He wanders into the room. It seems to have been completely untouched from the war, one of few rooms in the building. It’s quiet here. It feels almost isolated from everything else outside. The interior of the room has isolated itself from the death and destruction that had only stopped hours ago, minutes before sunrise.
The sound of his footsteps bounce off the stone walls and he stops when he sees a large mirror, leaned against the wall to the right of the door. He crosses over to it, amazed at how good of a condition it’s in, and stands directly in front of it.
He observes it for a while and a strange feeling passes over him as he looks at his reflection. Maybe he’ll see something he wouldn’t normally see, something he wouldn’t be able see in real life. He has no idea what, but he keeps his eyes trained on the gold-rimmed mirror.
He turns and leaves the room, shrugging off the feeling and knowing he should go back to help cleaning up from the war.
Little did he notice that while he was standing in front of the mirror there was something different, something he wouldn’t be able to see in real life.
Not anymore, anyways.
His “reflection” had two ears, with a familiar, mischievous smirk on his face, only slightly different from James’s.
. . .
“Hey,” I look at James, noticing something’s off about him, I put a hand on his shoulder. “You okay?”
“I think, yeah.” He says. “I dunno, I just…I saw something, today, and…I don’t know, I got a weird feeling, that’s all.”
I narrow my eyes slightly in question. “Like what?”
“I don’t…I don’t know how to describe it.” He says. “I mean…you ever get that feeling, where you feel like something’s somewhere, like something should be where you think it is…but it’s not? And you don’t know what that something is, but it’s familiar to you? And you feel like, even though it’s not possible to see it there, you feel like you should be able to see it there?”
I look at him a moment. “Um…” I try to come up with an answer. “Maybe?”
“I’m okay.” He says. “Probably just tired, that’s all.” He shrugs it off and goes back to cleaning up.
. . .
The mirror keeps coming back to his mind. No matter how much he tries to push it away from his thoughts it always fights back hard enough and remains there and he knows he has to go back and see it again. He doesn’t know why. It’s an old mirror, in an old room of an old, war-torn building.
He wanders back into the room and stands in front of the mirror. He stares at it long and hard with narrowed eyes.
It’s just him. James with one ear. James with chestnut hair covered with soot and a few scrapes on his face and hands. James with eyes that witnessed war for too long. James who lost his twin brother, Erik, two weeks ago. Just James.
There’s a figure standing just behind his shoulder.
He turns quickly to look behind him but sees nothing, he turns back and looks at the mirror again.
It’s Erik, standing just behind James’s shoulder with that playful smirk of his and bright hazel eyes full of imagination and wonder.
James stares at his brother and looks over his shoulder again, but Erik isn’t there, he’s only in the reflection.
“E…” He struggles to form words. “E…Erik…?” He manages as he stares, tears shining in his eyes.
Erik nods and wraps an arm around James’s shoulders, but James doesn’t feel it, there’s no way, he can only see it, nothing else.
This is the first time he’s seen his brother after his death.
“Erik…” His voice cracks and with a shaking hand he slowly reaches out to touch the glass of the mirror with his fingertips. He rests his hand there for a quick moment as his lower lip trembles.
He breaks down, collapsing to his knees, covering his face with his hands.
. . .
I wander round for a bit when I see a door open only slightly ajar, it seems to be completely untouched from the war.
I slowly push it open as I hear someone weeping inside.
James is on his knees in front of a large mirror, his face buried in his hands. I recognize the mirror. I’ve seen it before. It shows us what we want most in the world regardless if it’s our past, present, or future.
“James.” I step forward and kneel beside him. “Hey.” I place a hand on the side of his face and gently turn his face towards me. “James.” I repeat quietly. He finally raises his eyes to meet mine.
“Erik.” He replies weakly, and I know what he saw. I wrap my arms around him and he buries his head in my shoulder, staining the fabric of my plaid shirt with his tears. I just hold him there as he clings onto my sleeve for support. I look into the mirror, in its reflection I see a man with dark hair and bright eyes similar to mine. He stands behind James and I and meets my gaze.
“Hey Dad.” I mutter. “I’m sorry.”
He gives a small smile with a nod in understanding. He knows I couldn’t save him in the war but I did what I could.
Next to my father, I see Erik. I’ve known him since we were eleven. Four years later a war erupted. Two years afterwards Erik’s dead. Two weeks after Erik’s heart stops beating I hold his brother’s fragile frame in front of his illusion.
Erik meets my eyes and gives a slight nod, knowing that I’m going to tell him I’m sorry I was too late to save him.
I look back at James and rest my head on top of his. “It’s okay.” I whisper in his hair, rocking him slowly back and forth. “It’s alright.”
The situation is not alright, but the display of his grief is. It’s okay for him to show his pain, the amount of anguish that has consumed him in the past two weeks.
I continue holding him as we sit there in the empty room completely untouched from the war, one of few rooms in the damaged building.