“Huh?” I rolled over to glimpse at the clock through half open eyes.
“It’s 2 am.” I stated groggily.
“Up! Up! Don’t dilly-dally. I don’t have all morning to waste on you,” said a gravely voice with a New York accent. I looked over and saw what appeared to be a little man with wings, who was hovering in the air next to my bed smoking a cigar. He had an unflattering rotund gut, and could definitely use a shave. My guess was that if he was normal human size, his stench alone could wake me and get me moving. Thank goodness he was miniature. I rubbed my eyes and looked again just to make sure. Then I swung my legs over the side of the bed.
“Uh, are you my fairy god….parent?”
“Do I look like I’m here to grant you your wishes? Now get up lazy bones.”
I moved to stand up and further inquired, “Who are you and why do you think it’s ok to smoke a cigar in my room?” I moved to reach for the cigar as the ashes fell disappearing before they hit the carpet.
He pulled his cigar away from my grasp. “Hands off. Just get moving.”
I was just about to ask him to where, but then I saw it–a door. It was stationed in front of my closet standing in the middle of the carpet surrounded by an unattached door frame.
“Go on, kid. This is here for you.”
I opened the door and attempted to decipher its contents, but I only saw a pitch black space. I cautiously moved my hand forward and then quickly swiped it through the blackness. My hand was temporarily lost in the blackness. I felt nothing like I was swinging at the air.
“Hey kid, I’m not here to kill you. Go on, step right through. I’ll be following behind you.”
“Wait! I need to get changed. I can’t go in my pj’s, and I need to put on socks and shoes.”
“Nah you don’t. None of that matters.” I looked at him crossly. He affirmed again, “You don’t need to, and you’re taking up too much time. Just put on a pair of slippers or something, and let’s go.”
I don’t own slippers. I put on my sandals, which looked a bit odd with my current outfit.
“Good. Now, go right on through.” I pondered, “why the rush?” but I obeyed. I knew my curiosity would never be satiated if I didn’t follow through. Plus, if I had to hear him say ‘let’s go’ one more time, I might’ve started swinging in my half awake state.
As soon as I stepped through, I was standing in a hallway entrance that appeared to be a large office building. To my left sat a receptionist hidden behind a desk too busy on the phone to recognize our arrival. People hurriedly bustled around. Some were dressed in business casual attire. I spotted a few pajama wearing teenagers lazily chasing after well-dressed adults with a quick gait.
Over the intercom, I heard, “Paging Jack, we need you at the dungeons hallway, Jack to the dungeons hallway.” Just then, I noticed the smoker standing next to me–normal human size. He was taller than me by half a foot. He no longer had a cigar hanging from his lips, but I was right about his stench. I looked away from him and took a deep breath.
“Alright, this way.” He led me up a staircase to the second floor. We passed a few offices. They read things like “Hologram Center,” “Elixir Lab,” and “Dreamscape.”
Finally, we reached “The Mirror Room.” We entered, and I recognized it as nothing more than a waiting room.
“Alright, now go have a seat. I have to sign us in.”
Before I could utter a sound, he had turned his back to me and strolled up to the large open window housing a receptionist. I walked over to the table with the magazines strewn across it when my peripheral vision discovered the strangest one. I picked it up and leafed through the pages. Nothing made sense. I did not recognize the text, and the photos seemed indecipherable which were even more confusing than an M.C. Escher drawing. I stopped to examine a page when it was pulled from my hands.
“You don’t need to see that. That must’ve slipped into the human mail pile by accident.”
“The human mail pile?”
“You don’t think we only see humans, do you? Although, this facility is for humans and their guides only.”
I sat there and thought of aliens coming to places similar to this one, for whatever I was here to do.
“What did you sign us up for? And why do we have to wait? This is like some magical world or something right? Can‘t we just do whatever we‘re here to do?”
“Humans are so impatient. I should’ve worked with the Gorgians.” He just sighed and leaned back in his chair in a state about to doze off.
I waited a moment before prodding him again.
“Well, are you going to answer me?”
“Do you have to be so annoying?”
He turned his head away and started to snore.
I slowly scanned the waiting area. There was an entire wall decorated with framed mirrors. Some were rectangular; others were circular. There were some cream colored frames and dark navy blue ones. In fact, as I began to examine them and try to store them in my memory, it seemed like an endless wall of mirrors, though the office wall was finite. After I studied a frame and the jumped to the next, I would not see that frame again. Each mirror was unique, whether because of its shape, color, or that it hung askew. This place created more questions with every encounter. I averted my gaze.
I smoothed out my candy printed pants. I felt out of place in the waiting room sitting next to my companion, who was wearing an ill-fitting button down and tan slacks. My fingers started to braid my hair when I heard my name called. I shot up out of my seat.
“Please step through the door to your right,” the woman behind the desk instructed. She directed me with her hand outstretched towards the door. She wore a professional yet friendly smile. I found myself staring at her green eyes before I remembered to check on my companion. The stout man was snoring loud enough to wake his own self up, yet remained unmoved.
The woman, whose eyes now turned a light cotton candy blue, lowered her voice. “Oh, he’ll be fine. Don’t worry. The room is ready for you, dear.”
I nodded and made my way to the door. I hesitated with my hand resting on the knob. The door looked ordinary to me, but what did she mean that the room was ready for me? I took a deep breath in, turned the knob, and passed through the threshold.
The room was dark except for a bright beaming light in the middle of the room reminiscent of a theater stage. My gaze remained fixated as my legs carried me towards the light and when I was halfway there, I heard the click of the door closing behind me.
As I approached, I spotted a young girl emerge in a cute white dress with a green, blue, and black floral pattern. Her sophisticated dress was offset by her small stature and two long braids resting on each shoulder. She smiled at me.
“Hi,” I said a bit cautiously but friendly.
“Are you here for my birthday party?”
“It’s your birthday? Happy birthday. How old are you now?”
She held up her hand with her fingers spread apart, “five.”
She gazed passed me before I refocused her attention. “Are you waiting for someone?”
“My daddy should be here soon. Mommy said he might not come, but I know he’ll come.”
“What if he doesn’t?”
“He promised he’d always come back for his-”
“How do you know that name?”
“I used to know your daddy.”
“Well, I know my daddy’s coming.”
My eyes drifted down, but I said nothing.
“My daddy is coming. He said he’s coming. He’s coming. My daddy is coming.” She continued repeating those words. I knelt down and embraced her in a hug. She resisted at first but eventually let me hug her.
“It’s ok. You’ll be ok.” Tears had already begun falling down my face.
We stayed like that for a bit with the two of us crying until she disappeared in my arms. The loud click of a new stage light echoed, and I saw one lone mirror standing in front of me. On the ground in front of it lay a drawing pad and pencil. I walked over and picked it up. Am I supposed to draw something? I scrunched my eyebrows then I heard three loud consecutive clicks. To my right, there stood a whole row of mirrors. “Subtle,” I muttered to myself. So I opened the drawing pad to its first page, and with my pencil in hand, I looked up into the mirror. What I saw looking back at me was familiar but not quite what I expected. I moved toward the mirror and then I took a step back. My head shrunk and my butt grew larger and then it happened in reverse as I walked toward it. I stepped to the next mirror. It showed a tall and stick-thin person with distorted long fingers. I didn’t inspect my reflection for long before moving on to the next. Each mirror warped my body. When I reached the second to last mirror, it was vastly different than the previous mirrors. I had the perfect hourglass shape as though I had been photo-shopped onto the reflective surface. I quickly sat down, grabbed the pencil and started to sketch. I didn’t draw much more than a basic head shape when I paused. There was still one more mirror in this row. I picked myself up and walked over to it. At first, a small smile formed on my lips, but then I started laughing. “I see,” I said aloud. “This is me.” I sat down and began to sketch. I must have been engrossed in the activity before I noticed the lights were gone next to me. I didn’t finish the picture. The room disappeared in a dark veil, and my pupils grasped for any bits of light. I stood up clutching the drawing pad to me with the pencil slipping from my hand.
Off in the distance, a light shone on a figure slumped over covered in an abundance of tattered clothing. I apprehensively approached. The figure looked up at me with pleading eyes.
When I was within a few feet, she spoke first. “Please. Please help me.” I bent down, and as I got a closer look at her, my eyes widened. I stumbled backward off my feet and then continued crawling back on my butt. Then, I noticed a stoic young woman in a business suit preoccupied with her destination hastily walking passed us. I got to my feet. She had the same face. My breathing quickened. I spotted another young woman smiling and singing aloud to no one in particular. She stopped and smiled at me. Then she continued as though I were just a minor distraction. Another young woman was screaming into her phone. My breathing became quicker and shallow. I bent over in a panic. Then, I felt a gentle hand on my shoulder. I looked up to see my escort. His face mimicked a show of sympathy, which startled me.
“Slow deep breaths,” He instructed.
I just stared at him in between my gasps for air.
He handed me a brown paper bag. “Breath into this.”
I took it and began expanding and contracting the sides of the bag. As my breathing started to slow, I gasped out, “What the…hell…is this…?”
“Just relax for a moment. We can talk when you’ve caught your breath.”
He patiently waited beside me as I regained myself and stood up.
“Why show me this? I don’t understand,” I exclaimed helplessly.
He stood motionless.
“I mean all these women–are you saying this is who I will become? What’s the point?”
“These women are not representing your future.” He paused before continuing, “They embody aspects of you unbridled. They need to be in balance for you to find peace.”
“Well, what of my younger self?”
“It is something that plagues you deeply and affects you more than you care to admit. You need to treat yourself with the same loving kindness that you showed her.”
“How am I supposed to do that?”
“Talk to yourself as you would her. You have a lot of inner strength, but you sometimes turn that against yourself.”
“The whole ‘love yourself’ preach?”
He smiled for the first time. “You are a pain in my butt.”
“Why me? Why bring me here? Where is here?”
“You needed our help, and we were in a position to help. Those other questions will have to be left to mystery. I’m only allowed to say so much. When you are ready, we have to leave. We are on a set schedule.”
He picked up the drawing pad that I had dropped, ripped off the page of my drawing and handed it to me. “Treat it well.”
I accepted it with an open hand and held it beside me as another door appeared lit with a new stage light.
“Are you ready?”
I approached the door and turned the knob without any hesitation. Relief washed over my body as I entered my room. My fairy friend followed behind me back in miniature form.
“So, what happens now? Will I see you again? Will I wake to remember this as a dream?”
“You’re holding proof this was no dream.”
There was a question I had held onto since the first time he spoke and decided now was the perfect time to ask, “Where is your accent from?”
“I am a New Yorker.”
“Wait, you live in New York?”
“Yeah, this is a part time gig for me. I still need to earn a living. Most shop keeps don’t like when I drop a bag of fairy dust on their counter bartering for goods.”
“So why do you even do this?”
“I like to help people.”
“Really? What better way is there to help people then to kidnap them in the middle of the night and make them face traumatic events?”
“Here’s my contact info. If you need me, I’m around.” He handed me a small box of tissues with his name and means of contact printed on the side. When I looked up from examining it, he was gone.
I placed the drawing on my dresser on the way to my bed. I kicked off my sandals and laid back into the familiar comfort of my mattress exhausted and overwhelmed. Tears stained my cheeks. They continued to flow uninhibited forming tiny rivers over my cheeks. I occasionally laughed as I absent-mindedly studied my ceiling. My hands rested lightly on the tissue box sitting on my chest. Before I realized it, I had fallen into a peaceful slumber.