Women disappeared every couple of years in Cathy’s town. Spread out and swallowed by the endless rolling green hills, or so the townspeople said. They were never interested enough to find out. Cathy refused to be the next vanishing act. Unlike the others, Cathy was willful. Always kept herself busy, her husband would say. But just like the others, Cathy was confined to her house. Something about the trouble that bored housewives stirred up made the town wary of women like her. So Cathy did what she does best–kept herself on her toes. She color-coded all the pillows on her polyester couch, then rearranged them in order of what color looked the best where, vacuumed both her vintage rugs and the beige minivan, and reapplied her makeup for no one but the mirror to see.
It was two o’clock in the afternoon, and Cathy was spread out against the afternoon lull. Time was poured into the ravine of the day, and for the first time in her life, Cathy could not mop it up. She had checked her makeup in the corridor mirror three times, but only the third time did the woman in the mirror speak up.
Hello, my life, the woman in the mirror said. Cathy started at the sound of her name, glancing down the corridor. She peered at her reflection in the mirror, suspicious of the drooping corner of her lips and the brown eyes staring back at her.
Cathy said, What? What life? No life of yours.
Don’t be so surprised, Cathy. You knew I was coming.
It happens to everyone. You know, when the hills start to roll and the afternoons start to stretch out on your lawn…You get it.
I don’t think I do, Cathy muttered to herself. She could feel her limbs spreading out against the afternoon lull, painfully aware of time’s slow crawl around her throat. How had she become unstuck from the mirror?
But no matter how much Cathy refused to be the next disappearing woman, she was drawn toward the woman in the mirror. Her reassuring, drooping smile and familiar brown eyes captivated Cathy, and talking to the mirror was refreshing, like she had found new pillows to rearrange and take her mind off of her husband’s tired, concerned eyes.
So the women talked. They talked about her husband’s receding hairline and his little whiskers that he called a mustache. They imitated his stubby hands brushing through and through his thin hair and the way he raised his left eyebrow whenever he said something condescending. Cathy felt her body piecing itself back together, and light flashed off the mirror’s glass, and the woman in the mirror flickered, and all worries were swept aside like dust. The woman in the mirror vanished, reflecting nothing but walls and light. The woman-less house yawned, the way a cat does after devouring its owner. It was nine o’clock in the evening, and the husband finally returned home to an empty house and a still mirror.
April Wang is a student from Southern California, Shanghai, and Chicago. She has been influenced by the quiet rain of Irvine, the chatter of Shanghai pollution, and the rolling cornfields of Illinois. Her work has previously been recognized by the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers and the Word of Mouth Literary Arts Journal. She edits for HerCulture and the Beckman Chronicle.