I’d always been terrified of mirrors. I don't quite remember why, but it's been that way since I was a child.
Since I could remember, I've never had a mirror in my bedroom. I remember that looking into them as a teenager made me uncomfortable. I’d always assumed that it was because I didn't like the way I looked, typical teenage things like that, but it always felt like more.
I figured, the only way to understand where this irrational fear came from, I’d have to ask my mother.
Sitting in front of her, a hot drink in hand and our present conversation on the verge of lapsing into silence, I decided that there was no better time.
“Mom.” I started, catching her attention. “Why am I afraid of mirrors?”
She stilled for a moment and her eyes seemed distant, as though I sparked some long forgotten memory. This only made me more curious.
“Well, you were afraid of what was on the other side.” Her words were careful, almost like she was searching for the correct words to say. I frowned, not fully understanding her meaning.
“On the other side?” I repeated. She nodded.
I scoffed and sipped at my coffee, strong but sweet washing over my tongue whilst my brain picked through her words, searching for clarification.
“Must’ve been the aftermath of a horror movie.” I mused. Horror movies had been ‘my thing’ as a child and all through my teens. I still enjoyed them, only they were a little more terrifying now upon growing up and realising all the horrible things the world had to offer.
Then I frowned, realising that my first horror movie had been something I’d caught on the TV when I was 6 years old. It hadn't scared me at all, in fact, I’d watched it at every opportunity I could. The problem was that I don't ever remember having a mirror in my room then, either.
“That’s strange.” I muttered to myself.
“Well, I think I was afraid of mirrors before I watched horror movies.” I told her, desperately trying to remember.
My mother shrugged but didn't reply.
I looked at the mirror behind her and placed my cup to the side. I stood and walked towards it, feeling her eyes on me the whole time.
Stopping in front of the mirror, I stared at my reflection. There was a feeling of unease settling deep in my gut and I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. A cold chill seeped into my bones. For some reason, in a house that felt so safe, with the woman that raised me, I felt so full of terror I could feel myself begin to shake.
I shook myself out of it and turned my back to the mirror and walked back to my seat.
My mother watched me carefully and I shrugged upon catching her gaze. “Nothing to see, it’s a silly little superstition,” I told her, carefully camouflaging my fear as indifference.
The feeling I’d had stayed with me the rest of the day and as I returned home, I felt the unflinching feeling to go back to my mother, anywhere I wouldn't have to be alone.
As I lay in bed that night I sifted through my memories, trying my hardest to remember what had caused such terror. There were flashes in my memory, moments I’d remember where the mirrors scared me, but none of them felt like the beginning of my fear.
A noise from the bathroom startled me from my thoughts and for a moment, my heart leapt into my throat and I froze. After a few minutes of assuring myself it was just the cat, who quite enjoyed sleeping on the bathroom mat due to the warm pipes underneath, I eventually settled back into my thoughts.
That's when it hit me. A brief memory of me as a child, still afraid of the dark. I used to leave the curtain open slightly so the streetlight outside could shine in. It used to shine against the pink framed rectangular mirror I used to have in my bedroom.
My whole body tensed in fear and I felt my eyes tear up as I remembered staring at the mirror as something shifted, slowly crawling through the reflective surface and settling in the corner of my ceiling, watching me with bright eyes that shone in the dark.
After that, I'm sure I put up quite the fuss against having a mirror in my room. I tried to calm myself down. I was a child and I'd most likely imagined it. I took a deep breath and rolled over in my bed. A sob choked me as I stared into those bright amber eyes, watching me from the edge of my bed.