07 Nov Detachment
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Estimated reading time — 9 minutes
Ever since I can remember I have had a strange fascination with mirrors. The idea that there is a piece of glass which reflects everything you see. I still wonder what the first man thought when he was saw his reflection in still water. Did he instinctively know it was him? Or did he spend a few minutes moving his arms around until he realized that this other man matched his movements completely? Whatever the case, my natural curiosity for mirrors led to one of the most unbelievable moments of my life.
It was 7 years ago. I was a ten year old who had just moved from the cozy suburbs to a large ranch house, smack dab in the middle of 10 acres of land. I had many memorable experiences in that house and on the surrounding property, getting bitten by a racoon, having late night airsoft wars; but there is one that I have never told. One that is set apart from all the others.
We bought that house as a fixer upper, and since I was a ten year old with a taste for adventure, I claimed the lone upstairs bedroom as my own. The room was complete with dated brass fixtures, thick teal carpet, and it’s own connected bathroom.
Over time as I have thought through this story in my head, I am still surprised that I didn’t notice anything when I first went into that bathroom. I didn’t have a dark foreboding, there wasn’t anything stand out creepy or weird about it, just a room. A sink. And a mirror. The mirror was massive. It sat behind the sink so you couldn’t help but see yourself when you walked in. It had a slight yellowed tint, and was covered in dust and grime. But nothing really seemed out of the ordinary, nothing that would signal what was to come.
The first two nights spent in that bedroom were completely normal, nothing strange except the occasional midnight creak or moan from the ancient air conditioning unit. But on the 3rd night, laying in my bedroom bed, it started.
I woke up suddenly, the groggy feeling of heaviness that accompanies being woken from a deep sleep. I slowly started to gain consciousness and my ears strained to hear what could have woken me. That’s when I heard it.
Drip…. Drip…. Drip….
I breathed a sigh of relief as I realized I just must have left the bathroom faucet on. I sat up, turned on my dim bedside lamp, climbed out of bed, and stepped into the bathroom.
As I set my foot down on the tile, I was surprised when I discovered it strangely chilled. I continued in, not thinking too much of it, and turned the bathroom light on.
My reflection greeted me. I was in my Mario pajamas and my hair was a bed-heady mess. I smiled at how silly I looked. I looked at the faucet handle and sure enough, it had been left ever so slightly open. I turned it all the way closed, turned off the light and went back to bed. As I was drifting off to sleep I made a mental note to ask my dad if he could tighten the faucet in the morning.
Though, by the time I got back from school, as you can expect from any 5th grader, I had a million different things on my mind, and completely forgot. Instead spending my time at Goodwill with my parents looking for the perfect costume for halloween, which was coming up in a few days.
That night though, it happened again. I awoke suddenly, with the same strange heaviness that covered my body the night before. Instinctively I strained my ears, and I heard it again.
Drip…. Drip…. Drip….
I sat up, annoyed. I was sure I had double checked the faucet before I went to bed. I turned on my bedside lamp, walked across the carpet and set foot on the bathroom tile. My foot recoiled instinctively. The tile wasn’t just cool anymore, it was actually cold. Too bothered to care, I turned on the light and jumped at the sight of my reflection. I still wasn’t used to seeing anybody else (Even if it was me) this late at night. I guess all that TV before bed was starting to take it’s toll. I turned the faucet off, and the dripping stopped.
The next day I got my dad to tighten the faucet handle. He walked in with the tool bag, appeared to be tightening something, than walked out.
It turned out that everything was already tight, and he told me to make sure to check the faucet before I went to bed.
So, that night before I went to bed, I walked into the bathroom, the frigid floor greeting my bare feet once again. I looked at my ever present reflection, feeling a dull sense of unease for whatever reason. I didn’t look my reflection in the eyes very long, I still don’t know why at that point I felt uncomfortable with it. I checked and double checked the faucet handle, nothing was dripping.
Feeling relieved that I could finally get some uninterrupted rest, I layed down in my bed, turned off the light and drifted off.
I awoke again, my body felt even heavier than usual, my mind seemed groggy, everything was completely black, I think my head was still under my covers. My ears pricked up, listening.
I still get shivers thinking about this part.
I didn’t hear a
Drip… Drip… Drip…
After spending a few moments trying to decipher what this sound was, I realized it was the faucet.
The faucet was on completely. No longer a drip but a steady stream.
I tried to sit up, but it took a few tries to get my bearings after being awakened from my near catatonic sleep.
I attuned my ear and made sure what I heard was what I thought it was. Yes, the faucet in my bathroom was completely on. I gulped.
I stepped off of my bed, my feet being cushioned by the dated carpet. The light from my bed lamp was dim, only casting enough light to light up my floor, the bathroom was still pitch black. I stepped in.
This time when I placed my foot on the floor, it wasn’t just cold, it was freezing. It felt like the tile had been in a deep freeze.
Unsure what to do, I stepped in fully, goosebumps shooting up my calf, and turned the light on. I don’t know what I expected to see, but what I saw was me.
I looked deeply into my own eyes, feeling a sense of distrust. I still don’t really know how to explain it, but the only closest word I can think of, is detachment. Like looking at a photo of yourself when you were younger. You know that’s you, but you feel…. detached.
I reached my hand slowly towards the faucet handle, still meeting my own stare. I slowly started to turn the handle, my eyes meeting my own. The water poured less, less, less and then finally the handle clicked to its full rotation, the water was off. My hand remained on the faucet I started at the eyes of my reflection, and that’s when it happened.
I saw my reflection blink.
I let out what I thought would be a scream but ended up just being a sudden and horrified gasp.
I ran out of the room, down the stairs and straight to my parents bedside.
They were a little surprised that I ran to them crying because I hadn;t for years, but they could tell I was upset so they let me sleep in their room.
All I could muster out that morning in explanation was “Nightmares”
I didn’t dare tell my parents, I don’t know if it was my childhood fear of not being believed, or what. I think part of me was still trying to convince myself that it didn’t happen.
I tried telling myself that my eyes were just playing tricks on me, anything to convince myself that I didn’t really see “my” reflection blink. Anything to convince myself that that mirror was just another mirror.
That evening, was halloween. I was invited by some of my new fifth grade friends to go trick or treating with them, but after a few hours we had to stop early due to a giant rainstorm kicking in.
When I returned to my house, pillowcase full of candy in tow, my parents greeted me with news that send shivers down my spine.
They were going on a date night.
I tried to explain the various made up excuses I had for them not to go, I even tried to use the lightning storm outside as an excuse, but nothing worked. And I didn’t dare tell them the real reason.
They patiently explained how I was 12 years old, they’d only be gone for a few hours, and I had their phone numbers if I needed to call.
Once the door shut behind them, my heart dropped. I was alone. With the mirror.
I spent the first hour or so downstairs. I tried to get the tv to work, but because of the storm outside I was only getting static. That’s when I made my decision.
I still don’t know what drove me to go back into the bathroom.
I’ve tried to explain it as childhood curiosity, temporary insanity, and a few other things. To this day I still don’t understand it.
Whatever the case, I found myself climbing up the stairs to the top floor where my bedroom was located.
I waked into the bedroom, and as if on cue, a particularly loud clap of thunder made the windows rattle. I turned on my bedside lamp, and sat on my bed staring at the bathroom doorway.
I pulled out my still full candy bag, reached my hand down into it and pulled out a few tootsie rolls. I ate quietly, hoping the sugar would give me courage.
I walked into the bathroom, turned the light on, and looked my reflection dead in the eye.
Time seemed to stand still.
My reflection no longer felt like me.
Looking at it made me feel almost offended, that there could be something so similar to me, but so different.
Everything got very quiet.
I could hear my heartbeat loudly in my head.
My reflection was moving.
Its arm, to be specific. I only saw it out of my peripheral vision because our eyes were locked, but it was definitely moving.
What felt like a electric current shot up my body, my hair stood on end and I was frozen, staring, every single muscle in my body tense.
I tried to scream but I couldn’t move.
My reflection still stared back at me, it’s face neutral.
It was moving it’s hand towards the faucet handle on its side, it got closer and closer and then I felt something on my hand, strained my eyes to look down just a tiny bit and realized my own hand had grasped the faucet handle on my side.
It had moved it’s hand to the faucet handle and I had too. I tried to pull my hand back, but I couldn’t.
It was as if the signals from my brain weren’t being communicated to any parts of my body. I willed my body to move, but nothing happened.
My reflection’s face looked at me knowingly, then moved its head slightly closer to the mirror, and parted it’s lips, revealing a devilish grin.
I felt my own face contort, matching its features.
BANG A clap of thunder rattled the mirror.
My whole body felt heavy as I stared at this smiling abomination, somehow controlling my body.
It’s free hand started to move up, and though I couldn’t break the stare with its eyes, I could see out of my peripheral vision that my hand was also moving up. Our hands simultaneously started moving towards the mirror. I tried to fight back, to pull away, but it was useless.
As my hand got closer to the mirror, I felt a vibration emanating from the grimy glass surface, but it pulled my hand closer still, it’s horrifying smile still stretching my face.
BANG an even louder clap of thunder rumbled the very ground I was standing on.
As my hand got closer and closer to the mirror, my fingertips started to feel incredibly cold. I was trying with all my might to pull my hand away from the mirror, my fingertips were grazing the surface of the mirror, and then I felt it. An icy coldness, a tingling sensation, on the tips of my fingers, and I could see, my fingers had partially gone through the mirror, to the other side.
My heart dropped.
And that’s when I realized it was trying to pull me over to its side.
BANG the loudest lightning strike of them all shook the house, and in an instant, darkness. The lighting had killed the power, and to my delight I could no longer see my reflection, only pitch black darkness.
I pulled my fingers out of the glass, I could control my body again.
I turned my head away from the mirror my body scrambling to be anywhere but in that bathroom. I dove out of the bathroom, hitting my shoulder on the door on the way out, then landed not so softly on the floor. The colors of my room got distorted, everything was purple, then green. The room was spinning and my head felt light, I tried to get up but my body wouldn’t listen. That’s when I blacked out.
That was the last night I set foot in that bathroom. Heck, that was the last time I even set foot in the bedroom.
It took less work than I thought than to convince my parents to let me sleep in the game room.
Eventually though, our family decided to move. We renovated the whole house. We tore up the dated green carpet, we repainted all the rooms, and we removed the big, grimy, dusty mirror in the bathroom.
I refused to help.
The day went by so fast, as I was kept busy clearing out the garage, but I specifically remember the workers carrying the mirror towards the back of the pick up truck my dad had borrowed.
First they tried to break it to fit easier in the truck, but nothing worked.
They tried hammers, axes, but nothing even scratched it.
My final memory of that mirror, was of it standing upright in the back of the truck. Still dusty, grimy and dirty, but other wise completely unscathed. As the truck drove away the mirror happened to be angled perfectly to see my reflection once again.
I saw in the mirror, a kid standing alone in a drive way. Staring with eyes wide, full of fear.
That was the last time I saw the mirror.
Credit To – Duncan Key
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