One morning Anders, a white man, woke up to find he had turned a deep and undeniable brown. This dawned upon him gradually, and then suddenly, first as a sense as he reached for his phone that the early light was doing something strange to the color of his forearm, subsequently, and with a start, as a momentary conviction that there was somebody else in bed with him, male, darker, but this, terrifying though it was, was surely impossible, and he was reassured that the other moved as he moved, was in fact not a person, not a separate person, but was just him, Anders, causing a wave of relief, for if the idea that someone else was there was only imagined, then of course the notion that he had changed color was a trick too, an optical illusion, or a mental artifact, born in the slippery halfway place between dreams and wakefulness, except that by now he had his phone in his hands and he had reversed the camera, and he saw that the face looking back at him was not his at all.
Anders scrambled out of his bed and began to rush to his bathroom, but, calming himself, he forced his gait to slow, to become more deliberate, measured, and whether he did this to assert his control over the situation, to compel reality to return through sheer strength of mind, or because running would have frightened him more, made him forever into prey being pursued, he did not know.
The bathroom was shabbily but comfortingly familiar, the cracks in the tiles, the dirt in the grouting, the streak of dried toothpaste drip on the outside of the sink. The interior of the medicine cabinet was visible, the mirror door askew, and Anders raised his hand and swung his reflection into place before his eyes. It was not that of an Anders he recognized.
He was overtaken by emotion, not so much shock, or sorrow, though those things were there too, but above all the face replacing his filled him with anger, or rather, more than anger, an unexpected, murderous rage. He wanted to kill the colored man who confronted him here in his home, to extinguish the life animating this other’s body, to leave nothing standing but himself, as he was before, and he slammed the side of his fist into the face, cracking it slightly, and causing the whole fitting, cabinet, mirror, and all, to skew, like a painting after an earthquake has passed.
Anders stood, the pain in his hand muted by the intensity that had seized him, and he felt himself trembling, a vibration so faint as barely to be perceptible, but then stronger, like a dangerous winter chill, like freezing outdoors, unsheltered, and it drove him back to his bed, and under his sheets, and he lay there for a long while, hiding, willing this day, just begun, please, please, not to begin.