My Reflection in the Mirror: A Short Story

Updated on February 25, 2018
AliciaC profile image

Linda Crampton is a teacher who enjoys reading and creative writing. Her favourite genres are classic literature, fantasy, myth, and poetry.

Meeting a reflection
Meeting a reflection | Source

Aunt Mandy's Legacy

It was a wet and dismal day when I unlocked the door to Aunt Mandy’s house. My aunt had left me the house in her will, which I found surprising but very touching. I was sad that my aunt had died because my father had been fond of her. I couldn’t say that I missed her, though, since I hardly knew her. She lived in New Brunswick on the other side of Canada from my family. My visits to Aunt Mandy had been few and far between.

The interior of the house was silent and even colder than the outside world. The building was old, but it was in good repair and very tidy. It was sad to see how patiently it was waiting for its former owner. The thin veneer of dust over the furniture indicated that it had been some time since anyone had cared for the home.

After exploring the first two floors, I climbed the stairs to the attic. Unlike the other rooms in the house, the attic was crowded and disorganized. In one corner stood a full-length mirror decorated by an ornate frame. The mirror was dusty, but I found a cloth and wiped it down.

Aunt Mandy's house was located in the province of New Brunswick (NB) on the east coast of Canada.

Exploring My Reflection

I really must lose some weight, I told myself for the umpteenth time as I viewed my reflection in the mirror. Things always looked worse when you could see your whole body at once. I had faced every problem that had arisen in the last year by eating chocolate bars, cookies, and other comfort foods. How could I have fallen into such bad habits? I was so slim a couple of years ago. My reflection looked even more disgusted than me, if that was possible.

At night I looked at my aunt’s clothes, feeling a bit guilty as I went through her wardrobe and drawers. I would donate the clothing to charity, I decided. I wondered sadly who would sort out my clothes when I died. My parents are both dead, I don’t have any siblings, and I’m not close to any of my relatives.

I made the bed with fresh linen and put on my new nightgown that I had bought for the visit. I couldn’t resist going up into the attic to look in the mirror. Yes, the nightgown was very pretty and feminine, although I had no one to impress with it. In the dim light my eyes looked tired and my face droopy. They tell you about wrinkles forming as you age, but the droop is worse. They lie about their cosmetics being anti-aging, too, I thought. The numerous and expensive skin creams that I had collected over the last few years had been a total waste of money.

I scarcely remember Aunt Mandy. I don't remember Uncle Frank at all, since he died when I was very young.
I scarcely remember Aunt Mandy. I don't remember Uncle Frank at all, since he died when I was very young. | Source

The Mirror

The next morning I awoke to another dull and grey day. I decided that before I ate breakfast I would give the mirror a good cleaning. Natural light entered the attic from a small window. As I worked, a burst of sunlight broke through the grey clouds and hit the mirror. Something sparkling on my sweater in my reflection caught my eye. I looked closely and saw to my amazement that my reflection was wearing an opal brooch edged with gold. Had I attached a piece of my aunt’s jewelry to my sweater without thinking? I slapped my hand on my chest and looked down. There was no brooch there!

My reflection stepped back with me, her eyes wide in shock, every action in tune with mine. Every time I moved to feel the spot where the brooch should be she did too. I backed up to the edge of the attic by the stairs, and she did the same thing in her attic. Everything I did, she did in sync with me—but still the brooch remained on her sweater and was absent on mine.

My reflection's brooch bore a scarab.
My reflection's brooch bore a scarab. | Source

The Comfort of Tea

Eventually I went downstairs, shaken. I turned and went upstairs and downstairs again several times in succession, but the brooch remained on my reflection. My mind was racing. How could this possibly be explained? I was too tense to eat breakfast and left the house for a brisk walk around the neighbourhood instead.

I returned to my aunt’s house with no logical explanation in my mind, even though I had been thinking about the situation the whole time that I had been walking. I made myself a bowl of cereal and a cup of hot tea, which I drank slowly, scared to go back up into the attic and hoping for some solace. I washed my face and brushed my teeth, trying to delay the inevitable. Eventually, I reluctantly climbed the stairs to the attic once again.

A cup of hot green tea can be comforting—up to a point.
A cup of hot green tea can be comforting—up to a point. | Source

The Sweater

As I looked at the mirror from the top of the stairs, my reflection did too. In dread I slowly walked towards the mirror and realized that there had been another change. My multicolored sweater was made from a mixture of red, navy, and black fibres. Hers now had yellow fibres added to the mix—and she still wore the brooch.

Strangely, as we stared at each other, I began to relax. I even gave the reflection a faint smile, and she did too. Daringly, I placed my hand upon the mirror to meet hers, but felt nothing other than the cold surface of the mirror.

The changes continued throughout the first day and beyond. As the week progressed, I visited the mirror more frequently. I went downstairs only for essentials, like meal preparation and bathroom visits, and left the house only to buy food and other necessities. I ate my meals in front of the mirror, as she did, fascinated by the changes that were occurring. The reflection always moved in harmony with me, but her appearance gradually changed, sometimes as I watched.

Despite the changes in the reflection, she continued to wear the brooch. I loved its iridescent centre and its golden border. When we came close enough, I could see that the border contained figures of Ancient Egyptians as well as a beetle and other decorations. I didn't think of the word "scarab" for the beetle until later.

Capturing a reflection
Capturing a reflection | Source

Behind the Mirror

Finally the day arrived when my reflection's clothes had changed so much that she was wearing a completely different outfit from me. Instead of my sweat pants and oversized sweater she wore a little dress that showed off her slender shape. She isn’t like me after all, I thought—and she has a better figure. Her hair was pinned up and looked rather attractive. I’ve never managed to get that effect with my thick hair. Even with many pins it looks unkempt and messy. It always falls down by lunch time if I put it up in the morning. As I looked at her I sighed and wrapped some strands of hair around my ear.

A cold jolt shot through my body as I realized that she hadn’t moved her hand. A slow smile spread over her face, while mine stayed frozen in horror. Then she spoke.

“I’ve been trying to communicate with you all week,” she said. “I’m so glad that we can finally connect.” Her friendly tone partially relieved the terror that I felt.

“Who are you?” I asked weakly.

“Who am I?” she said, laughing. “Amy, you know who I am!”

Now I was even more confused, as well as scared, and had to struggle to remain calm. She seemed so happy, almost dancing with joy as she moved freely around her attic.

A world of mysteries
A world of mysteries | Source

Exploring the Unknown

As I watched my reflection with a strange mixture of curiosity and fear, a delightful idea suddenly occurred to me. This would explain everything, I thought in both relief and excitement, for the topic was of interest to me. “Are you in a parallel universe?” I asked. For a moment I was certain that she must be another version of myself in another universe, and that somehow the two universes had come into contact with each other. As she frowned and shook her head, my confidence plunged and panic tried to surface again.

“Then you’re a ghost!” I said as the thought entered my mind, hoping very much that she would deny this too.

“No,” she said, sounding irritated.

“Now that we can communicate you should be able to understand, Amy,” she said, coming very close to the surface of the mirror. I stepped back in alarm, seeing that she looked younger than me and smelling the sweet scent of Lily of the Valley perfume—the one that my mother used to wear on special occasions. “You created me. I am what you want to be. Every time you looked in the mirror with dissatisfaction or desire you made me stronger. And now here I am!

“I didn’t make you!” I said, doubting my statement as soon as I made it.

“Amy, that’s silly,” she said, no longer smiling and for a moment sounding like my mother. “You made me to complement you. You know that we belong together—two of us as one. You created me so that our union would give you what you lacked.”

Reaching out
Reaching out | Source

Connecting

As my reflection finished speaking I saw that the surface of the mirror was becoming blurred and I felt a presence beginning to surround me.

“No! Don’t!” I screamed in panic, trying to push her away and regain control of my legs, which refused to move.

She paused, looking hurt and puzzled, and I felt her thoughts hanging in the air . “But we are meant to be part of each other,” she said, sounding like a little child. “Why did you make me if you didn’t want to join with me?”

“I don’t want to join with you!” I shouted, as tears appeared in her eyes. “and I didn’t make you! “ I said again. “Leave me alone!”

“How could you not want to become one?” she asked, her voice trembling. I felt the tears well up in my eyes as hers began to fall. “ You made me because you need me,” she whimpered, once again trying to blend. This time I was able to push back with more power and move away from the mirror, where she seemed to be suspended, half in and half out of the mirror.

Sadness
Sadness | Source

The Decision

Crying tears that didn’t belong to me, I ran downstairs, leaving my reflection sobbing in the attic. To my relief she didn’t follow me, but I could feel her anguish, which in a strange way seemed to be my anguish, too. I tossed my belongings into my case as fast as I could and left the house, locking the front door. As I ran down the road I felt her presence gradually weaken until it had completely disappeared.

I told my aunt’s lawyer that I wanted to sell the house and its contents. That was two years ago. All my reflections that I have seen in any mirror or reflective surface since then have been just that—lifeless images.

I went back to New Brunswick last year and walked by Aunt Mandy’s house. I had remembered my long-forgotten knowledge of the scarab's association with regeneration. The house had been painted a different colour and children were playing in a sandbox in the front garden. Sadly, I could feel no hint of any created presence related to me.

Questions & Answers

  • Why do we want to see ourselves in a mirror?

    I’m not a psychologist, but it seems to me that we often look in mirrors for reassurance of our self-worth. The view sometimes has the opposite effect, however. Some people may be able to look at themselves objectively in a mirror to check a feature that they can’t otherwise see, such as their face, the back of their head, or the inside of their mouth. They may not be able to do this without making a judgment of some kind, though. The judgment may be linked to strong emotions. Mirror use and its meaning is an interesting topic to think about.

© 2011 Linda Crampton

Comments

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    • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Crampton 

      5 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you very much for the comment, Shannon. The thought of what we want to be versus what we are was strong in my mind when I wrote the story.

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon Henry 

      5 weeks ago from Texas

      Just now seeing this. The kind of story to give a person chills. Not because of the ghostly quality to it that can be a little creepy, but because the story is a kind of indirect commentary on human tendency to try to change. What we actually are versus what we want to be. Interesting story. Surprised I haven't seen it sooner.

    • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Crampton 

      2 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, Peg. I miss drbj. She was a witty and interesting person. Thank you very much for the comment about the story.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      2 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      As I scrolled down the comments, I couldn't help but see our mutual and departed friend drbj and read her other-worldly comment. Your story held me captive to the end, too, with its detail and ongoing mystery. I loved this. Can't believe I missed finding it for so long.

    • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Crampton 

      9 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you very much for the comment, Yugant. I loved exploring books in the library when I was a child, too. I still do as an adult!

    • profile image

      Yugant Khand 

      9 months ago

      Your style of writing reminds me of my school days in the library. Reading those treasures troves and getting swayed in the story. Such stories have always inspired me to write.

    • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Crampton 

      14 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you very much, vivek.

    • profile image

      vivek 

      14 months ago

      awesome Alicia

    • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Crampton 

      23 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      You're welcome, newbiethegreat. I hope you have a good year in your college.

    • newbiethegreat profile image

      Richard 

      23 months ago from Nanjing City, Jiangsu Province, P.R. China

      Thanks a lot for your two replies, AliciaC. I'm a Chinese college teacher of Basic English Writing.

    • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Crampton 

      23 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi again, newbiethegreat. No, I didn't intend for there to be any implication of incest. Amy is sad that her aunt has died because the aunt was her father's sister and was loved as a sibling. The family relationship provided a psychological link to Amy's father. Even though Amy had little contact with her aunt, she is saddened by the thought that the link has been broken.

    • newbiethegreat profile image

      Richard 

      23 months ago from Nanjing City, Jiangsu Province, P.R. China

      Hi, AliciaC.

      Thanks for your reply.

      There's another question for you and I hope you will give me a reply too. The question is, what do you mean by "my aunt had died because my father had been fond of her"? Anything implied here? Does it mean that this aunt committed suicide because of her incest with the protagonist's late father? Am I going too far here?

      I love your short story and I guess my students will like it too. But there's this question remaining which I hope you will help me with so that I can fully understand your short story.

      Thanks.

    • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Crampton 

      23 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, newbiethegreat. Thanks for the comment. I'll answer your first questions to begin with. Amy is fascinated by her reflection while there is no physical contact between the two of them. The thought of a sudden union with the reflection, which Amy didn't initiate and which she is unprepared for, is frightening, however. Amy doesn't completely understand the nature of the being in the mirror. In addition, although the reflection seems to be an improved version of herself, which is desirable, it also reminds her of her mother, a woman who told her that she was silly.

      As the last sentence is meant to indicate, Amy does eventually regret her decision to escape from her reflection. Her life hasn't improved and she is now prepared to take the risk of a union. Unfortunately, it's too late. She can no longer sense the presence of the reflection.

      I'll answer your next questions now. HubPages could be thought of as the mother site for twenty-five niche sites, including letterpile. That's why you had to register for HubPages. Welcome to the site, by the way!

    • newbiethegreat profile image

      Richard 

      23 months ago from Nanjing City, Jiangsu Province, P.R. China

      Hi, AliciaC.

      This is a great story. I would like to recommend it to my college students and I will discuss it with them and also let them discuss it with each other.

      I've got a question for you. Why do you make your protagonist run away from her reflection? Is it because life has changed her completely and she finds it impossible to be her former self any more? Have you ever thought of any possible alternative ending, which might be better than this one we now have ?

      By the way, I'm new here. Would you lease tell me what the relationship between Letterpile and HubPages is. I get confused. Just now when I was browsing the web to find out which of "cause analysis" and "causal analysis" is what native English speakers use, I found Letterpile by chance. I read your story here and wanted to sign up with it. But when I finished my signing up, I found I was registered with HubPages. What a mess! What is their relationship?

    • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Crampton 

      2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for such a lovely comment, JC! I appreciate it very much.

    • profile image

      JC 

      2 years ago

      I could not stop reading this. Mesmerizing and hauntingly capturing.

      Loved it. Thank you so much for sharing this!

    • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Crampton 

      3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you very much, Monique. I appreciate your visit and comment!

    • Vagabond Laborer profile image

      Vagabond Laborer 

      3 years ago

      Alicia C,

      I so enjoyed this short story. I believe it has echoes of "The Picture of Dorian Gray," by Oscar Wilde.

      As is usual for you, great hub!

      Best,

      Monique

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 

      6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      you're welcome, alicia

    • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Crampton 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I've enjoyed getting to know you and your work too, PDXKaraokeGuy! Thanks for the comment.

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 

      6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      indeed, alicia. Keep up the good work. it's been a pleasure getting to know u through your work and comments on the HUB

    • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Crampton 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for the visit and the comment, arusho. No, Amy doesn't join with her mirror image, although there is a slight merging of the two personalities while Amy is still in her aunt's house. She is able to cast off her reflection's influence and prevent the union when she runs away, but later regrets stopping her reflection from joining with her.

    • arusho profile image

      arusho 

      6 years ago from University Place, Wa.

      I really enjoyed this story, does she meld with her mirror self eventually? Great hub!

    • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Crampton 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks a lot for the comment and the vote, Eiddwen!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 

      6 years ago from Wales

      So very naturally and beautifully told.

      I loved it and vote up up and away!!

      Eiddwen.

    • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Crampton 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you very much for the kind comment and for the votes, MM! I appreciate your visit. Best wishes to you too.

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 

      6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Alicia, a creepy story that has given me goosebumps!

      I loved it, this has to be one of my favourites here on HubPages, well done!

      Voting up/awesome, best wishes MM

    • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Crampton 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, mar. Thanks so much for reading my story and for the comment and the votes.

    • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Crampton 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks a lot for the visit and the votes, mary615. Good luck to you too!

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      6 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Dear Alicia,

      So thought provoking and well scribed... a case where we are not always ready to see what is really looking at us in the mirror. Voted UP & AB & fascinating, mar.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      6 years ago from Florida

      Good story: creepy, but good. I like stories like this where the ending is a surprise. Good luck with this one! Voted it Up, etc.etc.

    • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Crampton 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you very much for the visit and the comment, Nell. Amy would like to know what would have happened if she had joined with her reflection, too, which is why she expresses regret in the last sentence.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      6 years ago from England

      Hi, that was riveting! I couldn't wait to see what happened, I don't blame her for running, me too! lol but I would love to know what would have happened if she had let the reflection step out!

    • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Crampton 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, b. Malin. Thanks a lot for the vote up and for the lovely comment as well!

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 

      6 years ago

      Wow Alicia, that was Scary, but made for a Wonderful Story, so well told, so well written.I certainly was Intrigued from beginning to end. Voted UP.

    • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Crampton 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you very much for the comment, Minnetonka Twin. I appreciate your visit!

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 

      6 years ago from Minnesota

      Bravo Alicia on keeping me glued to Every word of your short story. You sure have a gift of writing mysteries. Keep then coming :-)

    • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Crampton 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you, Enlydia Listener. It's very interesting to learn new things from comments! Guided imagery sounds like a fascinating process.

    • Enlydia Listener profile image

      Enlydia Listener 

      6 years ago from trailer in the country

      Very well done...beautiful. I was thinking as I read it that it reminded me not only of hypnotherapy, but of guided imagery which I use a lot. In it you have interaction with the Other or Others.

    • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Crampton 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      That's very interesting, CMHypno! No, I wasn't aware of the hypnotherapy technique that you describe, but the need to be whole was one of the things that I was thinking about in relation to the joining of Amy and her reflection. Thanks for the interesting comment.

    • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Crampton 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for the visit and the comment, Mercia. It's nice to meet you!

    • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Crampton 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, PDXKaraokeGuy. Thanks for the comment. I'm very glad that you found the story interesting!

    • CMHypno profile image

      CMHypno 

      6 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

      Very creepy Alicia. Did you know that in hypnotherapy one of the techniques we use for weight loss is to get people to visualise themselves looking in a mirror and seeing themselves as their ideal weight? Maybe your character needed to integrate this other Amy to be whole?

    • Mercia Collins profile image

      Mercia Collins 

      6 years ago from United Kingdom

      beautifully told!

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 

      6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      Veery good. I usually skim hubs this long, but i read every word of this one. Like your style!

    • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Crampton 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks a lot, Becky!

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 

      6 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      A wonderful story.

    • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Crampton 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you so much for the visit, drbj. I appreciate your comment very much.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      6 years ago from south Florida

      Powerful and other-worldly, Alicia - it held my interest to the very end. Well done.

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