The One-Way Mirror

By Cristina Hartmann

“The One-Way Mirror” explores blind desires and sighted norms for love and beauty.

Some stories are a hoot to write, and this one was way up there. I laughed at Bryan’s caddish yet oddly well-intentioned dialogue, cheered on the blind boy whooping some ass, and grinned at the non-visual lovemaking scene. I originally wrote this as a twist on the “love is blind” trope, and it grew into something far more. It made me think about how visual standards of beauty are held up as the ultimate (and only) measuring stick and how the power dynamics work between the sighted and the blind, especially in romantic relationships. The story evolved into something far more than I had started: something surprisingly intellectual that still had an emotional register.

Here’s one of my favorite passages:

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Will thought about Jerome, who had been his roommate at a summer camp for blind and visually impaired teenagers. Jerome liked to philosophize into the night, his voice deeper than his years. One night, he dispensed with Nietzsche and Du Bois and came up with something of his own: “We live in a sighted world where everyone judges us with their eyes. It’s like living in a room with a one-way mirror. Everyone just watches us, and that gives them power. We gotta break through and take it back!” his baritone crescendoing in the night. A boy told him to shut up and go to sleep. Will never forgot the one-way-mirror.

— “The One-Way Mirror” The MacGuffin Vol. 37.3 (Fall/Winter 2021) pp. 100-106.

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You can read the full story by purchasing a copy of Issue 37.3. You’ll have to navigate the site to find Issue 37.3.

N.B. The MacGuffin is a print-only magazine. If you cannot access print, please contact me and I’ll send you an accessible version!

© Cristina Hartmann