Tell A Tale — Gothic Fiction
The Disobedient Mirror By Tamsyn Christie
Emily’s reflection isn’t always Emily.
When she was younger she thought it was normal. The Other made faces and she laughed, not understanding that reflections should be like shadows. They should copy your every move.
The first time Emily started to notice that something was terribly, horribly wrong, was when the Other stopped even pretending to play along. Emily would raise her hand to the glass and her reflection instead scraped its nails down the length of the mirror. She practised ballet and the Other messed up the moves on purpose, tripping and falling after a jump whilst watching Emily land perfectly.
Emily stopped looking in mirrors.
But now it’s her sixteenth birthday, and her parents want her to get a job. There’s an advertisement for a small role at the local funfair, so she applies and goes to the interview with a full face of makeup she was forced to put on in front of the mirror. Her reflection smirked the entire time, Emily’s purple lipstick coming out red on it. But it’s fine. It’s fine.
The funfair is the type of place that looks a lot older than it is, with fake broken rides strewn about to heighten the atmosphere. Knowing this doesn’t stop a shiver running down her spine when she spots a clown carrying a red balloon. A shiny red balloon. Shiny enough that, if you were to look directly at it, you might just someone using your eyes to stare back.
Emily gets the job, meaning they probably didn’t have any other applicants. She’s soon put to work alongside a girl named Stacey.
After the first day of working together, she imagines finding a way to strangle Stacey. After the first week, she imagines killing her in graphic detail, making her pay for every snide remark and judgemental look.
When Emily glances in the mirror, her reflection is covered in blood.
And it’s like it knows, after that. It knows to make itself known everywhere it can, in the silver cutlery and puddles and windows. One night she dares to look deep into its eyes and its hand reaches out, out, and out until it’s gripping her own and she screams.
Her reflection isn’t just done playing along. Her reflection wants to play as her.
The problem is that Emily spends the next few weeks worrying so much about the Other and how it plans to rob her of her body that she fails to notice her more tangible problem. Stacey. And how Stacey, for all her flaws, isn’t stupid.
Stacey has noticed Emily’s avoidance of anything you can see yourself in. So it’s not that hard to figure out that the way to get rid of her annoying colleague is to scare her so badly she never wants to come back. To lock her in the Mirror Maze.
The door slams shut and Emily whirls around, confronted with thousands of copies of her own reflection. Not a single one of them screams alongside her.
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