Don’t Look for Too Long!

Here’s my entry to this week’s Author Aerobics. In adherence to the rules, it’s a new genre called Skewed Reality. This genre focuses on a slightly or morbidly skewed viewpoint. It points out details that normal people would ignore, or adds things that aren’t really there. Things don’t appear as they truly are. This story is about a girl who thinks that staring into a mirror for too long will produce undesirable results. It might be obvious what she thinks will happen, or it might not. It depends on how well read you are. 🙂

* * *

As Cynthia passed the front window of CARDER’S, she glanced away. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see her own reflection. But she stopped herself from looking…everyone knew what would happen if you stared too long into a mirror. Cynthia walked through the sliding doors, scanning the racks of clothing. Where was that girl?!

“Over here!” called May, her cousin. May was holding a sweater she had taken from a rack, and was standing by a tall mirror. She held up the green knit article and asked Cynthia’s opinion.

Cynthia nodded. “I like it. It’s springy.”

May shot a furtive glance into the mirror.

Cynthia shook her head. Why hadn’t people invented mirrors yet that would turn off when it could sense you looking into it for more than five seconds? It was a scientific fact that magnetic beams came out of your eyes. Why couldn’t they somehow put magnetic sensors into the mirror that started a timer…?

Oh well. Cynthia wanted to be an inventor, and perhaps that would be her great masterpiece. It would spare so many people from…well, from you-know-what.

“I think it’s spiffy,” May said, folding the sweater over her arm, oblivious to the obvious danger looming everywhere. She took one glance into the mirror for less than a moment, as Cynthia tugged her toward the checkout counter.

The cashier was nice enough, but she didn’t seem to care—or notice—that May’s sweater was on sale.

“Hey,” said May. “That’s supposed to be fifty percent off.”

“Huh?” The cashier pulled something from her ears…what Cynthia realized were earbuds. “Oh, sorry. Yeah.” She punched something into the register quickly, before diving back into her music. “Have a nice day,” she said distractedly, handing May the crinkly plastic bag. May tucked it under her arm and she and Cynthia walked out the sliding doors into the hot parking lot.

Everywhere, Cynthia could see her own reflection in car doors, rear-view mirrors, and in the puddles on the hot pavement. But no, she refused to look into the reflections for too long. Because…

Well, everyone knew what would happen. She shuddered, hurrying May past a spray of yellow flowers in a planter.

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22 thoughts on “Don’t Look for Too Long!

  1. I really liked this one. I could sense their paranoia. What a pain it would be to have to constantly watch for your reflection.

    Hmm, so what happens if they look in the mirror? The evil twin gets out and they get stuck inside? hehe that obviously is my guess.

      • Really? Candyman was a horror movie from the 90’s. If you say his name 5 times in front of a mirror, he would come out and kill you.

        It’s similar to the folklore surrounding Bloody Mary. My friends used to dare each other as kids to say her name 3 times in the mirror. Supposedly she’d appear in the mirror, and do something horrible, but we’d always chicken out and run away before then.

      • Oh dear! 😮

        I was thinking more Narcissus from Greek Mythology. He stared into his reflection so long he turned into a daffodil. That’s Cynthia’s paranoia; that if she stares at herself too long, she’ll turn into a yellow flower. Hence her overriding issues through the story with people staring into the mirror.

      • In case of both Candyman and Bloody Mary, though, there is an operant besides just looking in a mirror. The mirror is just a medium, but the incantation is what makes it “efficacious”.

        With that explanation, though, Cabit… that clears up how this relates to this week’s theme! Well played!

      • Thanks!! 🙂 I thought it might be obvious, but I was more mysterious than I gave myself credit for! I love being mysterious…mua ha ha ha…

    • Right on the button Paper Bag Girl. She’s absolutely paranoid and living in a terrible fantasy, even though mirrors are just mirrors. Poor lamb. But kind of funny at the same time. 🙂

  2. The mirror story reminds me of a story written by Enid Blyton; about a girl who hates herself so much every time she sees her own reflection on a mirror that she breaks the mirror into pieces, and you know what happens:D her angel “twin” jumps out of the mirror, then she becomes her rival.
    If one cannot accept oneself, love oneself, don’t ever dare look oneself at a mirror! _devil’s rules
    nice post to read on this bright day here

    • Thanks Lulu! Mirrors are full of possibilities for stories. Although I’m not sure who’s reality is more skewed…the girl you mentioned, or Cynthia. 😦

  3. Oh I really like this one! 🙂 I love stories where I can never be sure whether the character is paranoid (and a little funny in the head) or if there really is something bad going on as she imagines to be…
    And mirror is a great theme- always mysterious!

    • Thanks Lua! 🙂 (Isn’t positive feedback great?) The thing about Skewed Reality genre is that, like you said, you can never quite tell if reality is as skewed as it seems…

  4. JP, nicely done. I thought May was furtively glancing the first time that I read this, but reading it a second time I see that it is more likely Cynthia’s view and that she distracts May from looking at her reflection. I liked how you got both last weeks theme and this weeks theme into the story. I unfortunately cheated and read the comments, not sure if I would have gotten the theme had I spent more time contemplating it. I should have gotten it since I tried to play with my attempt in a similar manner (using the Narcissus myth).

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