I’ve had a fear of mirrors since I was a kid and a girl on my bus told me you could summon Bloody Mary by repeating her name three times. She said the ghost would appear and scratch you, and showed me her arms to prove it. She was a purveyor of eerie urban legends—she said the worry dolls my family had given me to help me cope with some difficult life stuff would come to life and make my worries come true, that the houses on our bus ride home were haunted, and so on—and I bought into every one of them. Of course, I’d never say Bloody Mary aloud, but would it count if I thought it? Did they have to be said altogether, or would three times spread out over a lifetime still summon her?
Aside from one brief dabble into Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board, I was always too scared to try any of the creepy sleepover rituals we whispered about. In high school, my friends went walking through a graveyard on Halloween—I crossed the street, saying I’d rather walk home in the dark by myself than through a graveyard.
I’ve eased up a bit since then, but even while writing this, I wondered if Bloody Mary would know that I’d written her name three times in one blog post, that I’m seated in front of a window and that it’s so dark outside I can see my reflection in it. The scratches on that girl’s arms left such an impression on me that I can’t shake the fear decades later.
Anyway, here’s a drabble.
(n.) from Greek ἔνοπτρον—”mirror”—and μαντεία—”divination”
Divination using a mirror or other reflective surface.
She pores over her skin in the mirror, uncertain what she sees. Is it beauty? Is it ugliness? There’s a freckle beneath one eye, a brown little smudge as if someone has drawn it on in pencil. A divet on her cheek, a reminder of a dog that jumped on her as a child, though she forgave it and others in time.
She can’t quite cover them up with makeup, nor the redness in her cheeks, the lines at either side of her mouth. She doesn’t love them, but she respects them, each one a story folded into her flesh.