The following Flash Fiction story was shorted in the 2013 Writing on the Wall ‘Flash: In the Dark’ competition.
The mirror crashed to the floor, splintering into sections.
‘Shit!’ Ella said. ‘That’s seven years bad luck you know Mel.’ She sounded happy about this and she probably was. Ella loved to revel in things going wrong for people or even the possibility of it.
‘I’ll just clean it up.’ I replied, annoyed. ‘Can you make us a coffee please?’
She shrugged and headed for the kitchen.
I started to pick up the larger fragments of glass, and then I made my first mistake. I looked into the piece I held. My hand started tightening around the ragged edges. I couldn’t stop it. The pain seared through me. My teeth clenched and my face closed up as the skin lost its brief resistance and let the blood flow out. But in front of me the reflection was impassive, unemotional.
‘What the hell are you doing?’ Ella shouted from the door. At these words, the glass lost its grip on me and fell to the floor.
‘Just get the first aid box!’ I called back, needing to check again.
When she was gone, I looked into another fragment, this time without touching it. I tried a smile, felt the edges of my lips curl up. The mouth in the mirror did nothing.
Ella came back with antiseptic wipes and bandages.
‘Will you look into this mirror with me?’ I asked. She looked at me like I was nuts.
‘Now smile.’ I demanded, my voice shaking slightly.
Her beam set against my immobile expression although my cheeks hurt from grinning.
‘I’m smiling.’ I insisted to the mirror.
‘Ok,’ Ella said slowly as though dealing with an idiot.
‘I’m smiling in the mirror?’ I said trying to keep my voice steady.
‘Is this some kind of weird game?’ Ella sniffed and stood up. ‘I have work to do and you need to clean up that hand.’
‘I think I’ll go home early,’ I managed. It was probably lack of sleep and the stress of an office move. I didn’t look in the mirror again but on the way out I ducked into the toilets. This time, I smiled back but there was something wrong, a slight delay as though my mirror self had been caught off guard and had just about managed to keep up.
I went back into the office. Ella wasn’t around but she’d swept up the glass and left the mirror propped against the wall. A large fragment was still attached to the side. It was then that I made my second mistake. I touched the part that was left and watched as my reflection moved closer to the edge. Splinters spread across my skin and a rush of blinding light burned off my body. When it faded, I was on the other side of the mirror surrounded in darkness, looking back at myself in the office. I beat against the glass, trapped.
‘My turn,’ the unsmiling me said and then I watched myself leave.