Title: Knock Twice
Word Count: 830 words
The very first place she tries is the mirror covering the often forgotten medicine cabinet.
Well, that’s a bit of a lie. The very first place she tries is the back of the armoire, having heard Very Good Things about doorways and worlds and backs of wardrobes. She had crawled through layers of disuse, brushed against coats of furs and leathers and soft cardigans that made her stop to run a sleeve against her cheek. Still, it was a rather small piece of furniture, and all too soon she found herself with nowhere else to explore (and oh, didn’t the door seem delightfully far away?) She had given a tentative knock shave-and-a-haircut. Yes, she was hoping against all hopes that it would be that easy, so the tang of disappointment in the back of her mouth was not entirely unexpected.
But no, she’s chalked that whole experience up to nothing more than a lark and this is where she begins her search. With the mirror hanging protectively over the bathroom medicine cabinet.
She studies her target carefully, takes in the ornate gilded frame- wonders briefly if the mirror wasn’t meant to hold pictures in another life (wonders if maybe it does in this life.) She cracks open the little door to investigate the actual contents of said medicine cabinet – one neglected cotton ball – and finally pulls herself onto the bathroom cabinet. The better to see you, my dear (wonders if she should turn the light off, or is that too weird?)
She moves her mother’s powder brushes and compacts and tiny bottles with their strange names-Strawberry Moon, Mouse’s Sad and Long Tale- to a safer place, hopefully out of any accidental kicking range (wonders if she should wear some sort of protection? a helmet or knee pads or mouth guard. Only, sometimes you fall so hard.) With all dilly-dallying firmly set aside and not much else to do now; she leans forward, touches the cool glass to her forhead, closes her eyes, and knocks. There’s no silly rhyme this time, just a simple, pleading rap of the knuckles against the frame.
(she tries to imagine the world, tries to wrap it in her hopes and wishes and prayers and dreams. she tries to hear the flowers grow and taste the color of the sky) But she can still feel the bathroom faucet- slightly digging into her left palm- and smell the residue of her mother’s cosmetics.
She hadn’t realized how badly she wanted back in until now. There are possible doorways everywhere and she’s constantly knocking, leaving finger-smudges and shards of hope in her wake. There was a bad moment, in the middle of the street, when she thought she saw something moving beside her reflection, and realized just before she threw herself at it that she was staring at one of those awful glass buildings. It was nothing more than an office drone on the other side.
(which is kind of like another world, but not one she’s in any hurry to find.)
She steers clear of rain-puddles. They are probably her best bet, but anyone would know that rain-puddles are notoriously shrinky, and there is no thought she hates more than the one of being stuck half there, half not.
(even if half there is half more than she currently has.)
There is something glimpsed in the still reflection of the school pool (the shade of a rabbit) she thinks, just before throwing herself into the water (this is it, this is it!) swimming forever downward. The bottom will disappear, it has to, and she’s hitting it as hard as she can (which, really isn’t all that, it’s slow motion and awful because she wants to beat the bottom of this stupid pool.) There are arms around her, dragging her up, up, up and over the side and the suggestion of blonde hair before a very angry Someone hisses “Not that way, stupid. It’s been closed for years.” And then she is all alone again.
She begins to forget
(she forgets to remember.)
One day, while she brushes her teeth and stares at her picture-reflection in that same first mirror, she wonders at the face she sees staring back (wonders why she doesn’t quite recognize that hair style or shade of her eyes or tilt of her nose.)
(wonders when she stopped looking for magic.)
Then, with paste foam and tooth brush still poking out of her mouth, she leans forward and -just for a lark- knocks at her reflection. shave-and-a-hair-cut.
Her reflection gives a foamy smile back. two bits.
(she hears it then, the symphony as a forest grows on the other side of the looking glass. The sweet flavors of the sky fill her mouth, even as she spits her tooth-paste and wipes her face clean and slips her hand into the mirrored one waiting for her.)
This is an older piece, originally written in 2012 and reposted here for your viewing pleasure.