fearless
adult

The Mirror

by Alicia Anspaugh
Iowa, United States
genre: Fantasy

The Mirror

 

"How can you be so fearless?"

The young girl asked me. She was eerily familiar.

"I'm not fearless; I've just been through worse."

"What could be worse than this?"

"Depends on your point of view"

 

The girl slanted her gaze downward and for the first time I
noticed the room behind her was engulfed in flames...red and orange flames.

 

"What is happening over there, where are you?"

I had at first thought that she was on the other side of a window
and that I was seeing the reflection of my own situation in the glass......but
as I looked closer I saw her surroundings did not match mine.

She couldn't have been more than 7 years old. Dressed in what
looked to be polyester pajamas emblazoned with some goofy '80s cartoon
characters.....as I looked at her I realized that she was roped to a chair in a
room beset by flames.

 

I looked down at myself, roped down to a chair in the middle of a
room alit with rainbow-colored flames- this wood had been soaked in creosote....I
couldn't have been unconscious for that long ..Which meant this was planned,
which meant I had walked right into a trap.....? Lovely- and realized that we
had the same character on our shirts.

 

"A house, I don’t know. I’m scared" she looked like
she was going into shock

"What's your name kiddo?" I needed to keep her lucid

"Abby"

"Ok Abby, my name is Aila...and I see we both like
transformers"

"They are AWESOME!" she was excited and excited meant
distracted which was good

"Which one is your favorite?"

Abby began to chatter about her favorite transformer in all the nerdy
glory that comes with passionate fandom, giving me a chance to look around as
the haze of whatever was used to knock me out wore off and assess my situation.

I was in an empty, burning room....tied to a chair....a wooden
chair...and the ropes were soaked in kerosene.

I had a couple of options- break the chair, shimmy out of the
ropes, cut the ropes, try to burn through the ropes(the kerosene could be
helpful or painful..probably both)....well when in doubt try everything!

I was grateful that I had worn sneakers as I slipped out of them and
freed my feet from the ropes and then came my legs. If I could stay calm and
not freak out I had a chance.

I should have waited for Vance, damn! I messed up, that's what I
get for rushing.
If I got out of this he would give me justifiable hell for
it.

I met Vance around two and a half years ago after I had fallen
through yet another dimensional doorway and landed smack dab in the world of my
direct previous incarnation...which oddly was one of my few alternate selves-
we all died young or were never born in the first place- bizarre!

Vance & I had been good friends back then, and we ended up
being good friends all over again.

The memories of my life in this world had started to flood back to
me in chunks once I shook his hand.

He had an uncanny knack for finding me, wherever I might be. Geez
that would be handy right about now I mused to Abby's chattering.

While I had been concentrating on wiggling free I hadn’t noticed
Abby becoming so quiet. She watched me intently and was attempting to mimic my
movements to no avail. She was a smart kid. But whoever tied her up was
smarter- I could see the ropes tightening as she struggled.

"It's ok kiddo, your doing good. If one way doesn’t work...try
another ok?"

"They keep getting tighter" her voice was so small

"I know; can you hop the chair? It looks like some broken
glass is on the floor behind you and to your left"

"No, I tried. I can't get it to move"

"Those ropes on there are pretty good kiddo, who did the
tying?" I was trying to be gentle but I needed to know what had happened.

I was mostly out of my ropes and was now trying to break the
chair. It was not a fun process, doubly so with fire.

Her voice cracked “My Mommy" and tears fountained down her
cheeks.

My mind went numb and it was at this point that my chair gave way
and I ended up on my butt.

Something oily and unpleasant slithered in the corner of my mind,
a memory...just out of reach.

As I looked at my sliced-up wrists where the ropes had been, I
remembered -My father in my past life here...he had trained me for a month on
how to get out of being tied to a chair...he had done so to counteract the
nightmares that I would wake screaming from. It was the trauma from when my
mother had tied me to a chair in an abandoned house and set it ablaze. Dad had
saved me from her twice, after the 2nd time he kept me to raise as his own.

My friends always called me AG back then, Dad called me Kat- short
for Meerkat......but my full name had been Abigail.....and my mother had always
called me Abby. I had hated that name and had tried to forget it.

From my vantage point on the floor, I heard rather than saw the
charred door to the house where Abby sat crying implode from impact.

She whipped her around and her eyes went as wide as dinner plates.

I remembered that night like it was yesterday- even though it was a
few decades in the past now- the greasy smoke filling my nose, the fear, the
pain, the hopelessness & the absolute helplessness, the utterness of my
Mothers betrayal......and the large shaggy, grimy figure that burst through the
flames to grab me (chair & all) and huck me out of the house to safety.

Dad had come to hate what he was, and he had good reasons to, but
there was no other creature in the world who could have heard a frightened
little child’s heartbeat and quiet tears from 2 streets over who would also
make sure the kid was safe.

Abby turned back to me, mouth agape, eyes wild with terror

"It's going to be ok Abigail; everything is going to start
looking up from now on. You're going to be ok." I smiled at her gently.
She looked at me quizzically.

I got one last look as the large dark figure lifted her small
frame and headed towards the remains of the door, then the window glass bubbled
and liquefied leaving a hole in the wall.

Burning trusses falling snapped me out of my daze, and I tossed my
shoes on and made for the back door- I had to hope my jeep was ok!

Vance was waiting for me as I came out, his 6'7" rail-thin
frame leaned against my jeep attempting to mask his tension, a wiry slice of
black and white- everything but his skin was pitch black. It was due to how he
became the creature he was. It was odd he was normally mischievous.

"Found me, hunh?" I smiled

"I asked you to wait for me" it never ceases to amaze me
that in 675 years of creeping around Vance still had not lost his Romanian
accent.

"Couldn't"

He frowned "You've been around a Chronus mirror, you need to
stay away from magic" his frown was getting a lot deeper.

"You'll get wrinkles if you keep that up!
Hunh, no wonder Mom
wanted rid of me so badly back then. My gifts had started to manifest and she
was scared that the council would find us!" I smirked

 

At Vance's confused expression, I explained "I got to see the
night that Locklan saved me- the first time. I spoke with Abby at 7 years old.
I guess some things don’t change- I still love the Transformers." I
smiled, I knew I looked sad but I was actually happy.

That night changed my life back then. Locklan might have been a
big scary vampire but he was also the best single Dad a traumatized little kid
could have.

Vance smiled “I see why you have such a penchant for
monsters" it was a dig at himself

I winked, “Most Monsters are Human Vance, and they don't get
caught nearly as easy."

"True" he smiled as we climbed into my jeep to hopefully
get a better lead. I missed Dad a lot, but he could never know I was still around;
it would hurt him too much.

In the end,

The only difference between fear and fearlessness is commitment
and experience.


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