“Wait here, Mindy. I’ll be right back.”
Mindy nodded as her mother’s footsteps faded, and then turned slowly, examining the room. That’s when she saw it. At first she was shocked. She didn’t know there would be another one. It made sense when she thought about it. Silly of her to imagine that in a world with so many people, there would only be one window. Still, she hadn’t expected it. She wondered how many there were and where.
The first time she’d seen one, she’d been afraid to touch it. Her grandfather had given her a copy of Through the Looking Glass, and she understood what sorts of things could happen. That day, she’d just stared into the infinity of the glass… room after room after room, each with its own otherworldly version of herself, looking back as though they were as mesmerized as she was. She’d dreamt of more. She wanted to lift her legs and float right through… passing each foreign Mindy, getting smaller and smaller until she reached the end, if there was one. She wanted to watch their heads turn as she flew past, too quickly for them to catch her, though they’d all try. Mindy had flown once before. She was sure it could be done. Late one evening at her grandparents’ house, she’d floated out of her bed and down the stairs, stomach almost brushing the ground, coming to rest under a blue footstool in the living room. She remembered the sensation of it as she gently landed, surrounded by the warm glow of evening lights and adult conversation. Certainly she could do this again if she tried. She ignored the fact that she had tried on a number of occasions, leaving her with rug-burned knees and a cross disposition.
This time felt different. There was a crackle in the air, and she thought she heard someone calling her from beyond the worlds that she could see—from the distant blackness she so wished to explore. She pondered her mother in the next room—how worried she would be if she came back to find Mindy gone. Would her mother understand? Would she stretch her arms and lift her feet and follow? The possibility was comforting, but Mindy was unsure. Perhaps she should start small…just a finger, or a hand at most. She lifted her arm and moved it slowly toward the glass. She could picture what would happen—the finger dipping through as if into water, the feel of cool liquid surrounding it. Maybe she could poke the next Mindy in the nose, snatching her finger back in time to keep from getting caught.
Her hand trembled in anticipation as she moved closer and closer, finally reaching the dusty portal. She closed her eyes, too frightened to look.
Her fingernail hit hard glass.
“Mindy, what are you doing?” Her mother’s voice was alarmingly close. “You’re getting fingerprints all over the mirror!”
Mindy bit her lip and tried to smile. “Sorry, mommy.” Maybe next time.