Have you every stared at your reflection for a long time? I mean a really long time, like 5 minutes or more? Have you ever thought about how you’ve never really seen your face? I mean, of course you see it on photos, videos, and your reflection, but it’s not your actual face. The only person in the world who can’t see your real face is you. That’s why I use to look at my reflection for so long, I wanted to remember what I looked like.
So often people take for granted their reflection. They don’t truly think about how different their lives would be if they never knew what they actually looked like. The only way you could define yourself would be based off of the bias perspectives of others. You would hear about how you looked, but you would never know for sure.
That is the life I’ve been living for the past 2 weeks, not knowing what I currently look like. Not for sure. I’ve chosen not to see my own reflection out of fear for what I’ll see if I do. What’s there to be afraid of? What could drive me to such extreme lengths as to avoid any reflective surfaces whatsoever? I shall recount the story for you.
65 miles per hour. That was speed at which I was driving down the freeway about a little more than a month ago. I had just finished visiting my identical twin brother and his wife. The rain had cut my visit short, but also made the roads slick. I dared not exceed the speed limit in these conditions, but like they always say, it only takes one to cause an accident. I heard a loud screech, the type tires make when someone slams on their brakes. This audial warning came too late however, as less than a second later, I felt an enormous impact on the right side of my car. The force of the hit flipped my car over, knocking me unconscious.
I awoke some unknown amount of time later, expecting to have a multitude of fatal injuries. I instinctively looked down at my body to see the severity of the damage, but I was shocked to find that I was completely fine. Not a scratch. I couldn’t believe it. I got out of my upside down car as quickly as I could, turning to the right to see the car that hit me was on fire. I ran over to it, trying to save the individual who was in the wreck, but when I arrived, I realized that the mangled object in front of me resembled a dismembered corpse more than a living person. The body had its right forearm severed, a gaping hole in its chest which exposed the ribs, and a number of cuts and bruises all over it. The scene was so grizzly, I nearly threw up. I was sure the man was dead, and would have continued to believe so if I had not seen one of his eyes, full of dark red blood, slightly glance at me. I took a step back in disbelief before fire started consuming him, causing him to scream. Due to massive slit in his throat, his scream was distorted by thick blood and was violent as he convulsed in his seat. But worst of all, it was ingrained in my mind forever.
I was rushed to the hospital despite my lack of injuries, and was examined by a doctor to make sure everything was alright. “I don’t believe it,” the doctor muttered, “it shouldn’t be possible.” “One in a billion chance huh?” was all I was able to nervously reply with, the adrenaline in my system causing me to continuously bounce my right leg. “No, it’s not physically possible for someone to be involved in a crash like that and not be injured at all. I’ve seen rare cases of people like you suffering only minor injuries, but you’re completely impeccable” she explained as she continue to stare at my body in marvel. “To tell the truth, that crash should of killed you.” “Well, I guess death just forgot about me” I said, trying to end the conversation. She looked up at me and met her eyes with mine. “Death doesn’t forget” she quietly answered. Her constant stare was making me uncomfortable, so I thanked her for her time and left. My brother came to take me to my house. The whole way back, her words echoed in my head, “Death doesn’t forget”.
Everything seemed fine until I went to bed. I couldn’t fall asleep. The image of a living corpse staring at me from inside a burning car kept me awake. Every time I closed my eyes, I could still see that man burning alive. To make things worse, soon the nighttime silence of my quiet suburb was filled with the horrid scream of that man dying in the car. It was etched into my brain, a permanent reminder of what should have been my fate. Why wasn’t it? Why did I emerge unscathed while this man suffered a bloody, grotesque death? What if death really never did forget? Unable to sleep, I got up and washed my face to try to cool down and relax. I looked up at the mirror and was taken aback.
My reflection looked, different. The being looking back at me was the familiar face I had come to know as myself, but there was a small cut on its cheek. I felt my own cheek to validate this observation, but to my surprise, I felt nothing. I referenced back to my reflection. In it, I was indeed feeling the area of the wound, but in reality, there was no such cut. How strange. I could have sworn the doctor and nurses said I looked completely fine. They never mentioned anything about the cut on my face. But then again, if this cut was real, how come I couldn’t feel it? It was very late and I was incredibly tired, so I decided that I must be hallucinating due to my lack of sleep. I went back to bed, and eventually was able to forget about the burning man as I slipped into the dark abyss of sleep, my only refuge from the terrible memory that haunted me.
In the morning, I got up and went into the bathroom to brush my teeth. When I looked into the mirror, I noticed that the cut was still there. But again, when I felt for it, my fingers only rubbed against skin, no scratch or scab at all. I had no explanation for it, but I couldn’t let myself fall victim to paranoia, so I put it out of my mind and continued with my daily routine. My twin brother came to pick me up so I could get a rental car until I was able to purchase a new one. On the way to the dealership, I asked him if I had a cut on my cheek, to which he replied with no. I was reassured for a few moments, until I looked at my reflection in his car mirror. The cut was clearly visible, but now there was also a small scratch on my throat. I looked away from that mirror for the rest of the ride.
I picked out a rental car and thanked my brother. While pulling out of the lot, I looked in my rearview mirror. It was strange, no creepy, to see my reflection looking back at me. Why was it so creepy? Because it didn’t look like what I normally saw. It was close, but slightly different due to the cuts on its face and throat, which now appeared bigger. The familiar reflection I had been accustomed to was gone, and I would never get it back.
Before I went to bed that night, I took a shower. When I took off my shirt inside of the bathroom, I turned and gazed into the mirror as I had done so many times before. There was a hole in my chest. Not a very big hole, but still one nonetheless. It was slowly bleeding. I looked down, and saw that my real chest had no such injury. But that was impossible. My reflection is a completely accurate representation of myself. How come I didn’t have the injuries if my reflection and I were the same person? It wasn’t as if there was another entity, staring at me from behind the glass all these years, mimicking my every move. And to make things worse, the cuts on my throat and cheek were slightly bigger now, along with a new cut on my face. I continued gaze upon what was suppose to be me, and I gazed for a long time. All the while, I searched my mind for a rational explanation for what I was witnessing. There was none. I showered and went to bed, unable to discharge the image of my new reflection from my head. I lay on my bed awake, exchanging one haunting memory for another.
When I got up the next morning, the first thing I did was go the bathroom and check my chest. The hole was bigger now, and I had some new bruises and cuts on my abdomen. The slash on my throat was bleeding quite a bit, and my eyes were slightly red. That’s when it clicked for me. My injuries were matching those I had seen on that man who died in the car accident two days ago. The injuries that I should have also received. “My survivors guilt must be playing tricks on me, it must be driving me insane!” I tried to ration. That was the only reasonable explanation. Why did my reflection look like this? This wasn’t me. So that I would be tortured no more by the dying person on the other side of my mirror, I put a towel over every glass surface in my house. After that, I called the doctors office and told them about my hallucinations, and they recommended I seek physiological help. I made an appointment with a nearby therapist that day, and hopped into my car to make the trip. But then I realized that I would have to use the mirrors in my car to drive safely, meaning I would have to see my reflection again. With practically no choices left, I decided to man up and make the drive to the clinic.
Each time I checked my rearview mirror, my face was more and more disfigured. The slit in my neck was at least an inch wide, and continued to grow bigger. Seeing myself in a near death condition was the most surreal thing I had ever experienced in my life. My injuries seemed to worsen each time I peered at my reflection. They didn’t change while I was looking at them, but only when I looked away and then looked back at my reflection. My eyes continued to grow more red with each passing glance, to the point where they were so dark red, that I could hardly make out my pupils. Blood was leaking out of them, like tears dripping down my face. At that point, I decided to risk it, and didn’t use my mirror for the rest of the trip.
After what seemed like forever, I finally arrived at the clinic. I got out of my car and speedily walked toward the building, looking down to avoid any possible reflective surfaces. As I neared the entrance, I looked up and was mortified.
The doors were made out of glass. For the first time since the accident, I saw my full body in the reflection. The grotesque person in front of me didn’t even look like me anymore. The shirt was torn, and I could see my ribs, just like the man in the car wreck. And worst of all, my right hand was all bloodied with the ring and middle finger missing, replaced with two bloody stubs. I remembered that the man in the burning car had his lower right arm completely amputated, and knew that my reflection would soon project that injury on my body as well. I turned away from the door, looking to my left to avoid eye contact with the horrid figure behind the glass. But to my dismay, there were windows to my left. My reflection appearing in each of them, each reflection closer to death than the last.
I panicked, and ran back to my car. I decided that no therapist would be able to help me now, as I pulled out of the parking lot and drove home. I used the car mirror as little as I could, still shuttering each time I saw my reflection. Each time a new wound. Each time more blood. Each time closer to death. I got home and locked the door. I didn’t know what to do. My mind raced around, thinking of a logical solution to my problem. How was I suppose to avoid my reflection? It follows me everywhere I go. What happens when my reflection finally did reach the point of death? Would that mean I’d die? I didn’t know, but the one thing I knew for sure was that I didn’t want to see my reflection ever again. I went to my room and laid on my bed, pondering my options. If I told anyone, I was bound to be declared insane, and locked up somewhere. But if I didn’t tell anyone, then I would eventually be forced to drive to the store for food, which would require me to use my mirrors. Unable to come to a long term solution, I decided that for now I would just continue to live in my house as long as I could; without looking at my reflection.
3 days. For 3 days, I was able to avoid my reflection. It was challenging to not see myself in any reflective surface for as long as I could, but I had no desire to see the current condition of my reflected body. I told my family and my work that I was sick, but that excuse wouldn’t last for much longer. I had also started rationing my food, limiting myself to 1 meal a day, which had begun to take a toll on my body. I was miserable. The third night I couldn’t take it anymore. “I’ve let my paranoia cause me actual harm” I thought. “This has to stop, I can’t keep living like this.” I made up my mind. I was going to get rid of the survivors guilt that was haunting me, and then I was going to look at my reflection, and everything would be normal.
In a dark and empty house, I made it to the bathroom. After taking a deep breath, I built up enough courage to lift the towel off of the bathroom mirror. As my hand reached towards the left bottom corner of the towel, I stopped. A small part of the mirror was uncovered, and there was a dim glow emanating from it. Now curious, I lifted the cover off and was met with my reflection. Burning alive in a fire. The light from the flame lit up the immediate area, and was the only source of light in my dark home. I couldn’t fathom what I was seeing.
My face was disfigured beyond recognition. My rib cage was exposed, with streams of blood dripping down my shirt. The gash in my throat oozing thick, dark blood. My right forearm was completely severed, causing a waterfall of blood falling to the ground rapidly. This was exactly how the man in the car had looked. The transformation was complete, and what happened next shook me to my core.
My reflection spoke.
“What!” I asked in confusion. “How is this happening? What is happening?” I said out loud as I looked at his blood red eyes, finding no emotion there. He spoke again, blood pouring out of the slash in his neck. “You’re dying” he responded. “But I’m fine. Nothing’s wrong with me. You’re the one who’s dying” I tried to reason. “We’re the same person. We’re both dying together.”
I stared at the glowing corpse in my mirror, speechless. Since I had no words, me from behind the glass spoke again. “You and I are about to die in the middle of the road, all alone.” “How? I made it out of the wreck, I survived.” My reflection let out a blood curdling scream, which was distorted by the blood he was coughing up. I became quiet, and once again he spoke. “You’re in a coma. You’ve created a fictional world in which you made it out of the car accident alive. Your mind made you believe that you were fine. Everyone in your fake reality said you looked normal because that’s the lie your mind created for itself. But there was one place where you could really see what you looked like. The one place you could be sure was real. Me. I’m what you really look like right now, and the next time you see me, I’ll be dead. And once that happens this alternate world you’ve made for yourself will burn along with you!” my reflection shouted.
In a panic, I slammed my head into the mirror, causing it to break into pieces. Multiple shards of glass were stuck in my head, but I felt no pain. He had to be lying. I was fine and was just letting my survivors guilt drive me insane. Nothing was wrong.
And that’s takes us to the present. I ran out of food 2 days ago and I’ve locked myself in my room for the past week. Without my reflection, I can only guess what I look like right now as I have no real reference point. My family called and told me that I was fine, but was that really true? Was the only real thing in my life the burning, gory corpse waiting for me to come back to reality? Was I just delusional? Was I even still alive? Is this what happens to all people who are dying? Do they come up with a false world in which they survive the terrible event that actually claimed their lives? I don’t know, but I do know that seeing my reflection is the last thing I want to do.
A Final Note
Your reflection is the most accurate depiction of yourself that you will ever see. It will tell you the truth about yourself if you look at it long enough. It doesn’t lie, even if you want it to. You can lie to everyone in the universe except for three people. Yourself, God, and your reflection.