This story is by Gabriela Gonzalez and was part of our 2018 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
The reflection in the mirror was something Angeline could barely recognize. There were lines across her face which only served to stain her porcelain features, aging her beyond her years. However, what saddened her the most was not the way her body had withered to the gods of time, it was the profound sadness she saw reflected in those sapphire eyes. They were gems, she remembered; they had sparkled and been admired by many of her suitors.
Angeline stood before a work of art. The wooden frame of the mirror was a piece of art all in itself. She could still see the intricate work that surrounded the reflecting surface. It dipped in swirls and vines that twined and twisted from one corner to the other until it came together on each corner. Angeline used to love to trail her fingers over the frame because it reminded her of the hands of her lover; a man so passionate he could make her quiver with one smoldering look from those chocolate colored eyes.
But… that was gone.
A deep shriek came from deep within the mirror. The noise made Angeline take a step back, or two. No matter how many times she stood there, it was still an unspeakable act that would have caused her to be burned at the stake; if those practices were still popular. That sound made the mirror shake but only within the confines of the frame. Like a tranquil lake disturbed by an alien object dropped to its depths, the image before her began to get distorted.
It started in crescendo — the mirror shook. It began to change as the seconds ticked by, the metal seemed to melt from within and, as if agitated from the inside, the liquid surged outwards. At first, Angeline was fascinated by the reaction, reminded of the way waves kissed the sand on its shore. She recalled the times she had been bold enough to touch them. Immediately regretting it when her hand disappeared inside the unknown; sucked into the mirror by an invisible vortex. She bellowed in pain, but within seconds, she was flung back by the same energy and landed flat on her back. The object she had conjured rejected her, as if on second thought. Her heart hammered now as she waited for the image to settle so she could step closer.
As she waited, a quote she heard somewhere rang in her head..
“In the absence of light, darkness prevails.”
How much truth can one phrase hold? Did the author see the truth?
The whisper of a breath brought her attention back to the blackhole where the mirror once stood. Angeline’s eyes caught a glimpse of the flimsy material which separated the two sides when a particular breeze lifted from the place where she couldn’t be.
Angeline waited, strained to hear something, and almost unconsciously stepped closer to the mirror.
It seemed what unfolded before her was conjured by her proximity, she could see several feet away that a figure had taken form from the shadows. A silhouette of smoke that solidified itself the closer it came to Angeline. She held her breath, as she always did, while her tired eyes followed the smoke that creeped up into thin air until it attached itself to a shape, a being.
“Angie,” the shadow smiled. She recognized that voice; even with the distorteion from the other side of the film.
“Jay” Angeline whispered fondly.
“I’ve missed you, Angie love,” color bleed into the shadow’s orbs. It was no longer void of color and she gazed into them; those eyes she longed for as he held her in a warm embrace.
It pained Angeline to see that those eyes, the ones that were before her and the ones she loved so much, held no real sentiment. Her gut twisted when the truth was thrown in her face for the first time in years. This angel of death standing before her didn’t feel what he said, the conversations they had shared, those moments were all fake. They could only have one purpose.
Jay turned his head a couple of inches to the right, Angeline thought it reminded her of a predator assessing his prey, regarding the scene before him with a widening grin. A touch of color materialized so she could clearly see his lips and teeth now, soon his nose and the rest of the features of his face came back as clear as the night she had lost him for the first time.
It was strange, Angeline thought, had he lost his essence during the years? Or had she tricked herself into thinking she had managed to lock his soul in a beloved object?
That night, when the accident took her love, it had seemed like she only had one choice. The only way that the pain clawing at her heart would cease and let her have the peace she knew she would never have if he was truly gone.
Angeline steeled her resolve and closed the distance between the two of them, seeing as Jay followed suit while the rest of his body manifested. Both, as if mirror images, raised their left hands and held it in the air, inches away from the shimmer of energy that truly separated them.
“I know,” Angeline whispered while her gaze remained fixed on the man before her “I didn’t mean to stay away, I just… I needed some time.”
“We’ve got time, Angie, but when you leave,” he stopped as if trying to find the words to explain how he felt, “I don’t feel or see anything. You are my light, Angie, you need to know that.”
Although his words hit her like a freight train, she didn’t think he meant them as heartbreaking as she felt them come. No. Angeline knew that the shadow required her presence to manifest. How sad was it that the caster gave the energy to her creations and not the other way around.
“Oh Jay, you always know the right thing to say,” she whined and stepped closer. Angeline knew that as close as she could get, she could never really truly feel him again. Not now, not ever. Not even after she passed.
They really should put warnings before the spells; that way a word of warning could save a world of heartache.
Jay raised his other hand and leaned his forehead against the boundary that separated the worlds. Sometimes, Angeline thought that he also sought closeness, she often dreamed that he would be able to break the chains and hold her once again. However, she knew that fantasies had crashed her world way too many times. This time, though, she didn’t mimic his stance, she didn’t seek to touch the untouchable, she couldn’t lose her resolve or she’d be stuck forever.
Angeline took a step back and regarded him one last time, Jay felt it, felt the change in her and his eyes grew darker.
“Angie,” he snapped “what are you doing?”
“I’m sorry, Jay” she sobbed.
“Angeline!” Jay demanded as his fists slammed angrily at the film which wavered and shimmered under his power. The features of her loved one became distorted, twisting this way and that as his body fought to maintain itself upright.
“No, stop it. I can’t,” she took those two calculated steps to the side and gripped the edge of the wooden frame, her nails digging as hard as she could into the hard surface. “I shouldn’t have,” she cried.
Angeline couldn’t see past her misty eyes though she heard the enraged being trying to rip through the window. His actions spurred her on, she used her both hands and pulled the object away from the wall with all her might. She screamed as her heart pounded against her ribcage with the adrenaline rush.
In that moment, Angeline felt suspended in time, somewhere between the change of light and dark where she could almost feel at ease; that moment of peace she had long thought gone was there for a split second. Then… it happened. Sound came back with a force. The ear-splitting shatter of the metal close to her feet made her ears ring while her yelp of surprise and anguish joined the cacophany. Metal, wood, and other things scattered around her.
Time stilled when the pieces stopped moving. She surveyed her surroundings and let out a shuddered breath she didn’t know she had been holding.
“Finally,” she mumbled as she wrapped her trembling arms around herself “rest in peace, my love.”
And in pieces, she thought, with a wistful smile. Angeline turned as the death grip on her heart loosened and, with a sigh, she walked away.
If only she had stayed long enough to see reflected in the pieces of glass, those eyes she had loved so much were still very much there.