Maybe it was a trick of the light, but as the world grew darker the mirrors on our walls became lighter and more brilliant. That was the first sign. To begin, no one thought to question it. It was reassuring in a way that’s hard to fathom now. But, after staring for so long at the opaque and oppressive landscape that stretched to the horizon beyond our windows, it was a relief to see that sparkling, crystal clarity that hung, placid and welcoming, from every wall; literally, every wall.
True, when the ashen reality of the scenes outside first dawned on us, it became the fashion to add more and more mirrors to our homes and workplaces, as a kind of antidote. But after that fashion died out the mirrors still seemed to proliferate. While those already in place seemed to expand their surface areas, from one tile to the next; like a vertical spillage of precisely cut puddles, which slowly met and agreed to form precisely cut lakes.
Our buildings, by this time, were totally made of inescapable mirrors. Scientific studies were published about the phenomenon. They didn’t help. Holding the text up to the reflected light that abounded, it seemed to shift before our eyes, back-to-front and back again; upside down and spinning. Religions had the answer. They said that god was revealing his majesty in the mirrors’ dazzling omnipresence. Atheists said the mirrors revealed god’s absence because everything in existence was reflected in their truth-telling panes, and they displayed no gods of any sort.
I gave up those questions a long time ago. The energy left me. Now I look into the reflection’s overpowering brightness; I’m staring out from the pervading gloom, and I concentrate hard. I reach out my hand and feel the cold, hard, impenetrable surface of the glass. And I can’t for the life of me remember on which side of the glass I’m supposed to be situated. Nor whether those identical fingers that tremble towards mine are the original or copy. I feel a deep ache; it feels genuine to me but I doubt it proves anything. Who knows if mirrors can ache too?
This piece of flash fiction was written in response to the Fairy Tale Prompt #28 at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie, where all stories in the link-up were prompted by the photo by Anja at the top of this post. There’s an excellent story by Borges, called The Fauna of Mirrors, which I read ages ago and had in mind, slightly, as I wrote this.