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Fiction Kids Horror

Henry had never liked seeing reflections. Ever since he was young, and he thought of himself as old even though he was still a scrawny, nine-year-old boy, he would avoid looking directly into puddles, large glass windows, and, especially, mirrors. Whether it was his own image staring back at him, copying his movements just a hair behind when he thought they should have, or someone else moving next to their doppelganger. He simply did not like them. 

He never told anyone of his aversion. It didn’t seem to him something you brought up with others. Some people don’t like peanut butter, others the color maroon, and Henry didn’t like reflections. Life wouldn’t change if he told anyone, so he didn’t. This presented quite the problem for him when his parents moved him to a new home, in a new town, and a new bedroom.

“This house is so much bigger than our last, you get to have your own room this time Henry!” His mom said. She spoke as if this were a good thing. While Henry did like to have his own space for toys, and the many projects of an industrious, young man, he needed to have at least one of his siblings in the room to protect from the darkness, or he would have to protect himself. And that simply made no sense.

The self described, poor, unlucky boy was then shown up to his new room. Up the stairs, second door on the left, trodding on thick shag carpet he entered his room for the first time. He was in a corner of the house, so he first noticed the two windows on the opposite side from the door. One on each wall, either side of the far corner. Lovely windows, large with a view of the neighbors backyard. They had an above ground swimming pool and a trampoline with a net.

Then Henry noticed the mirrors. The door swung inward on his left side, and the mirrors were on the wall that was hidden before he entered the room. These were not regular mirrors either. They were massive mirrors that stretched from the floor to the ceiling in place of closet doors made of wood, as closet doors should be. He stiffened. His knees locked and a mild chill moved through him as he saw another shocked boy across from him. He tried to act casual. Nothing was wrong, so why shouldn’t he be casual?

“Does this have to be my room?” He said to his mom who had lured him there. “It doesn’t feel like my room.”

“The other room is a little bit larger than this one, and your brother and sister are going to be sharing that for now.” His mom was distracted by the hustle and bustle of moving going on downstairs. “I’m sure it will feel like your room once you’ve spent the night in it.” She walked away. There was nothing to be done. He was stuck with the towering mirrors and the familiar, yet slightly wrong, face.

Well, if he was going to be stuck in that room he might as well make the best of it. Movers were helping distribute furniture around the house at the direction of his mom and dad. Henry used that time to figure out where his bed should be. It had to be across the room as far from the mirror as he could get. He couldn’t face away from the mirror. Some things have to be watched even if you don’t want to. He ended up deciding on the corner far from the mirrors and windows. Windows can also have reflections, even when hidden by blinds. The head of the bed was facing the mirrors, and if he closed the door in front of him he could sleep without staring at himself.

Movers are efficient workers, and these movers were no exception. When your job is to lift heavy furniture all day, you get it done as quickly as you can. All of the family’s furniture was moved in and oriented to their preferences before the day was over. Henry’s bed was placed in its corner, and his mom gave him linens to make the bed.

After a long day, for themselves and the movers, it was time to go to bed. The mirror door was opened, the door cracked slightly wider than usual, and Henry was sleeping alone for the first time he could remember. Sleep came to him slowly that night. Inevitably, despite the fear he couldn’t admit to feeling, he drifted off thinking of anything but mirrors.

In the morning, Henry woke up staring at himself. Smiling. At some point, one of his parents must have come in and closed the closet door. And the door to his room. Normally the smiles in the mirror faded so quickly he wasn’t sure if they were real. Today it stayed put, and it was truly horrible. The face, his face, was stretched so far the skin on the lips seemed about to tear. All of his teeth were on display. Even the back molars. And the eyes. There was a look of pure hatred combined with the want for suffering. Henry knew that he could never, and would never, smile like that. So instead, he screamed. A scream only a terrified child can make. High pitched and without words. Conveying he was in deep distress, and fear for his life. Two seconds into the scream, his dad burst through the door. Tie half tied around his neck and without a chance to put on his slacks.

“Henry! What’s wrong? What happened? Are you okay?” The questions rushed out of him as he ran to the bed to grab his son and run from the danger. Not seeing anything immediately wrong, his worry turned to annoyance. “Why would you scream like that? You had me terrified!”

“The mirror,” Henry whispered. Burying his face in the white button up shirt, as his dad came close. “It’s smiling at me.” A shiver went down his dad’s spine. He turned to look at the mirror. Both doors were closed. Only the worried face of a father was there. Henry’s mom and two siblings came through the door moments later. They had run up the stairs from the kitchen.

“Is Henry okay?” His mom didn’t see anything wrong, but the scream still echoed in her head. “What scared him?”

“He thought he saw something in the mirror while he was still waking up. It sounds like it was pretty horrible.” His dad said while holding Henry’s head to his chest. “I think he’s going to be fine in a moment, right champ?” Henry nodded but didn’t say anything.

Despite the scare in the morning, Henry had a normal day. He got dressed and came down stairs for breakfast. On school days, cereal and milk was the go to. As he poured the milk, he felt his mom lay a hand on his shoulder. She didn’t say anything, and it was still comforting. His chair was open, so he sat down to eat with his spoon in his right hand.

After breakfast, his Dad dropped him off at school with his brother and sister, there was class, recess, and before long he was being picked up again to go home. Throughout the day he remembered what he’d seen in the mirror. That smile filled with malice and hate. Being around his friends and teachers mostly convinced him his dad was right. It hadn't actually happened. He had been waking up, and he thought his dream was real. Back in his room that night, it was harder to keep telling himself that. To prepare to sleep, Henry opened the closet door and propped it open with a book. He did the same with his bedroom door. Again, sleep came slowly but without fail.

That night Henry dreamed the mirror had moved closer to his bed. Or the room had shrunk and forced the two near each other. In his dream he saw no reflections at all. A simple piece of pristine glass, no faults or defects, no spots where the reflective material had been worn away. It was beautiful, and it was much too close to him. 

With a jerk, Henry found himself awake. The closet door was closed. His reflection stared back at him. Smiling. That same terrible smile he had seen in the morning. This time, however, the boy in the reflection moved. Drawing the covers off his body and moving to a sitting position on the edge of the bed. Head staying in the same position despite the orientation of the body. And smiling. Always smiling. The boy, who looked like Henry, rose from one bed, and began to walk towards the other. Growing larger in the mirror until it seemed he was on the other side of a window. Then Henry saw his own hand reaching out of the mirror. Pushing into the real world. That horrible smile pressing through an invisible barrier. Henry was too terrified to scream.

“This is a dream, just like this morning, it has to be a dream!” He said to himself as he ducked underneath his blanket. Praying he would wake up.

Something sat on the bed right next to his feet. They both froze for a moment. Neither moving. Neither breathing. Henry slowly lowered the blanket hoping he had finally woken up. The other boy, with his face, was sitting right in front of him. Reaching for him with his left hand.

“Good morning Henry! Did you sleep alright?” His father asked from the dining table, as the boy entered the kitchen. “Nothing scared you like the other morning?”

“I slept fine, Father.” The boy said.

“You sure, you seem a bit off… something about your eyes…” He trailed off mid sentence, confused by the smile his son was giving.

“I slept fine.” The boy said with emphasis as he turned away to make his usual breakfast of cereal. No one noticed when he used his left hand to hold the spoon.

After that night, the boy was no longer troubled by reflections of any kind. He slept with both closet doors closed. If the blinds were left up he didn’t mind. Walking past large puddles or large windows in front of stores no longer bothered him. His reflection was still a bit off. Instead of a slight leer to the lips when he looked at himself; he saw a small amount of sadness or fear. The fear made the boy smile. His smile was a crooked one, like something out of a warped reflection.


May 05, 2023 21:41

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4 comments

Arpad Nagy
21:18 May 10, 2023

Interesting for sure. They say kids are prone to be closer to other dimensions.

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Rain Dyer
18:42 May 11, 2023

I'm glad you found it interesting! I just started reading your story as well!

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Frances Robinson
01:27 May 13, 2023

Henry had never liked seeing reflections. Ever since he was young, and he thought of himself as old even though he was still a scrawny, nine-year-old boy, he would avoid looking directly into puddles, large glass windows, and, especially, mirrors. Whether it was his own image staring back at him, copying his movements just a hair behind when he thought they should have, or someone else moving next to their doppelganger. He simply did not like them. He never told anyone of his aversion. It didn’t seem to him something you brought up with ot...

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Kristin Neubauer
19:20 May 12, 2023

This was quite a story, Rain. It had that feel of a psychological thriller, and such an interesting premise - Henry being afraid of mirrors. You wrote it so well that I feel you could turn it into something much more expansive. There's so much more I want to know about Henry and that room and the mirrors. I loved it!

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