When Lydia was very small, she used to take her naps on a sofa that had a mirror at its foot. Before falling asleep she would often see lively beings with large heads peering at her from the mirror. They didn't look like people or any other animal that Lydia knew of. They winked at her and spoke a language that she never heard anywhere else. Yet Lydia understood it. When she got a little bigger, they disappeared and never came back again. She also forgot what it was they had said to her.

But Lydia liked to play with mirrors. Perhaps it was because of those very beings. In the beginning she had looked at her own eyes not knowing that they were hers. Later she would go from room to room holding a mirror. She looked only into the mirror, not ahead, and tried not to bump into things. She thought that was fun.

When the other children were playing ball out in the field, Lydia went outside alone, taking along a little hand mirror. She wandered along the streets and in the parks gazing into her mirror at the sky, the clouds, chimneys and tree branches. That way they looked much more interesting than if she had seen them directly.

The world that she saw in the mirror was exactly the same as the world that the mirror reflected. Yet, it was not the same. A change took place on the surface of the mirror that changed left to right and right to left. She wouldn't have been able to place the house or hand or tree that she saw in the mirror onto the original house or hand or tree.

When Lydia turned 15, she asked for a large mirror as her birthday present. Her father ordered one for her. It had a handle twenty meters long and a sturdy base. They sank the mirror into the sea in such a way that Lydia was able to raise, lower, and turn the mirror and control its angle manually from the beach.

Lydia sat on the beach and aimed her mirror in different directions. She looked into the mirror at the mirror waves and the clouds in the mirror sky. On cloudless nights the stars shone into her mirror from light years away. On those few occasions when the weather was calm-calm as a mirror-she turned the mirror toward the ocean's surface so that the two mirrors reflected each other reflecting each other's depths. And whichever mirror she looked at, they both showed the same infinity.

If, on such a night, there was also a full moon, she aimed the clean mirror right at the moon's reflection. The moon mirrored the sun and the sea mirrored the moon, and in her own mirror there glowed the reflection of the reflection of an invisible star and even her eyes were full of light. It was a night whose name was Mirror-bright.

Sulevi too came to sit on the beach.

Lydia said to him, "Do you know what? I sometimes think the world you see in the mirror is just as real and original as the world on this side of the mirror. We think everything on the other side of the mirror is just an imitation. But who knows, over there they may be thinking the same thing about us!"

"You can't really believe that," Sulevi said.

"Why not?" said Lydia. "Whenever I look in the mirror I can see the other Lydia looking into her mirror at this side. Maybe she too thinks our world is a reflection of their world and that of the two of us she's the real and original Lydia."

"Mirrors are only mirrors," Sulevi said. "Forget them. They don't have anything secret in them."

"I think," Lydia said seriously, "that every mirror is a gate to another world. But how can I convince the mirror's Lydia that I too, on this side of the mirror, am real and not just her reflection? Because she always puts the mirror down exactly when I do. And then she can't see me or this world any more. I disappear as if I had never existed at all."

"Let her think what she wants," Sulevi said. "To me only you are the real and original Lydia. And you'll never disappear from me-never."

I am her mirror and she is mine, Lydia thought.

And the Lydias on either side of the mirror thought about what is true and what is not and how you can tell one from the other.

"Oh, Lydia, forget the mirror and think about me," Sulevi said. "The mirror can't tell you what I can."

"Tell me," said Lydia, and forgot the mirror.

© Leena Krohn