...This was published in a section of The Raven Chronicles known as "Babette's Gift" (in the print version, actually, and not the on-line one). The topic for that issue was "Masks: The Faces of Culture", and to me, it seems, the most powerful of masks are those we wear between ourselves and our reflections...
A Mirror's Lies, A Moment's Rainbows
by Nicole J. LeBoeuf
A myriad of ideas/visions/strangenesses swirl in your head, clashing and incoherent like a rainbow whose colors are in some way out of order. In some way indefinable. Some of them don't have names.
Like those times you look in the mirror and there's someone else there. Not you. You try to make connections, reconcile yourself with the face in the glass, but it's no use because the mirror has given you another face to wear. You know you've seen it before. But when you've slid the last piece in place there is no puzzle anymore, and it's just you and yourself and the mirror and no one else. Not even the memory of incongruity. (You can't remember why you think that mirrors seem smug and secretive, but still you think it and shudder.)
And you wake up in the morning and you are still not yourself. You are what your dreams have made you. And not idle daydreams, either. You are not the famous millionaire or the sought-after genius you think you should be. Your face is not on the magazine covers; instead your face is made of paper and the paper strips away. You are a confused figure like a tiger who's forgotten how to hunt. You walk on four legs like a panther and you stalk the borders between the oceans. You can breath underwater and if you break surface you will drown. You are dead already and if you break surface you will be born. You're not sure you're ready for this.
In that one inexplicable minute awake before the alarm rings 5:46 (not 6:00 because you need the extra fourteen minutes and besides you know that on-the-dot moments are unlucky), you are what your dreams make you. Awake enough to know what you're thinking, you still can't wake up enough to control it, and that person who's hijacked your thinking is still you -- but you as your dreams make you. You as your mirror once saw you and almost told you.
It almost becomes comfortable to watch your thoughts, unable to change them, riding shotgun in your own head. It's entertaining, like television.
And then the alarm clock shocks you back from some horror-fiction fantasy and into your own. Safe in your spectator's seat, you eye reality with contempt and unfettered ambition; you begin to make a list of the six impossible things you will have done before the sun sets on today. You will have made the Hollywood audition, and you will have made that important discovery (the one that saves the rain-forests without depriving humanity of paper towels) and you will have written the neverending story for real this time and you will be perfectperfectperfect -- even in your own eyes, you will be perfect. You can believe yourself because the White Queen said that she could believe six impossible things before breakfast and if she can do that before 8:00 a.m. then you can damn well do it by nightfall.
Sure you can.
Then you get out of bed and the floor under your suddenly-aching feet laughs at you: you've not only believed them all before breakfast, you've finished believing them too.
The rainbow fades, hidden with dreams and delirium, safe behind your morning face. In its place, you assemble a new rainbow; you make it of shaving cream, black coffee, a cold shower. The colors are not so bright as those of the one you no longer remember, but at least they are in order.
At last you are ready to face the day.