[I previously posted this story on r/Nosleep and removed it because I’d been feeling insecure about it. I had called it ‘Unforgiven’, but am renaming it because that technically isn’t a word.
I recently found the story after thinking it was gone forever… and decided I’d go ahead and share it again!]
I wish she’d die.
That invasive thought came like it always did, as though it were set on a timer. It was finally morning, but I felt as though I’d been in a fist-fight with my nightmares. I was always tired, but I never wanted to sleep—the memories kept me up at night, then replayed while I slept. I had someone to blame—the woman who had hurt me. Even now that she was in prison, she managed to have some power over me. Justice hadn’t been served… if it had, I wouldn’t still be suffering… right?
I wish she’d die.
Maybe then I’d get the relief I needed. I stared up at the ceiling, internalizing that dark wish– one I’d never act on, because that would make me the villain. I had to pray instead that someone else would take care of it for me. That happened in prison all the time, didn’t it?
I closed my eyes, taking the prescribed deep breaths. I knew I was getting too worked up, and I hadn’t even gotten out of bed yet. I counted each breath… Like the doctor told me to do, even though it didn’t work. I was even told not to think about it, not what happened… or my condition, as though somehow it might just go away. I tried to follow their instructions, but I couldn’t stop the thoughts, or the nightmares.
My bedside table was a chaotic display of fluorescent orange bottles and crunchy flowers. Prescriptions, and old bouquets from well-wishers who had long given up on me. People stop sending flowers when you take too long to get better… right around the time they stop caring. The dead flowers reminded me of that every day.
I wish she’d die.
I took my time getting out of bed, absently smoothing the sheets as though they weren’t ripped to shreds—evidence of the battles I fought even in my sleep. I grabbed my phone off the bedside table and skimmed through texts from my mother:
“Stop doing this.”
I hadn’t called her in months. I’d call her later, but first I needed to take a shower. The film of nightmares left my skin sticky, the long t-shirt sheer to the point of indecency. I felt disgusting! Taking a shower used to be a cure-all, I would always feel better when I was clean. It wasn’t so simple now because I never felt clean.
I gathered my towel, and a change of clothes before heading to the bathroom. I didn’t bother turning on the light, the high window in the room let the sun stream in just enough that I wasn’t stumbling around blind. As I brushed my teeth, I deliberately kept my eyes trained on the faucet so I wouldn’t have to see my face.
My phone started to vibrate again, more texts punctuated with an occasional call. I didn’t pick up. I didn’t want to talk to her because I wasn’t better yet. I knew she’d just tell me to snap out of it, like it really was that simple. What would answering her calls really accomplish? I’d only give her more reasons to worry. She didn’t understand what I was going through, what that woman had done to me.
I wish she’d die.
The lights flashed brightly, as if in response to my dark thought. In the darkness, the sudden intensity burned into my ill-adjusted eyes. It only lasted for a moment before the light winked out, leaving only the square of sunlight from the window. My first instinct was to rationalize it, but doubt quickened my pulse. Maybe I was just imagining things? I made sure to double check the switch, flipping it on and back off for good measure. Lately, I’d been prone to hallucinations so it wasn’t completely out of the question that I’d imagined it.
Trying to shake it off, I undressed and stepped into the shower. It didn’t take long before something strange happened—the shower curtain began to draw back. I caught it with my hand and tugged it back into place. Even though there was no one here, the thought of the curtain opening and letting anyone—even the mirror— see me, was enough to freak me out. I didn’t want to be seen; not by myself, not by anyone!
I tried to be dismissive, but it didn’t last. My hands were shaking as I reached for the faucet, ready to retreat back into my room and hide. Before I could, the curtain was ripped down and left spreading on the floor like a dark, pooling stain. Startled, I couldn’t help but scream! As I ran for the door… a woman materialized from shadow, someone I’d never seen before.
“Who–?” I shrieked, but before I could even finish the question she vanished, leaving me face to face with the mirror that I’d been avoiding. It was so dirty, far dirtier than it should have been—to the point it couldn’t even reflect. On its surface, written in the grime—a message:
The words sent chills through me. I tore my eyes away, more convinced that I needed to get away from this place before my mind cooked up even darker delusions.
“I’m having a nightmare.” I rarely spoke these days, to hear it under these circumstances was particularly jarring. I bolted, reaching for the door and cried out when I realized it was locked from the outside. At this point I was well beyond terror, throwing my shoulder against the door to break it down.
“No! This isn’t happening!”
I heard a sigh behind me; turning slowly, full of dread: there she was again, the woman I’d seen in front of the mirror. I knew she’d never left. Locking up with terror, I could only stare. There she stood, with dark hair that fell in the way that shadows do; her lips were violet, accentuated by bloodshot eyes. I could feel her contempt, judging this dark world of mine.
“What do you want?” I managed to ask her. She turned away from me, looking into the old mirror—perhaps she could see something in it that I couldn’t.
“Why won’t you look in the mirror?” the question she asked caught me off guard. “You’ve neglected it completely.” As if she sympathized, she touched the tarnished frame—not even glancing my way. It was like she wasn’t here for me— she was here for the mirror.
I wish she’d die.
“I know. That’s not what I asked.” She’d heard the words I’d never spoken. I was caught off guard, leaning against the locked door.
“Well…” I felt compelled to reply, though the question was hard to answer. “I know I’m not who I used to be. I don’t want to see that.” If she found my answer strange, she gave no indication.
“I can make her die. You know the price.”
As she said so, the words sprang to mind: two graves– Hers… and mine. My grudge against the woman who ruined me had taken over my life. I had stopped living for anything else. In a sense, she had killed me. The person I was, and the person I could be—
Did it really have to be this way?
I didn’t know how I’d never asked that question. This fatal choice… I was being offered the revenge I’d wished for, but the price to pay was steep. I could choose that path, but was that what I really wanted?
Yes, the darker part of my heart cried. It held so much power over me, and yet–
“No… I won’t be her victim twice. I won’t follow her into Hell, she can go there herself.”
The apparition finally looked at me, she was smiling– softening into something less ominous. The mockery and contempt she wore dropped away like pretense.
“Yes… she will be judged, but not by you. If you continue down the path you’re on, you will be destroyed.” I knew she was right. My fixation on murder couldn’t possibly end well, I needed to move on with my life.
Before I could even finish the thought, the woman was gone. So was the darkness and filth that once filled my house.
I turned towards the mirror. For the first time… in a long time… I saw my reflection. I was still myself, there was no one who could have changed that— except for me. When the phone rang, I picked up and smiled into the receiver. The healing had begun, I knew I couldn’t shut myself away any longer.
“Hi mom… I’ve missed you too.”
2 thoughts on “A Sympathetic Mirror – Wholesome horror short story”
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What an awesome short story. You pulled me in from the get go and I was so glad to find a happy ending. Thank you for sharing.
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