Three nights passed and still no images. On the fourth night, however, they came back.

She saw herself at school; older, maybe 12? She was eating her lunch outside on a bench, talking to another girl. She couldn’t remember this girl; in fact, Evelyn was always on her own, finding it impossible to make friends. They were laughing, like they knew each other well.

The bell rang and they quickly got up and headed back to class. Just before she was going in, Evelyn saw her mother standing with the principal. Her mother looked concerned.  She walked over to them.

“Evelyn, can you please come with me and your mother?” Obediently, she followed them into the principal’s office. She grabbed her mother’s arm and whispered, “What’s going on?” Her mother put her fingers to her lips to let her know to wait.

“Evelyn, your mother is here to take you home,” the principal said.


The principal looked at Evelyn’s mother. She nodded and took Evelyn’s hand. “I’m afraid your father has had an accident. He’s, he’s dead.” Evelyn snatched her hand from her mother. “What? How?”

“Let’s sit down, shall we.” The principal indicated two seats and both sat.

“He was driving…driving on the highway. I guess he was going too fast; I don’t know…anyway, he went off the road and he crashed…”

“You mean he was driving drunk,” Evelyn said bitterly.

“Evelyn!” her mother scolded.

“It’s true, though, I bet. Good riddance. What do I need to go home for?” Evelyn got up and walked out of the principal’s office, smiling, happier than she had been in years.

“No, no, no…” Evelyn shouted to the mirror; that’s not what happened.

Again, Evelyn remembered that day. She was called to the principal’s office and saw her mom sat in a chair and crying. She immediately sat next to her mom and tried to console her, “What’s wrong, Mom?”

Her mom couldn’t speak, so the principal explained.

“Unfortunately, your father has been a bad car accident. Another vehicle was involved and there was a fatality.”

“Dad?” Evelyn asked

“No, the other driver. I’m sorry, but your father has been taken into custody. He has been charged with drunk driving.”

Both her mom and Evelyn went home. Her mother had to borrow money from a relative to get him out on bail. Their lives were hell while awaiting trial. Having his driver’s license revoked, the slightest thing would set him off. He was eventually sentenced to three years in prison.

Her aunt and uncle (her mother’s sister and brother-in-law) begged Lyn to leave her husband. “He’s never going to change. Think of Evelyn.” They pleaded. Lyn was too afraid of her husband and what he might do when he came out. He would probably be out in 18 months anyway. Dutifully, both Lyn and Evelyn went to visit him. He had no remorse for his actions.

Evelyn became very anxious and withdrawn over that time. She seldom left the house except for school. She was constantly worried about her mother. The roles reversed and Evelyn became the “mother”; making sure she ate properly and got enough rest. Evelyn became a perfectionist in everything she did. She studied hard, kept the house immaculate, and grew up too soon.

Her father did come home after two years and sadly it was like he never left. Evelyn barely spoke to either of her parents after that and made a point of not being around. She started hanging around with a rougher crowd, but she never developed any real friends. Her life was very lonely and depressed.

Again, the mirror rested for a few days. In this time, Evelyn reflected on what her life would have been like if her dad had died in the accident. Would she have been less anxious, more confident? Certainly, she would have been happier, and her mother, too.

She imagined having friends, laughing and feeling worthwhile.

The next round of images came on the mirror.

It looked like a party. There was a lot of music, people dancing, in a basement somewhere. She didn’t immediately recognize herself at first. Evelyn was wearing an oversized T-shirt with Bjork’s face on it, yoga pants and sneakers. Her hair was longer than normal and pulled back into a ponytail. She held a can of beer and was laughing with a girl she didn’t know. Evelyn thought she must have been about 15 or 16 years old. By then, Evelyn was into punk rock and heavy metal bands, certainly not Bjork! She used to wear denim skirts overtop ripped jeans, a denim vest with nothing underneath it, and short cropped hair (similar to now) but dyed pink. Her makeup was heavy black eyeliner. Evelyn used to have bad acne as a teenager and used foundation to cover it up. This Evelyn had a clear complexion with very little makeup on.

“Hey Evie, want another beer?” someone called to her in the mirror.

Evie? Evelyn thought, no one ever called her Evie.

“No, I’m good.”

Evelyn knew that she would’ve never turned down a drink; in fact she was drinking heavy even at 15.

The friend that she was speaking with pulled Evie to one side.

“Hey, wanna try this?” She showed Evie what looked like some type of pill. Evelyn guessed it would’ve been ecstasy.

Evie raised her eyebrows. “What is it?”

“It makes you feel good; ya know, loose; c’mon, let’s try it.”

Evie shook her head, “no thanks.”

Her friend tried several times to persuade her but Evie was having none of it. Her friend popped the pill, “I’ll let you know what you’re missing later.”

The images changed to another scene. Evie was bent over her friend, shaking her shoulders, screaming at her, “Wake up Shelly, wake up.”

Shelly was lifeless, her face ashen, spittle coming out of her mouth.

Evie screamed, “Call an ambulance….Shelly, please.” Evie pulled her friend up to a sitting position; Shelly’s body slumped forward.

The scene faded and the next image was Evie crying on her bed, Lyn beside her trying to console her.

“I’m so sorry, honey. Whatever she took, caused a bad reaction and that’s what, what killed her,” Lyn said.

“I should’ve stopped her. It’s my fault.”

“No,” Lyn said, “it’s not. Thank God, you didn’t take it.”

The mirror stopped projecting. Tears were running down Evelyn’s face.

She didn’t remember a Shelly or anyone dying at a party she attended.

Evelyn started smoking marijuana around that time and then went onto other drugs like ecstasy a few years later. She had several blackouts but never an overdose. Evelyn did witness many an overdose on the streets and they were scary to watch, but she never knew the people that ODed.  Maybe if she saw a friend die like that, it may have changed her mind about drugs? She wasn’t sure.

Evelyn went back to bed and hugged her knees to her chest, thinking about Evie and her friend.

Thankfully, the mirror didn’t project anything for a while. It seemed to know when Evelyn needed time to process what she saw and heard.

She went over the images and conversations from the mirror.

Evelyn did something she hadn’t done in a long time. She took a bus to the Seawall, where she walked the entire route. She was tired by the end of it, but also somehow energized. Apart from the bus fare, it didn’t cost anything and it made Evelyn feel good. It was busy, as per usual, but it didn’t make Evelyn anxious like she would normally be around a lot of people. The walk gave her a chance to think about Evie. She didn’t consider it her life as the things that happened in the mirror didn’t happen to her but there was a strong connection between herself and Evie. She decided she would do this once a week. Evelyn also made more of an effort with her appearance. Now that the mirror had been paid off, Evelyn went to the market and bought some clothes. She got a pair of jeans, a sweater, and a more substantial coat. She couldn’t remember the last time she had worn anything new (well, new to her, anyway). The next thing she needed was a pair of shoes. Evelyn would have to wait to get them, but she was saving up.

When she went to the soup kitchen, she helped some of the volunteers clear away plates and wipe down tables. She never did that. She made sure that her hair was clean (she would wash it in her sink) and also had a bath once a week. The clinician at the methadone place commented on her new appearance. Evelyn blushed but didn’t say anything.

It had been a week since the last image and Evelyn started to get antsy about the next installment. True to form, that night, the mirror came on.

Evelyn recognized the school that Evie was standing outside of. It was her high school. Evie was dressed in white slacks and blazer with a pretty flowered blouse underneath. She was in with a group of others getting their photograph taken. There was a sense of excitement. Evie looked older, probably 17 or 18? The image changed to inside the gymnasium with Evie, other students and what looked their parents sat in chairs before the stage. The principal was talking about this group of students who were about to graduate and leave for higher education, jobs or to travel. Lyn was seated next to Evie, smiling broadly. Evelyn’s mother never smiled. She never had anything to smile about.

The next scene was Evie being called up to the stage for some kind of an award. The teacher was congratulating Evie and gave her an envelope. Evie ran back down the stairs from the stage and got back into her seat. She clutched the envelope tightly, holding Lyn’s hand, beaming.

Evelyn then saw Evie and Lyn back at the apartment. Evie tore open the envelope and gasped. “Mom, I got a scholarship for Langara College…” Evie danced around the living room and grabbed her mom to dance with her. They were both laughing. When they stopped, Lyn hugged Evie close. “I’m so proud of you.” There were tears in her eyes as she said it. It was then that the mirror became blank again.

Evelyn threw the mirror down with disgust.

“Fucking Evie,” she spoke aloud. Evelyn went back to bed wiping the tears that came. Fat chance she would’ve gone to college. Evelyn dropped out of high school in grade 10. She was 16. That’s when her downward spiral began. She was missing classes and barely passed grade 9. Her parents took no interest in her education and could’ve cared less that she dropped out. However, when her dad found out about it, he demanded that Evelyn get a job or move out.

Evelyn barely spoke to her parents and basically used them for accommodation and food. What kind of job could she get, anyway? She was so stoned most of the time or drunk; no one in their right mind would hire her. Evelyn was experiencing a lot of anxiety going to school and maybe the drinking and toking exacerbated it; she didn’t know, but she felt she couldn’t survive without them. Evelyn’s mother would slip her some money from time to time and that was how she could buy dope or booze; her so-called friends also enabled her with free weed and bottles of vodka.

Evelyn remembered the events that led her to leaving home.

She had come back to get changed and go out for the evening. Her mom was not at home but her dad was sitting in front of the TV, drinking a beer. Evelyn tried to slip into her room but he heard her come in.

“Where ya going?” He slurred.

“Out.” Evelyn stood far enough away from her dad but not close enough to escape into her room.

“No, no you’re not young lady. Get over here.” He pointed his finger in his direction.

“Dad, I’m late.”

“Late for what, some stupid boy. Are you giving him head? Huh?”

Evelyn’s stomach heaved at his words. She felt disgusted by her dad but didn’t say anything.

“Answer me ya whore.”

Evelyn squeaked out a “No.”

He laughed almost falling over and had to grab the armchair.

“Your mom told me; you’re finished with school. Too dumb, I guess. I don’t care, but ya gotta work now. Earn your keep. Your mom works too much, no time to look after me, so you go out and get a job.”

Evelyn hated her dad, but she was also afraid of him. She never talked back to him, so she’s not sure why she did now.

“That’s a joke; look after you. When have you looked after us? You can’t hold down any job.” Evelyn regretted it after she said it, but couldn’t take it back. Her dad lunged at her, but she was too far away for him to reach and he fell on the floor. Evelyn ran into her room and shut the door, putting a chair up against it so he couldn’t get in. She knew she was in for a beating. Her father banged on the door. “Open this god damn door, you stupid little bitch. How dare you disrespect me.” He was turning the handle trying to push his way in. Evelyn pulled her dresser against the door as well. After a few futile attempts, her dad stopped. She heard the crack of a beer can being opened and the TV turned back on. Evelyn knew she just had to wait until he passed out.

There was no doubt in her mind that she had to leave. She felt bad about leaving her mom, but she couldn’t live there anymore. She hoped she could stay with one of her friends until she sorted herself out.

Evelyn packed some clothes, toiletries, and shoes in the largest suitcase she had. She took her Snow White, three of her dwarves and the book.

She laid on her bed to wait it out.

She must have fell asleep because when she woke up, it was dark outside. She put her ear to the door and could still hear the TV but not her dad. She guessed he was out for the count. Carefully, Evelyn removed the dresser and chair. She opened the door a fraction and peered out. Her dad wasn’t on the chair, so he must be in bed or on the couch. She needed to escape now. Opening the door fully, she lifted her suitcase off the floor and tiptoed out. Just as she reached the front door, her dad grabbed her from behind. He threw Evelyn on the floor. She landed awkwardly, twisting her knee. She cried out in pain. Her dad came menacingly towards her, his belt in his hands.

“This will be the last time you mouth me off, girl.”

Evelyn tried to get up, but her knee hurt, so she crawled away from him. She felt the leather hit her back as she did so. Twice, three times he hit her despite Evelyn crying out for him to stop. He would’ve continued, but her mother came home just then. She grabbed her husband’s arm and he turned his wrath on his wife. Evelyn crawled back to her room pushing the suitcase in with her. Sobbing and clutching her hurt knee, she leaned against the suitcase which was against the door.

The beating her mom got didn’t go on for long as her dad ran out of steam. He passed out on the couch. Evelyn could hear her mom softly crying. She desperately wanted to leave, but her leg and back hurt too much. She went into her purse and took a couple of uppers. She needed something to take the edge off.

Once they kicked in, Evelyn gently stood up trying not to put too much pressure on her one leg. She hobbled to her dresser and took out a stretch bandage she had. Evelyn wrapped it around her knee to give it support. She struggled into her jacket, her back stinging from the belt.

She opened the door and found her mom resting her head on the back of the arm chair, her eyes closed. Her dad was always careful not to hit her mom on the face so no one would know about the beatings, but her arms and legs told a different story.

Evelyn looked at her mom. She couldn’t say goodbye to her, otherwise she might not leave. Instead, she blew her a kiss and limped out of the door.

Evelyn cried out in anguish remembering that night. She eventually cried herself to sleep.


For all installments of “Mirror, Mirror…,” click here.

Previous installments:

  1. Part 1