My mirror is a liar and a cheat. I look at the mirror and see that the reflection is not mine. I’m not as old as this man. His hair is greying and his beard is gray. He is wearing glasses just so he can see. Who is this man?
He stares back at me, like he’s also trying to figure out who I am. I can see slight recognition in his bloodshot eyes. Like he’s met me before. A long time ago.
I feel fine, thanks to the new pills, but he looks like he is in pain or maybe slightly depressed. I imagine that to him, pain is like his favorite warm blanket. It wraps him and keeps him safe.
He starts pulling at his lower eyelids, like he’s wondering where that extra skin came from. He frowns. I wonder if he remembers what it was like to be young. Like me.
Does he remember me from some happier, distant past? Did we meet somewhere on some long road, in some far-off city? Were we friends once?
Or, maybe he is a time traveling, older version of me? Maybe he’s here from the future to give me some sort of advice. Make sure you do this, make sure you do that, you know, that sort of thing.
A passing thought. Maybe he’s really me? No. Because he’s got wrinkles on his hands and spots on his arms. He also looks a lot fatter than I am, and I think he is losing his hair. I wonder if he always parts his hair on that side? Looks like he’s trying to hide something.
He starts sticking his tongue out at me. In and out, In and out. What’s he trying to show me? He stops and smiles, like he’s just heard the punchline of the slightly amusing joke. Then, I notice his teeth. They could use some work.
I must admit our similarities are astounding. He puts on deodorant just like I do. He shaves just like I do. He even brushes his teeth, crooked things that they are, the same way I do. I think that man is trying to have fun at my expense. I really don’t mind, I mean, anything to help cheer him up.
I imagine that, a long time ago, this man used to be good company. He seems like he’s got a sense of humor. Just now, even as I had the thought, he laughs. Maybe he realizes, maybe too late, that happiness is not a thing to chase, but a thing to be.
I am growing weary of humoring this man, I turn away from the mirror and out of the corner of my eye I notice he has disappeared. I quickly turn back toward the mirror! He’s there, but I imagine he arrived a fraction of a second late. Ha! He’s found out and he knows it.
He smiles, points his wrinkled finger at me, and turns to walk away. As he leaves I swear I can hear him saying something, faint, but clear. “Buy tech stocks.” He says, as he wanders down a similar hall.