Chuck stared at the mirror above his bathroom sink. It looked different today. Well, it looked different most days, but typically that was due to how he was standing, what he was wearing, or what he was doing. Sure, today he was wearing a different shirt than he’d worn yesterday, but it seemed a bit more different than usual. He could have sworn that it had been composed entirely of a swirling, mystical, haze of midnight blue yesterday. In fact, he was positive that the mirror was previously been made mostly of—well—mirror. There was definitely no window-sized hurricane, a tiny storm eye stationary in the center, last time he’d checked. However, he’d also recently gotten a haircut, but—no, it was definitely the clouds.
The mirror itself was nothing special, a gift given to him by a hooded stranger on the street. She’d stopped him as he walked home from work, called him by his name before he passed her way. It was strange that she knew who he was, they’d never met before—at least as far as Chuck could remember—but he thought nothing of it at the time. She’d probably seen him on Facebook or something. He spent a lot of time on Facebook, and occasionally accepted friend requests from strangers. She didn’t look like someone who owned a computer, but Chuck knew better than to judge a book by its cover.
She stared at Chuck as he walked over to her, a rectangular burlap sack leaning on her lap.
“Hey,” Chuck had said, trying his best to pretend he knew who she was. “How have you been?”
“Chuck,” said the woman, “take this mirror, but never touch its reflection. Use it as you will, but keep your hands from its glass. It will draw you in, beg you to feel it, but you must never do so. As long as it remains untouched, so will you remain in good health.” She lifted up the sack and removed the mirror, careful to hold it by the intricate brass design surrounding the edge of the glass, then handed it to Chuck. “Touch the glass once and there is no knowing where you’ll turn up.”
“Okay,” Chuck said, grasping onto the brass. “How’s—uh—Mark?” It was a complete shot in the dark, but most of the women he knew were married to, or dating, someone named Mark.
“He’s all right,” said the woman just before she vanished.
Chuck thought it a bit strange that the woman had disappeared. Most people he knew could neither evaporate nor dissipate. However, he had once seen Criss Angel do something similar on television, and figured she was perhaps a magician—or an illusionist. It made sense at the time, almost still made sense, yet as Chuck stared into the swirling blue clouds on what was once his normally reflective mirror, he realized that it was perhaps marginally more odd than he’d initially given it credit for.
There was a slight smudge on the surface of the mirror, just under where his head would be if it still reflected properly. He’d never bothered to clean the mirror after getting it home – it wasn’t even properly hung. He had just propped it up against the wall behind his sink and called it a day. It never really needed to be cleaned, though. It always reflected perfectly, always showed him clear and blemish free. In fact, ever since being given the mirror, his skin had been essentially perfect. The acne he’d suffered from since middle school abruptly faded, and the tooth ache he never quite got around to treating simply stopped.
Chuck wrapped his pointer finger in a wash cloth on the kitchen sink, then ran in it under the water for a moment. The smudge seemed to have grown significantly in the past few seconds, but it was probably something to do with the weather. He’d heard that once, or at least thought he’d once heard, that sometimes the weather can make dirt expand. He wasn’t exactly positive if that were a fact, but it certainly explained why the smudge on his swirling, cloud-filled mirror had grown. He figured there was a pretty good chance he wasn’t making that fact up.
Chuck lifted the wash cloth up to the mirror and softly ran it across its glass. Despite the swirling clouds that replaced his reflection, it still felt normal, just as one would expect a mirror to feel. The smudge came off as soon as the cloth passed over it.
“Perfect,” Chuck said aloud, softly rubbing away a droplet of water on the glass of the mirror with his bare thumb.
The clouds immediately began spinning faster as soon as Chuck’s flesh made contact with the glass, the eye of the hurricane growing thinner and taller. Before Chuck had a chance to pull his hand back, the cloud had split in two, a blinding gold light filling in its center. Chuck’s world turned black as he felt his stomach drop, as if dropping down an endless roller coaster.
The grass on the floor of Chuck’s bathroom felt different than it had earlier in the day, which Chuck thought was a bit strange. Most notably he attributed that to the fact that there was now grass on the floor of his bathroom. He usually liked to keep the floor of his bathroom made from tile. However, he had once gotten blackout drunk and replaced all the furniture in his kitchen with sofas, so it wasn’t the first time experiencing such a drastic, unexpected change. Although the sofas had simply been moved from his living room, it didn’t seem too outlandish to think that he’d moved the front lawn into the bathroom.
Chuck’s vision was slowly returning, the sun cautiously reemerging into view. Another thing he needed to become accustomed to: the sun was now present in his bathroom. Stranger things had happened, though—he had once seen a cow give birth, and it was pretty strange. Chuck blinked a few times, rubbing his eyes and bringing the blurry view of what appeared to be a serene meadow into focus. A partially naked black woman stood before him. He realized now that he was definitely not in his bathroom any longer, which was oddly comforting. At least he knew he hadn’t drunkenly replaced the floor with grass, or somehow harnessed the power of the sun as a new bathroom lighting fixture.
“Hi,” Chuck said, trying to keep his eyes significantly above the woman’s collar bone.
“Hi, Chuck,” said the woman.
Chuck stared at her face. He definitely had not met her before – he’d remember meeting a naked black woman. He’d only ever met a few naked women, and they generally weren’t naked upon meeting him. Yet here she was, standing before him, and clearly familiar with he. Chuck made a mental note to stop accepting random friend requests on Facebook.
“How have you been?” Chuck said, attempting to maintain an illusion of familiarity.
“You touched the mirror.”
“Yes, it was a bit dirty.”
“You should not have touched the mirror,” said the woman.
“I know,” Chuck said, then paused. “How has Mark been?”
“He’s fine, but we’re on a break right now.”
“Shame,” Chuck said, staring out at the meadow. He wasn’t entirely sure where he was, but it looked oddly familiar to the background on his Windows computer. He couldn’t help but feel like the situation was a little bit peculiar, but he’d been in meadows before. He knew that it was important to keep an open mind.