This was a story I wrote for my Techniques of Fiction class back in the day, prompt "Water's Edge." I pretty much tried to combine a bunch of fairy tale/fable/mythic/allusionary elements. I don't actually think this was a successful story, but I don't think I'll ever return to it.


"Aesop's Narcissa Through the Looking Glass"

Estelle loathed going to her Aunt Mary's Victorian. The furniture was absolutely hideous, and arranged likewise. Faded floral sofas, half-covered in tartan throws, littered too-spacious rosewood rooms and completely mismatched the black-iron tables. The wallpaper in the kitchen was some gaudy scarlet pattern unchanged since the seventies, dated compared to the steel racks full of expired chips. Even the elegant European entry-stairs were ruined, fake plants lining the edges of every other step. Truly, the woman had zero taste.

Estelle always presented herself to the nines. Honey-blonde curls tumbled perfectly down her shoulders, winged eyeliner was completely even over sterling blues, plump lips were painted garnet, and pin-up chic hugged her ample curves. She was ever so proud of her appearance, in fact her vanity took up most of her time (and personality). When she wasn't glued to her reflection, she was glued to her makeup or her phone, and usually some combination of the three. Her thoughts were only consumed with her looks, and was particularly smug when other people were too. Very few people could tolerate the girl for long.

Aunt Mary, though, enjoyed Estelle's company purely because it was any company. The old woman did not have many friends living, and the majority of the remainders were too senile to function. So she requested that her darling niece come visit her every weekend for tea and Jeopardy. Often she would fall asleep during the game show, so Estelle would wander the house, playing on her phone, to try and appease her boredom. Every time, she would end up in the hardly-used spare bedroom upstairs, adoring her reflection in an ornate standing mirror.

The looking-glass was the only piece of furniture in the whole house that Estelle didn't despise. The oblong brass structure was nearly as tall as she was, with twisting tendrils for legs and vine-like coils encircling the glass. It was the only extravagance in the room, the rest of the décor dull, dusty, and dark.

"Ew," Estelle groaned as she peered down at the burgundy bedspread. Her Aunt Mary had just fallen asleep, and the girl had made haste to the mirror. Every trip up to the stand seemed more urgent, and she just couldn't wait to stare into her own eyes in it. Said eyes felt personally offended by the musty holly dressers and old bedding.

"You are a fuckin' ray of light in this forsaken hellhole," she cooed to her image, engrossed as she practically fondled herself. She whipped her iPhone out of her back pocket, snapping pictures of herself in various duckfaces.

Had she actually paid attention to the glass of the mirror rather than her phone, she would've seen her reflection stare at her, unabashed and independent, in the wake of each camera flash.

Estelle set her phone on the bed and sidled up to the looking-glass, running her French-manicured fingers over her meticulously sculpted eyebrows, then her protruding cheekbones, then her small cleft chin. She scanned her face inch by inch for budding blemishes, melting makeup, and general imperfections that could ruin her selfies. After a quick reapplication of lipgloss, she decided that she was, indeed, perfect and could resume photographing herself.

She could see the reflection of her black iPhone just behind her in the mirror, so reached back without looking to grab it. Nothing but air and scratchy comforter. She turned, annoyed with herself for missing, but was shocked to find that there really wasn't anything there. She probed the blankets, panic starting to rise, and even bent on her hands and knees to check under the bed (and vow to never do so again; it is vile under there).

Estelle faced the mirror again, confused as to why she'd seen the device reflected in it but unfound in real life. But when she looked, the phone was there. In her hand. With a smirk on her face.

"Are you looking for this?" Reflection-Estelle asked, a mocking lilt to her echoed tone.

Estelle just blinked, her brain warring with itself – feel scared that her reflection has a mind of its own, or feel pissed that this bitch dare steal her face.

"Come and get it then," the reflection teased, wiping stray gloss from her bottom lip and checking the phone. She was just as beautiful as the original, but there was an air about her, a mystery and danger that Estelle herself lacked, and that made her inherently more attractive.

Anger and jealousy won out. Estelle lunged for the phone, slipping into the mirror like running through a waterfall. She felt like she was under a freezing shower, her skin prickling and raising and muscles tightening. The glass rippled and waved against her, the edges of Estelle's image flowing and ebbing like the tide until she was completely submerged. When she was fully drowned in her reflection, both vanished from the face of the mirror.

Her black iPhone buzzed to life on the bed where it'd been tossed.


Yeah, that's all. Maybe actually I will try this idea again one day, but not until I'm confident enough in my ability to write adequate tension. If anyone has any tips/tricks for that, please let me know!