Friday, April 13, 2012

Behind The Glass

I slip the key into the lock and twist. Penn and I discussed his escape last night when I’d snuck in after Lester, the guard, had fallen asleep at the door—as he does every night at eleven. It must be done today because today is the Festival, and most of the castle will be dancing in the streets, drunk and stuffed with oversized turkey legs and freshly baked rolls and chocolate mousse. Including my stepmother.

I push the door open and slip into the dark room, leaving the door cracked a bit so we can make an easy escape. I just have to get Penn.

“Hello, beautiful,” Penn says behind me. My stomach dances at the sound of his voice, and it’s a million times better than the feeling of parading around at some dumb festival. I turn to face him and he flashes me a smile made of teeth whiter than powdered sugar.

“Are you ready?” I ask nervously. I’m afraid that Lester will be back soon. My stepmother made it explicitly clear that he is not to leave his post for any reason, so when he disobeys her, he does it quickly.

Penn’s brow wrinkles, though his smile stays in tact. The two things don’t match each other and I want smooth the wrinkles from his forehead. He’s much too handsome to be making a scary expression like that. 

“Is something wrong?” I ask.

He shakes his head. “No. You just have no idea how much I’ve dreamed about leaving this place.”

I take a long look at him. Black wavy hair, sparkling green eyes, and a jaw line that could cut through glass—he’s every girl’s dream. And he’s chosen me. There’s just one problem though. He’s trapped in a mirror, forced to tell my stepmother that she’s beautiful every day. But I’m going to take care of that.

I run across the room and wrap my fingers around the intricately carved frame of the mirror and hoist it into the air. It’s not as heavy as I expected. I hold the mirror against my chest and tiptoe out of the room. I look to my left, then to my right, down the long, winding hallway. Lester hasn’t made it back yet, but I know it won’t be long. I walk as fast as I can to the back stairway, clutching the mirror to my body.

“I take back what I said about wanting to escape,” says Penn, his voice muffled against my dress.

“Oh, shut up,” I hiss, realizing the compromising position I’ve put him in. I ease the mirror away from me a bit and continue my trek down the slippery stone steps.

I take the mirror to my favorite garden, where the roses have taken over the stone walls that enclose them. I set Penn down in a tangle of vines, leaning him against one of the walls.

“Happy birthday,” I say as I run my fingers over the smooth glass. I wish I could feel his face against my palm.

“Five thousand long years I’ve been stuck in this mirror,” says Penn. “And this is the first time anyone has ever brought me out of the castle.”

“You're welcome,” I say. “I just wish I could actually celebrate your birthday, you know, with you. 

Wouldn’t it be amazing if I could come inside your mirror for the day?”

I shake my head at the thought. If only something like that were possible. Penn presses his hand against the glass to match mine. He looks at me longingly, and I know he wants to feel my touch as much as I want his.

The glass underneath my fingers suddenly begins to warm and soften, and for a moment, I believe it’s my imagination. But it’s not. The glass is no longer glass—it’s liquid.

“I can’t believe it’s actually working!” says Penn, rubbing his free hand over his mouth in shock.

“What’s happening?” I push my finger into the glass. It squishes like gel and my finger disappears into the mirror, appearing on the other side as a reflection.

“The spell on the mirror only works inside the castle. It’s magic is hindered outside of the castle walls. If someone wants to come inside, all they have to do is say the words.”

I extend my arm into the mirror, marveling at the image of my body being half flesh and half glass. Penn grabs my hand, and I freeze. The feeling of his skin against mine is something I thought I’d never feel. He grasps onto my fingers like I’m sinking underwater, like he’s trying to pull me to the surface. And he does. 

In an instant, I’m suddenly not in my world anymore. I’m in his.

But I’m alone.

The air around me is dark and cold, like the cellar in the castle. I turn around and see the other side of the mirror. The roses, shivering in the afternoon wind. The stone wall, cold and grey against the turquoise sky.

And Penn. Not inside the mirror with me.

“Why are you out there?” I say. My voice trembles. I don’t like being in here alone.

“I’m so sorry,” Penn says. The wind blows his hair into his eyes, but he doesn’t push it away. “I wish there was another way for me to be free, but this was the only option.”

I press my hands against the glass, hoping to find the liquid state it was in just moments ago. But it’s hard, cold glass again. Penn touches his fingers to his lips then drops them to the mirror, leaving the imprint of his fingerprints. He stands up and turns to leave.

“No!” I cry. I bang my fists on the glass, trying to break through. “You can’t just leave me here!”

I ram my shoulder into the barrier, but it doesn’t budge.

Penn looks over his shoulder and smiles sadly. “I will be forever grateful for what you’ve done for me. But the mirror must have a prisoner and I have served my time. It’s your turn now.”

“No,” I say again, though this time my voice cracks.

As he leaves me alone in the garden, I slump down against the hard black wall that is my prison. How could he betray me? Is freedom really worth hurting the one you love? As I stare out at the brilliant pink and red roses dancing along with the wind, I realize that it is. And I can’t hate him because I would have done the same thing.

Story By: Stefanie

Photo By: Ksenia Klykova


  1. Great job, Stef! I love fairy tale retellings.

  2. Nice, Stef! I especially like how you described the way she travels into the mirror. Me thinks that I have big shoes to fill next week you two! 0_0

  3. Very nice, Stef. I loved the twist at the end. Reading this makes me more nervous to share mine! :-)

  4. Lovely story. Sad to learn what we're all capable of when push comes to shove.