Through the Door of
Shapes & Shadows, we meet our true
paradise . . .
“Here you go, Mimi. I got you a mirror.”
I stare blankly at the life-size rectangular thing my sister has brought me. “Why have you given me this?”
“Don’t you want to see your pretty face?”
My face is not pretty. My face is the basket that holds my jumbled, color-infused egg of a mind. That’s why I’m here in this asylum. My sister calls it “the hospital.” I call it
“the place they’ve sent me because I can’t handle the real world.”
Yes, I may be insane, but that doesn’t mean I’m naïve.
Or impolite. “Thank you, Tabby. It’s wonderful.”
She beams. Nurse Sonya walks in. “I’m sorry, Miss Franklin, but visiting hours are now expired.”
Tabby sighs. “Very well.” She turns to me. “I’ll be back as soon as I can, Mimi.” She runs her fingers through my rawny, unwashed, messy hair. “Dream sweetly.” Then she’s
Nurse Sonya warns me that I may not be allowed to keep the mirror. I promise to use my normal techniques if I have an “episode.” She gives a stiff nod and leaves me to my white
The room is silent. So silent it’s tremendously loud. Bells begin to ring. Shrill shrieks of invisible birds. Ghosts begin to whisper upon my skin. My hands go to my
“Insanity can be troublesome sometimes, I’m afraid to admit.”
The noise goes away. I glance up and stare at my new gift.
“You . . . said something?”
Nothing, then: “Well, I’m not talking to the floorboards, love.”
I rise. My fingertips find the glass of the mirror. Cold, new. Smooth like a wet pebble.
My reflection shows a creature with skin the color of clouds. Dark eyes with shadows dancing in the irises. Hair long, slick, and stringy, like damp black
Then a raven appears, my reflection melting in quiet ripples.
“My, my,” says the raven almost sympathetically. “You’re not enjoying your Insanity at all, are you? Such a shame. Your insanity could lead to a world of
His scarlet orbs blink rapidly. “Enjoy it?” I ask finally.
“Of course!” trills the raven. “Oh, you don’t know how, do you?” I see the flash of teeth in between his beak. “Come with me. I can teach you.”
“You ask so many questions,” huffs the raven. “Just walk through the mirror.”
My palm pushes slightly. My hand up to my forearm vanishes into the mirror. It feels like liquid. Giving it no more thought, I push through entirely.
A black abyss of a ceiling. White lightning strikes along the walls. The path is black also but I can feel it. Ahead is a bright white door, slanted so it resembles a rhombus. As
I approach it, every footfall makes a hollow echo that sounds like the strumming of a harp.
The doorknob is shaped like an “8.”
“Go on and enter, dear,” murmurs the raven. “It’s quite alright; you were invited.”
I turn the knob to the right.
I step onto snow, but when the flakes touch my skin, they’re hot. Trees that hold tiny candles with indigo flames. A wind that whispers lovely things into my
I pluck a yellow berry from a bush that’s purring. “Quite the land you’ve got here.”
“Not my land, dear,” says the raven. “Your land.”
“Mine?” I ask.
“This is your Kingdom,” he says. “Haven’t you always wanted to be a queen?”
I feel the golden crown rest upon my head. “Yes, yes I have.”
“Here’s your problem,” says the raven. “You can’t rule your World of Insanity until you’ve defeated its current ruler.”
“How do I do that?” I ask meekly.
The raven sighs. “Always with the questions.” He flicks a black wing. “Here, I can show you the Weapon Tree.”
I follow him through a thin forest. Little ice-cream cones swing from the branches of trees, giggling like mischievous cherubs. A kitten with feathery wings flies by. The sun is
maroon and gentle, with a happy, toothy grin and cartoony, googly eyes.
The raven brings me to a short tree with wooden sticks pointing out from the leaves. I pull on one and find a hammer.
“Choose your weapon,” says the raven gleefully.
I want my Kingdom. I go through three swords (all too heavy) before I stumble across a large axe, tied with a beautiful red ribbon where the wood and steel
“Splendid choice,” says the raven. “Come. Now we go to vanquish your foe.”
As we travel, I find myself more and more excited to win back my Kingdom from this horrible creature that must be reigning now.
We halt at a huge purple castle that appears to be made of jello, for the structure keeps wobbling and I can see
straight through it. We crouch behind the small stone wall and peer into the courtyard.
A party is going on. Tables, balloons, laughter. Up on a high pedestal is a figure wearing a half-black,
half-white mask and a long cape. They are drinking from a delicate wineglass.
“That should be me,” I growl lowly.
“Patience, child,” says the raven in a hushed voice. We scurry around the wall and to the wide-open gate that is
the entrance to the courtyard. “You must challenge her. Only then can you reclaim your throne.”
I nod and sprint into the middle of the party, right in front of my foe’s pedestal. People gasp, drop their
glasses. “This is my World!” I yell. “I have come to claim my rightful place as queen! Come and duel me!”
Murmurs of alarm. One woman faints from the excitement.
My foe’s voice is gravel being shaken in a jar. “Very well.” She unsheathes a long blade and jumps from her
pedestal, her puffy dress acting as a parachute. “Have at me!”
We duel. And the fight is evenly matched. We knock over tables, the ice sculpture of her face. People scramble
to flee from our epic battle. Then, after five minutes of a deadlocked fight, I gain the upper hand; she falls to the ground. I hold her there with my axe, the blade at her
Through her mask, I see teal eyes full of fear.
I slash across her throat. Her head and neck disconnect.
“All hail our new ruler!” proclaims the raven to the audience. “Queen Mimi!”
The throng claps and cheers. Some go on about how the previous ruler hadn’t been a good one anyway. A dress is
pushed over my head. It’s checkered white and magenta. Suddenly my hair is silky, my face like one of a goddess. Glass slippers. I glance down at the broken form of my dead foe and see that her
mask came off.
I suddenly remember that Tabby had teal eyes too. Her blood is shiny blue.
I should feel horrified, disgusted. I killed my only sister.
But instead, I feel giddy. I have reclaimed my throne as Queen of my World of
A deranged smile stretches across my face. As my people chant my name with adoration, I say
to the raven, “You were right. Insanity can be tons of fun.”
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