I remember the night I looked in the mirror and found my face talking back to me. It began by muttering at first, so softly I couldn't make out any words. But it sounded sinister. In the mirror I saw the crazed look in my eyes, the deadly glint. But in my head I knew I was the same person who had walked into the bathroom to brush his teeth before bed: the one who was tired but satisfied after a productive day at work; who was usually calm, easygoing, never brooded too long over anything.
I had never seen myself sneer before that night—I didn't even know I could. But the other guy did, and he used my face to do it. I was afraid I was going mad.
It was disturbing, to say the least. I called my doctor to schedule an appointment and was thankful for his immediate response. I came into his office the next morning.
"What can I do for you, Martin?" he asked lightly when I walked into the exam room. He was seated behind his desk piled with papers and various doctor's instruments: a reflex hammer, a thermometer, a stethoscope. A syringe whose shining needle reminded me of that strange gleam I had seen in my eye. I could only guess what expression I had on my face because the moment he looked at me he grew serious and asked, "What's bothering you?"
"Why?" I blurted out, worried that my face had twisted into something ugly without my knowing. I had watched myself in the mirror for ten whole minutes the previous night, trying to read my own lips. Had tried to regain control of my mouth, of what I was saying, but I couldn't. I'd felt trapped and helpless, bringing my hand to my lips, feeling the warm air and the faint whispers on my fingertips.
"You look a bit pale is all," Dr. Rosco answered, standing. "And tired. Are you having trouble sleeping?"
I shook my head. "No, no, I'm sleeping fine. It's just—" I rubbed my forehead. How could I tell Dr. Rosco about what I'd seen in a way that wouldn't end up with me being put in a mental institution?
"I think I've developed a… nervous tic."
Dr. Rosco's eyes passed over me. He asked, "What makes you think so?"
"Last night, I was in the bathroom and I saw my… lips… move. On their own. I tried to stop but it was like my body was disconnected from my brain. I thought I was having a stroke or something, but it stopped after around a minute."
"I see." Dr. Rosco scribbled something on the chart in his hand. "How often has this happened? Does it happen a lot over the course of the day?"
"No. Well, it's only happened once—just last night. But it was… scary. Like I'd lost control over my body."
"Did you notice anything similar happen with other parts? Your hands, shoulders, feet?"
I thought back, trying to recall the details of the previous night. "No, I don't think so. Just my face."
The doctor nodded, making another note on his chart. "Just observe yourself over the next few days, see if this is an isolated event or if it recurs. No use wasting time and money with tests and drugs just yet. Unless there's anything else you're concerned about?"
I let out a brief sigh of relief and laughed softly. I realized I was being ridiculous. "You're right, doctor. I may have overreacted. Maybe it was a trick of the light." I shrugged. "Sorry to waste your…" I saw my reflection in the mirrored first aid cabinet behind the doctor. My heart stopped.
I moved closer to the cabinet, brushing past him. I leaned in close until I could almost feel the cold glass on the tip of my nose.
"What is it?" Dr. Rosco asked behind me.
I blinked. I could have sworn I'd seen someone else in the cabinet instead of me. "Uh…" I cleared my throat, turning. "Just checking if I had anything in my teeth."