“Are you still in there?” Miles’s father battered on the bathroom door so hard the architrave shook. “You’ll go blind; you mark my words.”
“Oh, Dad!” Miles called back, embarrassed. “I’m doing my hair, all right?”
His father muttered some unintelligible imprecation and shuffled back downstairs. Miles rolled his eyes at his reflection over the wash basin. Ooh, yes! He liked that look. He tried to hold the curl of his lip and the arch of his eyebrow while he pointed his smart phone at the mirror. He tried to angle his arm so that as little as possible of it would appear in the photograph. He didn’t want to take the snap from the wrong position so that it looked like he had a massive, bulbous head on a little body. Neither did he want his head to appear distant, like a kite bobbing on the thick string of his sleeve. He just wanted a nice self-portrait he could use as his profile picture on Facebook and Twitter. If necessary, he could crop out any extraneous features like arms and fingers and the frame around the mirror…
The flash went off, bouncing off the mirror and hitting him in the eye. Miles winced and pressed the button again. Great, he thought, bet I look a right idiot in that one!
He composed his face into the sultriest pout he could muster, head turned slightly sideways but eyes looking directly ahead. He pressed the button but was startled by more pounding on the door. It was Dad again.
“Miles! I’m warning you, if you don’t come out of there right now…” Dad’s words trailed off. There was nothing with which he could realistically threaten Miles with now he was 18. He couldn’t really ground him and tales of the bogeyman would just be laughed off. The bogeyman who fed on vanity, who devoured those who looked too long in the mirror.
“In a minute!” Miles yelled. He was breathing heavily and his face was red with anger. He would have to wait until he’d calmed down. He posed again and lifted the camera for another shot.
“In a minute!”
He clicked a couple of quick fire shots, hoping they’d come out mean and moody. Then he poked out his tongue, goofing around, just for fun.
The door burst open. Bits of the doorjamb flew everywhere. Before Miles could protest, his father seized him by the arm and yanked him from the bathroom.
“Give me that bloody phone!” Dad snatched the device from Miles’s hand before the boy could refuse. Dad headed downstairs, scrolling through the photographs as he went. Miles hurried after, demanding the phone be handed back at once.
Dad managed to keep Miles at bay long enough to do what was necessary. As he swiped through the photographs, deleting them as he went, Miles’s father felt increasingly cold in his stomach. There, in each shot, over his son’s shoulder and getting closer each time, the leering, drooling face of the bogeyman, fangs and claws bared, ready to strike.