A Short Story
They say a mirror has the ability to reflect part of the soul. Some have suggested that’s why vampires can’t see their reflection; because they have no soul to reflect.
That’s what I was thinking about, when two burly looking men hauled my new floor-length mirror into my new bedroom. “New” being a subjective term, since the mirror was actually said to have been made in the late 1800’s, and the bedroom was made a little after that, along with the rest of the house of course. The mirror was found in the dusty attic when we moved in. It had an intricate golden frame and slight distortion that only an ancient mirror would have. My mother was quite taken with it, but my parents already had a mirror in their room.
We were originally from Australia, but we moved to England for father’s work. More specifically, somewhere in the countryside of Yorkshire Dales. I didn’t want to move. I hate change. And something about this house just doesn’t feel right to me. My room is way too large for my liking; it gets too cold at night and the hardwood floors creek under my feet. But my parents don’t seem to care. In fact, they love this place.
“Is this a good place for it?” one of the movers asked, having finally positioned the mirror somewhere in the vast bedchamber, which seems a more fitting term for the place than a bedroom.
“Yes that’s fine,” I replied without glancing up. I was reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula on my antique bed, which is probably why I started thinking about vampires and mirrors.
Later that night, my parents and I had our dinner by candlelight. The electricity wasn’t set up yet in the house, since we were located in such a deserted location. My parents didn’t seem fazed by this however, they thought it was fun.
“It’s like we’re camping!” My mother cheered.
“This is how people used to live you know, India, back before electricity was even invented. Why don’t you tell me who was credited with inventing the first light bulb,” my father challenged. He told me that he took responsibility for my education since he doesn’t think the education system is up to his standards. He usually looks for any excuse to educate me.
“Thomas Edison,” I promptly replied.
“Very good, now let’s eat.”
Later that night, I decided to explore the land a little. There was a small lake right next to our backyard. I sat on the edge of the black water, creating ripples with a stick I had found as I gazed up at the moon. It was full tonight. I glanced up at it and watched as a large raven gracefully flew across its illuminated spot in the sky.
The night air was starting to get a bit chilly. I was about to get up to go back inside when something in the water moved. It’s probably a frog I thought. But curiosity got the better of me. I peered inside the water, whose surface brightly reflected the moonlight. At first there was nothing to see.
Then something round and large slowly rose to the surface. I used my stick to poke at it, and it turned over. I shrieked and jolted up away from the lake, running back into the house as fast as my feet could carry me.
“India! What’s wrong? You look as white as a sheet!” Mother exclaimed when I came in through the back door.
“Nothing, I’m just tired. I’m going to sleep now,” I said expressionless. I needed to be alone.
This was the first night in our new home. It had started pouring rain a few hours ago, and didn’t seem like it would relent anytime soon. I could never sleep when it rained.
I lay in bed for hours, eyes wide open, staring at my dusty ceiling, thinking about what I saw out in the lake…
Just then I felt like something moved inside my room. I jolted upright and looked around, half crazed by lack of sleep. My eyes wandered for a while until they rested on the mirror which the two movers had decided to place in front of my bed. I stared at my reflection for a while, made visible by the pale moonlight streaming in from my open window.
I was about to lie back down again, when I noticed something in the reflection of the mirror. There was a small picture frame hanging on the wall that I hadn’t noticed before. I quickly turned around to peer at the wall behind me, but the picture wasn’t there. Starting to panic, I looked back into the mirror and once again saw the photo. It was a little boy holding up what looked to be a fish on a fishing rod. Startled, I looked back once more, but once more I saw no photo on the wall.
That’s all I remember from that night.
That morning I woke up to a streak of sunshine on my face. Dazed, I sat up in bed and stretched my cramped muscles. That’s when I remembered the picture from last night and quickly gazed into the mirror. There was no photo on the wall. Must have been a dream I thought as I got out of bed.
I found my father in the study after I had finished my breakfast. “What are we studying today?” I asked him as I took a seat in front of his desk.
“Today will be a history lesson. I thought it would be interesting to teach you about the origins of the house we now live in. I have been doing some research on the topic and think you will find some of it interesting,” he began.
“In 1894, a woman named Charlotte Wentworth moved in here with her 7 year old son. She was a seamstress who did most of her work at home. Her husband had died a year before, but there is no longer any record as to the cause of his death. There is however, a record of the death of her young son. Not long after they moved in, her son supposedly drowned in that very lake outside the house. Some of the townspeople in the village up the road spread nasty rumours about the mother murdering her own child. What was the reason for that particular rumour? Well, she appeared to be psychologically unstable, considering she committed suicide soon after the death of her son. There is no longer any record as to how she killed herself. Isn’t that morbid, India? I thought you might be interested in that, seeing as how you love your Gothic novels and such,” my father concluded, with a smirk.
“Yes, that was very…interesting,” I replied and left shortly afterward.
That night I couldn’t sleep again. I stared at my own reflection in the mirror for so long my eyes went dry from lack of blinking. A bit after midnight I was staring into the mirror and I could have sworn I saw my reflection blink, although I was sure I hadn’t felt my eyes close. I crept out of bed and threw my bedsheet over the glass. Satisfied, I went back to bed.
The next morning, I woke up to something shining in my eyes. It was a reflection of the sun from the mirror. I groaned and turned over in bed. It took my groggy mind a while to realize what was amiss. I bolted out of bed and scrutinized the mirror. The bedsheet that I had thrown over the glass during the night was folded and lain out on the foot of my bed.
“Mother must have come in here earlier,” I decided. I got dressed and made my way downstairs. My parents were nowhere to be found. After searching the vast house for a while I finally found them in their bedroom. They were both still sound asleep. Feeling a bit disconcerted I decided to make breakfast myself.
I finished my piece of toast and left some for my parents before going back into my room. I took out Dracula and got lost in the world of vampires for a while. I was just at the part where Quincey is stabbing Dracula to death and he is crumbling into dust, when I heard it. It was the faintest of whispering. The source was coming from right next to my ear. I jerked my head to the side but no one was there. I slowly turned back to my book. When I flipped the page, I heard it again: I can’t breathe… a child’s voice was whispering into my ear.
I got out of bed and threw the book at the mirror. “I can’t take this anymore! Who’s there? Is someone there?!” I yelled into the mirror, feeling stupid and frustrated. My door flew open then and my parents came rushing in.
“India! What’s going on in here? Is everything alright?”
“Yes, I’m sorry I woke you,” they were about to turn away when I spoke again. “Would you think I’m crazy if I told you that I’ve been seeing things? And hearing noises?”
My parents glanced at each other, then my mother spoke. “Well it is an old house dear, the pipes and wooden supports are bound to make noises. But what kinds of things have you been seeing?”
“Well, the other night I saw a picture hanging on the wall in the reflection of the mirror, but there isn’t a picture on the wall!” I exclaimed, gesturing to the wall above my bed.
“India darling, you know you have quite the imagination. This is what happens when you don’t get enough sleep. Maybe we should put you back on those pills. John, what do you think?” my mother turned away from me and started to discuss this with my father, as if I were a toddler who couldn’t understand.
I knew it was a bad idea to tell my parents. I sighed, picking up my book from where it was sprawled in the corner of the room and began to read.
That night something was different. The crickets were silent outside, and there was no moonlight. The air had a certain restlessness to it. I had decided to light a candle and keep it on my dresser next to my bed. The flickering light cast shadows in the room, and I could see the bright flame in the reflection of the mirror.
I was just closing my eyes to try and fall asleep when I heard heavy breathing coming from the opposite side of the room. I slowly turned to look and caught something in the mirror that made my heart stop.
I sat up in bed, eyes wide and heart pounding in my ears. It was a reflection of my room, but not my room. The furniture was different and there were pictures all over the wall. But the most horrifying thing of all was that I wasn’t in it. Instead, there was somebody asleep in my bed. They were breathing deeply, the kind of breathing that signified deep sleep. I could see my door opening in the reflection, although in reality it remained closed. I was too stricken with terror to do anything but watch.
A woman garbed in a long flowy dress entered the room. She crept up to the sleeping person in bed and reached over as if to kiss them. But instead, her hands grasped their throat, jerking them awake. Only then did I realize that the person in bed was a little boy, like the boy I saw in the picture. Like the boy who died here in 1894. The woman, who I could only assume was his mother, continued to choke him until he ceased thrashing around on the bed. He was dead.
I shrieked despite myself. The woman whipped her head around and glared at me through the mirror. She then stood up straight and started walking towards me.
I scrambled out of bed and threw open my bedroom door. I made it to my parents’ room and knocked frantically on their door. Nobody answered, so I barged in. My parents were lying in bed. I ran over to them and started shaking them awake. But they did not wake. Frantic, I rolled my mother over and screamed in terror as I stared at her face. Her eyes were wide open, with a look of such horror on her face I thought I would die of fright. My father was in the same state.
I fell to the floor shaking in terror. I barely noticed when the door started to open softly. I barely noticed when a pair of pure white feet crept towards me, making no sound on the rickety floorboards. I barely noticed when she touched me. The last thing I remember are how cold her hands were as they pressed against my neck.
When I opened my eyes, I was lying on the floor of my bedroom. I sat up, sighing in relief. It was all just a horrible nightmare. I stood up and turned towards the mirror. What I saw made my knees feel weak and my palms sweat. It was me, but I was lying face down on the ground. My parents were lying on either side of me. I turned around and there they were. The mother and her son, as white as death, staring at me, smiling. The boy reached out his hand for me; welcome, he whispered.