The Mirror

I don't know why I'm writing this. I've never wrote it down before, because I promised myself I wouldn't ever admit it happened. I can't sleep though, and that's because I keep thinking about it. I feel like my head is about to explode with all these thoughts. It feels like there's a fire in my head and I'm desperately trying to carry as many memories as I can to safety, but not everything can be saved. I've been clinging onto them for so long and I'm not sure I can hold on forever.

My name is Violet and something strange happened to me. I know that strange things happen to a lot of people, but no one would believe me if I told them what happened to me. I keep it in my head, because there's nothing there to pollute the memories.

I was six years old. I came home from school to see this huge mirror with a gold frame standing in the guest room across from my bedroom. It was a little bigger than my dad and sitting at the top of it were these two golden 'cherubs' as my mom called them. She was polishing it when I walked in.

"Hey, Vi, what do you think?"

"It's big."

"I know, your dad can see from his head to his toes," she smiled, placing her hand on my shoulder.

"It's pretty."

That was all I said about it and then I skipped out of the room, leaving my mom to make it shine. I heard her telling my grandma how they got it for an excellent price at an antique store. She said that it was love at first sight.

She used those words when she and my dad talked about it just before I went to bed. The door was ajar and I watched as he carefully examined it while she massaged his shoulders.

"It was love at first sight. Kind of like when I saw you for the first time, Stephen."

She started kissing his neck and my dad shoved her away. I heard my mother sigh and walk towards the door so I ran into my bedroom. Mom tucked me in with a huge smile on her face. She always had a bigger smile than usual after she and dad had an argument.

I keep thinking that maybe if I had just stayed in bed that night then everything would be different. I'm not sure what time it was, but I do remember it was still dark outside. I really had to go to the bathroom. I considered going back to sleep, but it kept bothering me so I decided to quickly run in and out.

I quietly opened my door and I knew something was different right away. The hallway was usually so dark I sometimes had to feel my way to the bathroom, but not that night. That night it was bright, but not so bright it would wake my parents up. I noticed that the guest room door was open and even though the bathroom was in the opposite direction, I was drawn to it.

The light was coming from the mirror. When I looked at it, it was as though something was shining onto the mirror, but the rest of the room was cloaked in darkness. I should have been afraid; my heart was pounding, but I was curious, not scared. If I had been scared, I wouldn't have walked towards the mirror. I thought I could hear the sparkles, but that might not have been real. I moved closer and that was when I reached my hand out to touch my reflection.

This is when the strange thing happened.

I expected to feel the warm glass, but instead it was like my hand had gone underwater. I gasped and pulled it back. I thought that maybe I had fallen asleep for a second so I tried to touch the surface again and it disappeared through the glass. That was when I got scared and I thought about running back to bed. I turned my back on it, but then I started thinking like an adventurer, because my friends and I had been reading books about adventurers who travelled all over the world and discovered amazing things and strange places.

Could this be an adventure? I remembered reading the books and the adventurers always said that sometimes they were scared and wanted to go home, but they knew that if they went a little further then they would discover something magical.

That was when I took a deep breath like the adventurers and walked into the mirror. I held my breath, but I didn't need to. When I found the courage to open my eyes I was standing in the middle of an empty field. It was daytime and the sun was shining, but there was a nice cool breeze just in case it got too warm. The grass was very green and close by I could see a forest with massive trees. I turned round and saw that the mirror was now a glass door. I could see the guest room and I thought about walking back in, because I was scared and I didn't know if an empty green field was very adventurous. I thought I might have walked into a theme park, or a castle. I was feeling disappointed and went to open the door.

And that was when I heard a noise that sounded like a dog barking. I quickly turned and I saw a little white dog running towards me. I didn't know whether it was going to attack and I was frozen to the spot. I closed my eyes and held my breath, only to feel the dog sniffing my feet.

"Aw, you're not a bad doggy, are you?" I kneeled down next to the dog and started stroking it. Sometimes I wonder whether the whole thing was a dream, but I remember stroking that dog's fur and how soft it felt. I remember how he tickled my feet when he licked them. "What's your name?"

I couldn't find a collar anywhere, so I decided to name him Harley, because my friend Sandra said her brother had just got a Harley motorbike and I said it sounded like a nice name. I called out 'hello' a few times, but it seemed like there was no one else in this field except Harley and I. I should have been terrified, but I wasn't. My parents didn't want pets, because they worked all day and mom said that I wouldn't take care of one properly. My grandma had a cat, but she was mean and didn't like playing with children.

"Is there no one else here, boy?" I asked Harley, but he didn't understand me. He just looked up at me with big eyes. "I wonder if there are any other boys and girls or a grown up I can talk to."

Harley found a stick for me to throw and I decided that it didn't matter if Harley and I were the only ones in this big field, because I really wanted to play with him. We played with the stick for a while and then he chased me with the stick and I chased him.

I thought about walking over in the direction of the forest, but I remember adventurers always saying that you had to be prepared to deal with whatever you might find. Sometimes there were bears, or even wolves. Harley cowered behind me when I looked over at the forest and he was really tiny so I didn't want him to run off and be eaten by something.

Harley and I played in the empty field until the sun started going down. I wondered if it meant that it was becoming daytime in my world. I walked towards the glass door and saw that the guest room was still empty. I had closed the door to block out the light so there was no reason for my parents to have come in unless mom really wanted to look at the mirror. I wondered if they would be able to walk inside if they tried.

"Harley, I better go back to bed," I told him and he looked sad. He stopped wagging his tail and looked up at me with sad eyes. "Don't worry, I'll be back tonight. I promise."

I honestly don't know how on earth I was so fine with the fact that I had walked through my mirror into an empty green field where I had played with a dog for several hours. I remember waving to Harley as I stepped back into the guest room. I could see the sun coming up and I knew I had to run back to bed, because my dad always got up at sunrise, because he liked to be at work early. When I turned back to look at the mirror it wasn't shining any longer and when I tried to put my hand back through I was instead met by the cold glass surface. I ran back into bed and then fell asleep.

It could have been a dream. When I woke up again I wasn't sure whether it had been real, because when I went back into the guest room my hand only touched the glass. I felt sad, because I really wanted to see Harley again. I told my mom about what happened and she said that it must have been a really good dream. I thought about arguing and telling her it was real, but then I realised that she might walk into the empty field and get scared, because grown-ups seemed to be scared of magic. I worried that she might get rid of the mirror. I decided that the magic behind the mirror was a secret I had to keep.

I thought about just going to sleep that night and just forgetting all about the mirror in the guest room, but my head was filled with so many thoughts and I couldn't get back to sleep. I wanted to see if Harley was real. I wanted to know if it was really magic. I waited until my parents went to bed and I heard them snoring.

The guest room door was closed, but I could see the reflection of the mirror shining underneath. I walked inside and closed the door behind me. The mirror was bright again and when I touched it, my hand went through again.

That was when I realised that the mirror really was magic. I walked through and found myself back in the empty green field again and the sun was out again. I liked the breeze blowing in my face and I liked feeling the grass beneath my feet.

"Harley?"

I was ecstatic when the little white dog ran towards me with a stick in his mouth.

"So, this is real?" I probably should have been afraid then, but I was excited. I could enter a world no one else could. I had a dog no one else would play with. It was my own special world.

I didn't even think about it when I picked up the stick and threw it. I played with Harley all night until the sun started to set and when I promised him I would be back the next night, I knew I meant it.

I didn't ask any questions. I didn't wonder why my mirror became a portal into a strange empty field that seemed to be located next to nowhere. I wasn't scared of what might be lurking in the forest. I wasn't scared of walking through the mirror. I was only scared that I wouldn't be able to walk through it one night.

I was alone for a long time. I would wait until my parents fell asleep and then I would sneak downstairs for some snacks to give to Harley. I would also maybe take some toys for us to play with or a book to read if Harley fell asleep in the sunshine.

But then one day, someone found us.

I was sitting down reading a book while Harley ate the tin of sausages I brought him. I was reading up on forests, because I really wanted to explore the forest here with Harley, but I didn't know what was in there. I read up on all kinds of forests, even haunted ones, because if my mirror could lead me into a world no one else knew then that forest could easily be full of ghosts.

"Hello?"

That was when I got scared. I froze in place and said nothing. I couldn't move; I couldn't even look up. I didn't hear anything again and I thought I might have just imagined the voice, but then Harley started barking and I managed to snap out of my fear.

I looked up to see a little boy with hair the same colour as the frame around my mirror. He looked about my age and he was wearing pyjamas with Woody and Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story on them. He approached us slowly and when he got close enough, Harley scampered towards him and then started sniffing his feet like he did when he first met me.

I stood up and picked up the knife I had brought in case I decided I wanted a sandwich later. I held it in front of me, but I didn't think I had anything to be scared of.

"Who are you?" I tried to sound brave, but it wasn't very convincing.

"My name's Dylan."

"What are you doing here? Where did you come from?"

"I walked through the mirror in my grandpa's basement and –"

"You came through the mirror too?"

I dropped the knife and walked closer to the little boy. I don't know what made him tell me the truth, but I was glad he did. He didn't look so scared when he realised I came through a mirror as well.

"What is this place?" He asked, looking around him. I could see another stain glass door far across from the one I came from.

"It's a secret," I told him, stroking Harley. "I don't know where we are, but I don't think it's on Earth."

"My grandpa bought this from an old store upstate and I was staying over tonight and when I woke up it was shining, but the rest of the room was dark."

"My mirror shines like that too! Was it like putting your hand underwater when you touched it?" I asked desperately. I liked being able to talk to someone. I hadn't told anyone about the magic mirror in case they thought I was crazy.

"Uh huh," he nodded and then he started stroking Harley. "Is this your dog?"

"No, he was just here when I found this place," I replied, smiling at him. I suppose in a way Harley was my dog. "I called him Harley."

"What's your name?" The boy asked me. I thought that I might lie and tell him another name, but I felt like I could trust him. We had a secret between us and that meant we had a bond.

"Violet," I replied. "I'm six. What age are you?"

"I'm almost seven," he nodded, looking proud.

"Okay Dylan, if you're going to stay here then you can't tell anyone about it," I warned him. I never thought I would have to tell anyone else the rules of this place. I didn't think I would need to come up with any rules. "You can't bring anyone with you. If you're going to keep a secret then it's only our secret. Got it?"

"I promise, I won't say a word."

Being the experienced adventurer I considered myself to be, I thought it would be best if Dylan and I didn't reveal where we came from in the real world, just in case we found each other and our parents wondered how we met. We decided not to swap last names either, because we didn't know who the other person really was. Dylan might have been crazy and for all he knew, I was dangerous. I decided that this was a trial period and that if I didn't like Dylan he would have to leave, because I found the place first.

"Have you thought about giving this place a name?" He asked after I decided to share my sandwich with him. We were sitting on the grass while Harley took a nap.

"I don't know what I would call it."

"We should give it a name and then it might feel like ours."

"It's not yours. I found it first," I protested. "I should be the one that gets to name it."

"That's not fair! I'm the one who said we should name it!"

"But I discovered it!"

We never did come up with a name for it. I tried for a long time to think of one, but in the end, it was always referred to as the secret place. We argued about it a lot and Dylan tried to think of inventive names, but I never used anything he suggested. Something about the place remaining unnamed made it seem more magical. I don't know why that is.

Dylan and I played with Harley until the sun started to set and then I told him that when the sun set here then that meant it was coming up where I came from. I told him that he should go back to bed too, because I didn't want him to be left alone with Harley or to explore the forest without me.

"Will you be back tonight?" I asked him just before he walked through his stain glass door.

"I'm only at my grandpa's house every Friday night so I'll be back next week," he replied and I remember feeling disappointed as I watched him leave.

Seven days felt like a long time. I liked Dylan, because I finally had someone to talk to about the world I thought was only my own. I couldn't tell my mom about him, or my friends. Dylan was another secret I had to keep.

I considered telling my mom about the secret world, because she said that she liked to believe magic was real. However, when I approached my mom, she always seemed to be sad or angry. One time I walked into the kitchen and she was crying as she stirred the pot on the stove. Dad was coming home late and I heard them fighting a lot. She didn't see me, so I just walked away and let her cry on her own.

Halfway through the week I got very excited because I thought of something fun for Dylan and me to do. We could explore the forest together! All we really needed were some weapons and my kitchen was full of sharp knives I could steal for the night. There was also a compass dad kept on top of the fireplace. He said it was a gift from his dad. I could bring snacks and we could make Harley our guard dog. It was the perfect plan!

I was so scared that Dylan might not come back. I worried that maybe I had dreamed him so I was pleasantly surprised when he was already there playing with Harley.

"I thought we could go exploring," I told him, and then I threw him a backpack with what I thought were very important supplies.

"Okay, that sounds fun," he replied and I realised I really liked Dylan. "Where are we going?"

"I've never been into the forest," I pointed and he nodded his head.

"Let's do it."

Harley didn't seem as scared as he used to be, because when Dylan and I crossed from the grass into the dusty ground of the forest, he bounded in front of us excitedly. It felt like the sun disappeared when we went into the forest and I felt the same way I did when I discovered I could walk through the mirror. I couldn't say anything though, because Dylan didn't look scared. He looked very excited to be exploring so I pretended I was fine and made sure I was near him.

We could see nothing except tree trunks around us and some rocks. I couldn't hear any birds or anything. It felt like the whole forest was deserted and that thought really scared me. I made sure I gripped my knife tightly and Dylan had to put it back into my backpack because I was gripping it so tight that my hand was starting to hurt.

"Do you think this was a good idea?" I asked him, trying to pretend I was brave. "What if we get lost?"

"Stop being such a wimp," he rolled his eyes, looking around him. "I know where we're going."

I didn't think he knew where we were going, but I didn't say anything because I didn't want him to leave me surrounded by nothing except trees and silence. We walked ahead and I was always grateful when small rays of sunshine crept through the trees and made the path ahead a little clearer.

We talked about our homes. Dylan told me that he lived with his mother in a city and that his father was dead. He said she wasn't able to afford living in the big house they used to have so they moved to a small apartment. He said he lived next door to this old lady who had at least five cats even though they weren't allowed any pets in the building. He said his neighbour on the other side was always bringing home guests really late at night.

I told him that I lived in a small town with my mom and dad in a small town and that I didn't like being at home a lot, because they fought all the time. I told him about the time I walked in on my dad saying dirty things on the phone while my mom watched television in the living room. I never told anyone that before. Dylan said that one time he heard the man next door to him say something similar to one of his guests.

I was in the middle of telling Dylan about this girl in my school who told everyone I picked my nose when he stopped me and pointed ahead. I couldn't believe it.

"Is that a tree house?" I asked.

"Yeah! Let's see what's up there!"

He started running towards the tree and I struggled to keep up with him. Harley was barking and followed close behind us. When we approached the tree there was a ladder hanging down and just as Dylan started to climb, I grabbed his arm.

"What if someone's up there?"

"So what? I can take care of myself," he replied, shaking himself free of my grip. "Stop being such a girl and climb up. You're the one who wanted to do this."

We agreed that I would climb up a little after Dylan had started. Harley would stay on the ground and keep watch. I took a deep breath when I started climbing and looked around me. As I got higher the path became clearer. I was surprised that anyone had been able to build a tree house, because of how high it was. I wondered if it was stable enough, because if we fell, I had a feeling we wouldn't be able to walk back into our world.

"Vi, you're going to wanna see this!" Dylan called and I quickly scrambled up the ladder. I didn't like how it swung because I worried I would end up falling off.

When I eventually got to the top, Dylan took my hand and helped me up. When I looked around me I couldn't believe what I saw. The walls were covered in drawings of animals, of people and of different objects. Someone had coloured all the drawings in and they had coloured the floor so that the planks of wood were blue, yellow and green.

There were a couple of chests sitting side by side and a table in front of us. Sitting at the table were a few dolls with big glass eyes. There was one empty seat that had been pulled out and on the table there were cups in front of the dolls and a teapot in front of the empty seat.

"Do you think the person who built the tree house is going to come back?" I asked, walking closer to the table. Dylan had opened the two chests, which had different toys inside of them.

"I don't think so," he said, showing me the dust that had gathered on top of the chests. I noticed there was also dust in the dolls' hair and laced on the cups and teapot. "I don't think anyone's been here in a long time."

"Where do you think our mirrors came from?"

He couldn't answer my question. After a while, we stopped asking questions.