Mirrors. They were everywhere. Plastered on the walls, plastered on the ceiling, and some were even plastered on the floor. But you can't find a place like this just anywhere. You have to go to a special place. A place that's hidden in the forest. If you do try to look for it, go to the forest and then walk towards the middle. It's a mansion-like building with smoke coming out of the chimney. No plastered walls. Just glass. You can't miss it.
This place was indeed The Mirror Factory. Its founder was Granger and its co-founder was Guy Montag. Montag ran away from the life he lived in, met Granger, and now, a whole decade later, they got their factory up and running. The idea of this factory was to make people see. See what life is really about behind those walls, "family", burning books, and machines that do everything for you. They still had them of course. You can't just make technology disappear. But as more and more people entered the mirror factory, every bit of enhanced technology was being used less.
Now, people did understand what life was about. No one talked to their "family" anymore when they needed help. People even stopped buying walls and bought more books. The firemen lost their job of burning books. Now, they hosed down houses and other buildings that were set aflame. Thanks to The Mirror Factory, intellectual became a good word again. People not only wanted to know how to do things, but they also wanted to know the meaning behind it all. Everything was changing the way Granger and Montag planned it.
That is until Mildred decided to come back.
Montag hadn't seen her in a decade. Ten years ago, Mildred pulled the siren meaning that Montag had a book. Montag watched her get in a car and drive off. That's when Montag decided to run away.
It was a chilly December day but thanks to the sun reflecting off of the mirrors, it was warm inside. Montag was standing behind a ten year old boy that was looking at himself in a mirror. As Montag was explaining life, an employee of the factory ran up to him.
"Montag!" the employee yelled. Montag and the child looked at him. "Granger needs to see you. There's something going on downstairs."
Montag excused himself from the child's presence and walked downstairs to Granger's office with the employee on his tail. Granger's office door was open and Montag was able to hear some voices. One was Granger's for sure. The other one he couldn't make out.
"This isn't right," a woman's voice said. "There are books everywhere. People are reading them. Someone needs to notify the firemen!"
"The firemen can't do anything about this," Granger said. "They don't burn books anymore. They only hose down buildings that are on fire now."
"What's going on?" Montag asked as he walked in. He stopped in his tracks. Standing before him was a woman in maybe her forties and she had ear buds in both her ears. A frantic look was in her eye. Montag knew exactly who this woman was.
"Mildred?" he asked.
Mildred looked at him. "Guy? Why are you working here? Call the firemen!"
Montag shook his head. Didn't Granger just tell her what firemen do now? "Why are you here?"
"I saw this place. Didn't like it," Mildred said.
"But many people like it here," Montag said.
"Why? It's terrible! People are reading books! People know the meaning of things now! Nothing is hidden! Sadness everywhere! Anger everywhere!" Mildred exclaimed.
"Actually, there's less sadness and anger than before," Montag said.
"No! Firemen burned and took the things away that made us feel those things," Mildred said.
"Not exactly. If you were so happy, why'd you try to commit suicide ten years ago?" Montag asked. "Ever since this mirror factory opened, suicides have gone down. Books of tragedy are being published now, sure, but think about it. Someone needs to experience sadness in order to realize what happiness is really about."
Mildred kept quiet and looked down at the floor.
"Why don't you come upstairs and look at a mirror?"
Mildred's tiny head shook frantically.
"C'mon Milly," Montag said. "I was just with a ten year old up there. He was able to recite almost every verse in Hamlet. Oh, did you know they started publishing Shakespeare again? We went from having zero copies to millions!"
No response from Milly.
"The other day, a lady came in and brought some of the most confusing poems ever written. She was able to tell everyone what each line meant."
Mildred's ear buds beeped.
Montag sighed. "You know, there was once this man who was dragged in here. He didn't want to look in the mirrors. He wanted to stay inside his walls with his 'relatives'. But when he looked into a mirror, his whole world stopped. He looked at his reflection for who knows how long. Ever since then, all he did was read. If you ask him any question, even the most difficult one you can think of, he knows the answer." The story wasn't true but hopefully it would get Mildred to do something. "So why don't you just look in the mirror Mildred?"
Mildred sighed and walked over to Montag. Together, the two of them went upstairs. Mildred's eyes popped open when she heard all the laughter coming from The Mirror Factory. She grabbed Montag's hand. Montag guided her to a mirror that was on the other side of the room. Mildred didn't dare to look into it. She closed her eyes instead.
Montag handed her a book. "Open it. Then look at yourself in the mirror."
Mildred grabbed the book but kept her eyes closed.
Mildred sighed. She opened the book and felt the pages. They were soft and thin between her fingers. Her ear buds kept ringing uncontrollably like they always did. Slowly, she opened her eyes. In the mirror was a woman with blue eyes and brown hair. An opened book was in her hand. Her husband stood behind her.
"Well, what do you think?" Montag asked. "What do you want to know?"
"Life," Mildred said.
Then she took her ear buds out of her ear and the "relatives" she once heard stopped talking.
"You have just the right book," Montag said with a smile.
Together, they began to read.