The Immortal’s Quandary

📅 Published on May 20, 2022

“The Immortal’s Quandary”

Written by Chisto Healy
Edited by Craig Groshek and Seth Paul
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

ESTIMATED READING TIME — 26 minutes

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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A tall, well-built man stood in a lavishly decorated Victorian-style living room, staring into a full-length mirror with an ornate golden frame. There was nothing reflected, no image in the glass looking back at him, nothing but the shimmer that the overhead light cast upon the pane.

“It might as well be a window,” he said, his voice laced with frustration. “It shows me nothing but clear empty glass. It is an entirely useless piece of furniture, trash that hangs upon our wall. What is the purpose? It’s not even so much a decoration. It should shatter into so many pieces. I should take it outside and throw it directly into the dumpster with the rest of society’s useless garbage. Every time I lay eyes on it, the sight of it angers me. It taunts me, a cruel trick to play on myself and for what?”

Nearby, a thick-bodied voluptuous woman with an enormous wave of blonde hair, and two big golden hoop earrings, rolled her eyes. “Why does this suddenly matter so much to you, Samuel?” she said through red painted lips. “None of us have reflections. That’s just how it goes, and a window would show through to what’s on the other side. That’s a dumb comparison. You can’t see through the mirror. You would think maybe lacking a reflection would tame your ego and lessen your vanity to a degree, but it seems not.”

Samuel rubbed at his face with his hands, feeling the features, tracing the point of his nose with his fingertips, that sharpness of his cheekbones. He was like the blind, trying to discern the features of a face by touch alone.

“ This is not about vanity, you irritating cow. This is about life, about purpose, the reason for being, existence. Everything. It matters, Luann, because I can’t see myself. Who am I then really? I don’t even know what I look like. Am I just supposed to take your word for it? How can I be vane without an identity? The eyes are the windows to the soul and I can’t see my own, Luann. I’m blind to my own self. If you took a  minute to actually think about things, you would realize that you are in the same boat and it would be equally disturbing but you are too simple for that.”

Luann glared at him. Her own anger contorted her delicate features making them seem harder. It brought out the edges in her rounded face. “Simple? Because I choose not to focus on things I cannot change? Because I don’t want to sit around like you and wallow about things that have always been this way? You ask what the point is, Samuel. What is the point of that? It’s entirely ridiculous and you keep attacking me just because you’re frustrated and upset and I don’t have to accept that from you.”

Samuel sighed. He lifted his arms and then let them fall limply to his sides like broken wings. “You’re right. It’s not your fault. I just don’t understand how you can take this so lightly, how you can be so unbothered. I want to know who I am. I want to know where my blemishes are, see the minute details of my face. Do I have crow’s feet next to my eyes? Is there a birthmark somewhere? A mole or a freckle? Maybe even a scar? I’ve definitely had plenty of opportunities to earn some. Maybe I’m completely covered, Luann. Maybe I am just a mass of scar tissue. Perhaps my appearance is something truly monstrous.”

Luann closed the distance, and put a supportive hand on his arm, her fingertips tracing lines over the firmness of his bicep. “You look gorgeous, lover. You look just as you did a hundred years ago. There are no scars or blemishes. You are all flawless skin and high cheekbones. Let it rest, please.”

Samuel sighed and pulled away from her. “And I have to simply trust your word because I can’t see for myself. I could be hideous and you could be lying right now and I would never know. How could I know? What kind of life is it where I have to trust you more than my own self? How is that a life worth living, Luann? Can you really not see the problem with this? You don’t know what you look like either. Look at the mirror. I’m serious. Do it. Go on. Look at it. Tell me what you see when you look at it? What do you see, Luann? Nothing. You see nothing, because you’re just like me. You see glass just as I do, window or no window. How does that sit so well with you? Look at it, think about it, and then answer me honestly. Don’t shut me out. Don’t ignore the truth. You want me to stop? Indulge me for a moment. Look at it and tell me.”

Luann huffed and threw her arms up. She stomped over and stood before the long wall mirror. She stared for a moment, then said, “Yes. I don’t see anything. I also don’t need to see anything, because I’ve never seen anything and I’ve grown accustomed to that. That is who I am. I am being honest with you. I am always honest with you. There has never been a day where I haven’t been honest with you. I have absolutely no reason to lie. It doesn’t send me into crisis looking at a mirror, Samuel. I’m sorry. I don’t know why. Because it just is, I guess. It just is, and I’m okay with that because it’s reality. Because I accept things how they are, the things I cannot change, because it will only drive me insane not to and you are the living proof of that. Now the only thing driving me insane is you.”

“But I’m not living, Luann. Even if I were alive, I wouldn’t be living, not without an identity and a sense of self. What kind of life is that? No. I’m merely existing, Luann. Simply, existing, nothing more. I might as well be a ghost.”

Luann growled. She turned away from the reflectionless mirror to face him. “What is the point of all this fussing? Dwelling on things like this does nothing but hurt you, hurt us both. What good could possibly come of this? What do you hope to gain by thinking about things like this all the time? You dwell on it and you incessantly talk about it and it is causing both of us grief. Maybe you should go back to therapy, Samuel. I think maybe a professional will be better equipped to see you through this than I am. We just talk in circles. It isn’t helping anyone.”

Samuel groaned with disgust and moved around her to once again stare back at the mirror. “I want to know who I actually am, not who you say I am. How can I know who I am inside if I don’t know who I am on the outside? They coincide, don’t they? Can you have one without the other? Not truly. It’s not real. None of it is real. I have no sense of self at all. I’m a walking illusion and the brunt of my own trick, a sad, sorry magician. I’m a picture without an image, an empty canvas, a television with no power. I am an enigma. I am my own greatest puzzle, Luann, and I haven’t the faintest idea how to solve it.”

Luann cussed under her breath. She whirled to face him. She was trembling with her growing rage now. “I’ll tell you who you are,” she said angrily. “You’re an overdramatic, self-important, baby. You’re a whiny little brat that is so self-involved that you can’t even live your life if you can’t stare at your own damned face. It’s sickening. You know, humans are the same way and that’s what drives them to so many terrible decisions. They have ridiculous beauty standards and torture themselves for them. Maybe if no one had reflections people would care more about the things in life that contain actual value, like companionship and love, compassion, and empathy. Maybe then this pitiful world would be a better place!”

“You dare talk to me about compassion and empathy?” Samuel bellowed in return. “Where is my compassion? Where is my empathy? Are you nothing more than a hypocrite? Self-important. You call me self-important. I don’t even have a self!” He yelled as she stormed out of the room, and slammed the door behind her. “How can I be self-important without a self!?”

Sighing, Samuel sat down in a nearby chair. It was a red velvet smoking chair acquired from a lounge where Luann used to sing a long time ago, a time when he had more vitality, and they both had more hunger. The lounge provided a means to satiate their appetites.

“So are you going to lock yourself in the bedroom now? Is that today’s game?” he called to her. “Are you a helpless abuse victim because your three hundred-year-old boyfriend is having an existential crisis? Why don’t you call one of your girlfriends while you’re in there and tell them how awful I am. I’m suffering, Luann! I’m suffering and you don’t give a shit. You find my pain too much of a bother. Admit it. I mean nothing to you anymore. If anyone is awful here, it’s you!”

“Fine,” she called back through the door, from the other room. “I’m awful and terrible. That’s fine with me at this point. Just shut up. Please. I can’t listen to any more of this. I tried to empathize. I tried to understand. I tried to be supportive. It got me nowhere. It never gets me anywhere. You are just impossible, so I give up. Just internalize it so I can get through the day with less of a headache.”

Samuel gave a humorless laugh. “You toot your own horn more than you should, woman. You are horribly insensitive. I’m sorry that I can’t get over this so quickly and be the man you wish me to be. If I could just blink and the pain would be gone, I would do that. Don’t you think I would do that? But I can’t. How am I supposed to get over this when it’s always there? It never changes, never goes away. Like you said yourself just a minute ago, it just is. It always is. There is no remedy. No solution. It’s an eternal emotional torment. It’s torture. This is the true curse of being a vampire. It’s horrible, Luann.”

There was a crash like she threw something against the wall in the other room.“Oh my God, Samuel. So is living with you. It literally is. It is an eternal fucking torment. It never ends. We’re immortal and you just complain and cry and philosophize and it’s a vicious cycle that never changes and never ends. Can you please just give me a minute of goddamned quiet? I can’t take this anymore. I really can’t.”

You can’t take anymore? You can’t?”

“Yes!”

“Do you know I tried to stake myself the other day? I really did. You didn’t know though, because you don’t ever see the pain I’m in. You don’t see what I deal with on a regular basis, because life is just so simple and fun to you. You can’t see past the next party. You’re not twenty-three, Luann. You’re an old woman, even if you don’t look it, but maybe you do. Maybe everyone is lying to you. Maybe I’m lying to you. Maybe you’re a shriveled old hag but you just can’t see it because there’s nothing in the damned MIRROR!!” He panted his anger for a moment, leaning forward in the chair and gripping the arms with his thin white fingers topped with long black nails. “Well, that’s fine, Luann. I’ll be quiet and not speak about my feelings and one day you can just find my corpse. That’s just fine. I don’t even care what you do with it. It will probably look disgusting but how would I know truly, right? Throw it and the mirror in the dump with the human filth and waste. What do I care?”

The bedroom door flew open and collided with the wall, stopping with a bang. “Stop it! Stop it, stop it, stop it. Just shut up! I mean it. I can’t listen to this day in and day out. Stop!” Luann ran back into the room angrily. She charged right at him, her overwhelming emotion making her shake like a volcano about to rupture.

“Oh so now you’re going to hit me?” he said, looking up at her with doe eyes. “I suppose this is your idea of empathy and compassion? Maybe we have different definitions of those words. Which one of us is the selfish one really? I think you really need to ask yourself, Luann. Sit and marinate in that for a bit, reflect on this moment and try to see yourself clearly. That, after all, is the whole problem isn’t it?”

“Are you being serious right now? You are such an infuriating person. It doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside, Samuel, because your inside is ugly. It’s downright repulsive. You’re an awful person. I’m about to ghost you like your reflection and then if you do get up the guts to kill yourself, it won’t be me finding the body. Maybe no one will and you will just stay right here and rot, and then your outside finally will truly match your inside.”

“Beautiful. Well, that’s a lovely thing to say. Thank you. You’re a true charmer.”

“And trying to guilt me with your suicide is better? Please. I’m over this. I’m over you. I just can’t do it anymore. We tired of each other years ago, and you know it as well as I do. We aren’t together because we care about each other, and you know it,  so let’s stop pretending. We were together all this time because we didn’t want to be alone. That’s it. That’s the plain and simple truth of it. It was a life of convenience, a relationship built on the curse of the meaningless existence of immortality you so loathe.”

Samuel looked up at her, hope twinkling in his eye now. “So you admit it is meaningless. Yet you don’t believe the lack of meaning is tied to the lack of an image. It is just more proof that nothing is real. Everything we know of ourselves comes from someone else. It is all conjecture. Everything is subjective. How could being immortal be anything but a curse if you have no idea who you even are; if you have no purpose, nothing to live for?”

“You’re painfully redundant, Samuel. I don’t care if that has to do with your reflection or not. I care about not listening to it anymore. Period.”

Samuel watched her leave and jumped when she slammed the door. He continued talking to her as if she were still there.

“Self-important. Ha. Self should be important. If you don’t have yourself, you have nothing. It is something that humans are always concerned with. Why should I not be the same?  We’re supposed to be superior to them. We shouldn’t be forbidden to do things that come naturally to lesser beings. Is it forbidden for our kind to search for the truth of our own identity? Maybe we never get to have a coming of age story because we never come of age. Have you thought about that? I doubt it because you don’t bother to think about anything. You are so thick and so hollow. I suppose that makes you lucky. It is the people that are like you that succeed in this life or whatever you choose to call it. The people who fail to look deeper into anything, who just coast on by without a care. Is that how our kind is supposed to be? Is that what was intended for me? Do I suffer simply because I am a deeper, more intricate person? People like us just go on, endlessly, however they were the moment they became eternal. It is exhausting, this tireless life. Can you find irony in that? I’m glad you’re gone. Stay gone. I don’t care.”

Samuel dragged himself to his feet. He shuffled to the bathroom in somnambulistic fashion and turned on the shower. Then he stripped down, as the steam began to rise like smoke drifting from the claw foot bathtub. Mindlessly, Samuel stepped into the hot water. He looked out at his arms, his legs, the parts of him that he was able to see, his belly and genitals. It felt like possession, taking someone else over and looking through their eyes. None of it felt like his.

Samuel spoke out loud over the incessant patter of the beating water. “Who’s arms and legs are these really? They belong to me I suppose, but who am I? I can look down at this chest, this stomach, this member that stopped being able to create life centuries ago. None of it means anything without a face. Without a face it could belong to anyone, a robot even, a machine.” He was crying now, his tears racing the rivulets of shower water down his pale flesh, falling from the face he couldn’t see. “The face is what makes it all belong, makes it really unique, its own. These are all just pieces, pieces of a generic phantom body that belongs to no one or anyone all the same. You can attach any face to it and it will suddenly change and become a person, a very specific person, but my view contains no face. I am a faceless entity walking through immortality without direction. We all are. That is our fate, our curse. We are granted forever, but not as people, as nothing, as nothing.”

Later, when Samuel was dry and wrapped in his red velvet bathrobe, a cigarette hanging from a stranger’s lips but making him cough nonetheless, he sat at his desk, eyes that to him were neither pretty or hideous staring at the screen of his open Chromebook. “You can search on the internet for anything. Luann can’t help me but someone can and I can find them here. You can find anything you want on the computer these days, except for your own goddamned reflection in the blank screen.” His fingers traced over the screen as it came to life and the wallpaper rose from the darkness in bright color. If only he could do the same.

“My photo file folder is empty because I can’t take photos. Selfies are images of an empty room. There is nothing to show me to myself, no medium with which to see my true guise. I can photograph the room, the humans that pretend not to be afraid of me, the food on my plate, but never myself, not even the hands and feet I can see in the shower. Pictures come out without me in them, and that’s not supposed to bother me. My memories can’t be preserved, my special moments held onto.  Yet I get to see everyone else that was there, not others with me like Luann, but I get to see the frozen moment in time for all the strangers, the humans, the people that mean nothing and bring nothing to my life. I get to see them getting what I can never have.”

Samuel looked over at a bra draped across the bedpost behind him and he snarled. “How can she live with that so easily? Something is wrong with her, not me.” Then he looked back at the screen and his eyes lit up. His mouth fell open it. He wondered what it all looked like. There was a profile on the screen that called to him and now he would return the favor. “Ah. You. You’re perfect,” he said to the person on his screen, staring back at him unknowingly. “You have such elegant style. It’s exquisite, real, beautiful and tragic all the same. I believe I have found the one I am looking for. Now I will just email you my address and list a job offer that you will be unable to refuse that is only available if you come right away. And…send. That should do. Soon I will have solved this eternal crisis. You see that, Luann? I am not just content to be a victim. I got to work. I found a solution. What are you doing? You’re probably out there getting drunk again, dancing with your food. Pathetic.”

It wasn’t long before the knocking sounded at the door, his job offer answered. Samuel could feel the human on the other side of the door. He could hear the nervous thrumming of their heart. When Samuel answered the door he made sure to make eye contact with the thin millennial adorning an even thinner goatee that stood before him complacently, his eyes glassy.

“You’re here because I love your art,” Samuel said to him. The young man just stared back, his gaze blank and his body motionless, though the heart in his chest continued to pound. “You are going to use that art to be my personal mirror. You will provide me with the one thing that God’s curse has stolen from me, a reflection. This is not negotiable. This is just the way. You will live here now and you will only paint and paint what I tell you, nothing else. I will allow you breaks to eat and sleep, and have sex if I’m in the mood, but you will only do so when I condone it as they are only being afforded to you as a means of survival so that you may continue painting. Nod if you understand.” The young man made his first movement since his arrival, just the slight bo of his head. “Good,” Samuel told him. “You belong to me now, mirror. Welcome home.”

* * * * * *

Later that day, Samuel watched the glassy-eyed young man put his brush down and then push his seat back with a loud screech. Samuel smiled and suddenly wished he had for the painting the man had just done. He wondered what his smile looked like. Was it awkward? Did it fit his face? Were his teeth straight? Unconsciously, he reached up and touched them, running his fingertips over the ivory.

Samuel stood with a stretch, his robe hanging open and his nakedness showing. There was no reason to hide himself from his current company. Humans wouldn’t hide from their own mirror, would they? There would be an irony if they did, taking for granted the gift that had been afforded them.

“You have done as you were told without question or complaint. You have done well,” Samuel said to the painter, who sat up straight three feet behind his easel, his hands in his lap and his brown eyes staring blankly forward. “You may rest…for a moment. Now that you have finished your first canvas, I want to look at it, to take it in, to see what the photos erase.” Samuel walked over and looked at the painting standing idly by on the wooden easel. “You did a wonderful job, mirror. There is so much detail. I made the right choice when I selected you for this position. I feel quite pleased, my young painter. Quite pleased indeed. Go, eat or sleep or wash yourself. I don’t care what you do as long as you don’t leave. You are forbidden to leave and if you try to, I will hang you on the wall where the other mirror currently resides.”

The painter stood, his arms falling from his lap to hang limply at his sides. He walked into the bedroom where he climbed onto the bed and laid there flat on his back, empty eyes staring at the ceiling. Samuel growled at the furious beating of the man’s heart that thrummed in his ears and screamed to his blood. He wished the organ would settle down. Why was it so stubborn and unwilling to comply like the rest of the fellow was? It made it hard for Samuel to concentrate and appreciate the art he held in his hands. Maybe if he bled the man just a little, it wouldn’t be quite so loud.

Samuel set the panting down gently on the nearby loveseat and then he walked with purposeful strides into the bedroom. The young man on the bed did not turn to look at him. He kept those woeful brown eyes on the diamond chandelier hanging above. His heart was like a war drum now, pounding and thrashing like tidal waves at a beachfront. Samuel snarled. He snatched the young painter’s arm up and gnashed his teeth into the wrist. Immediately, hot blood flowed into his mouth, over his tongue and the sensation of it sent tremors running through him. He moaned with delight, but then ripped the arm away from himself and through it down onto the golden trimmed white down comforter. He couldn’t allow himself to get carried away and lose his mirror now that he finally had one. Samuel took a deep breath and sighed contentedly now that the mirror’s heartbeat was weaker, calmer. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, turned on his heel and marched back to the living room where he immediately picked up the canvas and took its place on the loveseat..

“This is me,” Samuel said. “My nose is so pointy, but my eyes are such a wonderful shade of blue. I can see the details, the flaws and blemishes. I do in fact have a small mole on my right cheekbone it seems.” He couldn’t help but laugh. “I had no idea it was there until this very moment. This is exciting. I feel more whole already. I am thankful to you and your talent, my beautiful mirror. Luann was right, you know. I really am quite handsome.”

“Yes, you are.” The voice came from the man laying atop Samuel’s bed, despite his eyes being glued to the sparkling fixture dangling from the cathedral-style ceiling, and his body remaining as motionless as a corpse.

“I’m not smiling in this painting though,” Samuel called back to him. “It’s not your fault though. I haven’t smiled in years, not until today. That’s exactly why I needed you so much. It is the reason you are here, to help me rediscover a reason to smile. I have found the answer to my pain, my eternal struggle and internal damnation, and that answer is you. I can smile for the next painting and it won’t be quite so forced. I will do my best to hold a smile and still keep it genuine for you. Paint me looking content. Your break is over, mirror.”

“Okay.” At once, the painter rose like the movie portrayal of a vampire awakening from coffin sleep. He sat straight up. Then he swung himself sideways, his legs going over the edge of the big bed.

“Wait. I’m going to change my outfit. Let us have some variety. This is art after all.”

“Okay,” the young man answered in a trance-like way. He sat there on the side of the bed, his hands folded in his lap and staring blankly forward, where he waited for further instructions.

* * * * * *

Several days later, Samuel paced the living room. It was a far different room than the one that Luann had exited and the painter had entered. All the old art was gone. The useless wall-length mirror was gone. Everything was covered in paintings and drawings, charcoals, and pencils. Sketches of Samuel’s face in a multitude of expressions and outfits stared back at him from every wall. The bedroom, bathroom and kitchen were no different. Samuel stopped his pacing and stood before the pallid young man known only as mirror for months now who sat on the couch as per usual, his hands in his lap, his deep sunken brown eyes staring aimlessly out over gaunt cheeks. Samuel had been forced to bleed him little by little over time in order to contain the impulse to devour the boy completely. It was the only way to quiet his terrified, thrashing heart. At this rate, even with food and sleep, the mirror was going to break and Samuel would be cast back to stage one.

“When you first came here it was very exciting to me. It was the missing piece to my puzzle, until it wasn’t,” Samuel said to the painter seated before him. “Now this apartment is full of paintings done in different mediums and even pencil drawings of me, in all of my various outfits and every different hairstyle I could conceive. Now that I could see it, I wanted to try them all, to know which actually worked best with the shape of my face, something I was never able to experiment with before. It was great fun, and a truly rewarding experience.”

“Wonderful, master. I am glad you are happy.”

“I’m not finished!” Samuel trembled with anger, squeezed his hands into fists, his elongated nails biting into his own palms and drawing blood that dripped rhythmically onto the floor at his feet.

“My apologies. I misunderstood.”

“Ugh. Sometimes glamoured people are just so boring,” Samuel said with a wistful sigh. “They are definitely not ones to converse with but you’re all that I’ve got now that the insufferable Luann walked out on me. Not that it was the first time she walked out. We’ve been together for over a century. Believe me, she has walked out on me plenty. She has just never stayed gone quite this long, which I suppose is good for you. Luann was never much for willpower. She wouldn’t have cared for you as I have. She wouldn’t have understood the importance of you. No. She would have seen you as another plaything, a toy and nothing more. There is nothing deep to that woman, I tell you. If she had come home while you were here, she would have taken your life in glorious and brutal fashion, and truthfully, I would have been saddened by that. Are you not even grateful? You stare at me so blankly. You are alive because I allow you to live. In that sense I am like your God that so many of you humans blindly worship. I give you life, and in exchange, you follow me and do as I command. It’s quite beautiful really.” When the mirror said nothing and continued to stare blankly forward, his weak heart beating quietly in the background, Samuel roared. “Answer me, when I speak to you!”

“I am listening, waiting for you to tell me when you are finished, master. I don’t want to interrupt again. Interrupting makes you angry.”

Samuel laughed. He recalled the other day when the mirror spoke out fo turn. Samuel had given him quite the thrashing. He made sure to leave the mirror of flesh’s eyes and hands intact so he could maintain his purpose and not become as useless as the mirror of glass, but the painter was left huddled in a heap of contusions blotting his thin flesh, broken ribs jutting through his elastic skin. Samuel had smiled when he looked down upon the unmoving human who continued to stare endlessly forward, because tears glistened in the corners of his wide open eyes and fell in slow streams down his beaten face. He didn’t utter a sound though, not a single one. Those two tears, one from each eye, were the only sign of his true emotion, the pain Samuel had caused him, and the immortal found it entirely satisfying.

“You’re right, mirror. I had digressed. I was originally talking about you and your purpose. I should not have even thought about that horrible Luann, never mind brought her into the conversation. Jesus. Look at you, mirror. You don’t have to respond to react. You don’t even change your facial expression. It’s really terribly pathetic, awful. Simply, awful. Sometimes I think you are less alive than the glass mirror I disposed of. That’s a sad concept isn’t it?”

“I’m sorry,” mirror spoke without ever moving or changing expression, even still.

“Forget it. I’m getting sidetracked again. It seems I’m just emotional today,” Samuel told him. “But that brings me back to my point, mirror. I’ve changed my appearance again and again and had your eyes and hands create my reflection each and every time. Your skill never wavered. That is for certain. Yet it still became less and less fulfilling. The answer to my problem became less and less the answer to my problem. Now I feel as empty, sad, and plagued as I had when I first hired you and that is troublesome, dear mirror.”

“I’m sorry,” the motionless, expressionless mirror said again, though the single tears appeared at the corners of his sunken brown eyes once more.

“Well, I mean… The art helped. It definitely did. I was completely lost before you answered that email and showed up at my door. Your paintings and such told me what I looked like. It masterfully did what the mirror never was able to and it put a face to the body I saw each day in the shower. I became a person finally, a reality, something more than an idea with a voice, something more than simply floating appendages that did what I willed them to do, no different than you do now. There is nothing alive about you. There was nothing more alive about me before you.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I’m trying to say something. Will you please let me finish! You said you didn’t want to interrupt. Please don’t make me beat you again!”

“Yes, master.”

Samuel took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Your art showed me what Luann saw every day that she was here, what her eyes took in when she was with me, but even still, it nagged at me that none of it told me who I really was. Do you know what I mean?”

Silence.

Samuel smiled. “Good. Don’t actually answer that. It’s rhetorical. It’s just that even the most skillfully detailed, fabulous paintings, which yours definitely are, mirror, are in the end still just paintings. The eyes on the canvases are beautiful and brightly colored, but they are also empty, and flat, and then I think, that isn’t me. That’s Luann. That’s how we got here in the first place, because I am deep and sensitive and I think. I, unlike her, feel things, you know? I may not have ever seen my reflection, mirror, but I knew that much about myself. I always knew that much. Yet in your art, it isn’t there. I mean, I suppose I look thoughtful in some pieces but it still doesn’t resonate. I can not see my soul reflected on even the most beautiful matte canvas. I have been trying but it is as impossible as finding myself in the mirror. I need more. I need to understand the person behind those eyes that you have so skillfully painted. I need to see and to know the truth of who he is, who I am. I want to know the man, what he’s actually like on the inside. Do you understand? Answer this time.”

“Yes.”

“Okay, good. I’m going to ask you to try something new; to do something a little different with your brush this time. Hear me out. Well, I suppose you have no choice, really. You are forced to listen and to comply whether you like it or not. That’s our dynamic.”

“Correct.”

“Jesus. You are terrible at knowing when and when not to respond, mirror. It is a miracle that I haven’t killed you by now.”

“I’m sorry, master.”

“Just hush. This is important. Listen to what I tell you, because I need you to do it and to do it correctly.”

“Yes, master.”

“Ugh. Sometimes you are as insufferable as Luann. Do not apologize! I will likely vomit if I hear your apology again. Moving on. I want you to create another piece, but not with the acute attention to detail you normally use. I want you to look deeper, to not replicate what is on the surface but to actually recreate my soul, or at least an artistic representation of it. I want you to, no…I need you to not simply look at me but rather look in me, and then paint what is there. Show me what hides behind my exquisite blue eyes, what lies underneath my flawless white skin. Show me the truth of who I am, mirror. Paint…me.”

“Okay.”

“Show me how you really see me,” Samuel said. “Entertain me. Show me what even my reflection could not.”

“I will.”

“Good. You may just hold onto your emotionless existence a little longer.”

Not two hours later, Samuel stood and moved to look at the mirror’s finished painting after the artist robotically put down his brush and loudly pushed his chair back away from the easel. Samuel took in the image on the canvas and he snarled, low and guttural. He turned to glare at the mirror, but the mirror in turn only stared blankly forward.

“What is this? Did you not hear what I asked you to do? What have you created here? I don’t understand. You are still glamoured. You should not have done this. You should have been forced to do as I commanded you, yet you failed somehow. You have created this terrible thing that sits before you. What is the meaning of this?” Samuel asked, panic lacing in with the anger that spilled from him, the two emotions winding over each other like the fingers of two lovers’ hands intertwining.. “I demand to know, mirror. Tell me now! Is this some kind of sick joke? What have you done? Explain yourself! Explain yourself this instant. I command you to.”

Silence. The young man and his weakly beating heart just stared forward, eyes unseeing.

“I demand you explain this painting to me, mirror. This picture is hideous. It is truly disgusting. It is all blues and mottled grays. This is not art. It is a bruise and one that has not been tended to or cleaned. It is filthy and dark and sickening to view. The eyes, my eyes, are dark sickening red like stale blood that is no longer safe to consume, and the mouth is full of sharp jagged teeth like razors that barely fit next to each other. They overlap and jut out like they are fighting for control.  Thick dark blood that spilled over like an overfilled wine glass runs down what should be my pristine ivory chin, but is more a sickening translucent showing the veins and arteries that scrawl beneath like warring serpents. The blood is streaming down my neck and making me look a mess, uncouth, uncivilized. It is gluttonous and vile, tactless and repugnant. I am a man of class, mirror. There is a black heart coated in thorny barbs swirling in a twister-like cloud of darkness buried in my chest cavity. How could this possibly be what you see in me? I was expecting adoration. This is anything but. Explain. Now! If you don’t, I will kill you and be done with you forever. Speak!”

“Yes, master,” mirror said then. His head turned slowly to face his master, his brown eyes looking into Samuel’s own. Those lone tears glistened as he spoke, though his voice remained as monotonous as always. “It is a monster, master. It is you. You. Are a monster. You bent my will, enslaved me, forced me to abandon my life, and my family, my wife and children who remain at my home without me to love and care for them, just for me to follow you around this horrible apartment, endlessly painting and living as your mirror. You forced me to leave my children fatherless in order to support your narcissistic vanity. This is your truth, who you are beneath the painting. You are filth. Evil. You are darkness incarnate. See yourself clearly for the first time.”

Samuel roared with unbridled fury. He lashed out with lightning speed and slashed the man’s throat with a single elongated fingernail. When the empty-eyed artist collapsed to the carpeted floor, Samuel shed his bathrobe and pounced nakedly upon him. He drank wildly of the blood pouring forth from his mirror’s open throat. He slipped and rolled in it, spread it on his flesh, becoming the painter for a change. He used his long nails and pale fingers to run streaks over the dead man as the rest of his life source, his truest paint worked on its own to coat the carpet and the surrounding furniture in varying shades of crimson.

“Allow me to soak my fingers in this red substance and with hard strokes, spray these lying walls and this useless goddamned mirror. It is to be the artist’s final masterpiece, to become the paint, the paint that spoils and ruins so much previous work, that renders your art as useless and worthless as you are. It is a fitting way to explain what bringing you here was like, to capture the boiling blood within my veins and the betrayal in my heart.” Samuel, naked and coated in streaks of red, bounded to his feet. He scooped handfuls of blood from the unseeing mirror’s empty throat and he hurried through the apartment, slashing streaks over each and every canvas, each piece of paper, each pointless piece of terrible, useless art. He went back for more blood, over and over until his project was complete and everything had been painted by him and only him.

When the deed was finished, so was the apartment it seemed, but it meant nothing. “None of it means anything,” he panted as he sat in the remaining stickiness that pooled below his broken mirror and pleasured himself. “I know that I can get new things, better things even. Money has never been an obstacle. I can compel anyone into doing what I require of them. I can glamor them just as I did you. They will simply give me whatever I desire, but none of them could give me what I’ve needed the most, purpose. They would fail me just as you have, simply serving to satiate a temporary craving, subside hunger momentarily. At least your art had graced me with the gift of truth, even if it cost you your miserably insignificant life. It is in fact, something for me to reflect upon in the coming days. So for that, mirror, I thank you.” When Samuel was done with himself, he wiped his hand on the mirror’s dead face, and leaned over to kiss his forehead.

“The lack of reflection wasn’t a curse,” Samuel spoke when he realized. “ Maybe this is what Luann was trying to tell me and she was deeper than I had credited her for. The lack of reflection is a defense against our own nature, a way to try to forget what we really are, which it seems the others, like Luann have managed to do. I remember who I am now though don’t I, mirror? Now that your art has so kindly enlightened me, and I repaid you in kind. I am an abomination, a murderer, a beast. I couldn’t decipher who I was all this time, because I wasn’t a who at all. I was a what. As you so aptly said, I am a monster. That is one hell of an epiphany, mirror. Not an easy pill to swallow so to say. I needed something to wash it down and I chose you. I hope you understand.” Samuel gave a humorless laugh. “You were already dead to your wife and children anyway.”

Samuel crawled through the sticky filth of bodily fluids until he reached his bathrobe. He dug into the pocket and retrieved his phone, sticky with coagulating crimson, and he wiped it across the screen until he could see enough to call Luann, leaving red fingerprints on the already filthy screen.

“It’s been an entire year,” Luann said when she answered. “What do you want, Samuel?”

“You were right,” he told her. “I was just having a moment. Come home.”

Luann sighed. “Finally. Let’s move again, and we won’t take the mirror with us this time.”

“It’s already gone,” he told her. Samuel glanced over at the mirror’s body huddled on the floor nearby.

“Good,” she said. “I’ll be home in an hour. Pack your things.”

Samuel closed his eyes and sighed. “They’re just things,” he said, before hanging up the phone and dropping it onto the bloodsoaked carpet.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Written by Chisto Healy
Edited by Craig Groshek and Seth Paul
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Chisto Healy


Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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