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(through the) Looking Glass

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A Vignette-Looking Glass.

She wakes like every work day, hitting the snooze three times before conceding defeat and putting her feet to the floor. Routine chases her from the shower to the closet and vanity, down the hall to the kitchen for morning coffee and news. Not much of a chase though, the washed out feeling of…stagnation. Domesticity at its most mundane.

Heading out the door, she takes a moment to look at herself in the hallway mirror. When did she start feeling so old? A humorless chuckle is heard while pulling on her coat, a sigh as she tugs her hair from under the collar. There’s a final glance and a hint of a smile when she turns to the front door; the shimmer in the glass doesn’t get noticed as her fingertips graze it.

The drive to work is the same, traffic and radio providing an almost white noise that drowns out thought. Same space, same walk down the stairs and with a wave to the same parking attendant, she heads out towards her building. She tugs her coat tighter around herself as the wind takes a stronger, colder turn.

There’s a sudden burst that knocks her into a passing stranger. Exchanging the customary questions of concern and apology, there is a feeling of something, like a shock of color that takes her by surprise. She assures him she is fine and watches as he enters the building they collided in front of. A building she knows she hasn’t seen there before. Not sure of what she’s thinking, but for the curiosity and anticipation she’s not felt in a very long time; this woman follows him in.

The door is a mirror; the mirror shimmers as she reaches through and is embraced by it.


What she sees is...well, it’s not quite like anything she’s seen before. A hallway stretches out and it has the feel of the hole in the wall nightclubs she liked to frequent when she was younger. Cast in shadows and smoke, with a sound that you can feel all over. It’s tempting to get lost in the beat, to let go and be young again; but she knows that’s impossible and turns to exit the way she came--to find that there is only wall.


Rather than succumbing to panic she feels rising inside, she takes a deep breath; turns back inside and ventures further in. A doorway opens to a dance floor, lights and smoke and a mass of youth moving to the bass. She watches for a moment and continues along the hall, toward an increasing light. The walls almost seem to be alive and she looks to the left, the wall is a mirror and the reflection is her--but a younger her dressed for the club, thinking herself an adult. Too much eye makeup and a dress that’s too old for her. She’s absorbed in the feeling of that age, the thrill and fear; that she is startled when he steps up beside her. She turns to face him.....

...Only to see he’s in the mirror. She’d be terrified by this point if not for the look on his face. There is a calmness and a peace that tells her not to be afraid. He holds out his hand...a moment’s indecision and she is stepping forward and grasping it.


There is an indescribable sense of joy. That feeling of fearlessness and freedom that comes from being young and in love. They’re holding hands, walking down the street oblivious to those around them. There is a lingering scent of gunpowder in the air, summer at its height. He leans in to whisper in her ear, she blushes and tugs on her hair. He spins her like they’re dancing and they come to a stop beside a parked car. He looks as though he might...but she catches a glimpse of them in the reflection of the window of a shop. Curious, she pulls away; walking towards it slowly and reaches out to touch the glass.....


There’s laughter and the feeling of a brush against her closed eyelids. Her friend is whispering in her ear, of how she’ll love how she looks and that boy she likes will definitely notice her now. A smile crosses her face as a thrill races down her spine. She’s reaching for hands, asking if she can see yet and she’s pulled up and told to keep her eyes closed. Trust in her friends, she walks into the bathroom and opens her eyes and... It’s her, only how she was in junior high, awkwardness and insecurity---the voices of her friends asking what she thinks and she doesn’t quite recognize herself and reaches for the mirror.....


She’s alone in a room, her bedroom....her old room in her parent’s house, with the posters on the walls and clothes strewn across the floor. Her heart is breaking and she’s crying and she’ll never be happy again since he’s gone. And under that is the dizzy realization that this all must be some nightmare...she doesn’t want to be here anymore, she wants a way out. Mascara streaked and sniffling, she starts looking for an exit. The door won’t open and the window won’t either so she heads to the only constant in this adventure...the mirror above her dresser. She’s reaching for it and catches movement behind her. He’s in the mirror on her closet door. Their eyes meet, she takes a shaky breath and turns to walk toward the door. She wipes the tears from her face and reaches for his outstretched hand.........


There’s a press of bodies all around, movement with bass that throbs to the center of her. His hand is pressed to her back and it’s hard to completely make out his face in the play of lights on it. They move along with beat and the mass of people, until she feels coolness on her back and turns around.....


It’s a room, a closet really and the mirrors.....the mirrors are everywhere. All she can see is herself for what seems like an infinity and she spins and she’s still there. Panic, panic and a growing sense of terror and all she wants to do is wake up. She turns and turns and simply touching the glass doesn’t remove her from this. She wants to scream, spins again and there he is..hand out and waiting with the most peaceful gaze she’s ever seen. His hand is warm.....


On a park bench in an idyllic park, she is watching two children play. He is sitting beside her as well. Her hair is blowing into her eyes and the white dress is fluttering against her ankles. She looks down to see bare feet in green grass. There is a feeling of content that breaks into a rising panic. The children...are they hers? His? Theirs?? Is this even something that she’d want? She is up and moving then--stumbling and the scene shifts again....


No need for the alarm as she wakes, gasping and wide eyed. There is a moment of disorientation and she’s sitting; hands feeling around the bed and reaching for a lamp.

It was just a dream. There’s a fleeting sense of disappointment.

Breath in and out, heart slowing to a normal rhythm; the words become a mantra. One last deep breath and her routine of the day takes over. Shower takes longer than usual and she stares into the vanity mirror looking for something she feels is missing. Her clothes don’t feel like they fit her anymore. The news sounds like it is underwater while she absently drinks her coffee. Last glance at the clock and she heads for the door. Coat on and scarf in hand, the glass in the mirror calls to her.

He is looking at her through the glass. No fear at the sudden appearance, a smile graced her face and she reaches out to him and the shimmer is his hand.

There is nothing but light as their hands grasp.