He arrived on Nathan’s tenth birthday. It wasn’t a shock; it was as if Nathan had been waiting for him to appear all along.
It had been a nice day, a little chaotic, but nice all the same. After opening the presents and tucking into a mountain of sandwiches, at three o’clock they cut the cake, and all sat down to enjoy a piece. Nathan’s favourite was chocolate fudge cake, but the Victoria sponge his mother had popped out to buy at the last minute was good too.
As his grandma collected the plates and pottered around tidying up the mess left in the kitchen, Nathan slunk off towards the bathroom. It had been nice to see everyone, but his thoughts were all jumbled, and he needed some quiet. Nathan pushed open the heavy bathroom door and closed it quietly behind him. He slid the lock into place and then perched on the side of the bathtub, the cool porcelain soothing the skin on his thighs where they poked out from his green camo shorts. He sat silently for a moment listening to the sound of his family laughing on the other side of the door. He felt different.
Nathan leant over the sink and washed his face with cold water hoping it would get rid of the clammy feeling. As he lifted his head, he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror, but something was different about the reflection that stared back at him. It looked like Nathan, it had his brown eyes and dark hair but there was something missing. The boy looked sad and he whispered things to Nathan, things that made Nathan feel bad. That was the first time they met, but it wouldn’t be the last.
From that day on the strange boy in the mirror crept back into Nathan’s life now and again, but his presence became more permanent as the time passed. Sometimes Nathan would awake in the night, his heart pounding, a strange feeling overwhelming him, and sure enough Nathan would look into the mirror and see that same glum boy. He’d see him in every reflection. He’d see him in the shop windows and car windshields as he walked down the street. Often Nathan would stay inside alone for fear of the sad boy following. He missed his friends and his family; he missed his hobbies and his schoolwork, but he didn’t want them to meet the boy in the mirror. The boy in the mirror didn’t want to meet them.
Nathan stood in front of the bathroom mirror and stared at the boy. He slammed his hands against the cold tiles, his face dripping with sweat.
“What do you want? Why are you here?” Nathan shook with frustration.
The boy just stood there, staring back at him, his eyes sunken, his cheeks sallow. He began to whisper. Nathan wondered if he’d ever see himself again.
Clarrie Rose is a writer from Manchester, England. Having completed her master’s degree in Creative Writing at The University of Salford, Clarrie is now the editor of Hypnopomp Magazine and enjoys reading and creating experimental fiction and poetry. In her spare time Clarrie can be found listening to true crime podcasts, having existential crises, and trying not to burn the things she bakes. Her work can be found in Ellipsis Zine’s ‘Three’.
Ellipsis Zine ‘Three’: https://www.ellipsiszine.com/three/
Cover Image by Sandra_Schoen
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