Cindy was on her own, it was bliss. Living in the house with three brothers her mum and dad and two dogs, peace and quiet were a luxury that wasn’t given to her often.
Davey would he home in the morning, he’d gone to a Halloween disco and a sleepover at his mates, one of the “spotties”. James had drawn the short straw and was on duty at the hospital all night and Fred was away with Marian in the Lakes. Mum and Dad had worried about here being left alone but it had been such a long time since they had gone away, just the two of them and the dogs and Aunty Bev’s cottage wasn’t often free at this time of the year. The autumn was when the woods really came into their own and the place was usually booked up well in advance. People wanted to spend the last few weeks of October and early November in the damp woodlands, when there was a genuine reason to light the wood burning stove and there were chestnuts, squirrels and if you were really lucky a deer. Cindy had been before and, though it was nice there she hadn’t fancied it without her brothers. No, Mum and Dad could have a “romantic” couple of days eurgh, she shuddered at the thought. I mean, surely they didn’t – not that, well not at their age. God they were both fifty something.
They’d been gone about three hours and she had done nothing yet but have a cup of coffee and fiddle about on Facebook. She wasn’t going to waste tonight. Her room was getting a seeing to, a move around of the furniture and a good cleaning and then she was hunkering down with her pens and pencils. The peace of the house gentled her nerves and she smiled, it was brilliant…
The warmth in the bathroom softened and eased her muscles and as she fluffed her hair under the hair dryer she hummed quietly to herself, okay the place was awash with boy’s hair gel and spot cream and there was a little heap of clothes in the corner that she wasn’t going anywhere near. They looked suspiciously like Jamie’s rugby gear and if they were there was no telling what could be lurking in the folds and crevices. But right now, it was perfumed and moist in there, nobody had knocked on the door while she had soaked in the bath and the only sound was her own music seeping through from the player in her bedroom. As soon as she was old enough she was getting her own place, no question, this was heaven.
She tugged on her trackie bottoms and a big baggy top. A cup-a-soup filled the air with a savoury smell. She knew that as a food source these instant things were very questionable but it was the whole, curling up with a warm drink in her newly cleaned room that was the point, nourishment and vitamins were incidental.
She glanced around, yeah, it looked good. The hole where the plaster had come away when she had knocked in the nail for the mirror was hidden by the heavy wooden frame and, with luck, by the time Dad noticed it they would have forgotten who had moved it.
She shuffled up the bed, leaned against her cushions and rested her sketch pad against bent knees. The pencil in her hand scuffed a few lines across the page, she had an assignment for college but tonight, her night, she would just draw to please herself the way that she used to before there were deadlines and assignments. She doodled a flower, curled and intricate. Her hand traced the shape of an old house, a black cat, a half-moon, Halloween creeping out of her subconscious and onto the paper. Cliché, cliché, she ripped out the page and screwed it into a ball.
The mirror winked a pink gemstone at her as the street lamp outside came on, she glanced up.
Mirrors, they were supposed to reflect but they didn’t. She had known this for a long time, with an artist’s eye she had seen truth. They took the room in front of them and they rebuilt it, curled the corners in strange directions and re-drew the furnishings to make something else. She liked it, often when she had been a child she would close her eyes tight and try to fly into the mirror room, to access that other reality. When Mum and Dad were arguing or the boys were being obnoxious she would wish herself there, in the other place.
Her hand had drawn the reflected walls without her being aware of them. She glanced down at the paper, yes, there were her posters, but not her posters. There was a bed, it was the same colour as her bed, but not her bed. She grinned this was fun.
Lifting her eyes again she gazed at the silvered glass and left her hands to do their own thing. The room behind the lens was lovely, the distance smoothed out imperfections and softened the lights. It was nice there. Her head tipped to one side, it would be wonderful to be able to just stride through, not for ever, of course not but now and again, when things were tense at home or tough in college. She could come here to her little eyrie stretch up and just slide through the mirror into another place. She sighed. The warmth and quiet stroked at her, her eyelids drooped…
The shuddering of muscles dragged her back from sleep, it was cold in the room, really cold and she was stiffened, her neck cricked. Cindy shrugged her shoulders, God it was cold. She leaned forward to drag the duvet up the bed and the sketch pad dropped to the floor.
She leaned down to retrieve it.
She didn’t remember doing so much on the picture.
She didn’t think that she had added colour. So much colour, so much red, why was there so much red, her room was pale, pink and cream.
So much red in the picture.
She pulled the heavy pad from the floor and gasped. This image wasn’t hers, this image wasn’t her, this image was full of fear and horror and…
She glanced up, tears of shock had filled her eyes. In the mirror the red was spreading, across the bed, the carpet was stained, the walls were splashed and ruined. In the mirror the girl was – oh no, in the mirror the girl was…
Cindy froze in terror as the door handle slowly, slowly tipped downwards.