I pass her extended arms and stand in front of the mirror, desperate for something else to think about. My shit-colored eyes stare into the mirror. I lick my hand and run it over the tar-colored frizzy lion’s mane that pretends to be my hair, but to no resolve. My brow furrows, so I shift my focus to the mirror itself, rather than my reflection in it.
It’s funny how I’ve never thought of the mirror before. The outer edges are carved cherry wood, an antique passed down from a dead Grandma. The etching gives way to flowers of different sizes and in each corner, a small cherub blesses the mirror with delicate smiles. This mirror always gave me the creeps, but Mom insisted it go in my room. The plus side is that I think the mirror is sort of bent, like in a circus fun house, so I always look taller and skinnier in it. In some corners of the mirror, patches of the silver have faded over time, giving way to indents of black and dark purple marks that crawl towards the cherubs, who seem blissfully unaware.
“How does it work?” I thrust my hand at the mirror, but my fingers crush into the firm glass. “Ow, ow, ow.” I cradle them. “What the hell?”
“You can’t get through without me, only me and people like me can get through.”
“People like you?” My fingers throb, so I squeeze them tighter, trying to focus on the breaths coming in and out of my lungs instead of the pain.
“Guides. We open portals in the mirrors and transport humans in and out.”
“I’m not necessarily a human, more or less like a fairy from Neverland. Magic, you could say.”
I drop my fingers and stand tall. “You’re telling me we’re going to fucking Neverland?”
She shakes her head. “Glass is nothing like Never, Neverland.”
“Fine, let’s explore, shall we?” I grab her hand and turn back to the mirror. I gently poke at it this time, and the glass ripples from where my finger touched it. I jump back, still clinging to her hand. “Woah.”
“Are you ready to go to Glass, Haize?”
“I hope so.”
She turns her back on me, standing between me and Dead Grandma’s mirror. Ah, I realize, not a ponytail, but a fishtail braid all the way to her ass. I stand corrected. Hana stands in front of the mirror, and sticks her leg right through it, and over her shoulder, she says, “you’ll have to hold your breath, but it’s not a very long walk, so you should be fine.”
The rippling glass quickly envelops her entire body, leaving only the hand that tugs at mine. I close my eyes and lean into the mirror-or where I expect the mirror to be. Rather, my skin pushes through the bouncing glass. When it hits my skin, goose bumps burst all over my body. I was unprepared for the cold and hard substance, like jelly, as it wraps around my arms and legs.
“Open your eyes,” Hana says. It doesn’t sound like I expect her voice to, like if we actually were underwater, but I obey.
The area around me looks just like water. My feet slosh through the glass, one pulling along the ground right after the other. My hand holds tight to Hana. She looks so natural in the glass. Beyond her, it looks like I’m underwater staring up. There’s a light ahead that’s interrupted by green and white waves. On my right and left, there’s an endless ocean of water, permeated by light. Unlike the ocean, I can see right through the lit water into the infinite possibilities of more portals and more people and more guides and more watchers and more unknowns. Once again, I try to ignore the panic swelling inside my stomach, creeping up my esophagus. Anchor, anchor, I need an anchor. But nothing is familiar, and nothing feels safe. I trudge harder through the watery world I find myself. Hana looks back at me and must register my panic. She also picks up the pace.
I need to breathe. I need to breathe, right now.
The glass ahead still moves like an ocean current. We’re only feet from it, but my face feels like someone’s trying to blow a balloon inside of it.
Hana pulls harder at my hand. There’s a dark outer ring in my vision. Fan-fucking-tastic. If I pass out, I swear to God…
Hana’s leg pushes through the edge of water into what I assume is the other side of the portal. She quickly falls out of the glass, giving me a final tug. We both go flying through the last of the glass. I hit the dirt, face first. I roll onto my back with heaving breaths.