Two-Way Mirror

Folding handkerchiefs one afternoon, I was reminded of my father.

One of his many jobs after leaving the military was as a security guard at the Holiday Inn Express here in Springfield. He would regularly take me there of an evening, and I recall walking into the shadowed hallway in the bowels of the hotel, down white painted corridors, and to his office. It had a large window on it that was a perfect mirror when the office lights were off, so you could sit inside and see people as they went past on their way to the pool.

I would often go swimming for a bit then dry off in the office with the lights off, naked and nervous that someone would see me, but reveling in the freedom of being invisible. I was at my most vulnerable in that office, completely myself with nothing between me and the world except that two-way mirror. Sometimes I would lie on the floor, or read for hours, or just sit and think. It was a dangerous place, that office, because while I couldn’t be seen I also recognized the instability of the moment. It could end with the flick of a light switch, or the opening of a single door. It was foolish and wonderful.

I don’t think I will ever again experience that thrill of stupid liberation.

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