Chloe stared at herself in the mirror, captivated by the beautiful stranger she saw there. Her dark upswept hair, with tendrils that framed her long face, was delicately streaked with gleaming copper highlights. Her eyebrows were like narrow wings, her lips a cherry red, her eyes rimmed with mascara and emphasized with smoky makeup.
She gasped with delight and held up her hands like a beauty queen, fluttering at her cheeks. As soon as her hands entered the mirror frame, they were transformed, the skin pale, the nails creamy pink ovals.
“This is so awesome.” she whispered. “So, so awesome.”
“You totally should go to prom like that,” her friend Charlotte said from behind her. Chloe couldn’t see her in the mirror, even though Charlotte should have been in her line of sight. It didn’t matter, though. She couldn’t take her eyes off herself.
She loved herself. She loved her look. She never wanted to stop looking at herself. She looked like a princess.
Emma found the mirror in the back of the theater department when she was making out with Ethan Blake after school. The glint of the mirror caught her eye even while Ethan had his hands up her theater T-shirt, and she gasped.
Ethan pulled away as if his hands were on fire. “What? What!”
Ignoring him, Emma squirmed away and tweaked the curtain aside from the mirror. She was instantly lost in its reflection. She looked at Ethan, who was now horny and confused.
“Is that what I look like?”
Ethan looked from her to the mirror and back again. “Yeah, I mean—yeah.”
It was obvious that boys just didn’t get it. Emma did what any good friend would do. She wrapped up the mirror, which was only about 10 inches by 12 inches, and smuggled it out in her backpack.
They quickly drew up rules. Emma got to have it the first two nights, and after that Charlotte, Chloe, and Sarah Dubs. No talking about the mirror, especially not to the other girls. It wasn’t that they were mean girls or anything, they assured each other. They’d been going to school together since they were kindergartners, everyone knew each other, and cliques were so Gossip Girl. They’d all taken anti-bullying classes.
But it was just that—if you told too many girls, maybe the whole thing would stop working, right? And like, Juliaa Quigley, the chick could not keep a secret, so she was definitely out. And Stella Knopf, because what if even the mirror couldn’t make her—
Stop it, that was mean, and they weren’t mean.
So the rules were everyone could have the mirror for two nights, and they couldn’t tell anyone about it, and really, all it was about was makeup tips, right? Somehow the mirror made you look your best, so you could see your best you.
The next day, Chloe could barely concentrate in class. Her entire attention was absorbed in the mirror. After school that day, she was scheduled to pass the mirror on to Sarah Dubs. It occurred to her to wonder if Sarah even wanted it. She started to think about how she might ask Sarah for an extra night. Two nights wasn’t enough. She had barely enough time to really get how her makeup looked so she could know how to do it for prom. They were planning to go as a group. They’d ask boys, sure, but it wasn’t like a date.
She was lost in a sudden daydream of all eyes on her mirror self as she entered the gym, slightly in front of her friends — no, better to be slightly behind, and they would step aside, revealing her—and there would be the one guy. Not a high school kid. Maybe someone’s college friend?
The bell rang and she gasped, and jerked up. Mr. Amundsen was staring at her with a bemused expression. The chairs were empty and there was a tide of kids flooding in to the room, not out. She had missed the first bell and had just been sitting there. She reddened up to her hairline.
“Sorry, Mr. A,” she muttered, gathering up her books.
“You okay, Miss Barrett?”
“Just thinking, Mr. A,” she said.
The kids coming in gave her curious looks. Chloe wanted the floor to swallow her up. Instead she got it together and scurried to her next class, which was of course all the way across the school, and got a late mark in the grade book.
Sarah Dubs met her at the front door after school. Her family had an ornate W in the middle of the screen door, and a happy wooden sign “The Walter’s” hanging by a chain from the porch ceiling. The quote marks and the apostrophe were picked out in red.
Chloe gave her a quick scan, wondering what the mirror would do to her. Sarah was still in her soccer gear, minus her cleats. Her hair was up in a messy pony, and her strong jaw made her look like a boy, and even though everyone knew she had the best legs, she was broad-shouldered and kind of masculine. Even her voice was deep, although in a throaty way that made the boys and some of the teachers look at her twice.
“Man, I totally got busted by Mr. A today,” Chloe said, trying to be light-hearted about it. “I was thinking really hard about the mirror, and I lost track of time.” She hoped Sarah would take the warning, or the hint. She wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to happen, except for maybe Sarah to say, “I don’t want that to happen to me,” and refuse the mirror.
Instead, Sarah held out her hand. “I gotta go back in and help my brother with his math homework,” she said. “Wish I could hang out, Chlo.”
Chloe handed it over. “Okay, well, if you want me to show you how to use it.”
“It’s a mirror.”
“I know, it’s just, don’t get lost in it like I did.”
“Sarah! Your brother is drowning in quadratic equations!”
They made faces at each other, Chloe noticing how Sarah had kind of an extra funny look on her face and wondering what the mirror would make of it, and then Sarah vanished inside the house, behind the big W.
Chloe couldn’t concentrate on her own math homework. Instead, on the pretext of having to use the bathroom, she ducked into the half-bath on the first floor and looked at herself in the mirror. Same old Chloe. Her hair was drab, her complexion marred with acne, and she might even have a squint. She squinted to make sure, then opened her eyes wide and couldn’t tell. I need braces, she thought; and teeth whitener.
Her shoulders were round and thick, not delicate as they were in the other mirror. Why were her upper arms so wide? It was all that tennis. She craned and twisted and detected the fat at her waist. Chloe shimmied out of her shorts and T shirt, and then dropped her bra and panties, trying to see all of herself in the half-mirror over the sink. It was impossible. She smoothed her hands over her butt and thighs. She could feel the dimpling of cellulite. Already. And she was only seventeen.
There was a knock on the door.
“Chloe?” It was her mother. Chloe started. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m just — I’m almost out.”
“You’ve been in there for a half hour.”
“I said I’m almost done.”
Chloe didn’t have any classes with Sarah Dubs the next day, and the day after that, Sarah Dubs didn’t come to school. Chloe sent her a surreptitious text but got no answer. I’ll go by after school, she told herself.
When she ran across the other girls in the hall or in class, they all looked pale and listless. Emma had dark circles under her eyes almost as if she had been in a fight. Charlotte, round rosy Charlotte, slumped over her books. And what was she wearing? It was as if she had tried to come up with something the mirror would have picked out but that didn’t translate into the real world—a batwing lacy dress with tall boots, her hair up in tousled ringlets and makeup that was half a step off, as if she had applied it in her sleep. Chloe overheard one of the teachers mutter something about the love child of Stevie Nicks and Elvira.
At mid-morning Chloe couldn’t take it anymore, and when she was leaving class from Portable A, instead of going to the main building, she went to her car. As she looked in the rearview mirror, she gasped. Her eyes were as puffy and dark as Emma’s. Her skin was sallow, her hair unkempt. She tried to remember if she had brushed her hair that morning, or her teeth. She help up her palm to her mouth and breathed out. To her horror, the waft of morning breath made her nauseous.
She needed the mirror, just to set herself right.
“The Walter’s” sign hung forlornly over the porch. The house was quiet, all the cars gone. Chloe tapped on the door and waited. Nothing.
She tapped again, and then, cupping her hands around her face, she peered in the picture window. It was dim, but she could see the couch with a comfy bed pillow on the arm, and an afghan spilling out onto the floor.
If Sarah Dubs was going to stay home sick just so she could have the mirror for longer, that was cheating. She turned the doorknob and it gave, so she pushed the door open, holding her breath, hoping “The Walter’s” didn’t have an alarm system.
The house was as silent inside as it was outside, except for a strange arrhythmic thumping from upstairs that sounded as if Sarah were kicking the soccer ball against the wall. Her mother would have her head, Chloe thought.
“Sarah?” she called out. “It’s me, Chloe. I’m coming up.”
The thumping stopped, then began again. Chloe grew annoyed. What the hell was Sarah doing? Why was she ignoring her? She marched up the stairs. Sarah’s door was ajar, and she could see someone flit past the doorway, landing hard with a thump.
“Dubs?” she said, but it came out as a whisper. The flitting stopped. Gathering all of her courage, Chloe pushed open the door.
Sarah looked as if she hadn’t changed out of her soccer uniform from two nights ago. Chloe wrinkled her nose — Sarah smelled like stale sweat and her period and B.O. Her hair had half come out of her pony tail and it fell across her face.
Dubs went back to her flitting. She was pirouetting across the floor, landing hard over and over on the same leg. It was nothing like her natural grace and raw power on the soccer field. It was ugly and embarrassing.
“What are you doing?” Chloe’s voice was tight.
“Ballet,” Dubs said. She tried another jeté and landed hard on her hands and knees. Her knees were scraped and raw, her ankles swollen.
“Stop!” Chloe said. “You have to stop!”
“Princesses dance,” Dubs recited. “Princes do sports.” She threw a sly glance at the mirror, smiled happily at what she saw there, and struggled to her feet.
The mirror. Chloe glanced at Dubs and decided to chance it. When Sarah gathered herself for another leap, Chloe lunged past her and grabbed it off the dresser. Then she bolted for the door.
She was down the stairs and out the front door before her heart stopped hammering and she could breathe easier. Movement overhead caught her eye. Chloe backed up on the lawn to get a clear view. Sarah pushed up the sash, and swung her muscular leg over the sill, dangling into the air.
“Sarah, No! Dubs, NO!”
Sarah Walters made her fall from the window the most graceful movement of her short-lived career as a ballerina.
With Dubs out of the picture, the girls could have the mirror for three nights apiece. Even with three nights, it was hard to get enough. So Chloe made her own rules, just to get her through. On non-mirror days she made an extra effort to make herself presentable. Even with the constant desire hammering at her, she sat demurely, ankles crossed, answered when called upon, practicing a throaty, confident voice that her mirror self would like. If she couldn’t have the mirror she could still be that girl. No longer would she be the girl who didn’t hear the bell.
On mirror days, she left the house as usual but went back home as soon as her mom and dad and little sister had left the house. Then she curled up with the mirror, content and drowsy, sometimes peering at her image, but even able to look away because she knew it was close by.
“Chloe?” her mother called through her bedroom door.
“Chloe, we need to talk to you,” her father said.
It was a non-mirror day. Chloe sat up, took a deep breath, and imagined her best self. She straightened her dress –today was a debutante look — and smoothed her hair. She opened the door.
“Come in,” she said, gesturing them inside.
They raised eyebrows at each other and followed her in. Her dad sat at her desk, her mother perched on the bed. Her mother brandished a school letter.
“Chloe, you know how much I hate getting these things. What the hell is going on?”
“Nothing’s going on,” Chloe said with a gentle laugh. “I just don’t feel up to going sometimes. You know, mom.” She fingered the smooth gold locket with her dainty fingers. The locket was part of her new signature look. She had chosen the perfect silk ribbon for it, and it nestled in the hollow of her throat.
Her mother snorted. “Honey, no one has cramps that often. That’s why God invented Motrin. Jesus Christ, I can’t believe you’re pulling the period crap.”
Her father sighed. “Bev. This isn’t helping.”
Her mother drew a breath and Chloe cringed. She had to be brave and strong. She was a princess. She could do this.
“Really, Mike? You’re going to take her side? She’s cut eight days out of the last month! Her grades are in the toilet, and she never comes out of her room! Her tennis coach has been calling me, asking when she’s coming to practice, and he might cut her from the team!”
Her mother shook the letter in her face. “I will not let you ruin your life! You get it together, young lady, or you can forget about the prom!”
The night of prom they agreed to meet at Emma’s house. They would use the mirror to get ready, and when it was time, they would take Emma’s mom’s ancient Suburban to the dance at the Hyatt ballroom.
Chloe left the house at around 7 pm with her peach tulle ball gown in a garment bag and a rolling bag with her shoes and accessories. Her mom and dad weren’t home yet; she was supposed to be babysitting Bella.
“Where are you going?” Bella demanded, looking up from her homework at the table. At eleven, Bella was slightly pudgy, freckled, with big brown eyes and pert nose.
“To the prom,” Chloe said, smiling down at her beloved little sister.
“Um Chloe, mom and dad grounded you. And you’re supposed to be babysitting me.”
“You’ll understand when you’re older.”
“I understand you’ve been acting weird lately. Chloe, what happened to you?” Bella’s eyes filled with tears. “You don’t do anything anymore. Why don’t you want to hang out with me?”
Chloe set down her garment bag and roller suitcase and knelt next to her sister, taking her hands and squeezing gently. “I love you, Bella. Don’t you know that? I love you so much. I have to do this though, and when you’re older, and you look in the mirror, you’ll understand too.”
Bella tried to pull her hands away, her face distorted with disgust. Chloe wanted to tell her that she shouldn’t make faces, because there was only so much the mirror could do, but instead she pressed her lips on her adorable little sister’s forehead, trying to kiss away the confusion.
Then she got up with a graceful movement, pirouetted for sheer joy, and tripped lightly out of the house with her gown and accessories.
They crowded into Emma’s room, shut the door, and spread out their things. First Chloe had to look in the mirror, just a quick check. Even as messy as she was in shorts and a T shirt, her transformation in the mirror was complete. She smiled, her heart full of love and desire. After one more look she closed her eyes, holding the image, and set out her things.
“Chlo, we need to help Charlotte,” Emma said, gesturing. “We can’t let her go out looking like — what she’s been looking like.” Charlotte sat dully on the bed, her hair a rat’s nest. Her skin was dull and pockmarked, and she had grown slack.
A tiny jab of concern pierced Chloe’s joy. What had happened to Charlotte? Was it happening to her? She looked down at her hands, trying to really see them. The nails were ragged and chewed to the quick and smeared with blood. Chloe went over to the mirror and held up her hands. They immediately appeared beautifully manicured, and she breathed a sigh of relief. It was okay.
“Let’s put her in front of the mirror. We can use it as a template,” Chloe directed. That way she could continue to take peeks in the mirror herself. She was delighted with her cleverness. Emma looked at her askance, but took Charlotte by the hand and led her to the seat at the desk. Charlotte roused enough to catch a glimpse of herself in the mirror, and gave a chimp-like grimace. The mirror translated it as a radiant smile.
They dressed her as best they could, given that she was like a limp ragdoll and heavy, and did her hair and makeup. Then they propped her up on the bed, leaning her against the headboard.
Emma was next. Chloe wondered what it was about Emma. Chloe knew she herself had been impacted by the mirror, albeit less than Dubs and Charlotte. But Emma seemed more or less okay. The mirror had changed her little, if at all. In fact, she hardly looked into the mirror as she got dressed. Instead, she moved over to the regular mirror hanging on the back of the door, throwing off her robe. She was already in her prom underwear, the Victoria’s Secret bra and panties that she had bought with her money from her Subway job.
Emma shimmied into her dress, a beautiful moss-green silk column that puddled at the floor around her bare feet, shining in the bedroom lamplight.
“Can you zip me?” she said, and Chloe got up and drew the zipper up her back and fastened the hidden hook-and-eye. Emma beamed at her reflection in the regular mirror. She looked happy.
This time Chloe was pierced with something other than concern.
“You should look in the mirror,” she said with studied nonchalance.
“I am –oh.” Emma swiveled to the other mirror and stopped. From where she stood Charlotte could see mirror-Emma and real-Emma. This time the transformation was in real-Emma. No longer was she fresh and happy, in a moss-green dress. Instead, she became duller, messier, lifeless.
But mirror-Emma was the happy shining girl that real-Emma had been just a second ago.
Chloe felt a mean sense of satisfaction, along with a sick sort of shame.
“My turn,” she said. She moved a stock-still Emma out of the way.
The meanness stayed with her, and so did the shame. She hurried into her dress, settling it properly over her shoulders and bust, smoothing it down. It side-zipped, which she could do herself, and she took a long time with it, until her hands were shaking with the effort to keep from looking at the mirror.
When she finally did, her heart almost burst from relief. She was ready. She positioned her locket at her throat, and was fascinated by how it moved ever so slightly with her pulse.
“Let’s go,” she said peremptorily.
Emma gave her a raised eyebrow look. “Chlo, you haven’t done your hair or makeup.”
“I want to go. We need to go see Dubs, remember? Let’s go.”
“Okay, okay. Get your shoes. “
Chloe slipped on her heels and fastened the ankle straps. She teetered but kept her head high. She put one foot in front of the other, trying to maintain a model-blank expression. Between them they manhandled Charlotte to her feet, and then the three girls headed downstairs to the car.
Emma’s mom and dad wanted to take pictures and Chloe was almost dancing with impatience even as she posed with the others, giving her best smile. Emma’s parents were looking at each other with misgivings and she felt a burst of anger.
“Emma, can we talk to you for a moment?” Emma’s mom said.
They were going to ruin everything.
“Mrs. K, we really have to go,” she said loudly. “Dubs wanted to see us before prom and we have to get to the hospital before visiting hours are over.”
Please just let us go, she wanted to add.
“I don’t think—,” Emma’s mom started.
Emma went over and kissed her parents. “We’ll be fine. No drinking, home by two a.m., call if we need anything,” she recited. “I promise.”
“All right,” her father said. He threw another glance at his wife. “Okay.”
The drive to the hospital was mostly quiet. Charlotte of course said nothing, just remained where they put her, leaning against the window in the backseat. Chloe rode shotgun, her expression set. She flipped down the visor, but pushed it back up. She didn’t want that mirror.
She wondered how she could broach the idea of not seeing Dubs after all, but going straight to prom.
“I was thinking,” Emma said, her eyes intent on the road. Chloe glanced at her shadowed profile, overwhelmed with affection that Emma would bring it up first. “I think we should stop using the mirror.”
“I think it’s doing something to us. It was fun at first, you know? And I did find it, so I feel responsible. It’s just, look at Dubs. She jumped out a window to get it. And Charlotte’s in a really bad way, Chlo.”
They both turned to look at Charlotte in the back seat. Emma turned around first, refocusing on the road. She made a careful turn to the hospital.
“I think,” Chloe said carefully, “That we shouldn’t do anything rash. But if you want, I can take the mirror to my house. That way it will be safe. And Charlotte will get better.”
Emma didn’t say anything for a moment. She navigated into the hospital parking lot, and found a parking spot. She turned off the car, and then looked at Chloe.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea, Chloe. I think the mirror is having a bad effect on you too.”
“That’s not true.” Chloe had trouble talking.
“Come on, Chloe! Of course it’s true! Look at you—you’ve been acting like a 1960s debutante for the last semester! The precious hand movements, the head tilt—” Emma demonstrated.
Chloe drew herself up. “It’s making me better,” she said, with all of her dignity. “It shows me who I can be. I’m pretty, Emma.”
“When was the last time you played tennis? When was the last time you did Film Club? When was the last time you did anything, Chloe?”
Chloe fumbled for the door handle. “I don’t know about you,” she said. “But I’m going to see my friend to make her feel better because she’s in the hospital on prom night!”
She slammed the door of the Suburban with a satisfying bang that sounded for miles in the dark night. After a moment she heard Emma follow her. They left Charlotte in the car, and Emma beeped the key fob to lock their friend in.
Chloe’s feet hurt by the time they made their way across the parking lot up to the reception area. The hospital’s bright lights killed her eyes. She gathered up the skirt of her gown and marched up to the front desk.
“We’re here to see Sarah Du—Walters,” she announced. The gray-haired receptionist gave Chloe a startled double-take. Tears welled up in Chloe’s eyes. Her feet hurt in her stupid five-inch heels, her dress had dragged in the parking lot, and she regretted not doing her hair and makeup as she had planned.
“It’s prom night,” she explained, her voice cracking a little. The receptionist thawed.
“Room 713,” she said. “Take the elevators to the left of the gift shop.”
Chloe and Emma were silent up to the seventh floor. The mirrored elevator interior reflected them back. Emma was tall and beautiful, her face set with solemn resolve. Chloe just looked haggard. She attempted a kind and loving smile, but the expression in her mind translated to an arch grimace in the shaded reflection. So she transformed it to a model face, the half-opened gape, the expressionless gaze. Emma glanced at her but said nothing.
Dubs had a tube in her mouth, a neck and back brace, and sat stiffly in a half-upright bed. Her face was thin, accentuating her strong jaw, and her hair was lank. She could only move her eyes as Emma and Chloe came in.
Mrs. Dubs looked up from holding her daughter’s hand. She made an effort to smile.
“Hello girls. On your way to prom, I see.”
“Hi, Mrs. Dubs,” Emma said. “Umm, how is she?”
While they made conversation, Chloe looked straight at Dubs. Her tall, strong friend was lifeless and inert. Dubs closed her eyes as if she couldn’t bear to look at Chloe.
Chloe wanted to get out of there. This was a dumb idea, and Emma sounded like she was content just to talk for hours. “Will she play again?” she said loudly. Emma looked at her, aghast.
“We’re not sure—the doctor said—,” Dubs’s mom gave up. Tears leaked out from under Dubs’s closed eyes.
“We should go,” Chloe said. “Come on, Em.”
Back in the car, Charlotte hadn’t moved. Emma started the engine, and said, “Listen, I’m not going to prom. I’ll take you back to my house so you can get your car and I’ll take Charlotte home. I’m done with the mirror, Chloe. I’m done with it.”
Chloe didn’t say anything. She kept up her stubborn silence as Emma dropped her off next to her car, and then drove Charlotte home. When the red taillights were lost to view, she went up the house, knocked on the door. Emma’s mom opened it, looking surprised.
“You were right to be worried, Mrs. K,” Chloe said. “Charlotte wasn’t feeling well. Emma took her home. May I go up to Emma’s room and get my things?”
Screw the prom. All she wanted was the mirror.
Chloe lay on the sofa, covering her eyes, while her parents interrogated her with a mixture of concern and fear. She ached for the mirror.
“Chloe?” her father said. He put his hand on her shoulder. She felt the pressure at the end of the sofa of her mom sitting down. “Chloe, did you take something?”
She shook her head, rubbing her cheek against the sofa cushion.
“Did one of the other girls?”
She covered her head.
“Mom, I’ll take Chloe’s stuff up to her room,” she heard her sister say.
Her mom unstrapped Chloe’s shoes and rubbed her sore feet. “Chloe,” she said, and her voice was uncharacteristically soft. “Chloe, baby girl, come back to us, please? Don’t leave us. I couldn’t bear it –” her mother’s voice cracked.
“I just want to go to bed,” Chloe mumbled.
Her scream rippled from her throat. Chloe wrested the mirror away from Bella, who held on with considerable strength. “Don’t touch that!”
“Let me! I want to see myself again!” Bella pulled at the frame, gripping with determination.
Their parents burst into Chloe’s bedroom.
“Girls! What is going on?” her father shouted.
“She can’t have it!” Chloe was wild with fury, with possessiveness, and with fear. Not Bella. Not Bella.
“Chloe!” her father said. “Knock it off.” He stepped in between the girls, and tried to grab the mirror out of their hands. Chloe twisted and spun away, hitting the corner of the mirror against Bella’s face. Bella screamed as the blood spurted from beside her eye. Chloe gasped and backpedaled.
Her dad picked Bella up and ran off with her to the bathroom, blood trailing them. Her mother stood in front of her, blocking the door, her hand out for the mirror.
“Chloe,” her mother said, her voice trembling. “Give it to me.
Chloe looked down at the mirror, but blood obscured the reflection. Stupidly she wiped it, only smearing it more. Even so, she could see her image behind the red streaks, a travesty of beauty smiling back at her.
“It’s me, only better. That’s what she had wanted. Was it so wrong to want that? Didn’t they all want that? It was a way to be the best. She was pretty. There wasn’t anything wrong with that.
When was the last time you did anything, Chloe?
“Chloe,” her mother said, taking a step toward her. Chloe looked between her and the mirror. She shook her head.
“Show me what it is, Chloe,” her mother said. “Let me see.”
What would the mirror do for her mother? Nothing. The beauty and hopefulness was only for girls, not women, girls who were frozen in time.
She looked down at the mirror again, and now even through the blood she could see her comforting smile, the warm, beautiful kindness that made her smile in return, full of love and desire.
Quick and furious, her mother ripped the mirror from her hands. Chloe grasped for it, but the slick glass slipped through her fingers, her fingernails scraping on the frame until they too lost purchase.
“Mom! No!” Her scream rippled again, as her mother raised the mirror high over her head and smashed it against the floor.
The sun a comforting presence on her shoulders, Chloe warmed up at the tennis courts, hitting the ball against the wall. Her former quick agility and power had turned into fumbling clumsiness.
Her parents said she could play tennis only if she kept up her grades in summer school. Chloe had agreed, even though the game had become grim and joyless. Her parents wanted normalcy, and she owed them that.
Bella was none the worse for wear for her one glimpse at the mirror. Emma too, even though she had spent more time in the mirror’s thrall, had come out of the experience little scathed. She avoided Chloe, burying herself in work and college applications.
Charlotte had been sent away to a drug rehab center.
Dubs was learning to walk again.
All things considered, Chloe thought, she herself had gotten off easy.
Her locket flew at her throat as she hit the ball, practicing backhands and two-handed swings. The little locket held the tiniest shards and crumbs of mirror glass, left over even after her mother swept up the broken mirror and threw it out, then mopped the floor for good measure. You could never find all the glass; Chloe had been locating shards of mirror in her room for the past month, crawling along the floor, licking her thumb and pressing it onto even the smallest sparkle.
Tonight when she got home, she would look for the rest.
Patrice Sarath is the author of numerous short stories that have appeared in several magazines and anthologies, including Weird Tales, Black Gate, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Realms of Fantasy, and many others. Her short story “A Prayer for Captain La Hire” was included in Year’s Best Fantasy of 2003 compiled by David Hartwell and Katherine Cramer. Her story “Pigs and Feaches,” originally published in Apex Digest, was reprinted in 2013 in Best Tales of the Apocalypse by Permuted Press.
Artwork: Michael Brack, “Mirrors”