Kaylen’s hands fumbled behind her back, snapping the straps of her bra. She slid a matching red thong up her thighs, letting it rest between cellulite cheeks. With a little white sundress folded over her forearm like a waiter with a napkin, she strutted toward the bathroom. Toward the mirror.
Three inches thick, enough to cover the wires and chips sparking inside, the glass looked smooth and shined. No motion sensors in sight, although if she ran her fingers along the edges, she would feel the bumps, the brail, the slight change in texture.
A touchpad blinked from its home beside the sink, embedded in the marble, ready for Kaylen to update her appearance – which, of course, she never did.
She teased her older brother for wasting a grand on the funhouse mirror with a twist. But he raised a brow and said, “Come on. You don’t think it’s pretty fucking cool? It’s like a Snapchat filter in mirror form. You still see yourself. But a better looking version of yourself.”
He could reprogram how long his nose spread. How dark his skin tanned. How thick his junk bulged. He could see himself with chocolate hair. Hazel eyes. Freckles. Piercings. Abs. Anything.
Kaylen found the entire system problematic, but for differing reasons than the Twitter/Tumblr community. They believed it furthered the toxic idea that one standard of beauty existed, that skinny beat fat and big boobs exceeded small ones.
Kaylen, on the other hand, hated how much confidence it gave the ugly girls. Even though the rest of the world still saw their slinging fat and crusted pimples, they saw themselves with polished skin and tight asses, which helped them hold their heads high and get hot guys.
Kaylen lost her lacrosse star prom date to a sophomore who looked like she crawled out from a sewer, all stringy hair and oiled cheeks – but the girl told jokes like Carlin and undertook weekly charity work and she held the cherry on the cake: CONFIDENCE!
What a load of bullshit, Kaylen thought. Never would have happened without the fucking mirror.
After gliding into her sundress and applying light makeup, she used the tablet for its original function, to skim through social media. She swiped her thumb past text posts. Memes. Article links. More memes. More text posts.
It became rare for people to post organic snapshots after the mirrors gained popularity. Anyone with one installed in the wall hated seeing unfiltered selfies because it conflicted with their mirror image, the way they viewed themselves. They lived in a fantasy world, a world where they really looked the way the mirror portrayed.
Kaylen watched a special about extreme cases on Netflix. Some men dressed in the dark so their eyes never slid down and saw fat instead of abs. Some women never let their hands roam to scratch an itch on their stomach or thighs so they never felt the extra weight. Some people squeezed into size XXS when they needed XXL, because they honestly believed it would fit.
Kaylen found those people pathetic. Almost as pathetic as the profile she had stumbled across on her tablet months earlier. A teenage girl, about the same age as her, had uploaded an unfacetuned photograph. The poor soul had shit brown hair with chewed up ends. A forehead pockmarked with acne scars. More chub than chin.
Kaylen pulled up the profile and pressed on the envelope icon to message her. Typed out three text bubbles worth of insults about what a piece of shit the girl was, about how she wanted her dead. Not that Kaylen would send it. She always typed and deleted. Always.
“I’m worried about you lately,” her brother said after stumbling into the bathroom to grab a bulging bottle of hair gel. He had gotten distracted by the message and skimmed it while floating above Kaylen’s shoulder. “I don’t know what happened to you, talking like that. It’s not good for you.”
“This mirror isn’t good for you. It’s turning you into someone who wears fucking hair gel.”
He nibbled his lower lip, slipped his eyes over her. “Actually, I’ve been thinking about powering it off. After that, it would work just like a regular mirror, so the money wouldn’t be completely wasted I guess.”
She shrugged, but only with one shoulder. She didn’t give a shit about what he did with the mirror.
Until the next morning. Until it flickered in the middle of her makeup routine.
A power outage? Or did her brother keep his promise and shut the power?
Kaylen squeezed her eyes together to block out the image awaiting her, but not fast enough. She watched as the filter faded away and a reflection appeared. Her real reflection.
A girl with shit brown hair. Acne scars. Layers of fat. The girl she had been harassing online. The girl she had been trying to forget.