face-half of one at the bottom left of the mirror. And it did not look happy. By the time my boyfriend reached me, there was nothing there except for our reflection and the closed door to the second bedroom behind us.
“Maybe lay off the horror movies, Cal.”
“I swear…I saw something.”
It was no use; he was convinced it was my imagination. At that point, I felt it probably was, too, but something inside of me held on to the notion that there had been a face, plain as day, watching me pass.
The following day, I walked by it a dozen times, each time purposefully looking into its glass, searching for faces. I noted to myself that when I was watching for it, nothing happened-but those times that I breezed by, intent with purpose and inattentive to it, those were the times I caught a fleeting glimpse of eyes peering out.
I was very unnerved, but I have been prone to an overactive imagination in the past, so I couldn’t rule that out.
That weekend, I jumped from half-hearted belief that something weird was happening to completely and utterly sure of it.
The second bedroom in our house-the one whose closed door is reflected in the mirror-is a guest bedroom. We keep its door closed at all times, unless someone is using it, so when I stood at the end of the hallway, outside of our bedroom door, and lifted a foot to step forward, I froze, my foot suspended in the air until I teetered and rested it back onto the hardwood floor.
The door to the guest bedroom was wide open.
“Keep calm,” I told myself, “Zach must’ve went in there for something and forgot to close it. Don’t start thinking crazy thoughts.”
Slowly, heart exploding with fear despite my best efforts at being a reasonable adult, I made my way to the open door, all the while telling myself that it was Zach who had left the damn thing open. The floor creaked under my weight. I could hear my heartbeat in my ears, the way you can when you have a nasty ear infection. I drew each breath rapidly. My chest tightened as I slid my eyes toward the mirror, expecting something, or someone, to meet my stare.
When I got to the door, I could see nothing but furniture in the dimly lit room. I heaved a sigh of relief and quietly brought the door to. I pivoted on my feet and was met with a shocking sight.
In the mirror’s reflection, the guest bedroom door was still wide open. From behind me, spindly arms, arms with slimy, clawed hands, reached around my torso, as if to give me a hug, and a head was emerging over my shoulder. Before I could see what horrors existed beyond its crinkled up forehead, I screamed, flailing my limbs about in a panic, and ran out of the hallway, shaking from the inside out.
Outside on my front porch, I vomited into the camellia bush.
I didn’t go back in until Zach got home from work a couple hours later. He searched the whole house for me, but I knew it was only to make me feel at ease. It was written all over his face, the concern and disbelief. He took the mirror down and shattered it before tossing it into the garbage can outside of the house.
Thinking it was all finally over, I quickly lost my fear of being alone in the house. About a week later, I was starting to question if I even saw anything that day. Then I noticed the pictures of my family-the ones that had surrounded the mirror. Initially, it was the expressions on everyone’s faces that captured my attention. Before bringing the mirror into the house, the pictures were all smiles and sunshine: a picture of me holding my niece at the park; one of my mother and sister, arms draped over each other’s shoulders on the beach; one of Zach and my brother-in-law, holding champagne glasses at my sister’s wedding; and one of my dad dancing in his sunny living room.
Each frozen-in-time face appeared miserable. My niece was now crying in my lap; my mother was smirking and my sister was scowling; Zach and my brother-in-law both wore drooping frowns filled with anger and disgust; and my father seemed to snarl at the camera. And mine, my expression of sorrow could only have been matched by someone being burned alive.
There, in the background of each picture, was a tall, thin shadow.
I presented the pictures to Zach that evening, and even he couldn’t deny the changes.
“Is your sister trying to prank you? Did you tell her anything about the, uh…the mirror incident?”
“No, no I didn’t. Zach, I am terrified.”
“I, I don’t understand. This can’t be, it just can’t.”
“Well, at least you know I’m not crazy-”
“That’s not fair, I never said-”
“You didn’t have to.”
We sifted through all the pictures on our phones and computer. They were all the same: happy faces melted into expressions of suffering, hate, and sorrow. Always present in the background was the terrifying silhouette of the thing.
We burned the photos from the hall, and, with heavy hearts, deleted the ones on our phones and computers, neither of us sure on how to proceed.
Then the thing came back. I see glimpses of it in mirrors, from my compact mirror to my rearview mirror when I’m out late; I’ve seen it in all sorts of other reflections, too: hunkered over my shoulder in the screen of my laptop, on the ceiling of the living room in my gleaming coffee table as I cleaned it, seated on the couch in the black TV screen…I’ve only gotten a good look once.
I had just brushed my teeth and was leaning over the sink, rinsing my mouth. When I straightened up and looked into the bathroom mirror, there it was, glaring at me from a crack between the shower curtain and the bathroom wall.
It had white eyes and jagged teeth that hung over its bottom lip. Its skin was leathery, wrinkled like a woman who sunbathes religiously. It’s head was hairless and perfectly round. When I screamed, it jerked away from the opening and vanished.
I stopped sleeping much after that. I catch some rest here and there, mostly throughout the day. It’s definitely taken it’s toll on me. I’ve nodded off in class, in the drive thru at McDonald’s, and, once, at the wheel while driving home.
I’m too scared to let my guard down.
It was my idea to see the counselor. It took me awhile to open up about the truth of why I decided to seek help. Like I said before, he doesn’t believe me, but he suggested this, writing it down. He thinks all my “everyday life” fears and stress are simply manifesting in odd ways.
He doesn’t have to believe, though, because Zach has begun seeing it, too.
We can’t both be crazy, right?