The Mirror- Part One
Point of View Nora
I sat tiredly at my desk as the monotonous sound of my professor’s voice filled my ears. His lazy drawl all but faded into the background as I gazed at the grandfather clock. It’s tick-tick-ticking filled my mind as if its sole purpose were to mock me.
Though to my dismay, the strain of staring at the clock only worsened my fatigue, so I laid my head on the desk. I could hear pencils scratch at paper as students hastened to take notes and the squeak of the marker against the whiteboard. The sounds so perfectly matched the setting that, for a moment, I felt at peace.
Soon enough, the sounds lulled me, and before I knew it, I was nodding off. It wasn’t long before the abrupt sound of a strangled cough woke my senses. Jerking my head up, my long black hair fell over my face, its black mass creating a small divider between me and the world.
As I sighed heavily, I stared blankly at the disheveled locks that were now knotted. Looking much like a messy cat’s cradle, I began to move my slender fingers through the knotted mess and ran my eyes around the room.
My gaze bounced from object to object, desperate for something to hold its attention. I usually enjoyed this professor’s lectures, but today I just couldn’t focus. Only nagging boredom existed where once interest used to live. With a soft sigh of defeat, I opened my notebook and doodled, giving the sketches little thought as my pen skittered across the page.
When doodling could no longer hold my attention, I returned to looking around the room. I met the eyes of one of my classmates. She had mousy brown hair and was one of the quieter students. She aced pretty much all her assignments, and on occasion, struck up a conversation with me. I’m not a great conversationalist, so they never lasted long. It’s funny, I found that I couldn’t even remember her name.
With a mental shake, I returned to my doodling, giving it more attention than last time. The feeling of the mousy haired girl’s eyes boring into me. That was fine. It was only natural for people to stare. Better that than having to deal with the headache of actual conversation.
People weren’t as straightforward as math or science; each piece part of a grander whole that made perfect sense.
They were tricky, unfathomable collections of hidden emotions that were bound to go off at the least provocation. As such, I’d never developed much interest in learning how to befriend anyone. I had a hard enough time dealing with my own feelings. The thought of having to navigate someone else’s thoughts was more than enough to overwhelm me.
A loud chime rang throughout the classroom, marking the end of the day. With a begrudging groan, I lazily gathered my things, the thoughts of before quickly replaced with the tranquility of my next destination.
Tucking away a loose strand of hair, I couldn’t help but overhear some of the other students raving about a “wild party” that was being thrown tonight. Some sort of sendoff? I couldn’t roll my eyes hard enough at the sound of their shrill voices.
With quick steps, I swung my bag over my shoulder, leaving their tedious conversation behind me. Avoiding the crowd of people, I hastened my steps and within minutes I stood in front of the College Library. It’s grey stone walls gave me a small sense of comfort as I jogged up the broad steps. The smell of old books and stale air filled my lungs as I pulled open those heavy mahogany doors, the familiar scent setting me at ease.
I couldn’t help but feel at home here, the room always had a warm feel, with the sun cascading gently through high windows, and the soft sound of classical music playing in the background. As I made my way to the back room, my fingers skimmed the spines of the books, a small smile unfurling on my lips.
“Ah, Nora, back again I see!” The head librarian spoke with an elated tone as she peered at me over a stack of books. Her blonde hair piled high on her head, and soothing brown eyes hidden behind a pair of pink spectacles.
“Misses Noram, I hope it’s alright, I was just stopping in to read for a bit.” Keep my voice low, I beamed a bright smile at her, the small action quickly rewarding me with a dazzling one of her own.
“Yes, yes. Of course, I’ll leave the key so you may lock up when you’re done.” Shooting her one last smile, I dropped my bag with little care as I settled myself into one of the leather-bound chairs.
With a content sigh, I flicked on the lamp that sat just beside the me, its soft light filling the room with a gentle glow. Tugging at the sweat I wore, I pulled out a stack of books from my bag. With eyes clenched shut, I shuffled the books, my mind hopeful I’d land on something interesting.
A smile danced on my lips as I opened one eye, a large book staring up at me. On the cover was painted in a deep crimson red, the gold letters read “The Dictionary of Demons”. I couldn’t help but slump my shoulders, disappointed at such a boring subject.
“Oh well, I’ve dedicated myself to this game, time to see it through!” And with that, I tucked my legs beneath me settling myself in for the long haul.
As the hours passed, I had just reached the final page, but before I was able to reach the end, my phone chimed loudly. The atrocious sound me grimace as I shut the book, the heavy thump of the hard cover echoing in the empty room. With the press of a button, I ended the grueling sound only to realize my phone was filled with texts from my best friend, Celeste.
I wondered if referring to her as my “best friend” even was justified, due to my lack of social skills, I didn’t have anyone to compare our friendship to. With a shake of my head, I repressed a laugh as I began to read the mass of messages from her. As per usual, her texts were filled with cute emoji’s and complaints of how she hated her job.
With a small sigh, I began my routine of shutting down the library, from lights to the door, I quickly made my way to the exit, eager to be out of the darkened room. As childish as it was, I never got over my fear of the dark. My mind always ventured to worst-case scenarios.
Sending a quick text of my own to Celeste, I made way from the library to the bus stop, my mind filled with nostalgia as I recalled the way Celeste and I met.
It was our junior year of high school, I was awkward, lanky, and completely under the radar. Just how I liked it. Celeste, however, was blonde, chatty, and had the curves of a goddess. Even at the age of sixteen, Celeste was an air of beauty. I highly doubted she ever experienced the classic “awkward phase”.
She was new to our school, and with that gave her special perks. Everyone wanted to know her, wanted to be her, or wanted to fuck her. There was no way around it. It was as if being new somehow made you somehow famous.
With long curly blond hair combed to perfection, a flawless face that needed no makeup, and clear sapphire eyes that drew people in. Everyone thought she was wonderful, charming, and a joy to be around. Me? I thought she was annoying, her constant chatter and pestering. No matter how many times I ignored her, walked away, and even blatantly spoke of my detest of her. She still returned, always more eager than before to befriend me.
It wasn’t until one cold, December day, that Celeste finally caught my attention.
“Looks like we’re going to be lab partners!” She spoke cheerfully, a smile spread on her face. With a crossed chest, I simply stared at her blankly, my stare unwavering as she stood there awkwardly.
“Well, I’m sure you’ve heard, but my name’s Celeste. What’s your name?” Her voice dripped like honey when she spoke, sweet and smooth, knowing mine would sound hoarse from the lengthy-time I had gone without speaking, I averted my gaze, my cheeks filling with an uncomfortable warmth.
“I know who you are.” At the sound of my voice, Celeste looked surprised. Her mouth flopping open like a fish before she shot me a cheeky grin.
“Oh! So, you do speak. And here I thought you were a mute.” Another awkward silence developed between us, if I listened hard enough, I could practically hear crickets. With a small sigh, Celeste sat herself next to me, her closeness wafting a sweet smell of honey around me.
“You must really hate me, huh?” Her somber words shook me from my thoughts, my eyes wide as I stared at her. Did I hate her? No, I don’t think I did. As I stared at her sad face, I felt something tug on my heart, sure she was annoying, but everyone was at some point.
“I…I don’t hate you?” My voice soft as I spoke. So soft, it was barely audible. But nothing slipped past Celeste, with speed of a cheetah, she swiveled in her seat gripping my hands in hers.
“Great! Then let’s be friend! Everyone at this school is so boring.” Staring at such a bright smile, I felt my heart nearly skip a beat. My cheeks filling with an uncomfortable heat as she continued her doe eyed gaze. With a quick nod of my head, I agreed to this newfound, but strange friendship. Overtime, her optimism slowly changed the world I had become so acquainted with.
The loud honk of the campus bus broke me from my thoughts. Hopping up the small steps, a tiny man sat at the driver’s seat, his lips set in a deep frown as he stared at me with beady eyes. With a quick punch of my ticket, and message sent to Celeste, I settled myself into a seat in the back of the bus eager for my destination.
The bus ride didn’t take long before I stood in front of the small café Celeste worked at. It was a sweet little shop with a sleek design, its double glass doors read in elegant writing “Common Grounds Café.” Opening the door with vigor, I heard the familiar jingle of the doors bell. The warm air and smell of coffee filled my heart with comfort as I made my way towards the counter.
The counters were a dark grey, and next to it stood a large glass display that revealed various sweet treats. From what I heard, the owner himself made every treat by hand the night before. I couldn’t help but admire his handiwork as a cranberry muffin caught my eye. My mouth-watering as I imagined its fluffy texture on my tongue.
“Hey! It’s about time you showed up!” The all too familiar voice of Celeste broke my tranquility as I forced my eyes away from the tempting muffin. There, in all her apron glory, stood Celeste, a small hand on her hip and a smile that spread ear to ear.
Walking over with the grace of a lioness, Celeste pushed a cup of coffee towards me, the scent of blueberry sent my heart soaring as I took a big gulp. The bitter taste mixed with the fruit and cream was pure heaven.
Nodding my thanks, I watched for a few moments as Celeste assisted other customers, shooting a small smile to the owner as he made his usual rounds. Once the hall was cleared, I snapped my fingers towards Celeste, earning me an eye roll and the finger.
“Hey now, be nice. Your shifts almost, over right?” at my question, Celeste smirked, a sigh slipping past her lips as she tossed the pen she’d been holding to the side.
“Damn right, it’s almost over. You wanna walk to the bus station with me?” As she leaned over the counter, Celeste began biting her thumbnail, a nervous habit she picked up in high school. Flashing a cheeky grin, I spoke with sarcasm as I fiddled with the various objects on the counter.
“Me? Walk with you? Ugh, shoot me, please.” Repressing a smile, I was rewarded another eye roll and a light punch to the shoulder.
“You’re such a jerk. Alright, I’m out in twenty minutes.” And with that, Celeste returned to her duties, leaving me to relish in my mischief.
In the short time that I stayed at the café, day had quickly turned to night. Celeste, all too aware of my fear of the dark, promptly linked her arm through mine. The small action giving me a sense of comfort as her long strides carried us to the substation.
As we walked the streets, the lights of local pubs glimmered against the pavement, painting neon blues, reds, and greens. Though unlike earlier, Celeste and I didn’t talk. The only sound that could be heard between us was the sound of our sneakers smacking against the ground.
But the silence didn’t bother me. Instead, it gave me peace. Celeste and I work well as friends because we didn’t pressure the other to fill the silence. We just needed the presence of the other person. Although I couldn’t always say I liked not knowing what Celeste was thinking, there were countless times when she’d space out, and I’d hope she’d fill the void with the sound of her voice.
It wasn’t long before we were jogging our way down to the station, the sound of the tracks squeaking now, and then filled the room. As we took our last step off the stairs, Celeste’s bus trudged its way in, the sound of the brakes squealing as it came to a stop.
“Well, this is me!” With a soft smile, Celeste gave me a quick hug before making her way towards the bus. Luckily, the last bus of the night wasted no time in getting here, and I too was on my merry way home. As my eyes darted around restlessly, I couldn’t help but notice it was emptier than usual. The only other passenger sat just a few seats in front of me, his auburn hair reflecting gently against the buses dim lights.
As if feeling my gaze, the man slowly turned his face towards me, though it showed no emotion, his eyes told a different story. They were icy grey, piercing. Though I knew I wanted to rip my gaze from his, for some reason, I couldn’t. We sat in this strange staring contest for what felt like centuries, a silent war. It wasn’t until he averted his gaze that I could finally relax, my shoulders slumping as I burrowed my face into my bag.
Though it only lasted a few moments before curiosity did what it does best and brought my eyes back to him. Thankfully, his gaze was fixated on the window, giving me the perfect opportunity to look over this strange man without being a victim to his petrifying gaze.
He had wavy shoulder-length hair, with the aid of the dim lights that littered the walls, I could faintly see a clean silver streak that lined the front of his ginger locks. The strange color made his other features stand out against his tanned skin. His clothes gave off a rebellious vibe. Donning a leather jacket, and jeans that fit him well in all the right places. It was hard not to admit to myself that this man was attractive, strange eyes or not.
As I brought my gaze back to his face, I couldn’t help but admire his sharp chiseled features. A strong jawline that held a five o’clock shadow, full lips, and a nose straight as an arrow. He was the kind of man your mother warned you about, the one that your father pulled a shotgun out for. He was…trouble.
An abrupt bump jostled me from my admiration, the impact of it caused a strange steel canister to roll out of the man’s bag. As the bus turned, the canister rolled its way towards me, just barely out of reach. Without giving it much thought, I reached out for it. Although before my fingers even had the chance to graze it, my hand was swatted away. A deep voice filling the small bus, my heart quickened at the sound of the husky voice, my eyes locked once more with the stranger. His eyes unwavering.
“Thanks. But no thanks.” Murmuring these words, he shot me a steely glare, an irritated scowl twisting his features. With a small nod, I tried my best to relieve myself of the awkwardness of that encounter. My patience wavering as I spoke softly.
“Yeah, no problem.”