T he restaurant was full of mirrors. The walls were lined with them; mirrors of all shapes and sizes. Some cheap, bordered in plastic, some freckled with tarnish and age. Top halves of compacts, rearview mirrors, Hollywood vanities rimmed in lights. A few were broken.
This is what passes for atmosphere in Los Angeles. A restaurant made of reflections; cheap glass and imitation silver.
She hated it. Always had. She felt constantly watched. The eyes of her customers were bad enough, hungry and beseeching, always wanting something. Wanting taking, leaving only change and leftovers for her to pocket or clean. Often their eyes were angry, hungry for more than she was willing to give. Reflected a thousand times in the mirrors they scared her and made her weak, draining her of voice and life and protest. She left every day feeling empty, fingering the tips in her pocket and thinking only of home, a place with white walls and not a single mirror.
This morning was thick with impatient businessmen, and she waded through them. Pasty hands shining with gold bands flew to her, under her skirt and apron. She swept them away, moving forward, swinging a hand in front of her: a flesh machete in a jungle of men. The mirrors watched, and she watched the mirrors.
She rested a tray full of plates on her shoulder as she bent over the table. Eye-level with a wide cabinet mirror, she couldn't help but looks for a long moment at her reflection, teetering over table and food and customers. Reflected behind her was a tall man with no face, and he spoke to her loudly:
"Tricky tricky mirrors. They'll steal your soul."
She turned quickly, sending plates and tray raining down on a cluster of startled customers. No one stood behind her. She apologized repeatedly, eagerly scraping pasta from the floor. The patrons stared down at her, and at each other: the mirrors stared down at all of them, and glinted their satisfaction.
Breaktime. She hid in the bathroom--mirrors there too, even in the stalls. She took down the one that hung over the last stall, laying it on its face.
"There's no one here to get my soul," she said aloud, and yanked out a lock of her hair.
Shoes slapped the bathroom floor, splashing in a puddle of stagnant water and pausing at the sink. She sucked in breath quickly and scrabbled at the wall, trying to climb out of sight; her fingernails broke on the tile. The shoes marched out and she cackled sharply, digging the jagged nails between her thighs. Blood soaked her pubic hair and spread in dark blotches over the pink skirt of her uniform.
"Grope this," she said calmly, and laughed harder.
* * *
Diners whispered behind napkins and she could feel their eyes on her skin. The mirrors mocked her, shining wide faces at her from every angle. She was still bleeding; red splotched the back of her skirt and ran in trails down her legs. Customers were beginning to complain.
Maury the Chef had a knife in his hand and it sparkled on the walls, distorted large and small in the mirrors. Staring at the shiny serration, it took her a long moment to realize he was speaking to her.
"Take a break, honey. Clean yourself up."
She wanted to clean herself OUT, rip her intestines through her vagina and drape them over the mirrors. Hang them like streamers, like red crepe, and have her own little party of blood and flesh and hollow body. Happy birthday to me, and the mirrors would sing to her as she twirled, spraying red over the tables and chairs.
But she nodded and headed past him to the bathroom. She could feel him staring after her, and the mirrors laughed as she swung the door shut behind her.
Back in her stall, the mirror still lay prone on the floor. She picked it up and it grinned madly at her, shoving her own face back at her, greasy and pale. The glass was flecked with murky water, and she wiped the drops away gently. She left one smeared lipstick kiss on its smoothness and smashed it against the toilet tank. It screamed.
"I'm sorry, darling," she cooed, cuddling its pieces to her breast, ripping her apron and bringing flecks of blood to her sternum. a long shard pierced her nipple. "I love you too," she whispered, and pulled its sharpness from her flesh.
Maury had his back to the bathroom door. He was hunched over a pot of something steamy, stirring, fogging the mirror above. Through the condensation it shone at her, urging her forward. She plunged the shard into Maury's oily neck. He stiffened and fell face-first into the pot; she strained over his fat back to kiss the mirror hanging above. Her lips came away wet and she licked them, closing her eyes and savoring the taste. Blood still ran down her legs pooling with Maury's on the floor. She dismounted his back and, dropping her shard in favor of a butcher knife, stepped through the swinging doors into the dining room.
Only three diners remained, elderly wretches sucking soup through wizened lips. They lined the counter like tired statues, hunched over their food. The mirrors were all around her now, begging and screaming.
She stepped behind the first old man and, smiling beatifically into the reflective glass, neatly slit his throat. She moved to the next two and released them before they could even look up from their bowls. Three white heads lay soaking in soup, white hands pathetic and quivering. The mirrors sang to her, praised her and loved her, and she turned her face to them, basking.
"No no no," they sang in unison. "Not yet, not yet, you're not done yet."
No, not yet. She gripped the knife tighter and selected the largest mirror in the room. A relic from a funhouse, it bent her features into a wormish caricature. She took the knife to her face, carving. The mirrors screamed joyously around her.
"I love you," she chortled in ecstacy. The mirrors were a cacophany, wrapping her in sound and shine. "He told me you'd steal my soul."
They laughed. She smiled, blood running into the gaps between her teeth. The laughter rose growing mad and deafening around her. Still they begged her, and she obliged them, because they were her loves.
"Like this?" She screamed as she dug out her eyes. The mirrors smiled, singing their approval to her bleeding face.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nitro has pink hair and two middle fingers which she
uses quite often. She wants to be a riot grrrl but
mostly just smashes things up.