From the Perceptive of the Looking Glass

by William Henry © 2002

As Lucy was passing by the mirrored walls in the lobby of her office building, her heal stuck in a crack in the marble floor, and she stumbled then tripped, reeling palms first into the mirrored wall, completely shattering the glass.

She picked herself up with a start. She was no longer inside her office building, but in a passageway. A seemingly endless dark tunnel stretched before her for as far as she could see, a ghostly passage, as if leading to the netherworld. With bated breath she froze. An arm rose, but the trembling hand that reached out to grab at anything familiar was barely visible in the dimly lighted space around her. She took a few unsure steps backwards now. The only illumination came from windowpanes along the walls. But the light emanating from these panes was strangely lurid, like the sky before a great summer storm. Every odd shape and size one could imagine were represented, these panes. Although they held no symmetry, they were about a meter apart and numbered into the thousands, from top to bottom. She ceased counting at three hundred.

She didn’t know where she was or how she’d gotten there. The last thing remembered was being in the lobby, walking to her car after work, and then she was in that tunnel.

She approached a pane. The image in the glass was of someone looking back at her. Stumbling backwards, confused, she paused for a moment, then took a careful step forward, and began gaping with wide-open sapphire orbs at the window, and on to the next window, and so on for several meters. The images in the panes were not of her reflection but of other people. Some were brushing teeth, others brushing hair, a few applying make up, while three or four were vainly admiring their bodies. Some were nude. She was peering into bathrooms, bedrooms, cars, living rooms, foyers, and other such areas where a mirror would be located. All different people. She gazed at them from the perspective of the looking glass. All different mirrors.

A hand reached out awkwardly now and felt a cold, squishy, fibrous-like wall. Her hand drew back quickly with revulsion. A hand reached out once more then drew back quickly again. "Where am I?" she mumbled. "What is this place?" Bereft of breath, she fell knee first onto the floor, also soft and cold. When she’d touched the blackness that was the wall, a viscerally jarring sensation forced the wind out of her lungs, leaving her gasping for air.

Still on a knee, in reverie, she attempted to retrace her steps, frenetically reviewing everything before it had all changed, but her thoughts were a blur.

Standing up, she straightened her skirt and took off her coat, flinging the coat into the darkness that embraced her like a perverse dream. She pinched herself hard. The fantasy was no dream. In a state of unbridled terror, she began running like a crazed woman, clutching her briefcase to her chest like a child would a security blanket, a connection to the other world, this briefcase. She tripped as she ran and stopped to slip off her heels, letting them drop on the floor. Her attention was drawn to a small horizontal pane, stepping forward and looking in: a woman was placing a baby into a car seat. She turned to one of the elongated panes: the man on the other side was brushing his hair in a bathroom, turning his head from side to side, as if to insure every hair was in place. "Get me out of here," she screamed, voice shrill pitch, then began banging on the glass with the briefcase. Yet the face on the other side seemed completely unaware. It didn’t matter how loud her tone or how hard she banged she elicited no response.

Then, with one final blow of the briefcase, the window shattered and she stumbled forth into the lobby where last she’d been. She straightened up. Her head tossed left and then right as she left the building and crossed the street to the parking lot. She got in her car, shut the door, and proceeded to primp in the mirror. "Now where did I leave my coat?" She glanced down at the rip in the hose at the knee and continued on to her feet, her hands lifting off her lap in surprise. "Where are my shoes?" She glanced back up at the mirror and was overwhelmed with the feeling that a face other than her own was starring back at her.

x x x

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