Day 160: Avoid all mirrors.

There is a full-length mirror on the wall of our bedroom; I walked past it, on my way to the kitchen, eyes averted, looking at the bookshelves that line the opposite wall.

In the kitchen, I made myself an espresso, a piece of toast, another espresso.

I sat in thought for several long minutes, though mostly I thought about whether I should have a third espresso. I decided against it, not having a good reason to over-caffeinate myself so early in the day. I heard the dogs at the back door — which, due to the odd layout of our house, is in our bedroom — and got up to go let them in. I passed the mirror, but forgot to avert my eyes.

I realized my mistake, and a fraction of a second later noticed something unsettling: I wasn’t in the mirror.

I stopped, and looked directly at it, at the place where my reflection should have been. I wasn’t there. I stepped closer, so close I was practically touching the mirror, and all I could see was the books behind me: Neuromancer,  Jude the Obscure, The Unconsoled.

I took a step back, then another, and stopped. I stood there for an indefinite amount of time, in shock, unable to look away from the thing I wasn’t seeing.

The dogs kept barking, more and more insistently. I could hardly hear them.

My wife walked past, shot me a what-the-fuck-are-you-doing look, let the dogs in, and started walking back to wherever it was she’d come from. I stopped her. Look at the mirror, I said. “What am I looking at?” she asked, in an exasperated tone. What aren’t you looking at, is the question, I said. My wife paused, looked at me like I was an idiot, and walked away, shaking her head.

I watched her walk away, looked at the mirror a last time, and went into the back yard.

I spent the morning out there, pacing aimlessly and occasionally frantically, muttering to myself, running into things. Sometime around noon I came inside, hot, feverish, sweaty, stinking, anxious. I came inside a few steps, but stopped before I got to the mirror. It wasn’t voluntary, exactly, but I couldn’t make myself go any further into the house. I didn’t want to go any further into the house. I just stood there, swaying slightly, still muttering to myself.

My beard itched. I reached up to scratch it. Holy mother of God, I thought, what the fuck has happened to my beard?! It had gone from (mostly) neatly trimmed to Tom-Hanks-at-the-end-of-Castaway while I was outside. I completely lost my shit at this point, and ran, panicked, into my bathroom, thinking about nothing but shaving off whatever ungodly abomination was on my face. I had forgotten about not having a reflection until I rounded the corner, and didn’t see myself in the mirror.

The full weight, the gravity and the horror, of my situation came crashing down on me; I knew, then, that I was lost. I am standing there still.

I have no reflection, and I must shave.

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