We were standing in a single file line in what seemed to be some sort of ballroom. It was a big wide open space. The room could’ve been used to host a football game or even a soccer match. I rubbed my eyes and pinched my cheek to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. The opposing wall had a mirror placed in front of it and stretched all the way across the length of the room. I looked to my left and then to my right. I could see about twenty others on either side of me in the mirrors reflection. They were all doing just as I was, measuring the room with their eyes, and studying each other. I can feel my stomach turning. My legs begin to shake, and my knees nearly touch each other from the nerves due to the suspense of this room. I can hear others asking questions like, “Where is this? What is this about?! Is this a test?!” The hairs in my ears twist and curl. My toes bounce against the cold tiled floor. Suddenly, a sound from a door opens behind us.
The footsteps are short and light. Whoever this person is must be small. A voice appears in the room behind us and it’s a child. “Welcome to the Ever After Class. My name is Sam. I’ll be your instructor today. You might be thinking I’m a bit young to be a teacher but don’t let that fool you ladies and gentlemen. You’ll see that I’m well qualified to be in the position I’m in.”
Sam was just a boy but he walked around like a giant. He wore a shiny silver vest covering a long sleeve shirt and had on black slacks with shoes to match. He counted us with his finger one by one as he passed. “It seems there’s more of you than expected but that’s okay. Whoever fails today will remain here. You’re here because you’ve been chosen. So, none of this has happened by mistake. Evidently the man upstairs has given you something special. So, my advice to you is to use it.” The boy spoke with the power and thrusts of his fist. “Today’s test will be a single dive!” Sam smiled through a cloud of dust falling from the massive ceiling fans above us. “A dive is simply walking through the mirror behind you. And when you make the dive you’ll notice another mirror we’ve placed. To get back you’ll need to perform another dive in that mirror.” My eyes felt heavy as I turned to look at Sam. We all looked at him like he’d lost his mind. Why was this boy smiling so much about the task he’s given us? And what else would we find on the other side of the first mirror?
The tops of my feet were damp from sweat running down my legs. My belly button is an overflowing cup of water. I rubbed my eyes and looked down the line of recruits. Their reaction seemed similar to mine. Some of them had even walked to the end of the room where the door was. They couldn’t believe it. Some of them tried arguing with Sam, asking him questions. “Gentlemen, remember what I told you. You’ve been chosen.” Sam straightened his sleeves and glanced at the shimmering of the buttons on his vest.
I felt like this was a good moment to say a prayer. I looked up at the fan. It turned slowly and I could feel the cool breeze landing on my eyelids and cheeks. I wrestled my hair, fitting it all inside my smelly hat. I whispered to myself, “You’re chosen, Paddy. You can do this.” I looked at myself in the mirror approaching slowly and all the others turned to watch. Some of them laughed and a few cried out. I just focused on my steps and the cold tiles on the floor. My toes popped as I got closer. I noticed my reflection started to decrease in size. Ten feet felt like a walk through the park. The recruits behind me grew like tall buildings in a city reaching for the sky and just as I made it to the surface of the mirror my breath made a cloud. My eyes closed and I heard yelling of my name. Before my eyes opened the voices stopped and the breeze from the ceiling fan felt much stronger. A gust of wind blew and that’s when my eyes opened again to see big green pastures. There were big white clouds in a rich blue sky and I saw trees in the distance. This was amazing I thought until I turned around to see no one was behind me. I hollered out but there was nothing but my own breathing. The air was so nice and clean. Every color in this place was so bright and clear. I spun looking up into the sky yelling and cheering, “I DID IT! I MADE THE DIVE! I’M CHOSEN!” The birds sang in the blue above me as they flew by. My mustache brushed my teeth. I couldn’t help but smile like a kid on Christmas morning at first sight of gifts under the tree. I ran across the green open field. My toes caught blades of grass and the bugs jumped in alarming fashion but I meant no harm. I was happy. I felt alive. I carried a purpose and the best chapter of my journey just began. “Let’s take another dive, lovely.”
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