Jessica spun around with her back turned to the plain blonde girl in the mirror. She truly was ordinary in every way. There was nothing different about her at all. But she was Jessica’s favorite.
“I know you’re still there,” she giggled. “You’re always still there.”
There was only silence behind her.
“You don’t have to be afraid,” she said.
“Are you leaving us again?” the plain girl asked. Her voice sounded sad.
Most times when Jessica looked, there was only the plain girl trapped behind the glass. The others were shy, but she’d seen them all before and she knew they were there, hiding. Sometimes when she spun around really fast she could catch one of them ducking into the shadows. The princess, the mermaid, the girl who had the pony, they were all there.
“I have to,” she insisted with a smiled. She turned around again. The sadness washed away from the plain girl’s face and she smiled back. “You should come with me!” Jessica exclaimed.
“You should come with me,” the plain girl insisted.
“I ca-a-a-n’t,” Jessica whined. She reached up and touched her reflection. “The glass is in the way. It has to be you who comes.”
The sadness crept slowly back over the plain girl’s face. It made Jessica feel sad too. She turned her back once more. “Come on,” she said. “It’ll be fun!” She held her hand out behind her and she waited patiently.
Tentative fingers reached out and interlocked with hers. Jessica gave them a gentle squeeze. The plain girl stepped awkwardly out to stand beside her. “See? I told you,” Jessica said. “There’s nothing to be afraid of. This is my attic.” She gestured around with her other hand.
“What’s there to do in here?” the plain girl asked.
“We could dance,” Jessica suggested.
“I’m tired of dancing,” said the plain girl. “We always dance. And anyway, there was more room to dance if I stayed inside.”
“I could show you my rat, Webster,” Jessica offered. “My friend Flower’s coming to spend the night and I have to practice his trick.”
“But I don’t think I can leave the attic,” came the protest.
“Are you afraid of ladders? They’re just like stairs. Wait here and I’ll..”
“Jessi, who are you talking to up there?” Her mother’s voice rose up from below and her feet sounded on the ladder steps.
“No one, Mama,” she called. Then in a scared whisper she turned to the plain girl, “Hurry, get behind me!”
Her mother stepped up into the attic and her head surveyed the room skeptically. “You’re worrying me, Jessi,” she said. “Are you that lonely that you have to stay cooped up here talking to yourself in the mir…” Her voice elevated into a terrified scream as her eyes fell on the mirror. She looked suddenly dizzy and paled, falling to the attic floor and narrowly missing the entry way.
“Mama!” Jessi shrieked. She ran to her mother’s side. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, sweetie,” her mother said, blinking at the mirror in confusion. “It’s just I thought I saw… for a moment, in your reflection, there was… there were two… never mind.” She stood back on her feet. “It’s time to come downstairs now. Your little friend will be here soon.”
Jessica turned to look at the mirror.
The plain girl shrugged innocently at her.
Jessica shrugged back.
© 2012 Anne Schilde