“Oh my God, something is horribly wrong here,” Cindy cried out, loud enough for her husband to hear. “Come and take a look at this mirror. I just can’t believe my eyes.”
James ran up the stairs to the bathroom, eager to offer help. “What’s the problem?” he asked, panting.
“I looked in the mirror and you know what I saw? Wrinkles! Can you imagine? How much did we pay for these high-tech mirrors that show your face as you want to see it, and not how it actually is? I want this thing looked at, James, and if it can’t be fixed I demand a refund. I just can’t have this.”
“Let me see,” James said. He checked the image of his wife in the mirror and frowned. “Now this is strange. First I thought the mirror was malfunctioning and showed your real mirror image, but it isn’t. Actually, the wrinkles it shows are worse than the real ones. That means its software is still functioning, but not the way it should.”
“Do you have an explanation for that?”
James shook his head. “Some kind of glitch, perhaps. Or the system might be hacked. These mirrors have a wireless connection to the manufacturer, for automatic upgrades and maintenance. Maybe some guys gained access to that system. I’ll have it fixed, honey, don’t worry. Forget those wrinkles. They’re not all that bad.”
“It would be easier to forget them if I didn’t see them. Wasn’t that the whole point of buying these enhanced mirrors? We don’t have to take this, James.”
“I’ll check it out,” he promised her. “Take it easy.”
James called his wife during lunch break. “Honey, I found out what’s wrong with that mirror. It’s not a glitch, the system hasn’t been hacked, and the software isn’t malfunctioning. This is a problem of another order entirely.”
“What are you trying to tell me, James?”
“It turns out that Morning Beauty, the company that produced those enhanced mirrors, was sold to Cream Weaver. Now this happens to be one of the leading contenders in the cosmetics industry. Are you beginning to see the pattern, honey?”
“Don’t tell me they’re using these mirrors now to promote their own stuff, like their brand of wrinkle eraser. They can’t do that, can they?”
“As a matter of fact, they can. They’re no longer bound by any contracts established in the name of Morning Beauty.”
“So what do we do now? Throw those mirrors away? Or simply avoid looking at them? One thing I definitely won’t do is play along with their game and buy massive doses of wrinkle eraser.”
“The wrinkles you see aren’t real anyway. I’m sorry, honey, but we’ll just have to live with it.”
“I guess our options are limited. I’ll just have to remind myself constantly those wrinkles aren’t really there. What a waste of money! We might as well have kept our old mirrors.”
“You’re absolutely right,” James said. “But we bought these, so why not use them?”
A few weeks later Cindy looked in the mirror and noticed that there was no trace left of the wrinkles she had by now managed to ignore. However, her face looked exceptionally pale. She was about to call her husband when it occurred to her what had probably happened.
I suppose that damned cosmetics company just sold Morning Beauty to the sunbed industry, she thought, relieved that the wrinkles were gone, if not the tricks of the trade.
Frank Roger was born in 1957 in Ghent, Belgium. His first story appeared in 1975. Since then his stories appear in an increasing number of languages in all sorts of magazines, anthologies and other venues, and since 2000, story collections are published, also in various languages. Apart from fiction, he also produces collages and graphic work in a surrealist and satirical tradition. By now he has more than 700 short story publications (including a few short novels) to his credit in more than 30 languages. Critics describe his work as a blend of genres and styles: fantasy, satire, surrealism, science fiction and black humour.