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"The Room In The Mirror"

Hank Wallace leaned up against the full length mirror in the corner 
of the bedroom,
studying his receding hairline at close range,
and trying to tune out Elsa's nagging voice.
She stood almost behind him now, a little to his right,
and addressed herself to his reflection in the mirror.

"Henry! Why are you gaping at yourself?
Your boss and his wife will be here any minute and you haven't even 
started to get dressed!
No wonder they all get ahead of you at the office,
daydreaming your life away.
I hope you haven't been into that wine in the kitchen.
I can check the bottle, you know."

He stared at her over the shoulder of his mirror image
and said nothing.

"Well?", she demanded.

He looked into his own eyes and remained silent.

"This is your last chance to show Ed Herman that you're not an idiot! 
I'm the one who had to bow and scrape to that cow Martha Herman to set 
this evening up! I'm going to go check that wine bottle, and when I come 
back you'd better be dressed."

He noticed
that the closer you get your face to the mirror,
the more you can see of the room inside it.
The mirror room, of course, was identical to his own except that 
everything was opposite.
But the lighting in there seemed a little different,
making it look cozier.
He found that he could look in and around the corner of the frame 
when he pressed his nose against the nose of his image.
He was straining to see if he could look around the inner frame
and see the flowers on the mirror room wallpaper,
when his head went through.

He was aware of the warm glow
the second he stepped into the mirror room.
There was a peaceful atmosphere
the other one never had.

The other Hank Wallace
smiled and motioned him to sit down.
Hank observed that his new friend's clothes buttoned on the wrong side
and his hair was parted on the right.
But he also noticed that his image looked somehow younger than before.

There was motion on the other side of the mirror.
Elsa marched triumphantly into the bedroom
with the wine bottle in her hand.
She looked around the room.
She stormed to the closet and threw open the door.
She stood hand on hip, in puzzlement.
She got down on her hands and knees
and crawled around looking under the beds.

She was on all fours in front of the big mirror
when she glanced in at the two Henry Wallaces
and her face erupted into a silent scream.
Sound didn't come through the mirror.

Hank wondered what next.
There was an outside exit door in the mirror room
just like in the other.
He wondered what kind of a world was out there.

Elsa reappeared in the frame, pointing hysterically.
The Hermans were behind her, their eyes bugging at what they saw. All 
three were gesturing and shouting
at the two Hanks, in wild pantomime.

Hank Wallace stood up,
shook hands with himself,
walked to the doorway,
and stepped out into the backward world.

He looked back once more. Elsa was pleading. He felt sorry for her.

He closed the door behind him,
and wondered how long it would take him to learn to drive on the 
wrong side of the street.

Copyright  January 20, 2001 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved.


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