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  • Writer's pictureCathryn Grant

3-Minute Fiction: The Unlit Mirror

The restaurant didn’t have a bathroom of its own. Instead, the server had directed her outside and around the corner to an alley where a public restroom was shared by three restaurants which backed up to the alley.

It seemed a rather dicey setup for a nice restaurant, but the dining area and kitchen were small, so possibly they had no choice.

She opened the door. The room was nearly dark, but she could see a pedestal sink to her left topped by an elaborately framed mirror. The glass was dark, making it impossible to see more than the outline of her head and upper body.

The toilet sat in front the adjacent wall. She reached to her left and touched the light switch. It was already turned to the on position. She pressed it back and forth, not believing this was all the light that would be available.

Yielding to the darkness, she closed the door. Although she was clearly alone in the tiny space, sweat broke out on the back of her neck. Sweat that was thicker, clinging more viciously than what the warm evening had generated.

The thought of unzipping her jeans and lowering her pants made her heart beat faster. She whispered deep inside the self-aware crevices of her mind — You’re being ridiculous. The door is locked there’s no one here. It’s not like it’s pitch black. You can see the sink, the mirror. If someone were in that corner, their reflection would be visible in the mirror.

She laughed. The room was so tiny it was impossible there was someone in that dark corner near the door.

She took a deep breath. Waiting until she and her husband and their friends were back home after dinner was not an option. Her bladder needed relief…now. Still, she couldn’t escape the feeling there was someone else in the dark room with her.

Another presence maybe.

She laughed again at her foolishness. But her laugh wavered and tapered to a whimper, nervous and weak. That wasn’t good. Now she was elaborating and inflating her fear.

She needed to pee and be done with it. She should already be finished. She unbuckled her belt and eased the button out of the slot. She yanked the zipper down and took a deep breath.

Why couldn’t she shake the feeling she was being watched?

She tugged her pants to her thighs and sat on the hard, paper-covered seat.

For a moment, her fear was washed away by the relief of easing the pressure inside. She sighed and relaxed. She laughed softly. The whole thing was ridiculous.

A sharp pain shot through the tender inside of her thigh, fractions of an inch from causing horrifying damage. She screamed.

She wrenched herself off the seat, although something seemed to want to hold her in place. She fell on the floor, sobbing with an explosive mixture of pain and terror. She lay there crying, screaming although no one could hear, around the corner, inside the restaurant.

After a while, she struggled to her feet, the pain radiating down her leg, up into her abdomen, creeping up her back. She wrestled her pants into place.

Before she turned to the sink, she glanced at the toilet. In the near-darkness, she saw it. An enormous yellow snake, coiled in the toilet bowl, its amber eyes glaring at her, longing to drain the life out of her.

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