The front door to my apartment was ajar, causing me to stop in my tracks. Leah was pretty anal about keeping it closed and locked at all times, regardless of if we were home. “You never know when a rapist could be on the loose” she always said. That’s why I stopped short of walking through it, even though I could see a light on inside.
“Leah?” I called.
I heard quick footsteps rushing to the door from inside and took two panicked steps backward. Leah’s head popped out and my fear turned to irritation.
And my irritation became shock as she shoved a winning scratcher lotto ticket in my face displaying a shimmering $100,000!
“Oh my- Is that real?!” I snatched the ticket from her hand to inspect it more closely. Looked real to me.
“Yes! Get in here!” She grabbed my wrist and pulled me into the apartment, closing and locking it behind me. “Can you believe it?! I’M RICH!” She took the ticket back and started jumping up and down in time with a maniacal laugh.
“That’s awesome! When are you going to redeem it?” She didn’t respond, only continued to jump, laugh, and stare adoringly at the ticket as though she hadn’t heard me. “Leah? Leah!”
She finally looked up. “What?”
“When are you going to redeem it?”
“Oh right. I can do that tomorrow.”
“Don’t you have work tomorrow?”
“I got fired, but it doesn’t matter because I’m RICH!”
“What?!” I listened in disbelief as she told me about her mom’s emergency surgery followed by losing her job because she needed to be with her today rather than going into work. “Oh, Leah, I’m so sorry.”
“It’s okay, everything is going to turn around now, I uncovered the mirror.”
I stood in confused silence for a moment. “You...what?”
“Oh nothing, it doesn’t matter. Just don’t worry about my mom or anything, okay? It’ll all be fine!” With that, she merrily loped into her bedroom and shut the door, leaving me, totally bewildered, in the kitchen. What the hell did the stupid mirror have to do with literally anything?
I let it go and turned on the TV, waiting for her to come back out so we could finish watching our current season of The Bachelor, but she never showed. Odd, I thought, but considering how stressful the last 24 hours were for her, I figured she must be bushed, so I brushed it off and put on something else. After a few hours of complete silence from her room, I crept up and put an ear to her door. Nothing. She didn’t say anything about going to bed early, which she normally at least says goodnight. Rather than analyze her weird behavior, I just turned off the TV and went to bed.
I woke to the familiar feeling of needing to pee and sleepily rose from my bed and headed for the bathroom. On my way out, I noticed Leah’s light on from the crack under her door. My watch said 3:30AM. What is her deal lately?
I knocked softly on her door. “Leah?” I cracked it after a few seconds and poked my head in.
She was still in her clothes from the previous day, sitting on the edge of her bed staring intently at the mirror, but not her reflection. Her gaze was fixated on something just to the right of herself.
“Hey, what are you doing up?” I probed.
Not even a glance in my direction. She wouldn’t even blink, her face lacking any real emotion.
Maybe she’s sleepwalking. I inched the door open further and took a step toward her. “Leah. Wake up.”
Very slowly, she turned her head to look at me, still unblinking, her bleak expression unchanging. Her whole body stayed perfectly still as she stared and stared at me. My stomach did a little flip and my fight or flight response tickled the back of my mind while we stared at each other.
“Leah?” My voice was shaky and timid. Her deadened expression was her only response.
Finally, my flight response took over. I swallowed hard and I backed out of her room. Her eyes followed me. I skipped the bathroom and just tiptoed to my bedroom as quickly and quietly as possible, locking the door behind me. There was no way I was going to sleep now, with the uneasy feeling coursing through my body.
I didn’t see her the next morning before I left for work, and was too shaken to knock on her door again. I dreaded the workday after several hours of staring at my ceiling with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, debating whether or not there was something really wrong with Leah.
I was not able to focus on work the entire day, partly because of how tired I was, and partly because I couldn’t stop thinking about Leah’s completely unnerving expression, or lack thereof. Her stare at the mirror was creepy, but not nearly as creepy as when she turned to stare at me.
It occurred to me that she could still be playing me, like she was the other night when she tried to convince me she’d seen something in that mirror. I didn’t believe in ghosts or the supernatural, so there had to be a good explanation here. By the end of the workday, I was convinced that one of two things happened: she was either sleepwalking, or continuing her prank. Probably the prank. If it happened again, I was just going to ignore her until she gave up, no matter how much her prank may have worked this time.
When I got home, I just walked through the open front door.
“Leah?” I was relieved to see her, normal expression and all, come out from her room.
“Hey! Guess what.”
“You left the front door open twice in a row?”
“No. Mom was discharged from the hospital today.” I grimaced at her dodge of my accusation, then smiled.
“That’s great! How’s she feeling?”
“She’s totally fine! The doctors were even impressed at the rate she’s healing.”
“That’s fantastic. Did you redeem the scratcher?”
“Oh, I didn’t have time today after picking Mom up from the hospital and making sure she was good at home.” I did grimace this time. “I’ll do it tomorrow, I promise.”
“Ok, suit yourself. So do you want to talk about last night?” I crossed my arms as I sat at the kitchen table.
Leah grabbed two Angry Orchards from the fridge, sat opposite me and slid one across the table. “What about last night?”
“Don’t do that, you know what I’m talking about.” I twisted off the cap and took a swig of the cider.
Her brow furrowed. “No...I don’t. We hung out, then went to bed.”
“What? We didn’t hang out last night, you spent all night in your room.”
She frowned, then shook her head and took a swig of cider. “Whatever. Let’s watch The Bachelor.” I decided she must’ve been sleepwalking, which she definitely wouldn’t remember, and let it go as we took our Angry Orchards to the living room.
I watched Leah throughout the rest of the night, but witnessed no oddities in her behavior. We didn’t mention the previous night again, and we only mocked the desperate women on The Bachelor for conversation.
Leah remained normal for the following couple days, no more middle-of-the-night freakouts, and she did eventually redeem her scratcher ticket. She paid me the $200 she owed me, and we had plans to go car shopping over the weekend to replace her current POS.
By Saturday afternoon, I’d all but forgotten the 3AM oddity with the mirror. While perusing expensive vehicles, I asked if she was still planning on selling the mirror.
“What? Why would I do that, I don’t need the money anymore.”
“Yeah, but it’s taking up so much of your room, and we don’t have anywhere else to put it. Don’t you want the space?”
“No.” Her expression became hard and defensive. “The mirror is not going anywhere.”
Taken aback, my eyes widened at the abrupt change in demeanor. “Ok, I was just wondering.”
After the matter of the mirror was dropped, her attitude did another 180, and she became cheerful again and continued excitedly inspecting the cars. After a couple hours of test driving, she hadn’t found one she loved so we called it quits for dinner and made plans to go to a different dealership another day.
We picked up dinner at a local taqueria we often frequented and took it home. Leah spilled some soda on her shirt in the car, so she went to change while I set out plates and pulled the to go containers out of the bags, laying them out on the stove and counter like a buffet. I also got a couple Angry Orchards out of the fridge and began building my plate.
I waited for ten minutes before I decided to start eating without her. How long did it take to change a shirt? She's probably trying to get the stain out. Twenty minutes. I was halfway through my dinner when I finally went to see what was taking so long.
I knocked lightly. “What’s taking so long?” No response. “Leah?”
I got an overwhelming sense of deja vu as I cracked her door, stuck my head in, and saw her sitting on the edge of her bed, still wearing the stained shirt, staring intently at the mirror with that deadened look on her face.
“Ok, seriously, this isn’t going to work a second time.” I opened the door all the way and put my hands on my hips. “You can quit the act.”
Unsurprisingly, she continued to sit and stare.
Nothing. My stomach dropped slightly.
“LEAH!” Anger squelched the rising fear and I stomped over and put my hand on her shoulder.
Without looking at me, Leah roughly shoved me back into the wall. I tried again and this time she looked at me and the deja vu continued with the death glare.
“Snap out of it!”
I blocked her hand as she tried to shove me again and slapped her across the face. My hand stung.
“Ow!” Leah put a hand to her cheek. “What the hell did you do that for?”
I let out a sigh of relief and stepped back. “You were completely out of it, staring at that mirror.”
“So I zoned out for a minute, you didn’t have to slap me!” She was still rubbing her cheek.
“You zoned out for over twenty minutes and shoved me back when I tried to snap you out of it the first time.”
“What? No I didn’t.”
I crossed my arms over my chest. “Can you just cut it out? This whole creepy mirror obsession thing is really starting to irritate me!”
“What mirror obsession?! I have no idea what you’re talking about. So I like the mirror, so what?”
“You know what, whatever. This conversation is exhausting, I’m gonna go finish eating.” I turned to leave her room. “Your food’s probably cold by now, by the way.” I closed the door on my way out.
That night, I woke to what sounded like pots and pans clanging together. My watch said 2:04AM. I opened my door and found Leah in the kitchen, lights on, emptying the cupboards.
I stepped into the kitchen and was shocked at how cold it was. Goose bumped appeared immediately on my uncovered arms and legs.
The kitchen floor was covered in food from the pantry: paper plates, bowls and cups, silverware, the pots and pans that I’d heard, and now she was going for the porcelain plates and bowls.
I jumped forward to stop her. “Whoa! Leah, don’t throw those-”
She turned from the dishes to stare at me and I stopped in my tracks, as though fear and shock had pulled the leash and I could no longer move. A deeply unsettling death glare adorned her face, much more menacing than any of the previous ones. Her head was tilted down, casting shadows on the bottom half of her face, and her eyes were wide, showing too much white than was natural. She stood completely still, hands at her sides.
I tried to summon the courage from earlier when I’d slapped her, but it was long gone, chased away by this murderous glare.
“Leah….What are you doing?”
“Stop interfering,” a woman’s voice I didn’t recognize came out of her mouth. I’d never heard of any sleepwalkers doing that.
“What’s going on?”
“Leave us alone, this is your last warning,” the strange voice said. She continued to stand motionless with that piercing glare.
Us? This isn’t a prank or sleepwalking. I quickly grabbed a small pot from the floor and ran to Leah’s bedroom. I could hear her rush after me, but I beat her to her room and the mirror. I lifted the pot into a batter’s stance, but dropped it in shock. The mirror was completely black.
“You shouldn’t have done that.”
I looked up to see Leah standing in the doorway.
I woke up very slowly, opening my eyes with great difficulty. I was in my bed, on my side and looking at the sunlight streaming in through my window. My head throbbed and I felt slightly nauseous. What happened last night?
A knock at my door made me jump.
“Morning, sleepy head!” Leah bellowed. I raised my head to look at her more clearly. She looked normal enough, but that didn’t stop the urge to vomit from fear at the sight of her. “You don’t look so good, are you feeling alright?”
“I’m gonna make you some oatmeal or something, you really don’t look good.” She left my door open as she wandered to the kitchen. Was the floor still covered in everything from the cupboards?
I rose slowly and crept to my door, slowly peeking through the crack to see a perfectly normal kitchen, with nothing unusual on the floor. Leah was putting the kettle on the stove and turning it on.
“Hey, I’m gonna make tea, too,” Leah said when she turned and saw me.
“Ok, yeah, sounds good,” I tried my best to sound natural. “Thanks.”
I waited for her to turn her back to me before rushing to her room - as best I could, that is, my head was still mysteriously killing me. I had absolutely no recollection of how I lost consciousness or why my head would hurt, but I knew they were connected.
When I got to the mirror, I wasn’t surprised that it looked like a mirror again. I looked as long as I dared, not knowing if something creeptastic would happen if I continued to look too long.
Nothing seemed amiss, but I still planned on smashing the thing first chance I got. I left Leah’s bedroom and went back to the kitchen to find it empty.
I turned to look at the empty living room. “Leah?” I called as I went to inspect my empty bedroom. I didn’t hear the door open or close and her keys rested on their usual hook, yet she was nowhere to be found.
I opened the front door, leaving it ajar as I took a couple steps to glance out to the parking lot. Her car was sitting in its usual spot as well. I went back inside and jumped as the kettle started to whistle on the stove. I took it off the hot burner and turned off the stove, leaving an eerie silence to suffocate me.
I turned to look in Leah’s bedroom again and yelped. The mirror was in the middle of the living room.
“Leah?! This isn’t funny!” No answer.
My pulse was vibrating through my whole body making my breath shake, as I listened as intently as I could for any sign of her. After a couple minutes, I took a deep breath and put one foot in front of the other to approach the mirror.
I looked behind it first - nothing supported it. It was standing straight up by itself. I looked in Leah’s empty room, including her closet, but no luck. I exited her room and headed for mine when I caught a glimpse of her in my peripheral vision and excitedly turned to see her - standing behind me, reflected in the mirror.
“Leah?!” I spun around to see that I was still alone. I slowly turned back to the mirror, my breathing reaching hyperventilation, to look at Leah’s unbearably sad face. Tears settled in my eyes as I began to panic.
“What happened?” I whispered.
She shook her head.
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Please take a look at the prequel to this story, Mirror, Mirror: Part I to find out how this mirror came into Alli and Leah's lives!