First time I’ve shown this to anyone, I hope you enjoy:
The little girl in the mirror was gone. Had been gone for quite a while now.
The first time I’d seen her, I was coming out of the shower. Out of habit, I’d pawed for my glasses on the stand beside the bathroom sink, but when I slipped them onto my face, I gave out an involuntary gasp. There was a little girl standing behind me, dark hair, pale face, hollow, empty eyes. Or so seemed my bathrobe on the hook on the wall behind me, reflected in the fogged bathroom mirror, seen through my likewise foggy lenses.
I felt silly, a grown man, scared of a towel. Good thing Shelly wasn’t around; she’d have given me no end of grief. Not that she’d ever seemed to lack excuses to do so, after all, I had no ambition, or I didn’t make enough money, or I didn’t help out with the housework enough, or I didn’t pay enough attention to her or… I shook my head, snapping myself out of the downward spiral. We hadn’t been good for each other, but that part of my life was over and done with, no need to dwell on it anymore.
Still, I tossed the robe into the hamper with a shiver, making my way, nude, to the living room, where my pajamas lay on the opened hide-a-bed sofa. Since the breakup, sleeping in the big bed just didn’t feel right.
A few days later, she was back. A casual attempt at cleaning earlier in the day had somehow left the impression of a face on the misty surface. Smaller than the reflection of the towel had been, but still somehow the same face, the same accusation in her shadowed eyes.
Wait, accusation? What had brought that word to mind?
The next night, she was a dark hand-towel, glimpsed out of the corner of my eye as I opened the medicine cabinet, looking for a fresh tube of toothpaste. Later that week, a random swirl in my shaving cream took on the familiar shape.
I was seeing faces where there weren’t any, like when NASA thought they saw a human face on Mars. A quick check of the internet put a name to my problem: pareidolia. Like the cheerful expression of a Volkswagen.
Or the scary little girl hiding in my mirror.
Obviously, something was bothering me, but I was damned if I could figure out what it was.
So I gave her a name and made a point of greeting her when I came out of the shower. “Good evening, Miss Emily, and how are we doing tonight?”
“Oops, sorry Emmy, didn’t see you there, mind if I get my towel?”
She wouldn’t manifest for a few days, but then, there she’d be, a cobweb in the corner, a wisp of vapor coming out of the shower.
“Emily, you get to bed this instant. What would your mother say if she saw you spying on me?”
And then she was gone. I kept greeting her, carrying on conversations at times, as I shaved or toweled my hair dry, but one day I realized I hadn’t seen her for….
A week? Two?
I found myself trying to look around the edges of the mirror, pushing my cheek, my forehead, my chin right up to the glass as if I’d be able to see through, beyond the frame and past the silvered surface. Where was she?
It was useless.
One night, months after her first appearance, I grabbed a second mirror, one of my ex-wife’s old hand-helds that she’d left behind when she’d gone, trying to find the source of an itch between my shoulder blades, and, while unsuccessfully manipulating the doubled reflection, I saw her again, clearly this time, standing in the doorway, the front of her white dress soaked in blood. The mirror slipped from my hand and shattered on the floor below.
“Shit, Emily, what happened to you?” and I turned, but she was gone. Reaching down, I picked up the largest shard, a long, thin wedge the length of my hand, and looked again, just glimpsing the hem of her dress, disappearing in the direction of the bedroom. Stepping carefully, I backed out into the hallway, gaze directed firmly into the reflection of the world over my shoulder.
As I made my way into the bedroom, I began to hear her as well. It was a wet, gasping, bubbling noise. I momentarily lowered the fragment to my chest, and the sound diminished as I opened the door that had been closed since…
I tried not to look at the reflection of the bed, at the spreading stain, the glassy stare, but then a hand, fingers small and perfectly formed, reached over the top of the shard of silver. “Daddy, why?”
I raised the blade again.