Sunday, 1 November 2009

Mirror, Mirror

The beginning draft of a new story. I don't know how long it will be yet. I've got most of another chapter after this one. I may write it in a diary format.

Imagine the fright I got this morning: a slightly overweight, 48-year-old balding male, graying at the temples and at the corners of my beard, looking in the mirror and seeing ... well, no ... I still can't say it. It does too many strange things to my self image. I was wearing the blue velvet bathrobe that my wife bought me, and it brings out the blue in my hazel eyes, eyes that, though starting to dim with age, are still good enough to see myself in the mirror unaided.

No, I've got to face it. What I saw in the mirror this morning was not me. They say vampires are invisible to mirrors, so I guess I'm not a vampire or any other lycanthropy that I know of. That didn't stop me from looking for puncture marks from fangs or claws, either on me or the image in the mirror.

In the mirror, I saw ...

You must understand, I have always had unusual tastes in women. In high school, while the other boys were oogling well-formed bleach-blond cheerleaders, I had my eye on a red-headed brainiac that was thin as a rail and nearly as tall as I was. Although she was a high jumper on the track team, she betrayed no other significant athletic prowess.

Although you would never guess it now, I was a high jumper, too. It was one of the few things we had in common, with the exception of our course load. We were in all the same classes, at least until she quit band. That was before we dated a while, but all the same we didn't date long. The woman I ended up with didn't fit the cheerleader mold, and she is probably even less like me than the high jumper. Perhaps that is how we have stayed together for so long.

I still can't say it. In the mirror, I saw ...

I suppose I shouldn't say only that mirror. In every mirror, or even a shiny surface, the bell of my trombone or reflecting off the water in the sink, I see ...

Mark, spit it out! Sometimes I talk to myself, especially now when what I see in the mirror is so different from what I feel. I need to remind myself that I'm Mark Hopkins, part-time musician and computer nerd. Even now, as I type this, what I see in the reflection of my monitor is ...

Unsettling, to say the least. Karen doesn't see it, at least not in the flesh, but I haven't asked her about my reflection yet. I dare not admit it for fear that I am losing my mind. Last I heard, senility doesn't usually manifest itself this way – not at first, in any case. I wouldn't know about later.

The worst thing about it is what it does to my self image. I feel different, as if I'm becoming the person in the mirror. I've always had blond hair, so that isn't new, and the blue eyes aren't that different from my hazel ones. I'm not even sure it's the nudity. I can handle that, especially when it is supposedly me on the other side of the glass.

What I see as my reflection ... is ... a woman. A naked woman, regardless of what I am wearing, a beautiful, naked, blond haired and blue eyed woman, probably in her early twenties. She does everything that I do, and even shows the same facial expressions. She is somehow ... me ... even though she is probably a foot shorter and nearly 30 years younger. My reflection is that ideal cheerleader that I wasn't interested in when I was in school, and if I smile at her the wrong way, I find the reflection, um, stimulating. I can see it in her, too, though not in the same way, as we are anatomically different.

If I was the only one seeing that image, I could live with it, but I've seen shocked and puzzled looks in my direction as I pass shop windows on the street. I've also caught Jack Davis staring at my reflection at work. Several times, he tried to find the origin of the refection, but finally gave up and began staring. I'm glad I drive to work, or the reflections in the subway train would give me away – or should I say "us."

No, as much as I try to disprove it, we are the same. A man with the wrong reflection.

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