You can see the three-dimensional world in a mirror, but the barrier of the glass itself makes it actually two-dimensional.
Stories are like that. It's part of their allure, I think, their dual nature of being both two-dimensional and three-dimensional. You can see what's inside a story like you can see what's inside a mirror. But you can't really touch the things reflected in either. The reflections are ever-elusive, restrained by the barrier of the glass and the words.
Yes, I think words have dual natures too: each word serves as barrier and invitation.
I see myself in every good story I read, just like I do the mirror. Good stories do that, I think. They set up enough reflection to show you yourself, but also enough barrier to make you sort things out for yourself. In stories sometimes the barrier is what's not said. A really excellent story forces us to think and process in our own way, to examine our own reflection in the light the story shines on us. In that way we join with the story.
I often have reflective bits of silver in my stories. A silver mage in Exile, a silver demon's ring in Archive of Fire, a whole world made of silver in The Silver Scar. For a long time I wondered why I have this fascination with silver. I've researched silver extensively, but the Googles told me little.
And then I woke in the wee hours, as I usually do, and thought about mirrors.