It’s not easy being on the wrong side of the mirror. You look out and see a world that goes on and on forever and is full of all kinds of things. Mirrorland isn’t like that. There are solid spots, places where the regular world shines in and those are fine. Some stuff is a little backwards but a bed is a bed and a desk is a desk. Outside those areas though, things get a little softer. A bed might only be the memory of a bed, or a desk might be something that is posing very carefully as a desk.
Mirrorland isn’t a safe place but for a Seeming like me, it’s the most natural place to be.
“Who are you?” Penny asked from the other side of the looking glass. I watched as September hopped up onto her shoulder. No mirror version of him hopped up onto my shoulder but that didn’t surprise me. A witch’s familiar is special and doesn’t follow the normal rules in a lot of different cases.
“I’m you,” I said. “Or your Seeming to be more precise.”
Some part of my mind wondered how I knew that, or any of the things that I knew. I had Penny’s memories, or reflections of them at least, so I knew she hadn’t been aware of Seemings until Grandma Apples mentioned them. She’d even forgotten about meeting me until she saw me in the mirror. So how did I know what I was? How did I know that there were different rules for familiars than for regular people or any of the other facts that were crammed into my head?
I tried to think back to the night, or the day before. Tried to place when I’d first been aware of myself as distinct from Penny. It was like looking for a spot in the Mirrorlands that never had a reflection cast on it. Everything was mushy.
“But you don’t look like me!” Penny said.
“I look like how you want others to see you,” I said, again wondering how I knew that.
I watched as she inspected me in detail. I was taller than she was, but only by a little. My skin was a shade more fair than hers, my hair better styled, my features more symmetrical and balanced. I wasn’t an idealized version of Penny, just an “improved” one, where the “improvement” came from her desired self image.
“I don’t want to look like that!” she said. “I want to look like me!”
“Some part of you wants to look like this,” I said and spun around so she could see me fully.
The dress I was wearing was a simple one but it twirled and settled softly like we were on the set of a movie.
“No one would know who I was if I looked like that!” she said.
“I think they might,” September said and stepped into Mirrorland with me. “Yes, she doesn’t look that different from you at all when I see her like this.”
“What do you mean?” Penny asked September and then turned to me. “What did you do to him?”
“Nothing,” I said and put up my hands. I didn’t have any specific knowledge about making one’s witch mad at oneself but I had to guess it wasn’t a terribly good idea.
“When I’m in here, she looks more like you than when I’m out there,” September said. “I think it’s part of the magic.”
“Is this like with my shadow?” Penny asked.
“Grandma Apples did tell us you’d meet your Shadow and your Seeming,” September said, stepping back into the regular world.
“That’s what I am,” I said. “I’m your Seeming.”
“And you’re magic?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” I said. “I don’t feel magical, I just feel like me.”
“Can you do things?” Penny asked.
“Well, yeah, anything that you can do, I guess.”
“So you could take a test for me then?” she asked.
“I could but I’d only do as good as you would,” I said.
“Oh, could you study for me then!” she asked.
“I don’t know,” I said. “I might not remember what I read that well. Things can change here pretty easily.”
“What if we studied together?” she asked.
The thought surprised me. I’d been thinking of us as separate so much that the idea of spending time together was a foreign one. Yet, in a sense, we’d spent our whole lives together already.
“That could work, I think, but don’t you want me to go away?” I asked. It seemed like she should be more afraid based on her initial reaction to seeing me.
“No! Why would I want that?” she asked.
“Well, Shadow’s gone, isn’t she?” I asked.
“That was her idea,” Penny said.
“Isn’t that going to be a problem?” I asked.
“Maybe. It’s not easy without her here,” Penny said. “I can’t seem to stop talking, or avoid answering questions!”
“You look different too,” I said. “I mean apart from not having a shadow. It’s like you’re missing something.”
“That’s not good,” Penny said. “But Mom didn’t say anything when she saw me last night. So maybe it’s not that obvious?”
September stepped away from Penny to regard her from a distance.
“I think it might be,” he said. “I can see it when I’m not with you. You’re changed even since when you went to bed. It’s like you’re tired or faded out.”
“Do you think other people will notice?” I asked.
“Maybe?” September said.
“It probably depends on how much the notice you in the first place,” I said. “People who overlook you each day won’t see the change, but someone who knows you well, or who pays attention to you, will probably think that something is wrong even before they notice that your shadow is missing.”
“Are you sure?” she asked.
“Appearances are kinda my thing,” I said.
“My teachers will totally notice then! Can you help me?”
“I don’t know. We don’t know much about makeup and I don’t think that would cover this anyways,” she said.
“Maybe you could stand in for her?” September suggested.
“Stand in for her?” I asked. “How would I do that?”
“You could come out here,” he said.
“Can she?” Penny asked.
“I think so,” September said. “I think that’s what witches do with their Seemings. They let the world see them as they want to be seen while they go take care of stuff they don’t want other people to know about.”
“Wait, so I can be in the regular world?” I asked.
“I think so,” September said.
“Wait, before you try,” Penny said. “You’re not going to hurt anybody right?”
“I’m not planning to,” I said. “We don’t do that often after all.”
“We?” Penny asked.
“You and me,” I said. “We’re still the same in a lot of ways.”
“I don’t know,” she said. “We look world’s apart to me.”
“Let’s see if we can change that then,” I said and stepped up to the surface of the mirror.
Penny narrowed her eyes and then nodded in agreement after a moment’s thought.
Stepping from Mirrorland into the regular world was like changing myself into a bucket of lead. I felt so heavy and solid and barely changeable at all.
“Oh wow, is that weird or what?” I said and sagged down onto the bed.
Penny was looking at me with eyes wide in astonishment when we both heard the creak of the loose board outside the bedroom door and saw Mom swing the door open to announce breakfast.