After six months his face started to change. There was a stranger now in his bathroom mirror, alien hands shaving an unfamiliar face.
In a fit of rage, he had shattered every reflective surface in the house, including the old filigree mirror.
There had been a brief darkness. He shook, but felt better.
They patented blue eyes.
For the first few years of your life you had to pay royalties for your eye colour. If you were employed by the company, of course, they let you have blue eyes for free. Many people tried to hide their blue eyes with coloured contact lenses, but a court ruling stated that this only won them a discount, because their eyes were still blue at night.
Eventually, expensive surgeries were developed to change eye colour. In the beginning they were risky, and could only remove more pigment. Naturally blue-eyed people had their pigment entirely removed, and sported pink and violet eyes, but soon regretted their decision due to the increased photosensitivity. Brown-eyed people who were wealthy wanted blue eyes as a status symbol, and had a few layers of pigment stripped away, at the cost of some of their vision.
The truly impoverished gauged their eyes out.
You are a seed. One of many covered by the soil, you are lucky if you grow. You stretch long tendrils out under the ground, sapping in capital, building yourself. Soon you tower above the land, and your profit blooms. People gather for miles to admire the beauty of your growth. Eventually, you deplete the land of its resources, and your growth can’t be sustained. People try to prop you up with sticks, fearful that your beauty will never return. They want you to keep growing. One day you will die, but it won’t be the end. All that you took from the land will be returned, reabsorbed by the soil, and soon we will stand in the shade of something far greater.
His legs started to shake. They weren’t his any more.
Days passed, and he looked in his bathroom mirror, seeing his face with a body he didn’t recognise.
When he wrote that down in his notebook the words didn’t feel like his own.
He had spoken to friends, but they laughed. There was nothing different. It was a funny joke.
Each morning he watched feet walk to work that were no longer his, hands and legs shaking, wrists clicking, slowly falling further from his control.
I thought you were my sickness. When you festered and bubbled on my skin, I tried to cure myself of you. I thought that if I got rid of you, everything would be okay. But you kept coming back. I kept letting you back.
You were just another symptom.
You are not the cause of my misery, and I know that now. You are just something I bring in to occupy my mind, so that I don’t have to see my real problem. All the time you are here, causing me pain, polluting my life, you are just distracting me from the truth. I bring you back every time things get bad. It’s so much easier to hate you than it is to fix myself.
I will enjoy the damage you cause me, and when my real illness subsides I will throw you away and pretend that action solved my problems. And when my misery starts again, I will blame you.
There’s a secret day that only I know how to access. If you position yourself just right at midnight on Friday you can get there. You will slip through the timestream between Friday and Saturday. In that gap you can find an extra 24 hours.
It is lonely in the secret day, but you get the best work done in the crystal clear silence. Your phone won’t work, and you won’t be able to get on the internet. Every TV station will show static. There are no people here at all, their physical presence isn’t in this time. There is a rumour that when people go missing and are never found, it is because they died on the secret day.
You will feel a little motion sickness when you rejoin the main timestream. That is normal. It will be 1am on Saturday morning when you get back. Nobody will ever know you were gone.
He didn’t really think about where to keep the mirror. It just sat on his table, neglected, a problem for some other day. He must have glanced over it a dozen times, but never really looked in.
He didn’t realise anything was wrong until his hands started shaking. They shook whenever he tried to hold something too long.
When he looked at his hands, they didn’t feel as though they belonged to him. He could clearly move them, but he didn’t recognise them.
When he wrote that down in the notebook, his handwriting was different.