He cleaned the mirror, removed the gray, but he knew it’d do no good. His reflection disappeared. He looked down at his hands and arms, torso and legs, and saw he was there. Yet no eyes stared back, no clothes, no shape where his body should be.
It was embarrassing, inconvenient. He didn’t want to visit public restrooms when others might be there, and he rose earlier to wash before his wife. He made excuses to avoid the gym. Confirmation would be devastating.
He tried to state his problem, in oblique ways. “Can you see yourself clearly?” he asked, “Do you think you can know yourself?” Yet—try as he might—he crept no closer to confessing. Bigger than the challenge of shaving a missing face was what his absent reflection meant. Alone, he put his face close to the mirror, pressed his forehead to its cool glass, and saw the room behind him. He waited for someone else to see he was gone.
And every day he wished he might glance at some surface without forethought and discover he stood there. He examined photographs and lingered on his face beaming from group and action shots. He’d never wasted a moment revisiting the past, but now he wanted reassurance. He thought of sketching what he remembered of his face on a mirror, hoping the artificial image might lure the real thing back.
But he felt fine—whatever psychological loss he’d experienced wasn’t physical—and, if his attempts at magic failed, a solution would be that much further away. “No person really knows what he of she looks like” he told himself, “No one sees himself as others do.” He tried to believe he understood more because he understood that. Perhaps he was blessed.
Then, one day, waiting in line in the lobby of a hotel, his wife pointed to a reflective brass plate a few yards away. “Your shirt’s buttoned wrong,” and, looking down, he discovered she was right. His mind spun, the vague nausea of his initial discovery returning. None of the perceived world was suspect to anyone else. Only his place—and really only his knowing his place—was missing.
“Thank you,” he said, but he didn’t mean it. Like a dead patch on his retina, black borders spread like an irresistible stain.