The first time Clary played the game to summon Bloody Mary, she was 9 years old, having a sleepover with Simon Lewis (her bestest friend in the whole world), Simon's sister Becky, and Clary's brother Jonathan.
They had taken turns going into the bathroom meant for guests, turning off the lights and standing in the dark in front of the large mirror, then chanting "Bloody Mary" thirteen times. When it was Clary's turn, she had braced herself for a scare, expecting Jonathan to pull a stupid prank on her. She scowled at the mirror, looking straight at her reflection defiantly, but nothing happened until right after her fifteen minutes were up and she turned to leave. Out of the corner of her eye, she could have sworn that her reflection had stayed in the exact same position, as if she was still facing the mirror.
Clary whipped her head around to look at the mirror properly, but her reflection was right there to the side with its hand on the door handle. She shook her head and left, using every ounce of willpower to walk out slowly and calmly, pretending she hadn't heard the soft laugh behind her.
When she was sixteen, Clary found herself standing in front of the bathroom mirror in her own home, wishing she was anywhere but here.
Outside the bathroom, she could hear her mother screaming at her father. There was a crash, a roar of fury from her father, and an answering yell from her mother. She'd locked herself in the bathroom to avoid having to listen to her parents fighting, especially since they were fighting because of her, but she could still hear them loud and clear through the cheap wood of the bathroom door, their voices echoing through their small Brooklyn apartment. Her brother was out god-knows-where, trying to avoid the fighting and the reminder that his sister was dying.
The Lewis family had moved to Florida two years ago, and Simon still messaged her every week, but it was starting to feel like pity, and more than once Clary was tempted to reply, 'Yup, still not dead' or maybe even 'Sorry, I'm afraid Clary won't be able to reply to your messages anymore' and save them both the misery. Thinking about Simon made her think of the Bloody Mary game they had played, even though she hadn't thought about it in years. After all these years, Clary had almost managed to convince herself that the laugh and the weird reflection had just been a product of her overactive imagination, but she'd been slightly obsessed with it for a while after the sleepover, reading what she could about it and wondering why anybody would want to summon a ghost that would try to scratch your eyes out. From what she remembered, Bloody Mary had originated as a divination ritual, and girls had tried to summon her because it was said that Bloody Mary could show you what your future had in store for you.
Clary was pretty sure she already knew what her future held, but she had nothing to lose.
"Bloody Mary," Clary recited. "Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary..."
She said the name thirteen times, but nothing happened. Clary waited, started to feel a bit stupid, then gave up and walked to the door.
"You called for me?" a female voice whispered behind her.
Clary spun around, heart in her throat, but she was all alone in the bathroom. She walked back to the front of the mirror, and her reflection stared back at her with wide eyes, then relaxed and smiled. As Clary watched, her reflection began to change - her red hair grew darker, brows grew stronger, and face grew a little more pointed, until the person in the mirror was a complete stranger - a very beautiful stranger, maybe slightly older than Clary, wearing an old-fashioned lace dress.
"Um... Mary?" Clary asked. She'd been expecting an apparition that looked a little more, well, bloody.
The girl in the mirror smiled and shook her head. "The name is part of the summoning, but it's not my name. There are many of us. My name is Isabelle."
"That's a very pretty name. It suits you," Clary told her impulsively, and the apparition in the mirror laughed, the exact laugh Clary had heard when she was nine.
A sudden thought occurred to Clary. "Did I get sick because I summoned you when I was younger?" she asked.
Isabelle shook her head again, smiling sadly. "I can show you the future, but I didn't have anything to do with it. Do you want to see?"
"No, it's ok, I'm good," Clary said quickly. "How did you end up inside the mirror?"
"I was murdered in view of a mirror."
"Oh no, I'm so sorry."
"Don't be. I had my revenge," Isabelle replied sweetly, and the image of her in the mirror flickered - for a split second Clary saw blood on Isabelle's hands and her white dress, and a huge gaping wound across her throat, but it was gone before she could blink. "Don't be afraid of death, Clary," Isabelle said, then the image of her began to fade.
"Wait!" Clary called out.
Isabelle raised an eyebrow at her.
"So if I call for 'Bloody Mary', will I get you again, or someone else?" Clary asked.
"If you do the summoning again, I will come," Isabelle promised her with a smile, and then she was gone and Clary was left staring at her own stunned reflection in the mirror.
The last time Clary stood in front of a mirror thinking of summoning a ghost in the mirror, she was three days shy of her eighteenth birthday.
She was too pale, the hospital gown hung off her like she was a scarecrow, and she ached all the way to the insides of her bones. Her shoulder-length red hair was the one thing she'd always liked about herself, but most of it was gone now from the chemotherapy. There were dark circles under her eyes that no amount of concealer would be able to fix and there were tear stains on her cheeks, but her gaze was fierce and determined.
"...Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary," she chanted, a little winded. It had taken a lot of effort to sneak out of bed on her own as soon as the nurse had finished making her rounds without waking her mother, who had been sleeping in the chair next to her hospital cot. It had taken even more effort not to leave a note or kiss her mother on the cheek one last time.
"Izzy, I can't take it anymore," she blurted out as soon as Isabelle's worried face in the mirror became a clear image instead of a blurry blob. "I heard the doctors telling my mom that the cancer is still spreading. It hurts, Izzy, and it's tearing my mother and brother apart to watch me die."
"Are you sure?" Isabelle asked gently.
"Yes," Clary replied without hesitation. "I can feel it, Izzy, it's almost time. I'm not afraid of dying but I'm terrified that I might die somewhere that's not in view of a mirror. I want to be with you."
Isabelle smiled and placed her hand palm-up on her side of the mirror. Clary eagerly mirrored her action and nodded to show that she was ready. She'd been ready for almost two years now to finally be able touch Isabelle.
"Don't be afraid," Isabelle whispered, and she began to change.
The skin and flesh at Izzy's neck split open into a gory wound, the blood flowing out from it gradually staining her white dress red, but that wasn't all. Isabelle's eyes began to sink into her skull, clumps of her beautiful dark hair falling out, and her skin took on a greyish tinge.
"I'm not afraid," Clary replied, forcing herself not to recoil from Isabelle's rotting, bloody visage. No matter what she looked like, she was still Izzy. The same Izzy who had sung French lullabies to Clary on the nights that the pain had been so bad that she couldn't sleep, the same Izzy whose face filled Clary's sketchbooks and dreams.
Then Isabelle's bloody fingers burst through the mirror, grasping Clary's hand. Clary gasped in surprise and felt a sudden vice-like grip around her heart.
"You're so close," Isabelle said soothingly, and even though half her face was gone, Clary could still tell that she was smiling.
The pressure in her chest was excruciating, but Clary used the last of her strength to close her fingers around Isabelle's hand, clutching it like a lifeline. "Izzy," she gasped.
"I'm right here. Just take that last step, Clary. One more step, and you'll be with me," Isabelle murmured.
Clary couldn't breathe. She struggled to take one more gulp of air, the withered shell of her body still fighting to stay alive; then the air went out of her lungs in a strangled wheeze, and Clary closed her eyes.
A few hours later, Clary's mother found her slumped in front of the hospital's bathroom mirror, her body already gone cold. There was a smile on Clary's face even though she had cracked her skull open on the sink and there was blood everywhere. The doctors said that she was dead before her head even hit the porcelain because her heart had already given out, which perhaps should have been expected since she had been so ill. But the strangest thing was that when she had been found, one of her hands had been inside the glass of the mirror, which remained otherwise undamaged - as if she had been holding someone's hand, someone who had been leading her through the mirror into another world.