The Mirror

The Mirror

Twelve-year-old Emma stole a hundred-dollar bill, tucked it in her pocket, snuck out the door, and hopped the barbed wires, scratching her leg. She and her friend Jim smoked cigarettes, instead of going to school.

Emma returned home with a torn skirt. Exhausted, she lay down to sleep. 

***
Emma was in her favorite tailor’s shop in front of a three-sided mirror. The old tailor was repairing her skirt. There was a wooden table in the middle, with many sewing accessories, including an antique sewing machine. The flickering light bulb gave a yellowish glow. The things were organized in a way that spoke of longstanding work habits.

Suddenly, Emma saw a woman in the other mirror, maybe forty-two-years old, bearing a strong resemblance to herself.

The tailor stopped hemming and started talking to the woman in the mirror. “If you could go back thirty years and change your life’s outcome, would you?” he asked.

“Why do you think I want it any different?”

 “Because you wanted to be a lawyer to prosecute criminals, not grow up to be one,” the tailor sneered.

“Who are you, woman? Go away!” pleaded Emma, feeling startled by this conversation.

The woman paused. “Wait…I know you. You’re me, thirty years ago.” 

“No way!! You look horrible, I won’t look like that,” protested Emma. 

Emma’s disgusted face made the woman realize why the tailor had asked about going back and changing her life. She recalled a few defining things that Emma could change to alter her life. But first she had to prove she was really Emma thirty years later.

“You and Jim smoked behind the mall. You stole money from your mom’s purse. The cut on your leg is from ducking the security cameras and hopping barbed wires, not falling off your bike, like you told Mom,” the woman stated. “Need more?” 

“Which boy do I like at school?” Emma asked, not believing her.

“Bob Miller.”

Feeling convinced by this intimate knowledge, Emma felt ill and asked, “How’s your life now?”

The woman began to narrate her current life of past jail time, failed marriages, bankruptcy, unemployment, stealing for survival, and said, “Emma, you now know exactly where you are wrong. You’ll have to make education a priority, not stealing, not smoking, or I’ll be your future.”

Elated, the tailor looked at the woman and explained, “You’re a good person, but your past choices had a negative ripple effect causing incredible hardship for you. The experience your younger self just had was very profound and rather traumatic. Sometimes alterations are called for in this universe, that’s where I come in, to initiate them. So, this change wasn’t for your benefit, but for your younger self.”

****
Emma was drenched in sweat as her mom woke her up. She made a committed promise to her future self from her dream. 

The next day, Emma woke up, ready to go to school.

“You seem different,” her mom said. “The glint in your eyes says it all.”
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