It was that fleeting time of day when the moon and sun are high and bright at the same time. Like many things in life, these summer nights wouldn’t last much longer. She sat quietly on a park bench.
The end of summer meant the end of her escape. She would have to go back to school. She was able to stay away from home during the summer. She could run around all day without having to worry about her mother’s icy eyes on her, or if she fit in at school. She could explore, go to the library, watch the clouds, and play in the sprinklers.
School meant the end of her freedom; a return to her home, her school, and her anxieties. She would stress about her school work, and have to tip toe around her mother’s hair trigger temper. She would have to worry about finding the right clothes to hide the bruises.
Caroline didn’t want to go home, or go back to school. She didn’t have much choice though, she was only fifteen. As the light in the sky waned she decided that she should make the slow, miserable journey home.
On her walk home Caroline noticed a strange gleam. She thought that she had imagined it at first. Then she saw it again. Her curiosity got the better of her, and she decided to investigate what was gleaming in the dimming light.
Someone had set a whole bunch of their trash from their house in the alleyway. There was a variation of boxes full of junk and old furniture, but what caught Caroline’s attention was a mirror.
The mirror had a dark rag covering it. Caroline pulled back the rage to reveal a beautiful mirror with swirling carved wood and chipping black paint. Parts of the mirror were faded, and a bit blurry.
Caroline Felton found herself gazing at her reflection in the mirror. She wore thick bulky glasses, had frizzy brown hair that covered her face, and pale skin dusted with freckles. She was thin, almost frail, and wore old faded clothes that didn’t quite fit right. She walked with a slouch, and there was a timid gleam in her eyes.
The mirror fascinated Caroline. She couldn’t quite put her finger it, but there was something about it that enraptured her. Then before she could even think it through, she found herself hefting the fairly large and heavy mirror off the ground and into her arms. She wondered where she would put it, and how she would sneak it into her home.
Finally, she arrived at the haggard building that was her home. White paint peeled from the wooden paneling. The green door hung crooked on its hinges. The screens on the windows were torn and falling off the windows. Three untamed bushes, and an empty flower bed lined the front porch.
Caroline carefully opened the door, and lifted it so that its hinges wouldn’t creak. She gently brought the mirror inside and slowly closed the door behind her.
Then she stopped and listened. The TV in her mother’s room was playing. Caroline, sighed, her mother rarely left her bedroom when she was ready to retire for the night. She carefully crept down the hallway to slip by unnoticed. She was about to make it to her door when the splintering wood beneath her feet creaked. She froze not daring to move or even breathe. She waited for a moment, but the hall remained silent. The only noise in the whole house was from her Mother’s TV.
Finally, she was at her bedroom door. She reached for the handle and turned it slowly. That’s when the knob let out a high pitched squeak in protest. The squeak wasn’t that loud, but it seemed to echo through the dark house.
“Caroline, is that you?” Her mother’s voice called.
Caroline’s face went pale. “Y-yes, mother?” She stammered.
“Why are you getting home so late?” Her mother asked through the bedroom door, not even bothering to open it.
“I’m s-sorry. I just lost track of time.”
“You need to be more careful, what if you had gotten hurt? I want you back by sun down from now on.”
Caroline swallowed loudly. “Yes, mom.”
Caroline entered her bedroom. It wasn’t very large. Inside was a small twin sized bed with a twisting metal frame. She had a tall white dresser with peeling paint, and a couple of missing knobs for the drawers. Some cheap posters were taped to the walls. She had a small closet crammed with old clothes, and just enough space to maneuver around her room.
She set the mirror down. It was too late to try and hang it up. She also wanted to clean it up as well. It had obviously been neglected for a long period of time. With that she called it a night.
That night as she slept, she thought she heard whispers. She thought that she imagined them, or perhaps it was just the faint murmur of her mother’s TV. Either way she dismissed the whispers and returned to sleep.
The next day Caroline got to work cleaning up the mirror. She cleaned the wood and the surface of the mirror itself. When it had dried she found some black paint for the frame, and covered the old chipping paint. It almost looked brand new after her hard work. She hung it on the wall next to her bed.
After that Caroline forgot about the mirror. While she still heard whispers in her dreams, she made sure not to spend too much time at home during the summer.
When school started back up, her freedom was gone. She had lots of homework to do, and her mother often lashed out at her.
One morning as she started getting ready for school, she felt compelled to look into the mirror. Caroline wasn’t one to fret over her looks; she didn’t have the money for pretty clothes, and she knew that she was ugly. Yet as she looked into the mirror gazing at her reflection she thought that it felt different. Something about her reflection felt powerful. She would never have described herself as strong, confident, or powerful. Yet there was strength and power in her reflection. Had it been there all along?
That day at school, Caroline had a wonderful time. She made a new friend and excelled in her studies. When she got home her mother was in a bad mood and they got into a physical altercation like usual, but other than that everything was better. It wasn’t great, but it had been easier.
As time went on, Caroline found herself drawn to the mirror more and more frequently. One particular day, Caroline realized as she looked in the mirror that she had forgotten to put her scissors away. Then she had a brilliant idea. She grabbed her scissors and began to chop at her long frizzy brown hair. She cut carefully; removing nearly six inches of hair and trying to keep it even. In the end she had a sleek chin length bob. She no longer looked like a timid mouse, but elegant and exotic. Her mother did not appreciate the new hair style and gave her a beating for it. However, nothing could be done now.
Then one night as Caroline slept, she heard the whispers, but this time they were louder. The loud whisper made her slowly wake up. At first she didn’t understand why she was awake. That’s when she heard the loud indistinct whispers, it was as if they were right in her ear.
Caroline bolted up, frightened. She tried to figure out where the whispers were coming from in her dark and shadowy room. Her heart beating loudly, her breathing shallow, and beads of sweat forming on her forehead. The only light in her room was cast through the window from an orange street light.
Upon seeing her reflection in the mirror, she jumped, startled. She had forgotten that it was there. She was frustrated that she could give herself such a scare.
That’s when she saw her reflection motion for her to come over, yet Caroline hadn’t moved. She froze. Perhaps it had been her imagination. Yes, that was it. It had been her imagination…
Caroline saw her reflection motion for her to come over again. She gaped and blinked. She hoped that by blinking, her reflection would stop moving, but it didn’t. Now it smiled as it motioned for her once more.
She shakily got to her feet and stood before the mirror. Her mouth suddenly felt dry, too dry. How had she not noticed her cracked lips and sore throat? She wanted to scream, but did not think she could manage.
“Hello, Caroline.” The refection greeted. “I’ve been wanted to speak with you for so long.”
“Who- what are you?” Caroline stammered.
The reflection smiled. “I’m you.”
“What do you want?”
“I want to help you, I am your friend.”
“What do you mean? How would you do that?”
The reflection smiled again, but this time it was coy. “That’s a secret.”
“What if- What if I don’t want your help?”
Caroline’s reflection looked genuinely sad. “Then, I’ll have to stop.”
“Yes. You see, I’ve already been helping you. Helping you feel strong, and cutting your hair.”
Caroline gasped. “You mean?”
“Yes, I’ve been helping you for a while now.”
Caroline was hesitant. She didn’t trust the reflection in the mirror, but she liked feeling strong and beautiful. If it stopped helping her, then things would go back to the way they were before. She would be alone again. Being alone was scarier than anything a mysterious mirror could do to her.
As time passed, Caroline and the mirror became fast friends. Caroline also became more and more popular at school. She started to get asked on dates, and to hang out with the popular kids. She had become the person to know, the person to hang out with. She was friends with them all; football players, cheerleaders, skateboarders, band nerds, and thespians.
Meanwhile, at home things had not changed. Caroline’s mother only became more volatile. The bruises were darker and beatings more frequent. Caroline wondered if her mother was jealous of her. Her mother had once been beautiful and popular. She married her high school sweet heart, Caroline’s father, but he left when Caroline was still a toddler. After that her mother became thin, her once youthful face wrinkled, and she never seemed happy. Did she blame Caroline for her father leaving? How could she be cruel and selfish?
Slowly the mirror began to talk about Caroline’s mom. The reflection talked about her mother’s cruelty and neglect. The reflection assured Caroline that she deserved better, and she didn’t have to put up with such harsh treatment. As Caroline’s arguments with her mother became more turbulent, the reflection told Caroline that it wasn’t fair, and Caroline agreed.
One night the reflection offered. “I could help you with your mother.”
“How?” Carolyn asked eagerly.
“I could kill her.”
Caroline’s face drained. “You can’t.”
“Why not?” The reflection asked as if it didn’t see anything wrong with its statement. “She deserves to suffer after all that she’s done to you, and you’ll finally be free.”
“No, I won’t” Caroline shook her head.
“But she deserves to die.” The reflection insisted. “Let’s kill her.”
‘Kill her’ the mirror chanted over and over. Caroline shook her head and said no. ‘Kill her’ the mirror chanted louder. The chanting echoed in Caroline’s ears, but she remained steadfast in her refusal. ‘Kill her!’ The chanting increased until it bounced off the walls, and the world seemed to quake.
“NO!” Caroline screamed as she punched the mirror causing the glass to shatter.
Shards tumbled to the floor, and multiple reflections stared at her. The chanting had stopped. Things were quiet again. Was it really okay?
“Caroline, are you okay?” Her mother called from the depths of the house causing Caroline to jump.
“Yes.” Caroline lied. “It’s just a bug. I big bug scared me.” This response seemed to placate her mother.
Caroline swept the shards of glass up, and threw the mirror into the dumpster behind the house. It wasn’t until the mirror had been removed from the house that Caroline could breathe a sigh of relief. She called it a night, and easily went to sleep without the mirror’s whispers.
When Caroline woke the next morning, her arms felt sore. When she looked at her hands, they were covered in strange deep cuts and blood. Where had that come from? She went to the bathroom to dress the odd and mysterious wounds. When she finished tending to her hands, she made her way down the hall heading toward the kitchen.
However, as she made her way down the hall she saw her mother’s door slightly open. The faint murmur of her mother’s TV spilled into the hallway. Her mother never left the bedroom door open. Caroline tentatively pushed her mother’s bedroom door all the way open.
When she saw what laid beyond the door a blood curdling scream tore free from her stomach. The TV was splattered with blood. Her mother laid stiff in bed with a look of shock frozen on her face. Blood stained her mother’s floral bed covers. Her mother had been stabbed dozens of times in the chest and abdomen. On the floor lay a single, large sharp piece of the cursed mirror covered in blood.
Caroline screamed as she looked at her hands. Realizing what she had done, what the mirror had made her do. It had been too late. It had taken control of her one last time.