Now You See Me

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Often, you have wondered if you are real, if the world around you is indeed ‘reality’.
You have always seen people in mirrors, people who live their lives unaware of your prying eyes.
You call them ‘others’. Everyone else calls them ‘hallucinations’.

You dislike going out.
Outside, mirrors- reflections, are everywhere.
There’s no one to see your expressions when you’re alone inside your room, except for one. But he… he doesn’t matter.
You stare at your reflection in the mirror, ignoring the daily lives of the ‘others’. Your reflection looks back; He is an anomaly just like you.
‘Hello.’ You mouth.
Your reflection tilts his head almost-bemusedly and echoes your action.
No one else believes you, not even your guardian. But your reflection, your other-self does. He can see your world as clearly as you see his.

You still have to go to school.
Your classmates snicker and ignore you. They’re already used to you. You find that you don’t mind it anymore.
After all, there is someone you know who will always stick with you no matter what.
Your reflection quirks his lips. You turn away, a faint smile playing on your lips.
The only friend you have is him.

“I’m afraid. He keeps talking about some other world like it’s real!”
“He probably thinks it’s real, you know, people with mental illnesses…”
You let the chattering wash past you and convince yourself that you aren’t hurt by the words. Your reflection smiles sympathetically, and you let yourself believe that everything is fine.

What is reality? What gives you the right to define what is real when you might not be ‘real’ yourself?
‘Reality is what we perceive it to be.’ Your guardian had once said during a rare moment of introspection.
If that is the case, then all those people you see reflected in mirrors, are their lives as real as you perceive them, or are they the illusions that the rest of the world insist them to be?

There is something festering deep within you. Your world is dark and dull, full of people who don’t matter. You glance at the other-world, filled with so much vibrancy and colour, and for a moment, you are full of longing for the world that you do not belong to.
You reach out a hand. Your other-self does so too.
You touch the mirror. For a moment, what you feel is not the cool surface of the mirror but a warm hand.
“Hey kid! Dinner’s ready!”
You quickly withdraw your hand at the sound of your guardian’s call and glance at your other-self.
He gives you a grim look as you turn away. The feeling of warmth lingers on your palm.

It is dangerous- you don’t know what the consequences of getting close to the other-world are. Your hand enters the mirror. For a moment, you feel nothing but warmth. Then, it is cold.
You wonder how all this could possibly be a hallucination.
Your other-self grasps your hand.
Then, he lets go.
You move to pull back, and find yourself stuck.
A tendril of panic wells up within you.
Your other-self frowns and pushes your hand out through the mirror. You gasp for breath that you didn’t know that you needed.
It’s getting dangerous- you’re becoming too enthralled with this world that is not yours. If you truly get trapped, you’re not sure if your other-self can help you.
But... up till now, you still have no regrets.

Your guardian is dead. The only person in this world who ever supported you has just disappeared, just like that, with unfeeling words spoken by a stranger.
The odd feeling that had struck you like lightning persists. You trap yourself within your room. Without the shield of your guardian, you feel like the world is closing in on you once again, just like they had during your parents’ deaths.
Your reflection taps the surface of the mirror. For once, you can hear it. You distantly wonder if your worlds are growing closer.
You see your other-self look at you, expressionless, a hand on the mirror.
He traces out a single word: COME.
It is the first time that he has communicated with you directly. Not for the first time, you feel your resolve waver. Before you realise what is happening, you have already moved to face the mirror entirely.

This world… there is nothing here left for you.
You stare at the mirror, at your other-self. You silently bid goodbye to the world that you have lived in for so long, to the warm memories of the time spent with your guardian.
You let yourself fall.
The other-world is unexpectedly dark, and the only thing you see is you.
You walk up to your other-self. Every single one of your actions is mirrored perfectly.
You stop when the both of you are barely a foot away.
There is nothing else here. For a moment, a sense of loss pervades your entire being.
“Are you real?” You ask helplessly.
There are only two possibilities: yes or no.
You receive no answer.
Bright light envelops your vision and you see no more.