I’m with my father, we are on our way to visit an elderly couple that he has recently met. Their home is beautiful nothing extravagant, its quaint, on the bluffs overlooking the water below, its a peaceful, serene spot. They invite us in, it is my first time meeting them. As usual I am reserved and bit nervous, being a conversationalist has never been my strong suit. We go through the usual introductions, “hello, pleased to meet you”, “this is my Daughter” “you have a lovely daughter.” As my father speaks I sit there on their couch listening, feeling awkward. Then something catches my attention, I look up towards the stairs and down He comes. He has a lonesome, dark presence but kind eyes. Sadness and restraint fill his every movement, he barely acknowledges the people in the room, including myself, that have come to acknowledge him. Just then our eyes meet and time stands still, I am glad it does, in fact if that moment was to be my last, it would be sufficient for a thousand life times.
Time resumes and he continues on into the kitchen. The sweet elderly couple apologize for his behavior and explain that he is their Grandson and earlier that year his brother suddenly passed away with no explanation. “It was ruled as suicide”, they say “and he has never fully recovered”. My heart suddenly aches with heaviness, all I want to do is run to him and embrace him. An odd feeling for someone I just met, I have not even been properly introduced, I think to myself. Nearing the end of our visit I ask if I could use the restroom, they tell me where to go. As I’m washing up I notice something beside the vanity, an old mirror, it looks very unusual. I pick it up to inspect it closer, its a simple antique mirror but the design in the glass is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, almost like a prism, you could get lost looking at it should enough time pass. Just then he enters and pulls it away from me, with a look of terror, despair and anger.I am startled and slightly embarrassed. He says in a condescending tone that I should mind my own business and not to snoop around other peoples things. I pointedly reply “I wasn’t snooping, it was left out in the open, in the guest bathroom no less and it caught my attention.” I apologize and insist that I didn’t mean to cause any harm. He stands there, in his jeans and black t-shirt, I notice a tattoo on his left forearm , a symbol of some kind. I couldn’t help but stare and think how the tattoo has a lovely way of bringing out the definition and masculinity of his arm. He doesn’t speak much, but his eyes show a frustration and desperation that his mind can’t find the words to speak. I whisper once again that I’m sorry and quickly go to slip by him, he doesn’t move but gently grabs my arm before I can make my escape, holding me next to him I feel the strength behind his energy, he looks me in the eyes and says “I’m sorry too.” I smile , he lets go and I head back to the living room to join the others. As we say our goodbyes he stands in the entrance to the kitchen, his arms stretched over his head, as he holds onto the framing. I glance in his direction trying to be nonchalant, he looks up at me and I swear a saw a twinkle in his eye and what could be the start of a smile.
A few days later….
I am on a walk in the woods, something from above hits my shoulder, then my arm, then my head, I pull it out of my hair and see that it’s a seed. I look up to see him sitting in the tree, he has a hand full of seeds which he continues to throw. He makes a remark about me snooping again but in a lighthearted playful way. I don’t let on to how happy I am to see him, we seemed to have a connection but all the tell tale signs said trouble. I reply back with “Contemplating how to make more people you’ve never met feel uncomfortable? He slides down the tree and stands in front of me throwing more seeds to the ground. He smells like sweet spice, he looks everywhere but at me like he’s trying to find something to say. Finally he simply says “I have something to show you” I willingly go with him, not even asking one question, I lecture myself in thought, this is exactly how I get myself into trouble.
After a while of what seemed like wandering in the woods, we come to a small clearing surrounded by trees. Yellow caution tape flaps in the breeze, torn and tattered. He moves to the center of the area once under investigation, still holding seeds in his hand, he proceeds to tell the events of the day his brother died. The details, the police report, and the type of person his brother was. He was so full of life and positivity, he always had his head on right, always looking forward, never wasting time on sad thoughts. He however, disagreed with that last remark, he goes on to say “for me, sadness sheds light and darkness illuminates the mind. However one should never dwell in complete darkness, you become blind to the life inside you. You should spend time in the shadows but only for a moment.” Drinking in his words, I remain completely still afraid that if I move or respond he will see my thoughts. He continues ” I don’t think he committed suicide it was not in his nature, I think he was murdered”. He pauses and throws the remaining seeds at the trees and screams.
I ask him, “beside it not being in his nature what other facts do you have that would lead to that conclusion?” He went on to recount the investigation, the casual approach and assumptions the authorities took with the death. Then he says: “the reason I was so mad at you for looking at the mirror is because my brother and I had a theory. There is a legend that anyone who looks at the mirror long enough it will speak to you, once it does you have three days and then you die.” We obtained the mirror the last time we were traveling abroad and while we were drinking one night we decided to open it up and prove the legend wrong. We are not the type to believe in such things. Three days later my brothers death is ruled as a suicide. The funny thing is that within those three days he was paranoid like someone was following him, the phone would mysteriously ring at all hours of the night, and he made me promise to never stare at it again. Next thing I know he’s gone. He stands motionless like all the life has been drained from him, each breath heavy, his head down, I’d say he was slouched over but his muscles are strong and they keep his posture. I ask him “ What do you believe?” He says that he thinks that someone did this to him, someone high in power and that the mirror is a tool for criminal activity.
I approach him unsure of how close to get behind him. I say “well… why don’t we prove them wrong ? he raises his head and turns to me and says “ what?” I reply” lets prove that your brother didn’t commit suicide, its dangerous but if what you say is true, its just going to happen to more people. so I’ll help you, that is if you want my help…” he comes close, puts his hands on my shoulders ,looks me in the eyes and says “ lets do it”. My heart now in my throat, it’s permanent residence when he’s around, we continue back the way we came. We begin to spend a lot of time together moving forward, analyzing all the possibilities. Once we have all our options narrowed down we come to the agreement that the only way to verify the truth is to do what his brother did and stare into the mirror. Here we are, on the day we chose to change everything, we break out the tequila and enjoy each others company laughing, smiling, sharing stories. Then in all seriousness he says “I should be the one to look at it because my life is less important than yours”. I disagree but let the argument alone, besides I had already planned that, when I got the moment, I will be the one to look at it. We both can’t do it, because one has to be there to rescue the other.
It has been months of preparation, we both wrote letters to our families explaining what we have been up to, who we think is responsible and what their first move should be upon our death. We planned an escape by building a deck at his grandparents place with stairs all the way down to the river below. We covered all our bases and here we are in this moment, realizing how compatible we are, how much we both care for each other, and both still hesitant to do anything about it. As a back up ,we filled in one of my good friends on our plan. They agreed to play the naive bystander and cause interference.
It’s time. He says how he wishes things were different but if they had been he would not have been with his grandparents that day, we may never have met and we wouldn’t have found the truth. Now his brother’s death would not be in vain. Lost in my thoughts I don’t notice when but he leans forward, inches from me, he looks deep into my eyes and says “ let’s get this over with”. He gets up and leaves the room, while he is gone I pull out the mirror and stare into it. As I do I realize that what was so mysterious when I saw it the last time was simply a computer screen, much more advanced than anything I had ever seen before. It’s as though you are staring into the fabric of reality when suddenly you are connected, you see no one but there is a voice, It proceeds to say” welcome, you have been connected. You have three days to fulfill the desired request or your life will be terminated.” It followed with instructions to a nearby location, a contact name, and the approximate weight of the package you were to obtain. Drugs is my assumption, this was a drug ring organized but some of the most powerful people in the country and its just us with our silly game plan. Just as it was about to end he came back, he grabs a blanket and throws it over the mirror and says in frustration ” What are you doing! we agreed! we agreed it would be me, why would you do this?” I looked at him, realizing the gravity of our situation, and said words that came a lot easier than I thought they would “ You are worthy of life, your brother is not your fault and you better save me because I love you” He stares at me his eyes glisten with tears but not one falls.He walks up to me, pulls me close, wipes the tears from my eyes and kisses me.
The next day at the crack of dawn the phone rings with a countdown time until my death. We set our plan into action and begin to inform those whom we know we can trust. I was to obtain the package and leave it in a drop location, if I was successful the clock would be stopped and I would continue to live. Our plan was to reveal them to all the world via their own technology, and hope on the graces of God that there were still some good, decent, members of authority out there. If not, at least their cover would still be blown, millions of lives would still be saved and we were willing to make that sacrifice.
The current pounding against me..
my lungs burn and desperation takes over.
Our families were a little less enthused and wanted to notify the local authorities but we urged them not to, if they did we surly would be dead before morning. Instead they helped set the trap and that leads us to this moment. I knew the deck would come in handy though I am out of breath from running, I don’t know what happened to him, and the helicopters are closing in, my good friend came through as promised and is causing distraction. I have no other choice but to jump, jump into the water, hold my breath for as long as I can and hope, hope for a miracle. I am holding on to the roots of the trees growing along the river bank, however the rock formations of the bluffs make it difficult to find my footing under the water which means that with the current pounding against me ,eager to carry me away, I’m bound to use up more oxygen than I intended to. From beneath the water I can see them line the river bank, their guns at the ready, all dressed in black, demanding an answer from my friend as to where I went. They fire their guns into the water, bullets zip by, missing me by a hair. Panic sets in, they still haven’t left and I need air. My lungs burning, desperation takes over and I realize that I am about to rise to my death. I know as soon as I come out of the water I will be before a firing squad. Just then something tugs my arm behind me, I spin around and there he is to save me, he gives me air from his lungs and helps me swim away.
We make it just far enough out of eye sight and crawl up onto the river bank both gasping for air, too tired to move. We make our way back to the house, its suspiciously quiet, we sneak up the back using the newly built stairs. At the sound of wood snapping, the smell of fire and a plum of smoke the stairs begin to shake. It’s a trap, they begin to blow up the stairs, we push as hard as we can, racing to the top. We make it to the house just before we plummet to our death. It turned out that their plan to stop us only caged them in and to our surprise there were people stronger than them watching that day. We exited the house to see them apprehend the members of the criminal organization and took them away for a long ,long time.
Later that day-
In celebration we all came together, everyone wanted to know what and how the events of the last few months played out. We went for a walk down to the beach hand in hand, arm in arm, he would come in close now and again just to squeeze me, kiss my head or gently push the hair away from my face. I’ve never had someone look at me with so much love. We are bombarded by people once again, congratulating us, hugging us, asking us to hear the story again and again. We just want a moment to reflect and appreciate that we are alive.
As the sun sets, a storm rolls in off the lake and it begins to rain, we run, run so fast through the rain, laughing, seeking shelter. We come to a little place tucked away in the woods, a live in tree house. He leads me inside, I look around its cozy and warm, It’s clear that it has been untouched for some time, perhaps since his brother passed. Both of us soaking wet, he stands next to me and says that this use to be his home, but now I am his home.