Mirror of you
You found a little secret! Congratulations
I huff and pull the scraggly piece of cloth closer around myself in a vain attempt to keep warm.
I can’t feel my ears anymore as waves and waves of snow pass by them.
Ice cold water drips from my hair down my neck and I gasp as I try to wipe it away with frozen fingers.
I have to find shelter for the night. I can’t keep going like this I’ll freeze to death if this keeps up.
I refuse to die.
Then the snow and the wind carries a tune that sounds vaguely familiar.
A simple ditty but a cheerful one, like a fair or a circus might employ.
It comes from the park…
It’s worth a shot.
As the music grows louder with each passing step I wonder whether I saw any advertisements around for events these past days?
I don’t think so.
But I’m not complaining.
Even some illegal party is better than the bitter cold. They just need fire or a stove…even a blanket would be nice.
The snow is like a screen that keeps me from seeing clearly in any direction but the music guides my every step. It’s close now, it has to be-
My foot kicks against a bucket, it’s heavy with something and the only sound escaping it is a dull thud as it refuses to move.
I walk further and find the snow clearing somewhat as canopies and wagons shield the field from most of the onslaught.
It’s a camp so… circus or travellers?
I don’t see any flyers or signs, no massive top-tent that could house them during the day.
The music hails from a big open fire pit, people dressed in strange clothes sing songs in a tongue I never heard before.
The fire crackles and my bones ache to be near it…but there are too many people.
Too many risks, especially if we don’t even speak the same language.
I couldn’t even lie my way out.
The carriages should be empty though, if I sneak into one of those I can grab a blanket, maybe find a space to hide, sit out the night.
If I’m lucky I can sit around the embers of the fire later.
Mind made up I creep and sneak my way to a carriage with a dark red roof and bright green swirls on the side that seem to glow against the firelight.
I test the door, it’s unlocked.
I stay low like a cat as I head through, then gently push the door shut behind me.
One look around the place makes me wonder what I got myself into.
Strange isn’t a word that covers all I see there. Despite the minute size of the cabin the sheer amount of stuff the owner managed to stuff in it is truly impressive, shelves sprawl around the walls in an irregular mess that suggests they were simply made when needed in whatever material was around, be it wood, glass, a road sign bend to an angle and held in place with mismatched screws. The only places that don’t have shelves are the spots taken up by paintings depicting scenes that make my brain feel strange and a massive silver mirror on the far end of the place. The floor is covered in stacks and I try my best to not step on anything as I look around, jumping from one empty spot to the next. From the ceiling hang mobiles and taxidermied birds and bats.
There’s no bed, so no blanket.
A whole room full of junk and not a single thing to keep me warm.
All right I’m out of here, there must be a trailer that has a blanket, maybe even a stove.
I jump and step my way back to the door but stop mid-step, freezing at the sound of the door opening.
A big white man steps in, his head is bald and strange sigils are tattooed all over his skull, he has a long black beard and wears long flowing robes striped in black, white and gold.
And it look like I’m standing there in the middle of his stuff.
“I can explain.” I try to tell him but he shouts at me in a mix of a rattle and a bark and I back away.
Back to the other side of the cabin, looking around me for something that could help me, a window, a weapon, anything.
The man steps towards me and I stumble further back, tossing over piles of books and knickknacks. “I mean no harm.” I try to tell him but he snatches at my arm and that’s the moment I go into panic mode.
I stand in front of the mirror and right now that seems to be the only thing I’m familiar enough with to fashion into a weapon. I slam my first into it and-
There’s nothing there.
It’s just air.
Suddenly the man looks worried, his grip trying to pull me back from the strange relic but I see a way out.
I jump towards the man, bite the hand as hard as I can, then the moment he lets go I lunge myself down the mirror and to whatever lies beyond.
I’m falling, surrounded by a shimmery soup that trails and ripples at my every move. It’s bright, almost blindingly so but I can’t help but look at the swirling of the patterns.
It’s so beautiful.
It’s warm here, not hot, just…pleasant.
I wonder if I can stay here?
Well, I can’t for long, I’ll need food and water…am I even breathing right now?
I check, yup, still breathing.
Well in that case I’m not dead and that’s good.
Then I’m smacked into the snow again without warning. The glitter and shine melts away and I’m back in the park again.
But it’s empty, the carriages, the people…the fire.
No wheel tracks, no footsteps in the snow, not even a speck of ash to remind the world of any involvement these strange people may have had.
I was hoping to get out in a building at least, now I’m back where I started.
I sigh, at least the snow is less severe now.
I pull my rags close again and start to walk.
I should have at least nicked something from that heap of junk, I could have sold it, get some cash for food. There was enough that looked valuable enough to the right person.
The sound of footsteps pricks my ears and I jump behind a tree to be out of sight.
I’ve had enough human interaction for one day thanks.
Looking through the branches I witness the impossible.
It’s mister Dandelion! I haven’t seen him in so long, he always was so nice to me.
My chest hurts with nostalgia as I think back to those blissful days.
But then I see who’s walking beside him…and it’s…me?
At least someone who looks like me, who I used to be. Before the hard times, back when mom was still around and pretty dresses and shoes were common things I took for granted.
I…she looks so happy.
But how is this possible?
Is this a dream?
Am I dead?
It’s not the past, we’re the same age it seems.
And I’m still breathing.
I pinch my arm..it hurts.
Well then, only one way to find out I guess.
I start the pursuit leading me down familiar scenes that are just slightly wrong.
Shops that went out of business but are still around in here.
Faces walking past that are strange to me.
The tower clock chimes the wrong note as it announces half-past seven.
So this place isn’t like where I can from, but it is nigh identical.
And this Serenity is me but still getting piano lessons.
So her mother must be around then?
This is a place where she never died.
It has to be.
But if mom’s still here and she’s going there.
I feel a tightness in my chest as I realise I’m scared to see her.
Maybe I should just walk away? But the thought seems ludicrous the moment it enters my head.
And go where exactly?
I don’t see any magic mirrors around to take me back and this, this could be a second chance! A fresh start! I’m not going to scare myself out of trying.
What if this is fate?
What if I’m meant to be here?
It seems unlikely I got here by accident, she’s right there! The other Serenity, there’s no way that would otherwise happen!
There’s a jolt of nerves up my back as the girl turns, looking straight at me.
I jump behind the bushes and am surprised to see she doesn’t feel any need to investigate.
It’s convenient for me though.
She doesn’t go home?
Why doesn’t she go home…instead she goes to a house I’ve never been to, a small and rickety-looking place that I’m not sure is even around in my version of the world.
As the girl goes in the rabbit leaves.
I want to call out to him, pretend I forgot something, talk to him, it’s been so long since anyone liked me.
But running out in rags is a terrible plan.
There must be a better way.
I creep to the window and look in, watch them eat dinner, Serenity and aunt Fortuna of all people.
I can’t say I like her very much, but at least this version seems much milder than mine.
There’s no way she would have taken her in in otherwise.
So what it comes down to is this, I’m in a world that looks like mine but everything’s better.
Serenity has a home, piano lessons, no mom but someone to take care of her nonetheless.
And an ugly feeling spreads through my chest as I remember what it was like for me.
A feeling of loathing, of jealousy. Why did I have to experience poverty and neglect?
Why did I have to live on the streets and fend for myself?
And why didn’t she?
She’s me for crying out loud! Why does she get to have a good life?
I want a good life.
I want to have it.
Steal it if I must.
But not now, not yet.
First sleep, see if we’re even still here tomorrow.
I slink back into the darkness again.