i – 1:11
This is not an exercise in reflection; this page is not a mirror(unless you decide it is). It is an empty receptacle awaiting whatever you choose to insert. It has no meaning beyond that which you give it. It has no purpose, no end and no beginning. No matter how it’s labored over or what is poured into it now, when your eyes trace these black lines it will distort and contort into vivid new images(or perhaps they’re dull). You will breathe life into it. You will take from it only what you please and discard the rest like yesterdays trash, the smell of decaying intent is already cloying in the air.
The treasures you quest after are unobtainable, this story offers you no gratification but for what you make. The monsters that impede you are not here but inside your head, scrape, scrape, scraping against the interior wall of your skull.
So what is this then? you might ask. It is a paper labyrinth of white spaces and black imprints. It is a cavity. It is you and it is me(I am you). It is death and it is life(death is life). It is a hole in the world. It is emptiness perfectly distilled. It is everything and nothing.
I feel guilty. So wretchedly, inconsolably, insufferably guilty. I stand here reticently staring at the creature staring at me, from behind the clouded plate glass of this gleaming mirror. Normally I despise mirrors, can’t stand them, but tonight my eyes remain fixed to this dark silhouette. This distorted and yet near perfect imitation of myself. Its short, neatly combed, light brown hair; deeply set, imposing, iridescent dark brown eyes; and impassive porcelain pale face wrought with imperfection. This creature’s stare is intense, focused, the kind of gaze that might pierce through the many layers of your carefully chosen façade, stripping you bare, and penetrate the very depths of your mortal soul.
I run my heavy hands violently through my hair. It doesn’t move with me. This should surprise me, frighten me even. But it doesn’t. The creature remains still, stagnant, static, un-moving. I realize suddenly that I’m doing the same, not moving. The world spins around us on clean orbit, everyone, even you, maintains momentum, is always transitory. The creature and I are left behind. Just a flicker of a memory imposed upon the present. We stand here like some archaic remnant of centuries past. Perfectly preserved, a set of identical collectors dolls still safe inside their clear plastic wrapping.
I grab the mirror’s ornate cast iron frame, curling my cold fingers around the decorative loops and spirals. I lean into it. Suddenly the voice of one cold, clinical individual replays itself through the dark lens of my mind. My ear drums shudder in remembered ways.
“You have to learn to let things go, to move on. It is the natural order of things to change and grow. You must learn to go with the flow. If you cannot learn to do this then your life will be extremely difficult” A sudden burst of undiluted rage animates my body. I shake the mirror furiously, the glass billowing in response, but it remains securely fastened to the wall. For the measure of a drawn out breath I rest my head against the glass and the two of us merge and become one. I take one long stride backwards and re-assess the creature that stares back at me intently.It’s changed somehow.
Suddenly soothing, bright scarlet blood begins to drip fluently down its impassive face. Seeping from every visible orifice: its eyes, its nose, and its ears. Compliantly following the curves of its hardened cheek bone; un-impeded by the few age-lines in its pale complexion. I wipe at my own cheek, expecting to find blood collated on my finger tips. There is none. This puts me on edge a little; a knife’s edge. I wipe again but find nothing. I scrape anxiously at my face but still find no trace of blood. The comforting synthetic glare of fluorescent lighting flickers forebodingly, or perhaps it’s my imagination. I remain entranced and hypnotized by this livid figure. Half expecting it to lunge through the plate glass, like the translucent ghoul of a horror movie, and violently entrap me with its ghostly limbs.
The creature holds a knife now. A blade held looming, in avid anticipation, over its left shoulder on a near perfect forty-five degree angle. It seems alive with refracted light, thirsting to embrace clean flesh.Ready for its next victim. Ready for me. I blink once. My eyes reopen to the comforting sting of steel against skin. I feel a little foolish as I suddenly realize that it’s my three and a half inch flick knife clasped tightly within this creature’s cold grip. Not it, but I, am holding the knife. The blood dripping down its face has disappeared, as though it were only ever my imagination teasing the brick walls of reality. Or perhaps an early indicator of psychosis.
I close the knife, clip it the back of my belt, compose myself for the measure of a deep breath and then turn to leave. A voice. From inside the mirror. I stop still. Suspended between the door and the glass: this moment and the next. My shoulder turned, my heel raised. Frozen in motion. The voice is soft, little more than a hissed whisper, and yet still audible enough to make every nerve ending in my cold body tremble in chorus. Its tone is disarming, disturbing, and seductive, like a long lost lover trying to entice you back into the soft silky folds of their bed. My heart quickens, becomes erratic, pushes hard against bone and flesh.
The creature says “.enim er’uoY. reveroF”
I feel guilty. So wretchedly, inconsolably, insufferably guilty. I stand here reticently staring at the creature staring at me, from behind the clouded plate glass of this gleaming mirror. I watch it with avid anticipation, expecting and demanding with an attentive glare, but it remains silent.
This has been an exercise in reflection. This page is a mirror. It reflects only what is placed before it. As you stared at the black letters between the white spaces every flailing thought that pulsed through your brain, routing your synapses was reflected back to you. Your movements where echoed as you navigated your way between the margins.
This page is a mirror, and like all mirrors it excels at illusion. It is full of smoke and confusion, designed to cloud your better judgment. It is an empty receptacle awaiting whatever you choose to insert. It has no meaning beyond that which you give it; it has no purpose, no end and no beginning. There are no answers to these riddles, or riddles for these answers.
This page is you refracted and reflected. I died the moment the first inked syllable was formed and you were appointed in my place.