Encounter at the Mirror
The Encounter at the Mirror
After my conversation with Sssylviaaa, I found the bath house and soaked for a good long while. Cleaned, but not feeling refreshed, I searched out the kitchen and begged a plate of mac 'n cheese from the cook. For some reason, I felt the need for comfort food.
I returned to my quarters in the back garden. Night had fallen and I settled in at my writing table under the warm glow of lantern light. I spread out a blank scroll and began writing, then scribbled, and then wadded up the paper and pitched it aside. I did this several times until I couldn't stand it anymore. I jumped up and shouted to no one:
"Who are you trying to fool?! What are you doing here? You'll never be a writer, you'll never be an artist, you're just wasting your time and everyone else you inflict your crap on. Why don't I just go back to the Real World.... doesn't matter where I'm at-- I'll amount to nothing in either place. "
I bolted out of the house and across the garden. I bounded up the stairs and into the House. I wasn't sure where I was going-- my vision was blurred from tears, but I could see the carvings of snakes in the woodwork painted wild colors. Finally, I had to stop because I could run no more. Panting heavily, I bent over to catch my breath. After a few minutes, I stood up straight and saw that I was in an immense hall and before me stood an enormous mirror.
The mirror was polished silver and the light from the chandeliers and wall sconces made it seem to glow from within its concave face. It must be The Gorgon's Mirror. I paused for a moment, not breathing. I needed to look; I wanted to look, but I was afraid of what I would see. A painter or a writer, lounging in my studio, flushed with success and wealth? Before I could talk myself out of it, I approached the mirror. Taking a deep breath, I stepped before its face. For a moment I couldn't believe what I saw. I blinked several times. Then I cried aloud:
"Nothing! I'm not there at all!" There was no reflection of myself in the mirror, only the furnishings of the Great Hall that were behind me.
I crumpled to the floor and began to sob. My worst fear had played out. I was Nothing! The Gorgon's Mirror doesn't lie.
I heard faint laughter, growing louder with each peal. Slowly I looked up to see a pair of sharp-toed shoes in front of me. I felt my humiliation give way to fury:
Then I remember our last encounter. I had sent this personification of my inner critic flying off into the mountains. She must have landed near the House of the Serpents and wheedled her way in. Worse, she no doubt had been spreading lies. The Gorgon will no doubt believe her.
"Honey, seems like the proverbial cat is out of the bag. You know the Mirror doesn't lie and when everyone around here sees--oh, what am I saying---when everyone around here DOESN'T see your reflection, then they'll know---you hear me?--they'll ALL know what an imposter you are!"
I hung my head.
"Oh, no, no, no, none of that, sweetie..." Arvilla grabbed me by the arm. "Get up and take a good long look in the Gorgon's Mirror. See what we all see....." She dragged me forward and pushed my face towards the mirror.
Arvilla released my arm and I fell to the floor. I glanced up to see Arvilla backing away from something. Her eyes glowed a sickly yellow and her lips peeled back to reveal her fangs.
A long raspy hiss echoed through the Hall and one of the carvings near the ceiling started to move. A long sinewy form fell to the floor between me and Arvilla. It was Sssylviaaa.
"You have been warned onccccccee before Arvilla.....you are not allowed here."
"I have every right to be here. Without me, there would be no Art, no Literature. You ALL need me. "
"Get out. You know the Rule-- creativity must be fosssstered. You are no part of that!"
"I will not. She's MINE!" I saw Arvilla reach behind her back. Sssylviaaa coiled and raised her head.
Arvilla shreeked and lunged towards Sssylvia with a long, serrated knife.
"SYLVIA-- watch out!!" I cried.
In a moment too quick to be anything but magic, Sssylviaaa stretched out the skin on the side of her head and she transformed into a giant Hooded Cobra. The color on her hood luminesced and from her open mouth she spat a stream of quicksilver which hit Arvilla directly in the eyes.
Arvilla dropped the knife and clutching her eyes she fled towards the door.
The next few minutes were a blur of confused voices and people, other guests shaken from their sleep by the encounter. For a moment I thought I heard a horse bellowing in the distance and the sound of breaking wood.
Sssylvia slid next to me. Her hood was gone and her silver tongue flicked at me. "Sssylvia.... the Mirror doesn't lie." I said softly.
"No, it doesssssn't. But that was not the Gorgon's Mirror. "
Sssylvia turned her head facing away from me. Once more she flared her hood and on the back of it was a small mirror. "This is the Mirror of the Gorgon. Look."
I looked into the mirror on Sssylvia hood and saw only myself reflected there. It was the same image that I've seen everyday my entire life.
"You are very real, my dear, and very much a writer and artist."
This time I shed tears of joy.
Image and Text: Lori Gloyd (c) May 23, 2006 Image: Korean Friendship Bell Pavilion, San Pedro, California