Posted by: Kathryn Hulick | June 17, 2008

Eyes Inwards

Ink on Paper Collage, March 6, 2003.

There’s something wrong with the mirror.

Looking out is not a habit, it’s the only option. Eyes only point one direction.

Exhale.

Do you understand the difficulty of my situation? I was so careful, with my black and white chart of up up up and my teetering tower of choices. All it takes is one kick, one giggling kid with a glint in his eyes, and down it goes.

My eyes are white, translucent, transparent. Three separate words that unify in this lying, logic-defying mirror. You don’t believe it, do you? And why should you? You know me as king, or at least golden idol. The one who has it all. The lucky one, the hated but revered mogul who holds your fortunes between his fingers over a dizzying drop.

We’re falling together, I tell you.

Maybe I should explain. It’s not just luck that makes a king. Not hard work, either. I made a deal. If a little grey creature should ever approach you, laugh in its face. Then you can go on being you. It is grey, I said that already, didn’t I? Grey with snaking tendrils of dark hair that could be tails or tentacles or perhaps fear solidified. It has no eyes, just gaping holes into its slimy insides. It can’t see itself, but everything else can. The opposite of the king at the top of the tower, seeing all but unseen.

The creature gave me a square of glass. Are you still listening? “It’s a window to the future,” the grey thing said. “Hold it up to the world, and watch history unroll in the wrong direction.” There is no end to what you can accomplish with such a device. I predicted market booms and crashes. Politics held no mystery, fads came and went in tick marks on a chart.

I was busy, you know. You saw me on television, heard me on the radio, read my words on the internet. The window faced ever outwards, away, into the well-known future.

Until the creature returned, smaller and greyer and almost buried beneath its tentacles. “You are nothing but a nightmare,” I told it. “Go, I don’t believe in you.”

“You owe everything to me,” the thing whispered.

“No! This is my empire, my success, my work!” I hollered. I had things to do. Couldn’t stand the interruption. People were staring.

“Did you ever turn the mirror on yourself?” The creature left me with this question, nagging into the back of my brain.

I dismissed this as nonsense. I knew my own future, didn’t I? Happiness, fame, fortune… it was inevitable, wasn’t it?

But curiosity is a devilish thing, and I began to dream of the mirror at night, to carry in in my hands rather than in my pocket, to close my eyes and imagine an old, frail, sick, or destitute me staring back from its crystal depths.

I’ll look just to make sure, I told myself. It won’t hurt anything.

I am still looking, but now I see nothing. My eyes have turned around. I try to force them, but they won’t look, they can’t. They tunnel down and down.

Is my skin grey yet? What is happening to my hair? I cannot see, but somehow I know.

Here, take this mirror away from me. Perhaps it will serve you better.

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