In another moment Alice was through the glass, and had jumped lightly down into the Looking-glass room.
Lewis Carroll, “Through the Looking-Glass”
prologue — through the looking glass
It was nighttime.
The starry sky was a square hanging suspended in the air, a painted backdrop on a stage.
A palace of glass and coal-black iron, a cavernous train station, and soot-stained brick buildings lined the street like an elaborate diorama, shimmering under the pale moonlight.
On one of those street corners stood a lone girl.
Her long sandy hair draped down her back, casting a shadow over the jewel-like twinkle in her deep violet eyes. A flood of lights intense enough to tear a hole in the night spilled out to the street, where she stood transfixed.
A thin pane of glass separated her from the blinding spotlights, and under them was a slender mannequin, looking down upon her.
The girl’s dress was threadbare and out of style, and there were holes in her leather shoes. These had once been beautifully made, but they had been worn long past their intended lifetime.
The mannequin wore a glittering dress and a hat, and from its wrist hung a bead-embroidered handbag.
The girl let out a sweet sigh.
Oh… How marvelous!
The mannequin parted its lips in reply.
Startled, the girl looked at the mannequin’s mouth. It was smiling.
Do come in. You can try one on, too.
Try one on in the fitting room. All you have to do is go inside. You don’t need to pay.
The mannequin smiled.
But of course.
The girl slowly entered the building. She was handed a dress from one of the lavish displays, and she stumbled forward in a daze, unable to tell whether this was dream or reality. The door to the fitting room slowly opened, and like a sleepwalker, on she walked, clutching the dress.
She entered the room.
The door slowly closed behind her.
On she walked.
Her sandy hair swayed.
There was a mirror at the back of the fitting room. The girl saw a reflection of herself in her shabby dress. On she walked. The mirror seemed to ripple like water, swallowing up the girl as she moved toward it….
At last, an attendant in a purple uniform opened the door to the fitting room.
It was empty—all but for a dress.
The attendant slowly picked it up, smiling thinly.
It was nighttime.
Outside, the starry sky was a square hanging suspended in the air, nothing more than a painted backdrop on a stage.