It rained all day Friday through most of the morning on Saturday, finally turning into a slow drizzle that had ceased by early afternoon. Edie had spent most of her Saturday morning with her forehead pressed against the window, staring at the world through rain droplets running down the other side of the glass and watching her breath fog up the surface.
“If you’re bored, you could always read a book or play with some of your toys,” her mother called from the office down the hall. Edie didn’t respond. Not purposefully, but because she didn’t hear her mother when she called. She was too busy focusing on each individual rain drop that hit the window pane and joined the many rivulets cascading down the glass. She wasn’t bored. There was too much excitement and wonder right in front of her. Rain had to be one of her favorite things in the world. A close second was the world outside after a good long rain.
When the rain did stop, she didn’t hesitate for a second. She ran for the door, reached up for the knob and pulled it open, only stopping to heed her mother’s words to put on her rain jacket and boots.
When she stepped outside the whole world smelled new and fresh, like the laundry her mother would pull out of the dryer and put in the hamper. Sometimes, when her mother wasn’t looking, Edie would jump into the hamper and feel the warmth of the freshly dried clothes and breathe in those clean smells.
The green grass of Edie’s front yard had turned into a bit of a mess. She stomped through puddles of dirty water. Bloated bodies of earthworms had floated to the tops of the puddles and Edie did her best to avoid those ones. She made her way to the sidewalk and looked up. A blanket of light grey clouds covered the sky. There were little slivers in the blanket where the sun did its best to peek through and shine down onto the earth.
One of the slivers of sun shone down onto the street corner next to her home. Edie and her family lived on the corner of 11th and Spring Street in a neighborhood that mostly consisted of older couples without children. Most of Edie’s parents’ friends wondered if Edie was ever restless or lonely living on a street with no children. Edie always thought it was a strange question. Then again, she never really liked being around other children very much to begin with.
She skipped to the street corner and stopped in her tracks when she looked down and was greeted by a mirror image staring up at her. The corner of the sidewalk had cracked and caved a while ago. Edie always had to be careful running around this corner. She’d tripped and fallen on the jutting sidewalk before, scraping her palms and cutting her knee. Today, the rain had filled up the space to make a little pool. There was something about this puddle that was very different from the puddles in her front yard. The reflection was practically crystal clear.
She crouched down and examined herself in the pool of water. The reflection was so strong, she could barely see the sidewalk and dirt beneath it. She could see the green street signs for 11th and Spring behind her, except in the pool, the sign read Gnirps instead. This struck Edie as odd. Why was the G capitalized in the reflection? She looked up at the sign above her. Only the S was capitalized. She looked back down, noticing that her reflection was still looking up at the sign. She let out a little gasp, and her reflection looked back at her with a casual expression.
Edie sat still and studied her reflection in the pool, doing her best not to blink. She didn’t want to miss a thing. The reflection stared back at her. She tried to get it to do something else by catching it off guard. She would move her head back and forth, stick out her tongue, or jump around in circles, but the reflection did the exact same things that she did. She grumbled to herself, knowing perfectly well that she had seen something extraordinary, but was unable to recreate that magical event. It almost looked as if the mirror image wore a smug expression of victory.
Edie wondered about what this discovery could possibly mean. Had she found some parallel universe right beneath her feet? Had it always been there, and she was present for the freak accident that brought the two worlds together? Had it wanted to be found? How far did that world underneath her go? How would she get there? Was it as easy as stepping into the puddle? Would she even want to visit?
Eventually, Edie’s curiosity got the best of her and she stretched out her arm and lowered it slowly to the pool. Her mirror self followed. Her palm and fingertips touched the surface of the pool. She flinched. She didn’t feel the cold, wet surface of a puddle. What she felt was another palm touching hers. She remained shocked and frozen for a moment, wondering what she should do next. Her reflection watched her. The other Edie had a much more menacing expression on its face, an expression that seemed to dare Edie to pull her hand away. In the distance, Edie heard her mother call out for her.
Edie hesitated for one moment more, then pulled her hand away from the puddle. The reflection’s hand shot up from the pool and grabbed her wrist. Edie opened up her mouth but no scream came out as the reflection’s grip tightened on her wrist. The reflection grinned. Edie pulled back with as much strength as she could muster and broke free. She fell to the ground a couple of feet away from the puddle. The hand shrank back into the water and disappeared under the surface. She got up and ran to the house as fast as she could. When her mother asked what was wrong, Edie lied and said she’d tripped on a sidewalk crack. She never went outside after a rainstorm after that day.
Written by: Quentin Norris
Photograph by: Tiffany Melanson