• Vol. 07
  • Chapter 04
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She had lived so long on this side of the reflection that the other often seemed a foreign country to her, though she had been born on that side and once knew its alleys and sidewalks as bosom companions. On that side, summer had been longer and music had been more melodic, or was that just her memory sanding the harsh corners smooth? Winters had been colder, but the snow piled higher and there were snow sculptures (once, her father had made her a seated snow man on whose frozen lap she could sit) and hot chocolate thick and scorching in a mug that was nearly too hot to hold. Her coat then was new, thick and she was proud of it in a strange way, this wool barrier that made her part impervious sheep. She wore plastic bread bags between her socks and her boots because they had not yet invented waterproof boots. On this side, the coat was looking a bit threadbare and shabby, old fashioned. People today wore plastic coats in cheery synthetic colors no matter what their moods. Her dark woolen coat made her look like an old grandma, though she was neither and though she felt bright enough inside even if she had lost a little shine. On the far side of the reflection, she was sure the clouds had been more animated, contracting and stretching themselves into shapes against a brilliant blue sky. In those days, the clouds were solid enough to walk on, where today’s clouds formed an unending damp blanket of grey that revealed no images, no friends, and yet pinned nothing in place. They were untrustworthy for walking upon. Sometimes the reflection opened a jagged window into that other world, and sometimes, like the clouds, the reflection became dull and impenetrable. She understood this to be the nature of reflections and also a commentary on her own opaque thoughts. She could be uncompromising and dowdy, but she was not without spirit and joy. It was just more elusive on this side. On both sides, she had a bicycle. The first was sparkly and blue, with a banana seat and colorful streamers bristling from the ends of the handlebars.



Today’s was more workaday, but its gears changed smoothly and, though she was out of breath sometimes with the effort of riding because her lungs were as old as the rest of her body, it gave her no less joy to skim the sidewalks on inflated wheels now than it did then. Sometimes, when she looked obliquely into the reflection, she could see a woman on both sides, whole and unfractured. From this height, she could see a smooth ocean and the delicate horizon line between then and now, that and this, and the broad unending curvature of herself.