Aśva, Son of Diti (Reflection Arc I) - Short Story

Short Story Apr 24, 2021

I’ve always known my reflection was a bit off.  I often caught glimpses of it, never thinking much of it. But as the years have gone by, the occasional “that was weird” thoughts have escalated in severity. And now I'm hiding besides my bed, fearing for my life.
My parents first brought the mirror when I was 7. It was a few days before my first day of 2nd grade. It was delivered to my room by my father, hoping to have dual benefits: The new mirror would allow me to dress myself for school every morning and simultaneously alleviate my mother’s morning routing. My little brother was soon to enter kindergarten and required morning assistance of her own.
I encountered it one evening as I entered my room, oblivious of what it would eventually become.  My father placed it next to the bedroom door without warning, trying to avoid my objections to it. Even though I would have never admitted, I secretly enjoyed being dressed by my mother, and had expressed poor excuses as to why I shouldn’t have it.
Nonetheless, it stayed.  The mirror was tall and skinny.  My mother called it a “body mirror”, which seemed a bit grandiose to me: It was just a big mirror. Protests against it quickly wore off, and that mirror became a part of my morning routine.  Every morning, I dressed myself.  And every morning, my reflection stared back at me, dreadful eyes watching me.
It started like that, with those eyes.  Initially, I didn’t take notice; my innocence confused dread with grogginess, and that was normal, right? Everyone was sleepy in the morning, so there was nothing out of the ordinary! It took me years to realize this was not the norm.  Years passed, and I became aware something was off about my reflection in that mirror.
I first noticed one afternoon in the third grade. I caught a glance of my real reflection on my school cafeteria windows.  We chatted away, in single file line, waiting to receive our meal.  As a kid, I never cared much for my looks.  I didn’t spend time in front of mirrors.  I was like most kids, oblivious to physical attributes.  But catching a glimpse of my reflection through the windows caused me to do a double take.  I looked different.  My reflection looked…alive. It looked vivid.  It looked nothing like what stared back at me every morning for years as I got dressed for school.  That reflection was glum. It was cheerless.  It was even a bit pale and sickly.  Here I stood waiting in line, captivated by what I saw.  My classmates nudged me, urging me to keep up with the line. But I stood there, staring.  When I arrived home, I went to my mirror, still in disbelief.  I looked. The empty shell of a boy stared back at me.
For years, I made excuses to justify this disparity between what I saw in my mirror and elsewhere. In the 7th grade, we learned the science behind reflections, but that didn’t seem correct.  My mirror’s reflection wasn’t me. It looked similar to me, but it wasn’t exactly like me, as the teacher had taught.  Windows, water, even other mirrors, they all showed me, but not the one in my room.
The years passed, and I never told anyone, afraid to being labeled as a crazy teenager seeking attention By then, it was obvious something was wrong with that mirror, but the variances were always only aesthetic. I attributed it to bad lighting in my dimly lit, edgy, teenager bedroom. My skin tone looked unhealthy.  My eyes didn’t look human; they even looked lifeless.  My lips were dry. But I grew used to starting at a pale, soulless version of me, never digging deeper into its strangeness.
But it finally happened. It was exactly 3 months ago today. My reflection disobeyed me for the first time.
I was getting ready to go to my first college interview.  I was putting on a tie, staring at the mirror while rehearsing an opening anecdote to use during my interview, one that highlighted my knowledge and wit.  I fidgeted with my tie, mumbling the words of my story, trying to seem genuine and spontaneous.  I lowered my hands to my side.  I straightened my back, puffed my chest, like a soldier ready to go to war. I was ready to go to my first college interview.  I examined my attire from head to toe. I approved.  I turned away, satisfied with my appearance, and noticed something through my peripherals.
My reflection didn’t move. I jerked back towards the mirror; it stood there.  Staring at me – unmoving.  I moved my hands nonsensically, like a mime waving enthusiastically.  I raised my hands, wiggled my fingers, but it stood there, hands down, unmoving, a stranger in my room.  I took a step forward; he stayed still.  I reached my hand towards the mirror, my fingers feeling the cold polished surface.  He stayed still. Then, slowly, his face contorted into a smirk; otherwise, he remained unmoved.
I felt my stomach clench. I moved away and sat on my bed, away from the line of sight of the mirror.  I knew I had to have imagined it. But deep down, I had been waiting for this day to come.  I gathered the courage to stand in front of the mirror again. When I did, everything was back to normal.  The pale version of me mimicked my every move.
Since then, my reflection’s disobedience is growing in frequency and severity. The worst just happened, minutes before typing this.  I felt particularly brave this evening, drunk on excitement for being accepted to my dream school.  I wanted to challenge him, knowing he couldn’t really do much to me. He was the one confined to the mirror, not me. I stood in front of the mirror.  I stared at him, trying to catch him break character.  I did this half-jokingly, since he rarely response to provocations like this. I taunted.
Usually, this kind of provocation would fail, as he seemed to only act when I least expected it.
But He decided the facade was up.
I stood, staring at my mirror, challenging him to defy me. I bobbed my head side to side, smirking, as he rightfully mirrored every one of my moves.
“Ah come on! Indulge me!” I said conceitedly, as my head movement became more extreme, heavy with arrogance.
But as those words left my mouth, he stopped. He froze, head tilted mid bob. And he slowly straightened his neck and started back at me. I felt a rush of embarrassment and fear, as I stood there, swaying my head to side to side idiotically.  I felt my face hot and eyes wide.  Before I could collect myself, He took a step forward, growing in size. I stumbled back in fear, knocking over a stack of papers neatly placed on my desk. I reached for support, as my legs became jelly.
He stepped forward again.  Again, I recoiled, this time stumbling to the ground.  I sat there, legs bent against my chest, staring forward, feeling the sweat drip down my face.
He was now towering over me.  He stood there, so large, half of his body took up the entirety of this so called “body mirror”.  He stared, and his face changed again.  Horror filled me as I stared at a stranger that looked like a possessed version of me.
One end of his lips curled up slowly, creating that smirk I had seen over the last 3 months.  He stared at me, taunting, towering over me.
He slowly shook his head.  His demonic smile remained unchanged.  He raised his right hand, index finger and thumb extended out:  The universal hand gesture for a gun.  He placed the tip of his index finger on his head temple, his thumb aiming towards the ceiling.  He imitated a gun shot with his hand, recoiling his head to the side.  His demonic smile remained unchanged. His neck and head quickly sprung back to position, staring at me.
Uncontrollably, I thrashed backwards, crawling away and breaking eye contact.  When I looked back, he was gone. Only I stared back, fear covering my sweaty face, panting for breath and grasping at anything to offer some support, as if the ground below me was giving out.
With the help of my desk, I slowly stood. The room was spinning, and my head was throbbing.  I became unusually aware of my temples pulsing unnaturally on the side of my head. I reached out to touch them. Adrenaline pumping through me, my immediate reaction was to reach for my bed’s comforter. I threw it over the mirror.  He can’t do anything if he can’t see me, right?  But as I write this, I hear hoarse voice is whispering, “you’re going to die…” over and over.  I’m crawled up in the corner of my room, but there’s a light tapping of glass coming from the mirror being muffled by my comforter.  It’s growing louder as the whispers continue.  I’m afraid my reflection is going to kill me.

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Pranav Sharma

I’m a year 12 student at St Marks Catholic College. I specialise in science and mathematics, as well as full-stack software/hardware development. I am currently employed as a Network Administrator.

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