It took K many months to get used to looking at the mirror. Ever since the kidnapping he had become jumpy always expecting to see someone else every time he glanced at the mirror. It was not a bizarre, irrational fear. It did happen. The faint outline of another person hovering around him. It was always there. Like he was being closely watched and not in a reassuring way.
The morning of the kidnapping had not been an ordinary, uneventful day. In fact it had been extraordinarily eventful. His lawyer called to say that the investors were not interested in putting in more money, the doctor had changed his anti-depressant for the n-th time and his son…something about him caused alarm bells to go off. No, you could safely say that the day was full of events. So sitting in the car and finding a strange man at the driving wheel seemed almost normal. K did not even give it another thought till he noticed that they had reached an empty office block instead of his usual address.
He was irritated. And the flutter of confusion deep inside of him reared up and socked him hard. He felt breathless. Thirsty. And mildly nauseous with the smell of garlic as it invaded his senses. What was this place? He must’ve said it aloud because the next thing he knew, the man politely said…. something. K could only see his lips moving. And then the void rushed in and filled everything. Memories floated by, face up. Of the time when the young, attractive lawyer who was looking after his account turned her face away as he offered his hand politely to help her with her bag. Of his wife’s tragic expression every time he told her that he had made a new investment. Of Anna. Her bedraggled innocence which never failed to move him.
When he finally awoke, it was to a reality that was singed forever. Nothing would ever go back to being normal. The way normal used to be. The papers said he was found naked in bed with a woman who had a luscious bedside manner. K remembered nothing.
What he did remember was the shadow that persistently stayed with him every time he looked into the mirror. It refused to go away. And he never saw it completely either. But it was there. He knew it. Because ever so often he could almost feel its breath on his neck.