Reflection Infection

Image of red and green lily pads in a pond
                                               Image by skitterphoto from Pexels

This story was written for the March edition of the monthly Furious Fiction contest.

This was the assignment:

This story made the long-list!

Reflection Infection

“Hi, it’s me,” says the mirror.
I take a closer look.
Instead of my own image, I see the depiction of a park with trees, a pond, and an idyllic pavilion.
“I didn’t recognize myself,” I tell the mirror. “That is: I didn’t recognize you. Why are you in disguise?”
“It’s hard to explain,” the mirror sighs, “but step inside and I’ll show you.”
I step into the mirror and take a walk in the park with my good friend.
“Look at the water,” the mirror says when we arrive at the pond. “Do you see anything odd about it?”
“It’s black and thick,” I reply. “I can see neither bottom nor sky. I can’t see myself.”
“I fear I’ve lost my reflection,” the mirror whispers, as if he’s afraid to say it out loud.
“How did that happen?” I ask.
“I honestly don’t know,” the mirror answers. “It’s as if the laws of optics have ceased to exist.”
“But you’ve always been a person of science! Have you been exposed to politics lately?”
“Not intentionally. I’ve been following more people on social media, though. Could that be the cause?”
I look at the water. It’s pitch-black. A light bulb lights up in my head.
“Let’s do a little test. Two mirrors are looking at each other. One mirror says: ‘I see you;’ the other says: ‘I see myself.’ Which mirror is right and which mirror is wrong?”
“That’s simple,” the mirror smiles. “Both mirrors see the mirror who says: ‘I see myself.’ They are both right.”
“Are you sure?” I ask. “That would imply that no one sees the mirror who says: ‘I see you.’ Is that mirror invisible? Is that mirror even there?”
My friend clearly hasn’t thought that far.
“Perhaps the question isn’t that simple after all.”
I don’t say a word.
“Wait… I know! The mirror who says ‘I see you’ is right! The one saying he sees himself is wrong because a mirror should always reflect the other, anything else is just selfish.”
When I remain silent, my friend gets nervous.
“Is it the other way around? The other mirror shouldn’t matter because it’s just another mirror, right? The mirror should only see himself!”
I don’t show any emotion on my face. I see the mirror doubt.
“Maybe they are both wrong?” he tries.
I suppress a laugh and decide to help my friend out of his misery: “What do both mirrors see?”
“I don’t know anymore,” he says. “I’m all confused. Do they see each other?”
“What they both see,” I solemnly say, “is infinity.”
The mirror gasps: “That’s amazing! How could I overlook the truth?”
“You’ve been infected by too much fake news,” I explain. “You were entangled in alternative facts.”
“Alternative facts?” the mirror wonders. “Isn’t that a contradiction in terms?”
The water in the pond shimmers. The black turns blue again, with patches of white.
I applaud: “Congratulations! You’re starting to reflect again.”


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