It's almost fitting that I find myself walking up this never-ending staircase. The steps lead to nowhere. The walls turn into a muted grey as I continue to climb.
"The room of mirrors", is what I have been told to seek out. That is the only way that I can be pulled into the universe that was once mine. I somehow am walking amongst the place in between, the place of unfamiliarity that pricks the nerves in my brain. This whole process gives me a headache.
Ascending the peak of the stairs is not as demanding as it presents itself to be. At the top I find myself opening the freshly cleaned door handle. The creaks ring into my ears letting the dust fly away as it leaves to tell a different story. Contrasting to mine at least.
"The room of mirrors'”, every one is dissimilar. Some of them are riddled with small specs of debris. Others hold a gold trim that stands out amid the ground.
Making the hairs on my neck crawl is the lack of presence in these rooms. Every vein running down my arm runs cold as I creep slowly along. Thousands of mirrors but not a single reflection looks back at me. It was as if I were a vampire or just simply didn't make an impression on the world. Every one of the mirrors is empty. No matter how close or far I get they don't capture my existence.
They hold my own reflection a secret. I can feel the small curves of my body, the rounded flesh that sculpt my cheeks, even the necklace that dangles from my collarbone. Holding a weight on my neck and heart. The same necklace that my mother made sure I got before I left.
Mom always mentioned when I was little, magic is far from a reality, don't let it become an escape. Every night before my head would hit the pillow this same idea was told to me and then echoed in my mind as I drifted off to sleep. This room of mirrors tries my sense of reality. Reminding me of those numerous sentences. Although that is what it's supposed to do. This empty space is supposed to confuse and puzzle the brightest of prodigies. In order to find my world I must search for my reflection in the company of these absent mirrors. I need to find a mirror that copies my every detail.
Walking down the hallway is almost as exhilarating as scaling the stairs. My feet seem to make less noise in contrast to the silence carrying throughout the room. My mind, consumed. Grasping the idea of the room itself is unsettling but to continue walking in it is a challenge. Looking for a person such as myself among a room of impossibility is unimaginable.
How am I supposed to find a reflection in a chamber full of blank mirrors?
I have to think. All of these hold a portal. Every mirror is unique, each one surrounded by grass, stone, or other resources. They are like doors, when you put your hand against the glass you might fall through–if it's not locked. Each to a different universe that is just like mine. I just need to find the one that will take me home.
The emptiness of the room is almost deafening but the crackling of fire and swirling of waves sounds in my head. All of the universes are speaking to me as if they are trying to get me to join them. One in particular sounds like a harmony. Getting closer is all but an invitation. As I put my hand on the glass of the mirror, the gold feels like silk and the structure holds an elegance that appears to yell to me how dirty I am. My hand sinks through, startling me enough to pull back as if I caught it on fire. As I start to walk away and a breeze grabs me from behind, lifting me through the portal. My skin feels like molasses and my thoughts leave for what feels like hours.
My eyes open, letting in an excess of light. Birds behind me seem to scream in my ear as I smell the musk of wood. Shit. I fell through. The one promise I made. Travel to only your world and no one else's. I need to find a way back. I need to find the mirror. As I'm walking around searching for it a brown speckled cat catches my eye. It looks up at me meowing probably some code of instructions. Following it poses the only suitable option. His legs sway like a clock as he glides through the grass. When I'm passing through this overgrown jungle it reminds me of an enchanted forest I used to hear about in my family's story books. The leaves beckon me and the moss on the forest floor sings to me. The cat saunters faster as I pick up my pace to trail along with my new friend. Everything blurs around me, putting me in a mental tunnel. A twig cracks in the corner of the forest floor. Snapping me back to the dark of the forest. I swear that the second I trail my eyes over to the side of the leaves something challenges my glare.
Quickly I find myself pivoting to turn and run, faster than I followed that cat. The animal looks twisted now. The face is drooping from the side and the forest melts away with every step. Wherever I am has sprouted from the earth thousands of years ago. The trees hold a knowledge that I can't even dream of. All of them get darker as seconds tick. The silky gold of the mirror shines on top of a mound laying in the center of this overgrown forest. Walking up to the mirror feels like a privilege that I need to earn. Every contact with the ground contains a fee. When I touch the mirror's face my body remembers the similar feeling I felt moments ago taking me through, and back to the room full of empty reflections. In the distance through the mirror I can see the face of the cat smiling at me. Almost like it's telling me that I made the right decision.
I never thought I would be glad to be back in such an unwelcoming room. The mirrors lay still unchanged and similar to how I had left them. One corner of a mirror is dented. The one that I climbed through. The gold looks more rustic and worn. Leaving a sour taste in my mouth. Pushing that thought aside I walk away continuing on my journey to find my mirror. The mirror that I have been searching for this whole time. The thought of going home plagues me at this point and I have never wanted something more in my life. Just as my feet start to drift back towards the stairwell. I hear the most unforgiving cold hard sound. One that does not scare me away but is so drastic it drags me towards it. I put my hand on the source of the sound, a silver mirror that feels like pins in needles. Shoving against the glass of the frame. I push through into a second room. A dark one with only a mirror that is surrounded in wood. The grooves remind me of my mountains and the color, the dirt that used to stain my feet. Everything about the contraption feels like home. Except a detail that leaves my thoughts in shambles. In the mirror is my reflection. I look almost inhuman. My eyes sunken in with my hands covered in earth. The necklace that strangles me is cheaper than it ever has been. Despite the red flags and lights that are flashing in my face telling me to retreat I walk towards it. I am still me. The same bones that run up my face trailing down past my spine.
My reflection is unfamiliar although we are the same presence. Walking closer to it. I stare myself in the eyes. I stare her in the eyes. I have found myself amongst a room of mirrors, but this is no reflection. It is not even me.
I look up to see her smiling back.