THE MIRROR LAUGHED
By Andrew Black
Gina Rose had a strange relationship with her mirror. It was an old thing, a loop of tarnished silver in the shape of blooming flowers around an oval of glass with a handle that was shaped like braided stems. Her grandmother had given the heirloom to her when she was five years old and she had treasured it always. But she saw it as more than just a gift; to Gina Rose, the mirror was a friend and confidant.
Throughout her childhood she had taken the mirror with her wherever she went. Her parents told her that she’d probably break the glass, but the little girl had always taken good care of her prize and never let anyone else touch it. She spoke to it in quiet tones and hushed words when the adults could not hear. She giggled and grinned at the mirror while playing outside in the sunlight, the shining glass reflecting on her elfin features.
As a teenager, the mirror became her closest friend. She told it her secrets, she told it her fears. She admitted her angst and her frustration to the inanimate device. She sometimes argued with the mirror, holding it at arms length in a quivering grip as she hurled insults, though whether they were at the mirror or the young woman it reflected was unclear.
When she left her parents’ home and became what society calls an adult, the mirror went with her. On dark nights, alone with a bottle of whiskey after yet another failed romance, she poured her heart out to the mirror. She cried great tears on its shining surface, the salty drops balling up on the old glass. She asked it questions about her future and held it close when she had no one to hold her. When the alcohol went from being a release to being an addiction, the mirror was there to accuse her as she looked into it with bloodshot eyes and reddened nose. When the doctors told her about the lump in her breast, the mirror showed her where it was, just a tiny spot that would rob her of her femininity and eventually her life.
As she lay in the hospital bed, the tubes running to her veins, the monitors chirping their quiet songs, she held the mirror in a weak, skeletal hand. The chemicals and radiation had made Gina Rose sick and frail. It had burned away her hair and stolen what youth the bottle hadn’t robbed. She looked at herself in the mirror, her last breaths shallow in her chest, and she asked in a raspy voice, “Mirror, do you love me still, despite my pain, despite what the drugs and therapy have done to me? Mirror, am I still your friend, and will you come with me when I pass into the great unknown beyond?”
She passed away as she said the final syllables. The nurse rushed in as the monitors squawked, and as she tried to find a pulse, she heard the sound of laughter. The mirror, still clutched in Gina Rose’s hand, had cracked.
Author’s Note: Flash isn’t my thing, clearly, but I like this story. It’s not outright horror, and it’s more of a character piece than anything. I wrote it based on my wife’s work as an oncology nurse, and I wondered what it might be like to be all alone fighting off such a horrible disease.