Emily is a teenage foster child who ironically is experiencing freedom in a maze of mirrors. She finds there is more to the maze than just her reflection, its her reflection of desire. Though she isn't the only one
The mirror showed a reflection that wasn't my own.
It showed numerous reflections actually. Tall me’s, skinny me’s, fat me’s. Versions of me that were all chest, like I was one of those buff bulldogs in the old Looney Tunes cartoons. Then others that were all legs, like a chicken.
I giggled at how silly I looked in the funhouse mirrors, younger kids did the same as they circled around like a school of fish. My mind dizzied with all the images, so much so that I almost ran into a mirror.
Screams indecipherable from agony or pleasure echoed within the fun house over the frantic carnival music.
The smell of sweat, fried carnival food, and cotton candy seemed to permeate the further I went. I wondered if this was what the inside of a clown smelled like.
This feeling I felt in the maze, despite how contradictory it seemed, was the most freedom I had been able to enjoy in a long time.
My newest foster parents Vernon, and Marcy saw to that. They saw us foster kids as a meal ticket for the most part. On rare occasions like this, they would take us out into the real world. They loved to make a show of it too, oh how kind Vernon and Marcy were to Emily, their child that wasn't even their own.
Apparently from what I found out over time, Marcy wasn't able to have children, and I began to guess that was why they seemed to resent me so much. I was a mirror held up to what they couldn't truly have. Despite this they decided to get into fostering. Lucky me.
I had lost myself in the maze now, I couldn't help but feel a sense of panic in the stuffy hallways. Though the longer I was away from them the better. Sweat dotted my forehead as I rounded a corner to another large room of mirrors, or at least it gave the effect of a large room. I walked forward until I painfully slammed my face into one of the walls. A hot sensation of pain pulsed through me, surging mainly to my nose. I cursed under my breath as I cupped my nose tightly.
I stepped back, and after wiping the tears from my eyes I looked at the sweaty smear that now adjourned the glass. Gross. I wiped my eyes fixing my blonde hair, and smiled nervously looking to see if anyone noticed my face plant.
I was alone thankfully, though I noticed that the mirror I ran into had pressed inward, making a gap. I looked around and pushed it open, it was another room of mirrors. It was dim inside, but some of the light from where I stood reflected its way in. There were several dark shapes inside.
After my eyes adjusted to the lack of light I realized it was more people, I wondered if they had seen me run into the mirror outside.
Much to my relief. They all stood uncaring, admiring their own reflections. I laughed again to myself, and was grateful they hadn’t seen me; or at least they had the kindness to pretend they hadn't.
I continued forward a little more carefully now, with my arms outstretched in front of me.
I entered the large room of glass, this time assured that I wasn't going to kiss a wall. My head twisted back toward the doorway, and I jumped as a flurry of children scurried past.
The frantic pace of the circus music seemed to quicken with the children and their laughter. One of them bumped the entrance ever so slightly, closing the door behind me.
I stood there as I took in the scene. Rolling fog, or smoke danced around the room. I noticed among the wall of typical mirrors were singular, unique mirrors that stuck out. It seemed each person found their way in front of one.
I walked past a portly gentleman who looked like he could work at a butcher shop, I glanced at his reflection as I passed, and a skinny man stared back at us from his mirror.
My eyes went wide as I walked past an elderly woman and her mirror, her reflection showed a beautiful young woman staring back, a smile twinkled in the reflection's eyes.
Lastly I walked past a young man, maybe late twenties or so, his reflection was merely himself though it had a joyful smile, where he himself did not. I had never seen anything like it, I wondered if these were computerized mirrors or something like that.
I found my way in front of an open mirror to the right of the young guy. It was rimmed with cracked, ancient looking wood. I looked at myself for a moment in it. It was nothing, no skinny me, no fat me, no squiggly version of me, just boring me. I stared at myself for a moment, my greasy blonde hair, my thick lips, the twice hand me down clothes, the still fresh bruise on my neck.
A flash of memory came to me of one of Vernon's drunken tirades, his hands wrapped around my throat. I fought off the shivers and I looked away from the mirror, I couldn't bare to look at it much longer. It was more fun when it made me into weird shapes. Anything that wasn't me.
My knees popped, as I prepared to walk away, but I found that I couldn't leave just yet. I looked at the others again, they all still seemed to be hypnotized.
I glanced out the side of my eyes at the young man. He was cute, he reminded me of a prince from one of the Disney movies. I spoke to him. “My mirror is kind of lame, how do you make it un-lame?” I asked the young man with a smile.
Aside from his sharp jawline moving, he stood completely still. Normally I'm nervous to talk to cute boys, but I felt compelled to ask him, anyone, about these mirrors. I spoke a tad louder this time, “Hey, you wanna switch mirrors with me?” My voice cracked, leading me to instantly flush red.
However, my embarrassment was only shared with myself, as this guy seemed completely unbothered, I may as well have been a million miles away in the middle of a hurricane.
“Dick,” I muttered as I shook my head, returning my gaze to my own mirror slowly.
What am I doing? I wondered to myself. When I returned my gaze to the mirror I noticed something different now. The bruise on my neck was gone. My hand patted the spot carefully.
Before I could even react further to this I now noticed my reflection was wearing a blazer, one like the fancy women on TV would wear in the courtroom dramas. I shook my head, blinking numerous times, it had to be a trick or something right? I looked away and back again, it was still there.
I watched as the reflection now went about their day, getting into a nice car, going to an airport, and finally into a private jet. It was everything I ever wanted for myself and more than I could imagine. I was making deals over the phone, in person. I was respected, and most importantly feared.
I started to look away but I couldn't take my eyes off it. I watched this woman's life before me, my life?
I was sure I was standing in front of the mirror for hours or days. I noticed the carnival music faded away. I could feel that it was just myself, and the others inside the funhouse now.
Vernon and Marcy would be looking for me, and furious. I could picture Vernon's red face, his “mean vein” as he called it, bulging on his forehead.
The brief moment of worry left me, passing as if it were a cloud in the sky. My focus centered on my mirror again. Though the sight in it was something I wasn't prepared for. In the mirror I saw myself standing over Vernon and Marcy, grasped in my hand a knife caked in blood.
I felt my stomach turn and do somersaults. I twisted my neck away from the sight, but deep down, I enjoyed it. I felt the knife in my hand, I could smell the iron in the air from the blood, I could feel the revenge. Revenge from years of being smacked around, locked in a basement, with darkness and a TV as my sole companions.
I didn't notice for probably minutes, though the mirror was motionless now. A boring, bruised, greasy haired girl stared back at me. My throat filled with hate, though a revelation came to me. It was as though hushed whispers told me a truth, and told me what they wanted.
Strangely, I wasn't surprised at what happened next. Condensation covered over my reflection as if someone breathed hot air onto it. I already knew what needed to happen even before I finished reading the drippy writing.
Only one may leave, the rest must stay.
Only one of us could leave this room.
Time stood still, I shuddered at the tension on my neck. It reminded me of an old western standoff. It was as if everyone was waiting for someone else to make the first move, until everyone moved at once.
As I turned, I prepared to go for the young man next to me which was natural. Though before I could do anything the elderly woman pulled out a can of mace, spraying him in the face. He screeched out in misery, it sounded almost as if he were a woman.
Behind them, the portly man charged forward to the old lady. She turned toward him with mace, though it was not in time. The spray may have gotten on his arms, but he lifted her clear off the ground crashing into the wall of mirrors.
She gasped as she bounced off the wall, glass shattering around her.
I took my chance now, I stomped on the young man's face with several vicious blows. He rolled away after the second blow. I tried to kick him again but he rolled over knocking me to the floor.
The fat man was choking out the old lady now, though she was not going without a fight, a feral scream made my ears ring. She clawed at the man's face and his eyes. He groaned out in guttural anger. He cast her aside and now his focus was on me.
I punched him square in his face, I don't know if it hurt him but it hurt my hand, I just knew I had to keep going. In order to get what I wanted I needed to be the last one to step out of this room. Despite the throbbing pain screeching at me I swung again, it was partially deflected by his hand swiping mine away.
He threw me against another mirror, the glass cracked behind me, some splashed to the ground. Before I knew it, he was on top of me, hands clasped around my throat. His face twisted in blood covered determination. I gagged to find no air, sound and air trapped. I tried to kick him but I couldn't generate enough force, he was just as determined as me, and he was much larger.
The room grew darker as the feeling started to leave my hands. I thought then of Vernon on top of me choking me, rage heated my insides and I prepared to do one final kick right into his groin.
Then, his grip loosened abruptly. He grunted in pain, “god damn it, you bitch!”
I heard glass crunching around next to me as it sounded like there was a struggle more than likely with the fat man and the younger guy.
As my eyes came to, I saw the young man laying in a puddle of blood beneath his neck. To my disbelief it was the old woman, writhing wildly on the fat man. His arms were keeping her at bay but she had bitten his forearm, a huge chunk of skin was missing. She made a sound like a moaning cat.
I crawled slowly to my hands and knees as the two tussled, he heavily piled on top of the women, she wheezed out more than likely all the air inside her.
I needed something to even the fight, my hand slowly grasped around a long jagged piece of glass. I stared at the reflection, a look of determination filled my bloodshot tear filled eyes.
The big man shook her violently, crushing the old lady on the ground. I could hear several pops with every thrash on the ground.
I recoiled as the piece of glass cut into my hand, though I knew there was no other option.
The old lady's hands fell finally dormant from the big man's neck. Just as he started to turn toward me I stabbed the glass as hard as I could into the side of his throat.
He groaned in pain as he started to come to his feet. I pulled my hand back, I screamed, again jabbing the piece into the side of his neck, the glass splintered in my hand deeply like a porcupine. A flash of light and pain sent me flying, he managed to elbow me in my face.
I fell to the ground as I prepared to fight more. His hand went to his neck as he stood,trying to plug a hole that he could not fill.
He let out a gurgled “no,”and fell heavily to the ground crunching glass beneath him.
I sat for a moment taking in what just happened. I had just killed a man and I couldn't be more relieved and happy. I laid on my bed of glass, laughing hysterically.
I slowly came to my feet, a sharp pain shot through my ankle. I realized I must have tweaked it in the fight. I limped my way from the hidden room of mirrors.
The next several hours, and years for that matter were all a blur. I left the massacre in the fun house to scores of people and police outside, apparently Vernon and Marcy reported me missing.
I had to explain the horrors of the fun house. I made up some vague lies. The big man snapped and attacked us, the others engaged as well as they tried to stop him. It turned into a free for all, and I managed to escape just nearly.
No one would suspect the teenager foster kid, why would they?
From there I was taken to the hospital to get stitches in my hand among other things, they took note of all my injuries including an older looking bruise around my neck. I told them the truth, that Vernon was an abusive, good for nothing drunk.
I was taken from them and I don't know what happened to them from there. I heard some years later they both died in a house fire.
I managed to get my way through school, against all the odds. Eventually getting my MBA among other degrees.
Immediately after graduating I opened my own firm, and came into a substantial sum of money from a long lost relative of mine. I now had a bank account with many 0’s in it, and a firm that was exploding on the scene taking the market by storm.
I was making deals everywhere I went, I was respected, and most importantly I was feared. For if you made a deal against myself or my firm, that would usually mean the end of yours. That or a buyout.
I think about the mirrors from time to time. I know that I owe more than likely a large portion of my success to them. I often think about what would've happened if I didn't have to fight for my life that night, if I stayed under the “care” of Vernon and Marcy. I've imagined numerous scenarios, most of them not good, I would likely be dead in several, several at the hands of Vernon.
I feel as though the mirrors were evil for what they made us do to each other. However they showed to each of us our deepest desires, and the potential we all secretly held.
That's what mirrors can do I feel, it's just the eye of the beholder to find it. That's also why I filled my multi million dollar house with them. It's a reminder of where I have come.
I stared into the mirror adjusting my hair, and one of my maids knocked on the door. “Miss Emily, the guests have arrived.”
“Okay, thank you Bernice, I will be right there.”
I admired the mirror again; the mirror showed a reflection that wasn't my own, not any longer anyway.
Looking back at me in bewilderment was a flat chested little blonde haired girl. Her hair greasy and parted down the middle. Her ripped hand me down jeans, a light violet crescent around her neck. I turned to walk away from the mirror and before I went, she smiles and winks at me.