01 Feb I followed my brother through an old family mirror
When a loved one dies all normal senses seem to be turned down. Colors are no longer vibrant in the afternoon sun. Sounds are more harsh on the ears. Food always seems to taste bitter and flavorless. The only scent my nose can pick up is the one of the aforementioned loved one, my brother, Kyle. It lingers around in our room, on his old clothes, and especially his bedsheets. My mother and father’s touch has also lost the compassion that it used to.
Kyle died in a car crash a few weeks ago when my Dad was driving him home from baseball practice. The car was smashed in what I found out to be described as a T-bone collision, the second most deadly type of car crash. The car collided with the passenger seat, leaving my Dad completely unharmed. The guilt lays heavy on my Father, but my Mom and I both know it wasn’t his fault. Their car was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Grief was still in full effect at our house; Dad sitting in his blue recliner with two fingers of scotch, watching the TV mindlessly, and Mom upstairs in her room with the door locked shut. It was 9:30PM and I decided to call it an early night, as I had to return to school the following morning. Switching off my bedroom light I partially surrounded my self in darkness as I creeped past my brothers vacant bed. My door was slightly cracked open allowing the TV from the living room to light up the entry way to our…my room. I laid down in my bed and fell asleep nearly instantaneously.
Footsteps pattering across the the wooden floor boards woke me up. I checked the clock and it flashed 3:03 back onto my eyes in a dull red light. I felt extraordinarily parched so I got out of bed and walked down my hallway, the TV now off, but my Dad was still on the couch snoring. I stepped into the kitchen and opened the fridge when the smell of rotting meat encompassed my olfactory nerves.
“It must have been weeks since anyone has cleaned out this fridge” I thought to my self as I closed the door shut. Goosebumps ran up my arm as I heard a giggle emanate from the pantry. I tiptoed across the kitchen tile toward the pantry. I knew that giggle. It sounded just like Kyle when we used to play hide-and-seek. I opened the pantry and sure enough, Kyle was there in the flesh. He sprinted past me as fast as he could.
“Kyle?” I whispered out, but he had already turned the corner and began to run down the hallway. I took off after him without a second thought. I followed him into my Dad’s office where I saw him standing behind my Dad’s desk.
“Come with my Tyler, please, come play with me” my brother said from behind the desk. My stomach twisted in various knots as my knees began to shake. Kyle did not turn around to face me, but instead he remained staring at my reflection in the mirror that hang from the wall behind my dad’s desk. The old mirror was a family heirloom passed down from my Grandpa, who got it from his Grandma. It’s golden frame that use to look rustic and decayed now appeared to be glowing in the dark.
“Kyle, How…what..are you-“ and before I could formulate a question he began running straight for the mirror. He hopped right through it as if it were an ordinary window. Standing calmly on the other side, he stared back at me with a soft smile.
“Come on Tyler. Please play with me. I’m so bored.” He said to me as he reached his hand outside of the mirror. So many times he would ask me to play, and me, being the stereotypical older brother that I am, was always “too cool” to play his games. Well not tonight, whether this be some crazed dream or not, I was not going to tell my brother no. I walked around my father’s desk and grabbed onto my brother’s hand. His warm skin caused the goosebumps on my arms to reside. I hoisted my self onto the frame of the mirror and he pulled me through to the other side.
I was overcome with the intensity of colors now present in my dad’s office. Warm soft lights filled the room as if the saturation on my vision had just been adjusted ten fold. Spiced Pumpkin, Mom’s favorite candle, surrounded the air as I took a deep breath in through my nose. I could hear Dad outside laughing aloud at the TV as dishes in the kitchen clanged loudly.
“Boys, enough of that horseplay. Dinner is ready!” My mother’s soft voice shouted from behind the closed office doors.
“What’s going on Kyle?” I asked.
“What do you mean, you found me like you always do. Because I can’t ever keep myself from laughing when you are close. I’m starving, lets eat.” Kyle said. He stormed out of the office without an explanation. Without a single sign of acknowledgement that we had just walked through a mirror. I followed behind him quickly without glancing back at the mirror.
I entered the kitchen to see my Mother eagerly setting the table as Kyle sat in his usual seat with a smile on his face. My Dad walked up behind me, rubbing his hand through my hair.
“Hope your hungry kiddo, because this food smells great!” He said. His hand graced my Mom’s lower back as he leaned around and gently kissed her.
“Come on Tyler, we’ve all been waiting for you.” My mother said smiling back at me as she sat down in her seat. I sat down across from Kyle as he passed me the fresh bread rolls Mom had pulled out of the oven moments ago. She prepared a pot roast, which happened to be my brother’s favorite. The pork was cooked to perfection and matched elegantly with the steamed carrots and potatoes.
“I’m so glad you could finally join us Tyler.” My Dad said between bites of bread.
“Sorry about that, Kyle had a better hiding spot than usual this time.” I said in an attempt to blend in. I kept thinking that even if it were a dream I didn’t want to wake myself up from excitement.
“I’m sure he did sweetie. Did you get enough dinner rolls?” My mom questioned. She was staring back into my eyes. The silver bowl of bread was inches away from my face as I politely declined. Just as she began to take the bread down I could see a black figure standing behind my body. I turned around inquisitively, but there was nothing behind me.
“You seeing things Ty?” Kyle said to me. I turned back around slowly and could see my parents and the ends of the dinner table still glancing at me as my brother calmly cut into his roast. “Wow, this is truly remarkable mom.” He continued. “You were the longest to get, you know that? You never wanted to play with me Ty.” I could hear my brother say as his silverware scraped against the dinner plate. I picked up my knife and fork and cut into the roast.
“Never have I seen a brother as neglectful as you.” Kyle said unwarrantedly. I took a bite of the roast and could feel the the tender meet break apart on my tongue. I looked back down at my plate and could see my reflection in the beef broth. “You know, maybe if you played with me I wouldn’t have had to go looking for friends on a baseball team and could have just stayed home with you!” His voice was significantly louder now. My gaze was trapped in the broth. I could see two black figures on the left and right where my parents sat as well as one standing behind me in the reflection. The broth began to turn from a light brown and into a dark blood-like red. Then the rotting smell I experienced earlier that night was now emanating from my mouth. I spat my food out in disgust back onto the plate and stood up.
“Tyler you sit back down and eat your dinner.” My father commanded. His gaze had still not left me.
“I’m sorry I need to be excused.” I said as I turned back and started to walk out the kitchen. I could here my mom cry out from behind me.
“It’s the meat, I burnt the meat didn’t I. I cant protect my boys, let alone feed them.” She cried out in tears. I didn’t look back, but instead kept walking toward my Dad’s office. I looked over at the living room TV and could see my Dad sitting on his blue recliner in the reflection. A black figure had its hands around his shoulders as it looked up at me and smiled. I started to move faster and could hear Kyle following on my heals.
“Dad was easy enough once he had his scotch.” Kyle continued. I reached the office door and opened it up quickly, refusing to look back. “Mom never left her room, and she cried about me 24/7.” Kyle said as the office door opened. I turned the corner and looked at the mirror. As I ran up closer to it the reflections image began to dull. The golden frame decayed before my eyes as I was inches from it. I placed my hand on the cold glass and it did not budge. “But you, you rarely thought about me. Like you were trying to forget me. But you can’t forget me Ty, because I’m your little brother.” Kyle said, his voice deeper than normal.
I looked at the reflection in the mirror as I heard his feet round the corner and walk into the office. It was a dark figure. It’s hands as long as knives and its eyes were as red blood. I quickly turned around and where the figure stood was now my brother.
“You aren’t my brother!” I shouted out while running toward him. I pushed him back to the other side of the door and slammed the door shut.
“I want to wake up now! Wake up!” I shouted out at the top of my lungs.
“Your aren’t dreaming Ty.” Kyle said back at me as he started to get up from the floor. His pupils were now bright red as he stood up. “You’re here with me, Mom, and Dad now. We can all be happy together.” He continued as his voice morphed 5 octaves lower than normal. I slammed the door shut and locked it. “Just come out and be happy with us Ty, there’s nothing waiting for you on the other side, just look into the mirror.” he finished speaking.
I glanced up at the mirror and could see the figure now standing behind me with its hands in my back. It looked up with its red eyes and a toothy grin. He controlled my melancholy reflection like a puppet and guided my old body out of the room.
“We control you know Ty!”” Kyle continued to shout out in his new demonic voice. I Sprinted over to the window in my Dad’s office. I could see or groomed front yard. The grass looked as if it had just been cut and the hedges were trimmed to perfection. I opened the window to escape, but everything changed as I slid the window up into it’s frame. The front yard vanished and I was surrounded by sheer darkness. My brother’s maniacal laugh echoed from behind the door. His laugh chilled my bones as I accepted the new wretched reality that I have succumbed to.
It seems the internet from my dad’s office is working so I’m posting here to get my story out in desperation. I don’t know how much longer I have until this door gives in.