You jerk awake as a burst of thunder causes the entire house to shudder and shake in its foundations. You lay in bed, listening to the rain beating angrily at the windows, hoping it will lull you back to sleep, but no such luck. Even after the lightning and thunder fades and the rain slows to an occasional drip, you lie in bed sleepless. After an hour, you decide to get up and go to the bathroom, knowing that if you had to lie in bed awake for another second, your mind might explode. As you walk through the dark, silent house, you feel like an apocalyptic zombie with your hands stretched in front of you and your feet dragging the floor as you try to avoid bumping into anything. Your hands flail around until you find the door knob but the door refuses to push open. You push harder until it pops open, causing you to fall a bit into the bathroom. You find yourself in front of the mirror and when you look up into it, you hardly recognize what you see.
In the dark, your silhouette is clear as well as some of the sharper edges of your face, a few strands of hair, and your nose. But the dim moonlight coming from the window reveals nothing else, and your brain begins to fill in the rest. You know it’s your own reflection, that it’s just a trick of the light, but suddenly the image in the mirror has eyes that are a little too dark, lips that are unnaturally curved up, cheekbones that are incredibly sharp. The face no longer looks like your face as it begins to grin in a way you never could. Your heart beats a little faster, even though you know it’s just your reflection, that there’s nothing in the mirror, but your breath is quickly becoming panicked and so you rush to turn on the light.
For a second, there’s nothing but white as your eyes adjust to the burst of light. When you can finally see again, you’re still looking at the mirror. You look like yourself again, even if your eyes are squinting in the brightness, and your heart begins to calm down again. It was just a mind trick, stupid, you think, but your warped reflection is still imprinted in your mind. You splash your face with water from the sink, no longer caring about going back to sleep. It’s just reassuring to feel your normal nose, cheeks, and mouth and prove to yourself that the warped image was only in your imagination. As you head back to your room, you turn on lights as you go. You tell yourself it’s because you don’t care about falling back to sleep, but in reality you’re still spooked. Once you’re settled back in your bed, you grab your laptop and pick out a movie. Horror is obviously out of the question, so you decide to watch an old rom com that you used to watch twice a week in high school. But as the movie plays, your mind can’t focus. Every five minutes, you see your own warped face again. It’s all in your head, of course, but that creepy smile still haunts your every thought. Suddenly, you slam your laptop closed. It’s a stupid image, and worst of all, it is a figment of your imagination. Being afraid of it is silly and must end now.
You remember an old friend of yours who claimed the best way to confront fears and dislikes was to face them head on. Despite hating cottage cheese, she ate it every day for a month straight until it no longer bothered her. Was she crazy? Maybe. But did it work? Absolutely. And so you were going to conquer this fear and stare into that awful, terrifying reflection until you weren’t scared of it anymore.
With all the lights off, you sit in front of the full length mirror in your bedroom. Between the neighbors’ porch lights and the multiple windows, there’s much more light in your room. At first you stare at your reflection and it seems almost normal, but as you continue to look, your mirror self begins to transform. One eye becomes bigger than the other. Your hair grows longer and longer until it rests at the middle of your back. Your eyebrows arch, your shoulders hunch, your face sharpens. You’re terrified of what you have become, but you keep on looking because it has to stop at some point, and when it does, you’ll get used to it and no longer be afraid. You think you might be crying, and sure enough, dark rivers course down your reflection’s face, and as it starts to smile, the liquid fills its mouth. You notice that its arm is reaching out, almost in a zombie way, like you were earlier in the night. Panic fills every corner of your brain and before you can consider whether you caused the reflection to move its arm or not, you jump up and turn on the lights. Something touches your leg, and you let out a little scream before you can stop yourself, telling yourself you’re being silly, that it’s just a mental trick. You just accidentally touched the laundry basket, dummy, you think, but the laundry basket is across the room and you can’t see anything else between you and the light switch. Before you can freak yourself out too much, you try to think rationally and figure out what made your reflection’s arm move. You don’t remember moving, but you don’t remember smiling either, and the reflection did both of those things. You were probably just too freaked out to notice what was truly happening, you think.
But the way that it reached its arm out sticks in your mind. Like a zombie, you remember as you try to suppress the shudder that’s working its way through your body. You remember how you had reached out like a zombie earlier in the night, reassuring yourself that it’s perfectly normal and definitely not out of the ordinary. But then you remember why you looked like a zombie. You were in the dark. You were stumbling around, looking for your destination, the bathroom door knob. It was looking for its destination, you realize with horror. The mirror. It was reaching for the mirror.
You can’t move. You’re paralyzed with fear, still looking at the mirror. The lights are on, but what would happen if you turned them off? Nope, you think. I’m never turning them off. But your mind reaches for the nearly impossible, like if there was a power outage, if the light bulbs burned out, if a robber cut the electricity. You’re in full on panic mode now, and this finally gets you to your feet. You turn on all the lights, grab a suitcase from the hallway closet, and start shoving clothes in. You think of where you can go at 3 in the morning with no car, $20, and a suitcase, and decide on your best friend’s apartment on the other side of the city. She wouldn’t be happy, but you wouldn’t be murdered by your warped reflection either. Suitcase in hand, you head to the bus station, checking the sidewalk behind you every five seconds as your mind turns the sounds of the city at night into your worst nightmare. The next bus doesn’t come for half an hour, and there’s no way you can wait that long so you call an Uber. Surprisingly enough, one is available right away, and when it pulls up five minutes later, you hop in the back and ask to be taken to your friend’s address. When the car doesn’t move, you look up and there it is. It’s you, your reflection, but in all the worst ways with its sharp features, evil eyes, and crazy smile and that makes it your worst nightmare. You scream and scream and scream and just as you realize that no one is coming, that you are all alone with yourself, something touches your leg, but this time there’s no light to stop it as you fall victim to your own mind, your mirror reflection, and your worst enemy.