It looked smaller than I was expecting it to be.
“It’s not finished,” Mark said when I pointed this out to him. He held out his tools like proof, but then sighed and said that it wasn’t finished, but yes, it was as big as it was going to get.
We both stood in the rich old man’s backyard, hidden from public view by hundreds and hundreds of trees. I was ready to go, but Mark wanted to stay and work longer. “There’s just something not quite right,” he kept mumbling.
“What do you mean?” I tried to follow him as he circled the structure, but my damned heels kept sinking into the soft earth of the old man’s yard. My high-heeled sandals were perfect for the dinner we had planned, not so much for following my boyfriend around the massive property of an eccentric old man. “What’s not quite right?”
Mark sighed again, then looked at me hard. “I don’t know. I’m not sure. Do you want to go inside and see?”
He led me up the steps and through the door, still talking as he shut the door behind me. “I’ll be out here working on the outside,” he said. “Knock on the wall when you want out.” The door shut, disappearing into the wall. I turned around. Seven of me turned as well. I took a step and another three mes came into view. I spread my arms, and twenty arms just like mine lifted simultaneously.
“So far, so good,” I yelled. I didn’t know if he could hear me. Ten red-lined mouths closed thoughtfully. I’d never been inside of Mark’s constructions before.
Or Marco, as he was known on his business cards. “Marco D’Electra, Constructor of Fancies,” they read, which always caused a split second of confusion whenever I saw them, since I’d known him for seven years as Mark Electer, freelance construction worker. The “Constructor of Fancies” part wasn’t too far off, though. Most of his teens and the greater part of his twenties had been spent, amongst other things, building various Tunnels of Loves, Haunted Houses and Halls of Mirrors for the carnival circuit. Nearly thirty, he’d gotten tired of bouncing from carnival to carnival and settled for regular construction in a regular town. But that’s not what the business cards are for. Those are for clients like the wacky old man whose backyard we were in now. It was his hall of mirrors I was walking through. Mark was getting a ridiculous amount of money to design and build it. He always did get a lot from these crazy rich people, wanting personal Rooms of the Future or giant wooden mazes built into their enormous yards. They always paid well and referred widely. I had no idea this state was so full of rich people nostalgic for their carnival-going youths.
I had never been to a carnival, or in a hall of mirrors before. I was startled to look down and find that even the floor was made of mirrors. My blue panties were easily visible under my short little skirt. I gasped and tried to cover up until I remembered that I was in here by myself.
The mirrored floor made me nervous in another way, though. My heels made a tink tink noise as I walked, and with each step I imagined the sharp point of my heel breaking through the smooth surface of the glass, sending large, expensive cracks across the floor, ruining a good month of Mark’s work. I considered taking off my shoes, and nearly did until I imagined what would happen if the floor broke anyway, simply due to my weight. At least with shoes on, I would be safe from jagged slivers of glass cutting into my bare feet.
I walked in a little further, watching the reflections of myself walk a little further as well. The hall had looked smaller than expected on the outside, true, but inside, I could see why it was taking Mark so many weeks. It was not so much a hall of mirrors as a maze. After less than a dozen steps, I was already wondering how I’d find the door again. If this were a movie, and if I didn’t know Mark so well, I’d suspect he’d led me in here to kill me. I pictured myself the wide-eyed heroine, tricked into the abandoned carnival by the dastardly killer, chased into the Hall of Mirrors. His face would be everywhere, but which one would be the real murderer? I only have one bullet!
“Bang!” Without realizing what I was doing, I looked around and saw sixteen mes standing alert, pointing a finger like a gun at my own self. Doubly ashamed at both forgetting myself and by the accusing way sixteen fingers were all pointing at me, I folded my arms and tried to look away from all the wondering eyes.
I moved closer to one of the mirrored walls to examine my makeup. I happened to stand next to a corner, where my two reflections bounced off one another and created a tunnel of infinite reflections. Tens of thousands of skinny knees, rumpled white blouses, smudged eyeliner. I couldn’t help but raise a leg and make a forever-long kickline.
I scooted right up next to a wall, trying to limit my sight to only one reflection. I had to get really close, my nose nearly touching the glass. I leaned forward and let the two noses come together—it was cool to the touch. I could see my pores. Tiny wrinkles already forming around my eyes. This close, I was twenty years older. I turned away from the forty-seven-year-old me and decided I wanted out. I knocked on the wall, yelling for Mark.
Somewhere far, far behind me I heard the door creak open. Mark called my name, and I tried to walk towards it. Everywhere I turned, I kept running into myself. Every mirror looked like a doorway, until I tried to step through it and I got in my own way.
Mark kept calling my name. I heard the door creak shut again.
“Are you in here? Follow my voice,” he cried.
I heard his shoes going padap, padap on the mirrored floor. I realized he’d come in after me and was terrified that we’d find each other, but not the door. Seven hundred eyes grew round.
Fourteen Marks (maybe a Marco or two) rounded the corner and nearly ran into fourteen mes. I worried about our combined weight and imagined the entire maze cracking to pieces, sharp glittering shards falling around us, sinking into soft flesh. I moved away from Mark.
“I can’t seem to figure out what exactly’s wrong with the place,” he said sadly.
“It has a glass floor,” I offered.
“That’s what the client wanted.” He moved his reflections into the rectangles where mine stood. We both looked at ourselves for a moment, framed by the edges of the glass. “I can’t stand looking at myself all the time.”
“So look at me instead,” I said, wiggling my bottom at him, but seeing dozens of asses swinging back at me, I decided I didn’t want to look anymore either.
thanks for reading!