There had always been someone watching Alexis Lonely. A flicker of movement out of the corner of her eye. A flash of chestnut hair tickling the edges of her vision. A gaze burning a hole in the back of her head, an intense heat flaring up her neck and setting her face on fire, even when she was alone.
Just as the old mirror had always been secretly tucked away in the corner of her bedroom.
In the same way that the person watching Alexis had become a constant phantom-like presence in her life, the mirror had gradually become a thousand shadow versions of itself over the years too. The story of its origin always changed - with the most influential factor being how much her sherry her grandmother had had to drink. The tale that reared its hyperbolic head more than most, though, was the story that Alexis' grandfather - a mysterious, elusive man whose name didn't even appear on her mother's birth certificate - had bought the mirror back to England from India, a gift to woo her grandmother after he had met and chased her around the globe on her 1950's tour of the world. Her grandmother had told Alexis that one sweltering hot day she had met her grandfather begging for money on a dusty street in New Delhi, and that he had claimed to be some kind of magician before pulling a ruby red rose out from the sleeve of his tunic. Or rather, as her grandmother so precisely quoted it, he was a 'scientist of magic' - whatever that meant. Nevertheless, though the origin story of the mirror changed and changed again, the one aspect of it that had remained constant was that it was a gift. A gift that Alexis' grandmother had passed onto her on her fifth birthday, the hour before they took her grandmother away to the asylum.
Somedays the mirror was peaceful, a pacified beast. In her most isolated hours, Alexis would swallow her fear and take comfort in sitting in front of the full-length, gold-trimmed mirror and admiring herself. It brought about the happy delusion that she was not alone, that there was another version of herself sitting in the room with her.
Other days, days when Alexis would swear she had seen her own reflection ripple and shimmer, she would toss the dustsheet over its scratched glass surface and try to forget about the person staring back.
The person - her reflection - who had been watching her her whole life.
Until the last day of summer.
The day the mirror broke.