I was SO excited when Amy first asked Krystalyn and I if we wanted to start a short story blog with her. I'd always wanted to do something like this and I couldn't have chosen a better two (then THREE!) people to partner with. I am so lucky to know these three amazing writers, and I am very grateful to have them! I'm not sharing, so don't ask! :-)
Ok, sentimental moment over. Go ahead and wipe your tears because you need clear eyes to read my favorite story.
Are you good? GREAT!
It was very hard for me to choose my favorite story of the year since, you know, Jenn, Amy, and Krystalyn are all fantastic writers. But since I DID have to choose, I'm taking it back to the beginning, to our very first month here.
I remember reading Amy's first story and thinking, "DANG IT. Girl can write a short story!" I am still sort of new to short story writing (which is why I was so excited about this blog), but Amy's got this thing down pat. (I'm crossing my fingers for a horror novel by her someday, because she can do creepy for sure! *hint hint*)
So here it is, my favorite story of the year!
Rebecca felt decidedly wicked that morning. She’d never broken any of the elder’s rules—at least not the big ones—and yet today she was planning on disobeying the most important one. Behind her, the village was still asleep, the main square deserted and quiet. She ran through the wet grass in her bare feet, her nightgown trailing out behind her white as the morning mist still blanketing the ground. She hurried to the large wall separating the village from the forbidden woods beyond and carefully scaled it under the cover of the large oak tree so that the town watchmen wouldn’t spot her.
No one had been in these woods since the elders constructed the wall a hundred years before. There was a reason it was forbidden and yet no one seemed entirely certain what it was anymore. The only thing they did recall was that a large lake sat at its center. Unlike the well water within the village, this water was out in the open, under the sky and sun, reflecting it all back as clearly as a mirror—grounds enough to avoid it. Seeing your reflection was strictly forbidden. The elders were convinced that if you looked at yourself in any reflected surface you might fall prey to vanity which would lead to any number of other sins. Vanity was the first foothold for evil and evil could ultimately destroy them all.
But the elder’s warnings had been repeated so long and so often, that Rebecca couldn’t muster the same fear that she’d once felt. Especially not now that Thomas had started calling on her, staring at her with his gray-green eyes, always filled with equal parts amusement and desire. He’d declared his interest in her the minute she’d turned sixteen—much to everyone else’s amazement. He was the handsomest boy in the village and she was most definitely not his equal—or so the other girls said. She had no idea since she’d never actually seen her own face. Now she needed to. She had to know if what the girls said was true. She had to see what it was that he saw in her. How could she trust his affections otherwise?
She found the lake without really searching, almost as if some part of her knew exactly where to go. When she burst through the trees along its banks, the birds gathered there lifted off all at once, scattering across the sky. They chattered what sounded like a reproach or a warning. Fear pushed its way into her gut and settled there, but she’d come too far to turn tail now.
Once the birds were gone, the world went quiet. She stared at the lake. The water was strangely transparent in the early morning light. Towards the middle you could see all the way to the bottom. Blanketing the lake bed were hundreds of mirrors, glinting like giant fish scales. She’d never actually seen one before, at least not outside the pictures in her old fairytale book. They must be the ones that the elders took out of the village when her great grandparents were young. They were still intact and amazingly free of algae. They were beautiful.
Her stomach tightened. She should go. This whole trip was foolish. No good could come of it, she thought. Still, her feet inched forward. Almost without meaning to, she stooped down and plucked the mirror closest to her from the water.
It was round and notched along the edges like a giant coin. She carried it over to the trees, carefully holding the reflective part away from her body, and gently set it against one of the tree trunks. She could see her feet, caked with mud and grass, pale as bone in the mirror. She wiggled her toes. Her reflection did the same. She crouched down, settling onto her knees beside it. Her eyes traveled towards its center and the face staring back at her. She’d always known that she had blond hair. She could see it in her peripheral vision, but she didn’t recognize the thin nosed girl staring back at her with eyes narrowed slightly at the corners and cheeks peppered with tiny freckles. Her lips were full and pink. She was pretty, as pretty as the girls who’d said she was nothing special. She smiled at her reflection and it smiled back at her. She brought one hand up and lightly touched her fingers to the glass. Was this really what she looked like?
The moment that her fingers made contact with the glass, the mirror began to undulate, sucking her fingers into itself before she had time to react and pull back. She was caught in it as surely as if her fingers had been set in cement. The glass surged forward, liquid now and glistening, swallowing her hand and the rest of her arm as if it were a snake. She could feel her bones breaking as the glass crept past her shoulder and worked its way around her neck. She opened her mouth to scream, but it covered her head before she could make a sound. Then her body pitched forward and Alice-like, fell into the mirror. The glass rippled violently a few times and the mirror threatened to topple over before it finally settled and grew still.
Several minutes passed before a pair of ghost-white hands emerged from inside the mirror and gripped its outer edges. They were followed by the rest of Rebecca’s body, exactly as it was before—except for the creature now residing inside her skin.
That evening, when Thomas came to call, she took him out to the village wall, leaned up on tiptoe and kissed him—their first. Thomas had time to wonder why her mouth tasted of dirt and metal, but he was quickly distracted when she climbed the wall and dropped over it.
“Come on, I need to show you something special,” she said.
And after a moment’s hesitation he did.
Story By: Amy
Photo By: Ksenia Klykova