A true story about yours truly.
It began, like most things of this nature, with a feeling. The heaviness of a gaze on her as she moved around the room, a small prick of light in the corner of her eye, the thickness of something foreign in the air; all gone in a blink. She convinced herself she was imagining it—she’d just moved into the old cottage, after all. She was bound to feel a bit strange until she settled in.
The largest piece of furniture in this particularly off-putting room, the bedroom, was inherited from her landlord—a mahogany chest of drawers with a massive tiltable attached mirror, so large and heavy she wondered how he got it through the door. It was a magnificent piece—the top of the mirror reached about six feet in height and had a beautiful age-spotted patina, there were ribbon-like carvings on the corners of the lower portion and crystal pulls on the drawers; it was a very pricey antique passed down through the landlord’s family. The interior smelled like mothballs; she left the drawers propped open so they’d air out, tucked dried lavender among her folded t-shirts and pajamas as she stacked them within.
The feeling didn’t go away. In fact, the longer she lived in the cottage, the more it seemed to intensify—so much so that she sometimes found herself inadvertently holding her breath when she entered the room. She’d wake in the middle of the night curled on her right side, facing the mirror angled against the wall beside her bed, and swear she saw a shadow within its wood frame. But once her eyes adjusted to the darkness, there was nothing but her—a cocoon-like marriage of woman and winter quilt—reflected within.
Sleep being sacred to her and spirit interaction being a common occurrence in her life, she decided to get serious. She deeply cleansed and blessed the space, taped a drawing of a pentagram onto the mirror, washed the piece with Florida water, and arranged a small altar containing crystals, salt, and white candles on top of the bureau. Each night she stood before it and said a protection prayer, the whites of her eyes flashing back at her from the pitted glassy surface beyond.
In response, the knocks began. They ran the gamut from a single booming bang to rapid small taps as if someone was at her door. But they didn’t come from the direction of the room’s exterior entrance; they always emanated from the wall behind the mirror. There was no predicting them—they rang out randomly day and night, sometimes waking her from a dead sleep, her heart slamming her ribcage in time to the resounding blows.
She couldn’t ask her landlord to remove the piece; its bulk meant it was permanently parked there for the duration of her tenancy, and anyway, the reasoning behind the request would be met with heavy skepticism, at best. She researched antique mirrors and learned that their mysterious provenances make for risky purchases—one can never know if their previous owners used them for unsavory scrying practices or died in front of them, trapping their souls within. She found that they’re considered portals and gateways for spirits; that those who don’t protect their energy could be harassed or drained by whatever chose to pass through. She consulted a medium, who told her to clang pots and pans together in the room to break up the dark energy and burn a tray of salt over and over until it stopped turning black. Everything went quiet for a while after she completed those tasks. But her sense of false security made her lower her energetic walls, and the chaos barreled in.
First, she woke in the middle of the night to the depression of a person sitting forcefully on the mirror-facing side of the bed; she froze, too scared to turn and look, until sleep somehow overtook her once more. She was roused another evening by the feeling of her quilt being dragged and pulled off her, as if by the claws of a large cat; she slunk deeper beneath the fabric and hid her head until it stopped. Finally, she had what she’d call a lucid dream—she couldn’t quite discern how awake or asleep she truly was, but she knew what she saw was real: the top half of a body emerging from the mirror, arms outstretched over its head, torso parallel with the floor. It was human-shaped and pitch-black, and she still can’t shake the image of its unnaturally long spindly limbs reaching toward her.
Her desperation led her to a solution so obvious she wondered if whatever was in the mirror had somehow purposefully clouded her reasoning so she wouldn’t think of it sooner. She grabbed an old toile flower-printed flat sheet and slung it over the mirror. The effect was immediate—as if the humidity in the room plummeted from 90% to 10%. As the days wore on, she was aware of a lightness in her being; she’d been carrying the weight of something deeper than fear on her shoulders without realizing it. She couldn’t get over how happy she felt, how unburdened and unafraid—only in hindsight did she fully fathom the cumulative effect of what had been assaulting her.
She sleeps soundly, now, and still says a benediction in front of the rectangular cloth-swathed shape each night, for good measure. This mirror reflects the light, the light of the divine; this mirror is a tool for blessings and light.
Every once in a while, a sharp pop or a crack will sound from the piece. She convinces herself it’s just the wood swelling and settling, surely.
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