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Let Yourself Through

Vanity Kills

By Andrew Forrest BakerPublished 3 months ago 7 min read
Let Yourself Through
Photo by Amir Geshani on Unsplash

The mirror showed a reflection that wasn’t my own. The lips, fuller and washed over with a deep shade of crimson, twisted effortlessly into a smirk beneath the slimmer nose, the ice-blue eyes. Gone were the worry lines between them, the bags beneath the irises which seemed to pack heavier and darker with each passing day. The creases, hard-earned from the stresses of too much work and too little pay, were absent from my cheeks; and the thinning at my temples I had only just started to notice was replaced with thick, lush strands of hair. Too, the skin in my reflection was clear and dewy and glistened there on the glass as if it were forever-kissed by the faint light of morning.

The clerk—Georgina from her name tag—grinned from beside me, raising her eyebrows in such a way that the twinkle in her eye leapt straight into mine.

“This could be you,” she said. “This mirror: it shows your future. Your best possible self.”

I felt my chest tighten then heave in a heavy sigh, but the reflection remained happy and beaming.

“I don’t know,” I said. “What does it cost?”

Georgina’s smile widened. I could almost see her lick her lips in anticipation as she leaned toward me.

“Let’s see,” she said, clutching my chin in her fingers and tossing my head from side to side. “A bit of filler for the lips. And between the brows. We’ll also need some buffing cream for your pores; a light acid wash around the eyes… Could probably do an injection here… here… and here…. The finishing spray is an absolute must.” She clicked her tongue as she stepped back to look me over once more. “All in, I’d say we’re looking at twenty, maybe twenty-five grand. Pennies in the long run for this level of beauty.”

She directed my eyes back to the looking glass. The person in the reflection did look radiant. She winked at me, and I felt my cheeks flush with excitement.

I’d always dreamed of being beautiful. Not in the everyone-has-some-sort-of-inner-beauty kind of way, but in the real, physical, turn-every-head-when-I-walk-into-the-room way. It was incredibly vain of me, I know, but I couldn’t help it. Ever since I was a child that desire had overwhelmed me. It’s what brought me here to begin with.

When I’d first found the advertisement, stuck under my apartment door with the rest of the mailers and junk postcards, I’d almost thrown it away. Yet something about the promise, right there in bold lettering electrified on the page, drew me in: Let Yourself Through. It was so simple, but it rang so true to me, like it was exactly what I’d needed to hear. I could let myself through. I could be the person I knew I was deep down inside. It was as if suddenly, upon seeing the advertisement, it was all I could think about. I ignored that this new shop was situated down an alley in the broken and downtrodden warehouse district of town, that its location was not even identifiable on a map. I thought nothing of the odd, vibrational hum which echoed throughout the building but seemed to nullify once I’d entered the front door of the shop. It meant nothing to me that Georgina—her name and her features—seemed to fade from my memory as soon as she was no longer in my sight. Plus, the consolation was free. What did I have to lose?

The woman in the mirror looked at me expectantly.

“That’s a little steep for me,” I conceded. “Or a lot steep for me, actually.”

Georgina pouted, her lips pursed out in an exaggerated kiss, and I caught the reflection doing the same.

“I’m really sorry to have wasted your time,” I said.

I tried to stand, but Georgina’s fingers wrapped my shoulders and forced me back into my chair. She inhaled sharply as she directed my gaze back into the mirror, pointing until my eyes locked in on what should have been my own.

“There is another way,” she whispered, and I felt my throat seize as she spoke.

My eyelids fluttered as I tried to ignore the reflection in the mirror, but there she was, winking back at me with long, lush lashes which seemed to stretch like flowers toward the light, hypnotizing me as the drew me deeper inside until I could no longer….


I broke from the gaze and twisted my head toward the clerk.

“I really should be going,” I said. “My roommate is expecting me.”

I hoped the lie would loosen the grip Georgina still had on my shoulder blades. I could feel the tension in her ruby red fingernails as they jabbed into my skin. Her perfect lips twisted into a snarl, and, from the corner of my eye, I could see the same expression on what should have been my face in the mirror’s reflection.

“Don’t you want to be beautiful?” Georgina asked.

The bile coating her words dripped like acid to the floor. I shuddered as the reflection echoed the same sentiment in what could have been my voice.

“Don’t you want to be perfect?” they asked.

Their voices were nearing unison. They surrounded me. They snapped. They growled. They tried to consume me.

“Don’t you want to let yourself through?”

Georgina pushed my head forward, training my eyes once more on the reflection. I tried my best to avoid looking directly at it, even as long talons which were nothing like my own nails pushed at the glass. They broke through and gripped the sides of the mirror as if the glass were nothing more than illusion. I felt the air leave my chest. My mind swirled and clouded. The entirety of my existence seemed lost to oblivion.

I heard Georgina laugh—a wicked, angry noise—as the reflection that wasn’t my own pushed closer into my reality. My heart throbbed. My face flushed. And soon, the only sound was the cackle of the reflection moving closer and closer toward my prone body. I wanted to force my eyes closed, but I could not look away.

My thoughts waned until they no longer felt like my own. I struggled to hold onto anything specific for longer than a few wistful seconds. I was gone. I was lost. Until—

There it was: a brief glimpse of myself. Me, as I truly was, with all my imperfections. Me, as only I could be. It wasn’t much, but it was enough. Enough to hold onto for a brief second. Just long enough to—

I pulled my knees close to my chest, listening to the cries of the reflection, of Georgina still grasping my shoulders from behind. Quickly, I pushed forward with my legs, finding purchase on the table and sending my chair backward with just enough force to relax Georgina’s grip.

I leapt to my feet. The silence was sudden and deafening. I felt my mind returning. I felt myself becoming whole.

Inhaling deeply, I reached toward the mirror. The cloying reflection oscillated between fear and terror and beauty and love, as if it was all of those things—as if it wanted me to believe it was everything I could never be. I felt myself go still, captivated once again, even as Georgina’s low growl behind my turned to a sudden shriek. I felt her leap.

“Move!” I heard myself yell.

So I did.

I stepped aside just as Georgina landed. Glass shattered, slicing at the clerk like claws, like birds of prey. She wailed as she pooled on the floor, her beauty and her blood and her every desire attempting to force the shards back together.

I pulsed as I found myself once more and fled, leaving behind the little shop, the warehouse, the alley. I ran. I ran until I reached my doorstep. I ran until I’d thrown myself inside. I could still feel myself running. Running so very far away. I heaved against the inside of the locked door as I caught my breath. Each inhale brought calm; each exhale brought peace. I was safe. I was safe.

“You okay, sweetie?”

I wanted to cry as I made my way into the kitchen to answer my roommate’s question. I had no clue what to tell her. There’s no way she—or anyone else for that matter—would ever believe me.

As I rounded the corner, I froze in my tracks. Rebecca’s lips, fuller and washed in a brilliant shade of crimson, twisted into a smile. Her lush eyelashes tracked toward the heavens in prayer as she winked at me.

“It’s okay, sweetie,” she said. “You’re home now. It’s time. Come on, dear. Let yourself through.”


About the Creator

Andrew Forrest Baker

he | him

Southern gothic storyteller.

My new novel, The House That Wasn't There, is out now from April Gloaming Publishing.

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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