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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The inexplicable disappearance of Karma Radwyn

by J. R. Wagner

She punched the glass.  Not once, but repeatedly as the tears ran down her cheeks. With each strike she envisioned the face of a different girl behind the mirror.  Carolyn. Nancy. Amanda. Heather.  By the third girl, the mirror split.  By the fifth, a fist sized hole of shattered mirror replaced where her face had been reflected moments ago.  Bits of broken glass ripped apart her knuckles. She went on. Sobbing, cursing, bleeding, punching. The pain was there, but she was projecting it onto her victims as if they were feeling the throbbing of her wrist (certainly broken), the tearing of her flesh (what was left of it).

She couldn't help the anger. Couldn't control the pain.  Not physical but emotional -the worst of the pair. What made it the most infuriating was the reason behind their malice.   There wasn't one.  Karma hardly knew any of these girls before Monday.  She'd never had a problem with any of them -in fact, she didn't even realize several of them went to her school.  So why did they direct their hate at her? This she couldn't understand, would never understand and none of them, not one was willing to offer an explanation.

Small bits of shorn flesh mixed with broken glass meandered down the streams of blood toward the bottom of the mirror. The sound of the impact like a hand slapping the surface of a still pond.  On she went. Punching. Screaming. Raging.

Was it because she wasn't like them? Skinny, blonde, tan.  When Karma saw the girls she knew in the hallway,  she tried her best not to wince at the ridiculousness of their appearance. Orange skin from either a bad spray tan or time in a tanning booth. Hair so light she could see clear through to their scalps. Makeup so thick she wondered if, when they blinked, their eyelids would become stuck. So skinny they look malnourished.  She truly pitied them. Was that it? Her pity?  Had they seen it in her expression as they passed in the hall?  Could they have been so perceptive?  She doubted it.  They were too self-involved to notice anyone -especially someone like her.  Quiet, intelligent, creative.

A large piece of glass slid away from the lower left section of the wall-sized mirror and crashed to the floor.  Karma was in the old section of the school so she wasn't concerned about someone hearing the crash (or her screams and curses). The school had gated off the old section to 'preserve its antiquity' and only allowed people inside during parents night. Karma was on the school newspaper and frequented a basement supply room where new building met old to retrieve various items during one of their after-school brainstorming sessions.  She had seen the alcove before but never bothered to pay it any attention until, by chance, she dropped a large roll of paper.  Rather than coming to a stop on the floor, the paper rolled, picking up speed as it went, until it reached the semi-circular alcove. As she stooped to pick up the paper, Karma noticed something on the wall.  Line-of-sight from the hallway would have prevented the causal visitor to the supply room from noticing the cast iron ladder bolted into the wall just above her head.

As the echo from the glass receded, a sharp pain surged up  Karma's arm to her elbow. Despite the pain, she cocked her arm back to throw another punch.  Something made  her pause.  She thought it was a result of the light of the slit-like windows reflecting off the broken glass so she stepped to the side where the mirror was still in relatively good condition. There it was again.  A flicker in the distance -like a candle.  Impossible yet it was there.

It grew brighter revealing a passage.  That's it, she thought. I've driven myself to madness.  The enormity of the situation sent a surge of fear and anger through her body.  Without my mind, I am nothing, she thought.  She charged at the broken mirror head-first, hoping to knock out whatever hysteria had taken over. With powerful thighs, Karma pushed herself forward...and was gone.

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In bookstores 6-5-2012


  1. How come I get the feeling that I know where she landed?

  2. There are no coincidences, are there?