the luck of mirrors

We all have a bad side. You know when you need to take a group photo, and everyone has to rearrange themselves perfectly on their good side? And it’s always a slight disaster when you and your friend have the same good side? Cue awkward back to front pose.

Mine is my right side.

There is a theory behind looking at your reflection the way other people see you; the way your face genuinely is. We all know I’m a big fan of the selfie, and I used to cringe when the camera would flip my face back to the way it really is. I felt as if my right side was enhanced, and it was all people could see. It felt as if it just made it more obvious that my face wasn’t symmetrical.

Looking through the “true mirror,” a mirror reflected with another at a 90 degree angle, apparently can have different effects on different people. Some are quick to accept the way their face is naturally built. Others are shocked, and genuinely cannot deal with what they are faced with (ha, mirror puns). And there are others who see who is really looking back at them; the face they assume to know so well, their very own, seen in a new light; seen the way others see them, and feel a sense of renewal, or calm, or a sort of acceptance.

I tried the experiment a couple of months ago, when I had spent the day feeling awfully down and had the constant “I’m not good enough,” thought prancing its way through my head. I placed two of my mirrors against each other (one I had broken a mere week before) and almost had to mentally prepare myself. I laughed at the stupidity of my actions, talking myself up to look at my fucking self in the mirror. It was weird. I saw my face in a way I  hadn’t seen it before. But my smile. It was wonkier, like I thought it was, but it made me happy. It was genuine. It was kind. It was happy.

My face was not symmetrical, my face is not symmetrical; but my face is my face. A face that showcases all my emotions, that cries all my tears and smiles at strangers and kisses random boys in Mooseheads. It is my mask and one I am grateful to have.

Your bad side is considered your bad side because of you. You chose to look at one side of your face and nominate it as less than the other side. No one is scrutinising your face so close to choose a bad side of their own; because they look at your face, and take it in whole. As part of who you are. As the mask of beauty that holds multitudes more than just your smile. The hidden glee in the dimple in your cheek, and the parts of skin the sun kissed so hard it left a freckle — the sparkle in your eyes (and my god, imagine if you didn’t have that nose to smell roses on a spring day). Never forget there is much, much more than just the face staring back at you.

Anyway, and also, I wrote a short story as an assignment on re-writing a myth. Make a cuppa and feast your eyes on the reason why breaking a mirror is bad luck…

myth behinds mirrors: a short story

There’s a whole different world inside of mirrors. In ancient times, people believed that the reflection in a pool of water was their actual soul and ruining the reflection would bring harm to their physical self. Another myth being that mirrors have magical powers, brought to us by the Gods.

The person looking back at you in the mirror is an entirely different being, not just your reflection. They are everything you are not. If you are good, they are evil; if you are creative, they are logical. People shiver at the thought, as if everything looking back at them is bad. It is a human trait to believe in one’s own goodness; the belief that humans are inherently good and it is nature or nurture that changes them.

Elizabeth grew up in a house full of love and light. The walls were windows and the doors were glass, giving her full view of the beautiful town upon which her and her family lived. It was a town in which nothing bad ever happened; there were only myths and legends, tales of the bad things that happened in different countries, different parts of the world. Elizabeth couldn’t imagine these stories were true, only scare tactics to keep it civil.

Elizabeth had an aunty who travelled the world, saw all the places Elizabeth could only dream about, and she always came back with stories and anecdotes, gifts and tokens. Elizabeth often heard heated whispers between her mother and aunty, as her mother tried her best to shield Elizabeth from a world outside of their own.

“You must stop telling her of the world out there! There is too much bad for a girl so pure of heart; she must stay here.”

“You’re shielding her from nothing, Ava. There is as much bad here as there is out there.”

“Stop it. You know there’s not. It has become the most beautiful community; we are all inherently good here.”

“There is no such thing as a human with only good in them. That is what makes us human; the ability to be good and bad.”

“Stop it, Larissa. Just stop it. I have made it clear that I want you to stop gifting Elizabeth with pieces of the outside world.”

“Fine. But you’re in denial. Don’t forget what this place used to be.”

“There is no sense in caring about what used to be. It is what it is now. End of discussion.”

Elizabeth heard this exchange and wondered out into the garden. Lush, green scenery, as if from her favourite book, the Secret Garden. She wondered to her favourite part of the garden; untouched by the rest of her family, she had gathered all her gifts from Aunty Riss here. Her copies of books like the Secret Garden, Alice in Wonderland; a little device that plays music, unlike the big record player her mum and dad used. Key rings, from London, Paris, Rome; places she wasn’t even sure exist. She would lay on the grass with her eyes closed, the sun beaming down on her face, and dream, dream of being there one day. She had no use for the key rings, her family didn’t have locks on their home because nothing bad would happen in their town. She would just hold them in her hand, almost as if they could transport her there.

She closed her eyes and dreamt, of a world outside her small town; of cities bustling with people, of freedom and happiness.

Her seventh birthday rolled around, and she was spoilt with love from the townspeople. Knitted jumpers, blankets, art for her walls; teddy bears (though she did believe she was getting a tad old for them) and baked goods. It was heading toward the end of the day, and she saw her Aunty Riss walking up the driveway with a bag in her hand, her long, blonde hair waving through the wind and her tan skin glowing in the sunlight. Elizabeth looked down at her own pasty white skin, feeling envious; she wanted to run free, allow the sun to kiss her skin and glow with a happiness only the outside world could bring her.

Larissa saved the moment to give Elizabeth her present when no one else is around. She handed her the bag, whispering, “You mustn’t tell anyone I bought you this. It’s special.”

Inside, was a gorgeous, intricately detailed mirror; the first one Elizabeth had ever seen. She looked back at her own reflection, so much clearer than the reflection in a window or a puddle of water and saw her entire being. She saw her entire potential.

Elizabeth became obsessed with the mirror and took it everywhere she went. A longing to become the person inside the mirror woke something inside her, she felt older than her years and ready for what the world could bring her. The town started to feel small, stale. The people drab, boring. Her parents overprotective. She didn’t belong.

Three months later, Ava walked out to the garden with a cup of tea in hand, breathing in the fresh, crisp air and allowing the sun to kiss her skin. Elizabeth had been missing for two months. Larissa was getting into her head. Ava knew Elizabeth was too good for the world out there, she was pure and sweet and inherently good.

She walked around the garden and noticed shimmers on the ground. Broken mirror pieces, leading her to a corner of the garden where there were discarded toys, objects she had never seen before; things from the outside world. Laying on the ground was a ripped piece of paper, from a book, reading “Have I gone mad? I’m afraid so, but let me tell you something, the best people usually are.”

Elizabeth was only seven when she disappeared, and this was all because of the mirror. She had allowed the bad to escape in the world, to tarnish her soul. Anyone who breaks a mirror will have the Elizabeth curse, enduring seven years of bad luck.

© 2018. Rackers.

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