prologue
The “darkening mirrors” of the title derives from a memory, a personal
experience of the uncanny. One summer at the amusement park at the
county fair, I unwittingly followed my sister into a cruel maze of tall
cubicles with mirrors covering every side, a House of Mirrors. Each
closed room provided endless reflections of the self. I saw my clothes,
my face, the skin on my hand repeated over and over again in the walls
around me. When I touched the mirror, my fingerprint was invisible di-
rectly behind my hand but discernable in smaller and smaller versions
behind itself a million miles deep into the two- dimensional surface in
front of me, behind me, and at my sides. And again and again in each suc-
ceeding room. Looking farther into the mirror showed more of the same
and the same with a difference, as refracted images from other mirrors
volleyed my lanky body back and forth in a different pose from an op-
posing angle—my arm in the way of my shirt here, but not there—over
and over again, faster into forever. It took more pressure than my eight-
year- old body could apply to move the one secret wall in each cubicle
that would deposit you into the next mirrored room in the maze. In a
tired moment I slumped and lifted my chin toward the ceiling, noticed
the bright bare bulb high above my head, and immediately became
aware of the impact should that light go out. Those glimmering mir-
rors that seemed filled with endless images would go black, empty. The
perplexing, ungraspable infinity would vanish. The possibility was both
terrifying and comforting. I could be stuck in the darkness, taunted by
reflections of myself all around that I couldn’t even see, but then at least
I wouldn’t have to look at them anymore. I peered harder, farther back
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