By Laura Zeisloft
The first time he saw her, she was a whisper in his peripherals. He started, dropped his hairbrush, looked closer at his reflection. His was the only face.
The second time came as a little less of a shock: he still held his toothbrush, even as his heart beat rapidly beneath his skin. He had been able to make out pieces of her face this time, blue eyes and a flash of reddish hair. It haunted him for days.
The third time he did not see a face, but “HELLO?” written backwards in what appeared to be red lipstick. He could not clear it away; it seemed to bleed from the very inside of the glass.
He replied in turn, taking his girlfriend’s eyeliner (swearing a silent vow to replace it) and writing, “My name is Carson” backwards, in small, cramped letters above the large greeting.
He left the room and returned in twenty minutes. The red letters were gone; in their place was “ELINOR J."
In the following weeks, Lindsay never questioned the sudden bluntness of her eyeliner pencil, nor the unexpected new pencils that appeared every few days like an apology. What did concern her, however, were her boyfriend’s frequent trips to their tiny bathroom. She never asked, but she would always narrow her eyes, cross her arms as she watched him go.
He barely even noticed. He was too busy talking to the woman.
They had figured out moments to see each other; sound wasn’t available through their looking-glass so they used eyeliner, lipstick, sometimes toothpaste to scrawl out backwards sentences.
“DO YOU HAVE A GIRLFRIEND?” She always communicated in capital letters, like she was screaming. That day, she’d had her red hair high up, and it emphasized the rectangle shape of her face.
“No,” he’d lied carefully, with a sheepish grin.
“ME NEITHER.” She had given a silent laugh before wiping away the words hastily with the side of her hand. The lipstick smeared but he could read her replacement words. “I DON’T HAVE A BOYFRIEND.”
“I thought so.”
She was so pretty when she smiled.
“YOU’RE REALLY CUTE.”
“You are, too.”
Traffic was horrific and he ran up his apartment stairs two at a time. It was five twenty, and he hoped she was still waiting for him.
The first thing he saw when he whipped open the door was Lindsay’s trembling frame standing outside the bathroom door. She held one of her shoes in her hand like a weapon, although her eyes were tightly shut. He called her name.
“There--there was writing. And a--a face,” she stuttered, quivered. “And I couldn't--I couldn’t--”
His heart sank as he opened the door.
The mirror was completely shattered, the fissures ricocheting from a center point where Lindsay must have hit the glass with her heel. He could barely make out the bright writing as it rippled across the cracks.
“WHERE ARE YOU?”
He wanted to reply but feared applying pressure.
They replaced the mirror in a week.