Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Mocking Glass

"The Mocking Glass" was written for a competition in which the submission had to be less than 1000 words. There were a variety of small elements to choose from, two of which had to be incorporated into the story. The two I chose were "ruby eyes" and "freefall".

I didn't win the contest, but I got some good feedback. Enjoy!

The Mocking Glass

Quinn pushed on the door as hard as she could, but it wouldn’t give. She tried pushing from her shoulder, from her hip, from her leg, but the door didn’t move. Her cousin had told her what was in there, the looking glass that would show you something mysterious, and she wanted to see it. And now Stewart was gone, it was the perfect chance to sneak in, and she couldn’t get into his room because the door was stuck. But she wanted to see it. The glass was in there, and she wanted to, no had to see it.

She thought she heard a thump of the front door, which could mean that either Stewart or her aunt and uncle were home, but there were no other sounds that might suggest she was not alone. She pushed the door with her shoulder again. As if someone else had turned the knob and pulled, the door swung open, throwing her onto the floor just inside Stewart’s bedroom. A baseball rolled to the edge of the dresser next to her, teetered on the edge for a moment, and fell, hitting Quinn on the left eye. She let out a little squeal, but that was all. Dusting herself off, she stood and replaced the baseball on the dresser.

And there it was. It looked just like a regular mirror, more like one you would find in a girl’s room, big and framed, than you’d find in the sanctuary of a sixteen-year-old boy. Stewart said he’d gotten it at a flea market, and the lady who’d sold it to him had been a witch or a gypsy. He wasn’t sure. Quinn peered at it from an angle, not wanting to see her reflection in it; the things her cousin told her he’d seen frightened her a little. Stop acting like a little kid, she thought. Just look. She inched over, keeping her eyes on the floor, until she thought she was right in front of the looking glass. She lifted her eyes.

Her reflection stared back at her: plain, straight brown hair with no luster, boring green eyes, a few pale freckles, long nose. She wanted to hit Stewart. He’d find out about this and laugh at her. There was nothing special about this looking glass. He’d tricked her again. He was so mean.

She stuck her tongue out at her reflection. She’d get back at him. He’d tricked her too many times. The baseball on the dresser was in her hand before she realized what she was going to do with it, and a second later she had it pulled back and was throwing it at the mirror with a force she’d picked up from her softball coach.

The glass didn’t break.

She glared at her reflection in the still-flawless mirror. Her reflection stuck its tongue out at her. She blinked, not sure if she was seeing things or if she was just angry. And then her eyes turned red. In the reflection, her hair was still plain and brown, her nose too long, but her eyes had gone ruby, her eyebrows pulled down in a ferocious look.

The door slammed shut. She heard laughter that sounded like it was coming from the mirror. Or was it coming from her? Her reflection wasn’t laughing. Those crimson eyes were staring back at her, and the baseball was in its hand, tossing it up menacingly. She heard the laugh again, and this time she felt it coming from her own gut, but only her reflection was smiling. The mirror-Quinn hauled back and hurled the baseball at her. She heard the unmistakable sound of glass shattering and knew it was the mirror, but all she saw was a baseball flying at her face. It connected with her forehead before she could move.

She stumbled backward and fell. It felt like she was going in slow-motion. Laughter surrounded her and pressed in like smoke. Everywhere she looked, she saw those ruby eyes, staring at her. She should have hit the floor by now, but she knew from the laughing that there was no floor there to catch her. There never would be. She opened her eyes, not sure when she closed them. A single huge pair of ruby eyes stared back at her, their corners made into crows’ feet from the laughter of an invisible mouth. Around them was a frame like the mirror’s. It grew further away, the frame, but the eyes were always there.

And then they were gone. She was standing on solid ground. She opened her eyes, and a pair of bland green eyes stared back at her. They were part of a body that was lying on the ground by a bed, in a bedroom that no doubt belonged to a teenage boy. The eyes were unblinking, the face pale and no doubt cold, the chest failing to rise and fall with breath.

The mocking glass laughed. She laughed with it, so hard that the dresser it was on shuddered and trembled. A baseball fell off the edge and rolled to a stop next to the ear of the dead girl.

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