How to Photograph a Mirror – Carys Crossen

 

The mirror, undiscriminating, swallowed everything. Mel studied it, its pink plastic frame, the tarnish around the edges of the pane. It sucked in the carpet, the windowsill, the radiator, Mel’s feet and legs.

How do you photograph a mirror without photographing yourself?

Mel had tried it from several angles. Always, some body part crept obstinately into the reflection. Her hands and wrists, clutching the camera. Her right hip and leg. She’d even thrown a sheet over herself, a ghost of childhood Halloweens, but she remained corporeal. Observable.

Whenever she’d stood next to Lisa, whose mirror it had been, she’d never seen herself reflected. Lisa’s golden glow blotted out all else. Her prettiness, her outgoingness, her unassailable status of family favourite.

Now Mel couldn’t be erased. Unlike the remnants of Lisa. When/if Lisa returned, she’d find her room as impersonal as the cell she was currently living in.

Dad, whose love for Lisa had been spun round like a tarot card to reverse its meaning, had been adamant. He was selling off everything the bedroom contained and chucking what wouldn’t sell. Ripping down old photos, stuffing magazines and romance novels into binbags. Mel and her camera had been pressganged into service. Photographing the furniture for an auction website.

The dressing table, once laden with makeup and perfume. Click.

Wardrobe where the doors never shut, stuffed with clothes. Click.

The bed. The hidey-hole for the bills, the demands for payment. Click.

The chest of drawers Lisa had tried to hide behind when the police came, wanting a word. With a warrant. Click.

Click. A thousand reflections of Lisa, frontpage in the local rag. Falsifying invoices, theft, arrest, bail, court date, four years at Her Majesty’s displeasure. No need of mirrors where Lisa was. Plenty of time for her to take a good long look at herself.

Mirror, mirror. Mel stared at it through the convex eye of the camera. Wondered what it must have seen. Perhaps it had always seen her.

Mel had always been there. She just never saw. The eye lied, not the mirror.

She raised the camera. Her waving outline, her round face, camera at waist height, the mirror imitated them all.

Click.

 


Carys Crossen has been writing stories since she was nine years old and shows no signs of stopping. Her fiction has been published by FlashBack Fiction, Fudoki Magazine, Dear Damsels, Every Day Fiction and others. Her monograph on werewolves, ‘The Nature of the Beast’ was published by University of Wales Press. She lives in Manchester UK with her husband, their daughter and their beautiful, contrary cat.