By Rozina Shaw
The doorbell woke Elorie up.
She stumbled out of bed, her giant mess of black hair making it harder to see as her eyes adjusted to the morning glow of sunshine.
Elorie peered through the crack in the door; she didn’t see anyone. Strange.
She opened the door. On the ground there was a circular, flat package wrapped in brown paper with nothing but her name written in black ink.
Bringing the unusual package inside, she tore the paper away.
She was shocked to see her face staring back up at her. A mirror with an ornate silver frame. It seemed old, but any indicators of age were absent.
She stared at her reflection, her dark skin looked gold in the new day’s light, but the bags under her eyes were a tell-tale sign of how early it was. As eerie as it may be that this random mirror had been dropped at her door, she had to leave for work, she didn’t have time to think about it right now.
The bookstore was quiet on Tuesdays, but Elorie didn’t seem to mind, she was content in the steady silence.
Around closing time, it became quieter than ever, and Elorie began to close up for the day.
Outside the store, she could hear something, a graceful sound that danced through the air and settled in her mind.
The sound of music.
Elorie walked over to the door, and out the window she saw a young man on the corner of the street, guitar in hand, hat in front of him, asking for spare change.
It was hard for her, watching all the crowds pass by him, wearing their new clothes and guilty expressions.
The man grew less enthusiastic in his songs, setting down his instrument and curling up in his layers of tattered clothing.
Elorie wondered how he got here.
The rain barrelled down on his skin, it felt like a million little needles puncturing him, but numb compared to the thoughts on his mind. All the mental abuse he had gone through, telling him he was ‘going to hell’, that who he was, who he truly was, was an abomination.
Tears streaming down his face, he stopped in a back alley. At age 16, Levi ran away from home.
Pulling his knees against his chest, he tried to forget it all, what his parents put him through; the therapy that was supposed to ‘cure his disease’, how the blood drained from their faces when he told them he was gay.
They thought Levi couldn’t hear them arguing downstairs at night, but the walls were thin.
“What are we supposed to do?!” His mom would screech, voice cracking.
“I don’t know Grace, I thought we raised him right!” even his dad, with his untouchable masculinity sounded on edge of breaking.
Levi tried to forget all of it, letting the frigid rain pound his head.
Elorie’s head shot up, the noise startling her. This was the second day in a row she woke up this way. She raced over to the door, opening it quickly to see who was there. No one. Strange.
At her feet, a familiar brown paper- this time in a large rectangular shape.
Elorie dragged it inside, she didn’t have to open it to know what it was; This mirror different from the last, no border, only a jagged, unfinished edge.
Elorie leaned it against her wall where she placed the other one.
For a split second she thought she saw a pale face in the circular mirror, but it was just the morning shadows playing tricks.
Elorie arrived at the bookstore earlier then usual, stopping along the way to pick up a tea before the day began.
Again, it was slow, and with an absence of things to do, Elorie started to think about the young man. She felt like she knew him, knew his story; like she could feel all the pain he had been through, and it hurt her.
Interrupting her thoughts, a loud roar of thunder shook the air, causing Elorie to jump, spilling her tea onto a pile of new books.
“Oh shit.” She whispered, instinctively trying to mop it up with a paper towel.
Elorie’s boss, Sarah, was nearby, now walking over to her, steps heavy.
“Sarah! I swear it was an accident, I’m so sorry; I’ll pay for the books, I promise” Elorie blurted out before she had a chance to say anything.
“Why is it you can’t do anything right?!” Sarah yelled, the stress lines on her face becoming more visible. “I can’t handle you today. Get out of my store.” She walked over to the door, holding it open, gesturing for her to leave.
“I’m sorry.” She whispered again before nervously walking out of the building.
Sarah wasn’t like this, just the last few months, and Elorie was worried for her. She could tell something had happened, but what?
Sarah decided to come home early from the store this Monday, but she wasn’t ready for what would follow.
She was going to surprise her kids by cooking them their favourite meal.
She swung open the door to her house and immediately dropped everything in her arms.
Her husband, cheating on her with a woman she had never seen before.
That broke Sarah.
Now, months later, she was in a heated court case with her ex-husband, fighting for custody over their children.
Sarah had worked so hard for everything in her life, now the life she had fought for was being ripped from her hands.
She had nothing left. Getting through the day had never been harder.
Oh, Elorie thought, I didn’t know that.
No, she thought, not again.
She pulled the blankets over her head, trying to make it go away.
“No,” Elorie whispered
For the third time, she fell out of her bed, opened the door, and without even looking, brought in the brown package.
This one was smaller, a square. She leaned it on her wall next to the others.
For just one second, she thought she saw Sarah in the mirror, holding two kids in her arms, but it disappeared. Elorie thought she was going mad.
All these mirrors, all these weird feelings she’d been having.
She felt like she knew things about people, and they weighed on her shoulders. Why were they all in pain? Why couldn’t she do anything about it?
Elorie walked over to her window again, taking deep breaths, clearing her head with the brisk air.
Across the street there was an older woman sitting in a rocking chair on her porch. She could see the steam coming off her cup, fogging up her glasses as she stared longingly out at the world.
Tears ran down her face.
More then anything, Minji loved her child.
No, thought Elorie, not again.
Minji had immigrated from Korea to Canada when she learned she was going to have a kid. She wanted nothing but the best life for them, for them to have the opportunities she didn’t. “Why does this keep happening!?” Elorie cried.
Now, at the age of 82, Minji had to bury her only child.
Suicide. Why was it always suicide?
Her only child killed themself. Now she had to live with knowing that all she had done might not have been good enough.
“No!” Elorie was breaking, she couldn’t handle it “please- stop.” Her voice small, wavering.
Could she have prevented it? Minji had done everything she could to make her kid happy. She felt guilty and she felt empty.
No parent should have to bury their child.
“STOP!” Screaming from the top of her lungs, sobbing.
Elorie looked up from the window, crying uncontrollably for a woman she’d never met.
No one at the door.
This one oval, and as she took off the wrapping she saw the woman, she saw Minji.
Elorie dropped the mirror and it shattered into fragments on her apartment floor, leaving pieces of the woman’s face scattered around her feet.
She couldn’t figure out what was happening.
All these people had so much pain, she had to take it for her own, it seemed natural.
She didn’t leave her room, she didn’t answer the door.
A room surrounded by mirrors that just kept coming, their reflections showing faces of hundreds of people in pain. All of them looking at her, their eyes asking for her to help them, to take away their problems.
Elorie couldn’t do anything, but she wanted to, more than anything she wanted all these people to be happy.
She would give them all her joy and take their sorrows in return if she could.
Elorie slammed her eyes shut, gasping for breath.
Her eyes opened, the mirrors were all empty.
No reflections at all, not even Elorie’s. Especially not Elorie’s.