Click here to download a pdf version for printing: The Mirror
This was the time of year that Amelia referred to as Dark Pumpkin Days. That leaf-whirled time scented with ambers and grays, when extra shadows crept in the corners of your sight, and big dramatic winds gusted through the empty streets and trailed off like exhausted sighs.
Amelia was scuffing her shoes against the pavement in an imitation of a run when she saw the winking silver glint up from the tar darkness. She slowed her shuffling gait in small pauses until she had to peer over her shoulder to see what had caught her attention. She hesitated, balanced delicately on the edge of indecision. She gave a brief glance down the street to her home, her backpack bumping gracelessly. She pulled on the straps and hiked it up higher on her back as she meandered over to the small reflection of light pooled on the ground.
She toed it the way one might a dead bird until it came into a sudden focus of understanding. It was a mirror, webbed and misted with cracks. She regarded it solemnly, hands twisting on her backpack straps, unsure why she had even bothered to stop, and saw the disjointed tumble of her own reflection.
She toed it again, disgusted, about to walk away when a fluttering in the mirrored depths stopped her. She licked her lips and bent for a closer perusal.
There was something moving within her reflection and as she hunkered down her skirt fluttered in a slim breeze that flashed the white of her underwear. Her own face dulled down to almost nothing and she could see a boy, running in an ocean of grass. The sun curled over his face in flurries of apricot and gold. His features were shaped with joy, expectation, and unconstricted freedom.
Suddenly he bent his legs sharply and jumped up into the sky which was deepening from a pale, pearled light to whisper tones of jade and periwinkle, to their union in a vivid viridian that bell-toned into a severe, hushed midnight blue.
Stars, like paint-flecks, were stippled in wide stretches of silence that hummed and bass-rumbled with sheer distance. The boy flew up, landing on a large, barren rock the size of a house, rotating on its axis. He looked up and at the edges of his vision another small planet whirled.
He bent down again and jumped towards it, his momentum just beginning to slow before being caught by its gravity and pulled sharply in.
It was made of deep copper, golden swirls, and discarded teeth. The boy picked one up and tucked it in his pocket. Then jumped to the next planet that was only room sized but covered in moss and roses the color of bruises.
The next planet was bigger, the size of several neighborhoods, and completely enclosed in a membrane of tall buildings that jutted out into the dark of space like a metal spine curving in on itself. The boy jumped and flew down into the secret darkness between the buildings’ edges until he landed softly on his feet in a room at the very bottom shadowed almost entirely by walls and only visible through a slim blueness that distilled down from above.
The room was mosaicked in metallic hues that expanded the dim light and surrounded large, sepia lidded eyes of all sizes that blinked discordantly with one another.
The boy looked confused and began searching for a way out. He thrust his hands in his pockets and Amelia thought he might be looking for the tooth he had picked up but all he found was sand that poured and pooled on the floor until it was sheathed in the fine particulates. Then the sea began to lap at the edges and the boy was standing in the surf, his faced turned to the wind and the storm cloud sky sank lower while he held his arms open to it.
The images faded and in a rush of breath Amelia saw her own face remerge like some burnished creature from the murky depths of its own mind and she gasped in shock at how unfamiliar it seemed.
A lost strand of sunlight spilled onto the mirror and briefly revived the image of the running boy. In a sense of unrealness Amelia reached her bronze fingers gently towards it and with a shy possessiveness picked it up, standing quickly, and with guilty haste shoved it into the pocket of her skirt.
She had no idea where it had come from, who it belonged to, or what she was going to do with it, but she knew it was hers now. No one else could have it. It was hers alone. Forever.