Category A: Third Place (2021) Monash Short Story Writing Competition
Author: Stephanie Salim
Title: Mirror, mirror on the wall
There was no way out or back. It was inevitable. Darkness would conquer all.
Her eyes flew open. Darkness. Uncertainty flooded through her senses. Where was she? She blinked, and blinked again still seeing nothing. She focused on her breathing, willing herself to calm down and think rationally. Searching through her memories, she remembered... nothing. Her mind was empty. She didn’t even remember her own name. Resisting the urge to cry out in despair, she marched forward determinedly hoping to find something, anything.
In the distance, she glimpsed a prick of light. A spark of hope ignited and she approached the source of light not knowing what awaited her.
A mirror stood in front of her, simple yet refined. It was elaborately adorned with studs of diamonds that winked at her. She gazed at the mirror, drinking in her reflection. Unruly brown curls that were slightly sun-bleached hung past her shoulders. Sea-green eyes with soft flecks of gold stared back at her. Her image spontaneously wavered and depicted a small cottage, its hue a bright yellow as if expressing the happiness of the young couple inside with their newborn squirming child: Audrey Hart. A click seemed to sound through her head as the memory settled into her brain. Audrey, her name. The mirror wavered again and this time it showed a majestic castle and a small girl standing beside her parents waving shyly at the crowd inside the palace hall. ‘Princess Audrey!’ they all exclaimed in delight. Her father, the King, was ruler of Willowdale, a small yet mighty town. She was the heir to the throne. The mirror wavered yet again. Fire. She, the princess, was a fire wielder. The mirror showed her accidentally setting the library on fire when she was upset after her cousin had stolen her book. Image after image, the mirror revealed her life from learning to control her power to her first grand ball.
It was as if completing a puzzle. All the missing pieces were recovered but there was one last memory to uncover.
Blood, so much blood. It was as if she was reliving the moment her 10-year-old-self had. She caught her reflection in a mirror on the wall, identical to the one that stood before her now, covered in her parents' blood. She shook her parents’ shoulders screaming their names but she knew they couldn’t hear her. Gut-wrenching sobs tore through her lungs but no one came to comfort her. Her maids didn’t rush in and fuss over her. Her uncle didn’t burst through the door and tell her stories to comfort her. And worst of all, her parents lay still, their bodies limp on the bed. Her eyes glowed. Fire clouded her vision and she lost control. Colossal tongues of fire shot from her, destroying everything in her sight and the whole castle dissolved into ash.
The mirror revealed the last image. Of her standing in the ruins of her castle and her people.