The Cracked Mirror — Spooky Story written on Friday the 13th
By Fiona Howell
I walked home the usual route I took every day from work. It was cold so I kept my hands in my pockets. I focused on the sidewalk as I bent my head to the biting wind. New Hampshire gets cold in October.
I had Bach’s B Minor suite going through my mind that afternoon. I had recently heard a recording. Its main melody was catchy and kept repeating itself in my head.
Wait—I stopped. I noticed I had stepped on a crack in the sidewalk that looked like a spider’s web. The cracks were very fine and scraggly, going off in all directions. The childhood rhyme popped into my mind: step on a crack and break your mother’s back.
Who thought of that horrible rhyme, I wondered as I picked up my pace. It was an irrational rhyme as well. Don’t be silly, Lilly, I scolded myself as I hurried home. Frozen, fallen leaves crunched under my feet as I walked. Downtown Concord was bustling, with after work and school traffic. I didn’t feel “busy,” I just wanted to make it home.
I got to my front door and hurried inside to get away from the chill. I took off my coat, hung up my bag, and turned the kettle on for tea. I wanted to be warm and cozy for the evening. Daylight was already fading at three-thirty in the afternoon. I had finished a long day of teaching at the school. I was ready to curl up in a blanket and read a good book along with my tea.
I went into the bathroom. As I turned on the light and looked in the mirror, I saw something different: there was a large crack in the mirror. Just like the crack I had seen on the sidewalk--all spider web lines. I touched the cracks. A tiny piece of glass fell into my hand. I stared at it. I wasn’t sure how the crack had even happened. Concord barely ever got earthquakes. Had someone gotten into my house?
At first, I wasn’t sure what to do. I went back into the hallway to grab my son’s baseball bat. I decided to check out every single room in the house. My hands were sweaty along the handle of the bat. I was scared.
I checked in the living room, the sunroom, and upstairs, with all the bedrooms. Nothing. There was nobody here but me. I sighed in relief. I didn’t want to fight anybody if I didn’t have to. It wasn’t in my nature. I put the bat down but kept it close by me, just in case. Then tea kettle whistled, making me jump. I laughed at myself for being so nervous about nothing.
I poured my tea and grabbed my book and blanket and curled up on the couch as the sunlight outside the living room window wound down. I cracked open my book and started reading.
I woke up to complete darkness. I had fallen asleep with my book in my lap. I yawned as I stretched. Time to get up and make something for dinner. I was happy to have the house all to myself again, since my son had left the nest. It was very peaceful, and I could nap when I wanted to when I got home from work.
I boiled water for pasta and started making my pasta sauce. That’s when I heard it. The whistle. It was very faint. At first, I thought I had made it up and hadn’t heard anything at all. Then there it was again: a high-pitched whistle. I turned around and stared out of the kitchen into the dark hallway towards the front door. There was nothing there. I shook my head and kept stirring my pasta sauce.
The whistle sounded again in one long high note. I stopped stirring and looked around me. I went into the hallway and turned on the light. There was still nothing there. I sighed and went back to cooking. I left the hall light turned on, just in case. I also turned on the lights in the bathroom and living room. I wanted light in every single corner. That felt good.
Once my pasta was ready, I sat down to eat it and watch an Animal Planet documentary. I loved watching programs about animals. I relaxed into the dinner-television routine. It had started raining, and the water pattered on the windows, making a lovely sound. That whistling was just the wind, I told myself.
Still, I left the lights on as I went upstairs to my bedroom and got ready for bed. I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth and I froze. The mirror had also cracked in the same place as the one downstairs. I looked at it for a long time. I didn’t know what this meant but I wanted to know. I wanted to know what happened to both mirrors. I got my phone out and googled earthquakes near me. No news of any in the city. I googled cracked mirrors and how that could happen randomly, if it ever did at all.
I came across a page that explained how mirrors were portals to the other side and ghosts as well as demons could use them to travel. The article made me wonder if that’s what it really was all about. No, it couldn’t possibly be ghosts. I laughed at myself. Then I heard a deep, long laugh behind me. I jumped and turned around but again, there was nobody there.
“Hello?” I said. I stepped out into the hallway and used my phone to make more light. I must have made up that sound from reading about ghosts, I chided myself. I went back into the bathroom and turned the faucet back on to continue brushing my teeth, putting down put my phone.
I finished my nighttime routine as I changed into my pajamas and got into bed. I left on my lights in the bedroom. Outside, I could hear the wind howling and rain slapping hard at the windows. It was the right atmosphere for ghosts, I thought. I wanted to think of other things if I could manage it before sleep. I didn’t want to have any nightmares.
I got sleepy while reading. It was later than I thought, looking at my phone: 12:30 AM. I was happy it was the weekend at least. I didn’t have to worry about getting up early the following day. I turned my lamp off and snuggled into my blanket. I stared into darkness as I listened to the pelting rain on the windows.
Then I noticed a shadow at the foot of my bed. A dark shadow that seemed to stare into my soul. I held my breath and kept completely still. I didn’t know what the shadow was or what it wanted. I clutched at my blanket. My hands started to sweat through the fabric. The shadow stayed where it was for a long time, unmoving.
I don’t remember going to sleep, but I must have. It was daylight the next time I opened my eyes. I was relieved there were no shadows in the room. I got up but nothing seemed quite right. Everything was reversed, even the doorhandles. I turned around and noticed the color of the room had turned all silver and shiny. My breathing became faster. I saw three people in my room, looking around in it. I didn’t know who they were. There was a man and two women. They looked at my dresser and curtains, and then the windows.
“Honey, look at all this light!” the woman exclaimed.
“Yeah, it’s very nice! Say, what happened to the owner of this house again?” the man asked. The other lady by the doorway answered. She had a clipboard and files in her arms.
“Nobody really knows. People think she just ran off,” she said, shrugged. I couldn’t understand what was happening. I wanted to shout out that I was still there! Lilly Carter was still there! Wasn’t I?
I went closer to the room and noticed a crack in the shiny surface. A crack like a spider’s web. No! I turned around and saw other figures standing there. Many of them. Somehow, I knew they were the former owners of my house. They all looked sad and sorry for me.
They were trapped in the mirror, just as I was.
About the Creator
I am Fiona Howell, an Irish musician and a writer hailing from New Hampshire, US. I have two books out on Amazon: The Locked Box and Blackwood. I have three poems published in anthologies by the Peterborough Poetry Project.