Got up this morning, stretched, cracked my back, almost scratched the space where my face wasn’t, hopped into the shower. Water streamed down. Splashed differently than it used to, before. Been six years and only mostly used to that.
Dried. Some gel. Comb through the hair. No part, that wouldn’t work right for the mirror. Shaved. Hard to do the edges. Blade would dart away where the face disappeared, like a magnet being pushed. Most guys I see just grow beards, skip the hassle. I’m a creature of habit, though. Always kept a clean face before, always.
Held up the mirror, the special one that they give you when the change first comes. Hold it just so, get the angle right. It’s so important to have a steady hand. You get one chance, every morning. One chance to get it right. The woman in the green suit told him how it worked. Lots of words, didn’t make much sense. Didn’t explain why, why it had happened, what caused the change, why it kept happening. No one was telling. Just glad to live in a day and age where, if there was a change, at least there was a mirror.
Hold it so. Reflect the face, get it symettrical. Then, locked in. No satisfying click, no whiff of ozone, just a silence like a beat that your heart skips andsuddenly flesh. Most people said you couldn’t tell, if it was done properly, which side was original. You knew yourself though. One side aching like a phantom limb, buzzing like pins and needles and making your fingers ache to even think of touching. People didn’t talk about it.
Don’t think about getting it wrong. Miss the angle, the face bulges and warps out. A fairground attraction. If somehow you hold it so it doesn’t meet, the wind and cold gets in, drives you crazy. All for a day. You sleep, it resets. Face falls away. Wake up in the middle of the night, cradling your pillow all wrong. Shutting eyes so you didn’t see your lover, sleeping with backs turned, so that a sleeper’s stray hand doesn’t accidently reach out to caress that which was not there.
The mirror made things better. No one wanted to go out with a halved face, displaying that nothingness, that absence to the world. Think of those in worse off places, without the technology. You’d see the appeals on TV, wonder why those in charge couldn’t do more. Their absent halves blocked respectfully by veils, gauze, pixelation.
But yet. There was something wrong with what the mirrors gave.
Walk down the street, everyone with their unnaturally symmetrical faces. Everyone all secretly buzzing and cold and not making eye contact. All staring off into the middle distance, to a horizon line behind everyone that surrounded the. All with their dead gazes.