I stared at it for many minutes, and those minutes passed with a seemingly exaggerated duration. I waited until the feelings that had gripped me ceased to overwhelm. One by one, I unfelt the needless ones.
Perhaps it was foolishness, to do away with the panic and fear. However, I felt them to be irrational. Somehow, I tenuously knew that this shadow was nothing I needed to shy away from or even hesitate with.
And when I was perfectly calm and patiently observant, it beckoned at my mind. It was telepathic in a way I cannot put words to, because the thoughts it sent me were not akin to language. Rather, the thoughts it shared were both basic and abstract notions expressed with a speed of processing and a purity of meaning that words could never have provided.
I understood this entity's thoughts better than my own. But if I were asked to explain them, I would be at a loss for words. Immediately, I knew what it was, what it wasn't, and what it could become. Yet more importantly, was the bond it shared with me.
It was my vassal, and I was its vessel.
Alone, we were both powerless. Yet together, we were capable of things I had yet to fathom and comprehend.
The complexity of these notions ran deeper than I can explain.
And so it was that it sought from me identity. It sought from me something to tie it to my world and to me. A name, a moniker, a definition. Even a personality, a gender and a sex. Things that would tie it to this world with meaning, as more than just an empty spirit.
And as I lay there, sweat beading on my forehead, my mind drew blanks. I needed inspiration, and I tried to tell it this. It let me know that the word meant nothing to it, and so I tried to focus upon its meaning, without the use of words or visuals. I tried this until my head hurt, and when I opened my eyes I was relieved to see the shadow soften within my closet.
It expressed patience and interest.
And as I stood and took my off-white sweater from the chair of my bureau and wrapped it around my waist, I was shocked as the shadowy form dove into my sweater. Darkness lurked within it, and the threads turned sleek and black. It felt silky now, instead of woolen. And it shone as if every thread was a tiny chain of obsidian rock.
I gasped in awe, at its beauty, and that was something I felt, so deeply that words were not within my mind. Thus, it read my reaction and briefly tightened snugly around my waist as if to give me a gentle hug.
My favourite mahogany paddle was leaning in the corner of the shed. Soon enough, it was in my hands. My life jacket was snuggly strapped around me, and my hair was lost to the wind.
We sat backwards in the bow, and jay-stroked away from the cottage's dock. Lake Cynosure was a place of beauty, and I knew I would find the inspiration I needed to meet the shadow's needs.
I paddled as silently as I could. I made our way out of our little cove, and out into the open lake.
The lake was not as calm as I was. Gentle waves rocked the boat. I smiled, and then laughed. And after a brief moment, a wave from the wake of a motor boat hit the canoe in the side. I could have sworn, then, that my sweater laughed with me.
When the water calmed, I noticed that a family of loons was not far off, and so I made a stealthy approach. Of course, I knew better than to scare them or to paddle between either parent and the chick.
Beneath me, my sweater shifted nervously.
The father loon dove for food.
The mother watched us with one ruby of an eye.
The chick fluffed itself.
And then, the mother let out a throaty laughing call that echoed down the lake. It was the laugh of a crazy person, the precise reason why those birds were called loons.
Another loon responded from the other end of the lake, with a very different call.
And then the sleeves of the sweater that was tied around my waist clenched into rigidity before letting out yet another response.
I silently stifled a laugh, not wanting to scare the loons any further.
The mother loon turned her head to the other side, and glanced at us reproachfully. She hadn't been fooled.
They call such a grouping 'an asylum of loons', and thus I suspect that this mother is the therapist, as insane as she herself may be.
My curious little shadow spirit was a risk-taker, a fashionable one, if nothing else. Nothing. That's the closest word I can come up with to describe its life within that mirror.
Then I realized, with a seemingly irrational sense of horror, that I had left the mirror in my room during this excursion. Abruptly, I turned the canoe with a strong backstroke, and soon had us gliding above the waves toward home, much faster than we'd come.
But in all its explanatory thoughts, the mirror was nothing but a broken jail. Why was it still important?
I reminded myself that it had stabbed me. And it had absorbed my blood, too. And fixed itself. It was certainly quite magical, even without the creature inside it.
I tied both ends of the canoe to the dock with a sense of foreboding, and left my paddle in the boat as I sprinted up the stairs from the waterfront to the cottage.
I approached my room with an overbearing sense of dread.
I pulled at the blanket, exposing where I had left it.
It lay there, face down. My right hand shook as I turned it around.
I stared back at myself in the reflection. Except I hadn't even angled the mirror towards me. It was a me that wasn't me. A separate me.
I looked him in the eye, as he pounded a fist against the inside of the mirror. There was a look of horror on his face that sent my stomach into knots.
I turned the mirror over, and tossed it under some stray papers on my desk. I couldn't bring myself to look at its contents. All I could do was wonder, What was the price I paid?
My sweater hugged me, once more, and for a moment I felt comforted in a way I hadn't felt in a long time. And yet, I felt as trapped within that good-natured hug as I was within that mirror, even as I caressed one sleeve and ran the fabric between my fingers.
And for the first time, it sent me a thought that, though pure, came almost directly language. 13. Thirteen.
It wanted to know about the other twelve mirrors.
And so did I.
But first, I wanted to give this entity the definition that it craved. However, all I could think about was the ominous look in the mother loon's eye.