March 2, 2013


There’s a block in the city where the houses on both sides of the street mirror each other perfectly.  In fact, everything about this street is symmetrical.  The mailbox on the left made from an old microwave – yes, a real, previously owned and used microwave.  You’re sure because you pop it open to check and find splatter stains all across the top.  Well this microwave mailbox perfectly matches the one to the right.  And each crack in the sidewalk has an equal and opposing partner across the way.  Even the one that looks like a screaming split hair, because it seems to have a face and deep-rooted feelings of distrust after years of heated abuse.

If you’re to walk down this street, you might notice you’re not alone.  Glance to your right, and there you are.  Staring right back at yourself.  But those are someone else’s eyes.  In fact, taking a closer look, your nose looks different too.  You didn’t think yours was quite as broad.  And that hair.  Who the fuck let you out of the house looking like that?  It’s at this moment that you’ll make a very sincere wish for the future of all humanity: May your yet-to-be-born heads come fully assembled, with side and rearview mirrors included. 

Move further down the road and you’ll see your other self changing.  Those eyes look more familiar with every step you take.  Your nose takes on a new form.  And that hair?  Well that hair, you’ll find, is not half bad.  That being said, a mirror still wouldn’t hurt anybody.

Don’t be distracted by the neighbors who pull curtains carefully aside and peer out at you from all angles.  When they stop their ogling, they’ll realize they don’t recognize themselves either.  That’s about the time they’ll shrink away, back into their carefully guarded homes, off to eat soup or something equally cliché.

If you can find a way to make it to the end of the street, you’ll notice where the one discrepancy exists.  There are two weeping willows that seem to come alive when the wind blows.  The one that leans against the wind is the one you want.  If you’re brave enough to cross the street, you and your other self can both pull aside the leaves and let the curtain close behind you.

Inside you’ll find it’s cozy and silent.  Now that your other self isn’t looking like such an idiot, you can send him or her around back to investigate.  It’s you, not your other self, who will discover the doorknob first.  It’s simple, circular and made of copper.  And it’s above your head, which you think is rather odd.

This particular willow has the bark of another tree.  It’s flaky and like sheets of paper you’ll be able to pull them apart and off and over to uncover the rest of the littlest door you’ve ever seen.  Whistle to your other self, because although this door is tiny, it’s about five feet up off the ground and you’ll need a boost. 

With the help of your other self, your feet jamming straight down into his or her shoulders, you can turn the handle, open the door and peer in.  At first you see nothing but black.  But as the light spills in, you realize this dark tunnel goes down.  Way, way down.  Into the depths of the ground.  When your eyes reach what seems to be the bottom, you’ll be surprised to find your third self, staring back up at you with a smile.

He or she will signal you to climb in and follow.  You’ll hesitate.  You’ll wonder.  You might even worry.  But when you glance back to your other self here on earth, you’ll get a thumbs up and a wistful wave goodbye.  And then you’ll know it’s ok to go.

Filed under: Short Stories 
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