Reflection

For years, I’d noticed unnatural things about my own reflection. Sometimes I saw a slight delay in movement, or an odd twitch that I didn’t feel. The eyes would blink maybe a second before I did, and I’d catch some strange expression in the corner of my vision as I turned away from the mirror.

When my mirror image finally spoke, I felt relieved that I hadn’t been imagining it all this time. There was another person there, or some other version of me.  We became good friends, in the end, understanding each other so perfectly. I began to feel sorry for people who didn’t have a reflection who could talk back.

Months went by, and then he asked me a question I couldn’t answer.

“What do you do,” he asked, “when you’re not being my mirror image?”

The question rolled in my head, and I realised I couldn’t remember where I was before I came to this particular bathroom mirror, I didn’t know what laid beyond the door behind me. When my mirror image walked back into his life, I was surrounded by black fog.

I was nothing but his reflection.

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C: Friday Fictioneers – Run Away With Me

PHOTO PROMPT © Luther Siler

Picture Copyright – Luther Siler

For this week’s Friday Fictioneers entry, I’ll be joining the ConCrit sub group for the first time. I’ve definitely been struggling lately, so some hints and tips would be much appreciated.

In a back room, I pull the ridiculous costume over my head, and I’m enveloped in the sweaty, cigarette-tinged odour of the last person who wore it.

There’s a knock on the fire exit. I turn and see her behind the glass. There’s something regretful in her mischievous grin.

“Forget what I said! Forget this! Come with me!” she shouts. She sees my hesitation. “Are you a chicken or aren’t you?”

I grin. I rip the suit off, damaging the zip, snapping the wings, and violently kick it to the other end of the room.

Breathless, I barrel through the exit.

Sunday Photo Fiction – Unexpected Gifts

122 09 September 20th 2015

Copyright – Al Forbes

Please follow the link to see the rules and other entries for this weeks Sunday Photo Fiction.

My family were part of a carefully maintained system. My eldest sister’s used clothes went to my cousin, my cousin’s clothes went to Alice down the road, and Alice’s cast offs came to me. Every so often, a plastic carrier of hand-me-downs would appear. My mother would make me put everything on so she could assess with an expert eye what fitted me, and regardless of my protestations, discard anything she deemed unsuitable.

As we became older, Alice developed enviable curves whilst I stayed slim, and so my wardrobe supplements became less frequent.

When I was 15, my mother called me into the kitchen. Hanging on the door was a satin dress in floral print, the kind I’d look at through a shop window, and optimistically say to my friends, “When I’m rich, I’ll buy a dress like that.”

Alice had received it as a present. It didn’t fit, and she couldn’t get the receipt to return it.

“It looks good on you,” my mother sighed, “But it’s frivolous, you’ll have no cause to wear something like that.”

“I’m sure I’ll find a cause,” I said, looking in the mirror.

Sunday Photo Fiction – The Most Beautiful Prison

94 01 January 4th 2015

Copyright – Al Forbes

Please check out Al’s page for the rules, and other entries.

I’m trapped in a beautiful prison.

The six walls that surround me are lined with ebony shelves, perhaps ten storeys high. Three are hidden behind silken curtains, and crammed on the shelves are treasures upon treasures. Despite the length of my incarceration, I still discover new things, even now. Strings of pearls, diamonds, filigree gold jewellery, boxes lined with satin, leather books written in languages I don’t understand, china dolls, animals carved from onyx and agate.

Many days ago I discovered a stone angel that seemed warm to the tough, about the length of my palm. It bears a likeness to someone I once knew, a certain prince who was cursed for trying to use his wealth to become a God. My memory of him is obscured and distorted, like someone tried to burn it.

The angel whispers something about a seventh wall.

Sunday Photo Fiction – Equal and Opposite

75 08 August 31st 2014

Copyright – Al Forbes

Sorry that I’ve been neglecting the blog, but I moved to Kent yesterday. Hopefully I’ll have more time for writing now! If you’d like to see the rules or the other stories, click here.

“Who’s the lady at number 17? I never see her talking to anyone.”

She is Karen Hannah. A wretched woman who isn’t welcome in my home or in the homes of my friends.”

“What did she do?”

“What she did is irrelevant. The point is that she got what she deserved. You might disagree with the phrase ‘An eye for an eye.’ You might think it’s unbecoming for ladies like us. Not in her case.”

“Is she really so bad?”

“Let me tell you, that woman did what she did for attention. If she wasn’t, then she ought to know that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Since she clearly has no conscience, we’re simply teaching her that there are consequences to the things she does.”

“Hold on, is this the same Karen who Susan mentioned? The one who… Oh.”

“Exactly.”

TBAM – Chapter 2: E

Read the rest of the novel here. Sorry about the week break, I was moving!

In the end, Levi was not given the option of opening the door. The stranger opened it for him.

She wasn’t one of the people in the photograph. She looked like she could be in her late forties, but was possibly older under the subtle make-up. Her blonde hair was streaked with grey and pulled back into a tight bun. Levi noticed that her clothes were somewhat formal and unusual. Her grey, asymmetrical dress was made of a stiff material and had long sleeves. She was carrying some clothes with her.

“Good morning, Levi! How are you feeling?” Her smile was very unthreatening, but Levi stepped back. He was almost tempted to just go along with what was happening, but he knew he wouldn’t be convincing.

“I’m sorry, do I… do I know you?” he asked, nervously. Her smile disappeared so quickly Levi wondered whether he’d insulted her. “I’m really sorry, I don’t seem to remember how I got here,” he added, hastily.

“You don’t remember?” The lady blinked. Levi could practically see thoughts running around in her mind. “That’s… that’s unfortunate.”

“Unfortunate?” There was a pause.

“You hit your head,” she said, suddenly. “You fell. When you got here. So we took you upstairs, to rest. That’s probably why you can’t remember. Oh dear.” She took a step forward. Then a step back. Then she sighed. “We’re going to have to explain everything again. I should tell Lekivan. You… You try on some of these clothes. You’ll need to change after sleeping. I’ll talk to Lekivan and then you can meet us in the dining room.”

She dropped the clothes on the desk and rushed out before Levi could ask her where the dining room was.

TBAM – Chapter 1: D

Read the rest of the novel so far here.

In light of the incident on the stairwell, Levi made a concerted effort to participate in the lunchtime gossip circle that convened in the break room. In the past few weeks, He’d had a distinct feeling that his title, “Levi, the quiet one who sits by the window,” had been converted to “Levi, the one who got dumped by Laura in HR.” It was a little too pathetic for his taste, and he needed to change the image somehow. Besides, people couldn’t talk about him if he was actually there.

The instant he was sat on one of the aluminium chairs, enveloped in the smell of stale coffee, he began to regret it. Whether it was the late intern, the new exercise regime of their body-conscious manager, the illnesses of their children, Levi felt trapped in a conversation where he had no place and nothing to contribute. He grinned and nodded in the right places, whilst his eyes darted to the clock on the right-hand wall. He internally cursed that sluggish minute hand, as it made its lazy journey from 12:30 to 1:00.

He was almost jealous of his colleagues. Their faces were so animated when they discussed this scandal and that titbit they’d heard from Fred in another department. Levi couldn’t remember the last time he enjoyed talking to someone as much they were relishing this gossip. He eventually ended up staring out of the window until it was finally time to go back to his computer, and the payroll numbers and emails which would keep him busy for the rest of the working day.

Levi supposed he only had himself to blame for the fact he was lonely. Perhaps it was fifty/fifty. His parents were dead and he had no family, which was not his fault. In fact, it was because of this that he’d grown up in an environment that had systematically prevented him from forming lasting friendships. Moved from pillar to post in an uncaring care system, he’d never been able to stay in touch with people he might have grown close to.

However, when he’d turned eighteen and finally inherited his parents’ money and house, Levi had no more excuses for his unsociability. For the first year of living in his own house, he felt like the silence was a greedy indulgence. Instead of getting to know other people on his university course, he rushed to his home and laid in the space that was his and his alone.

He explored the possessions of his deceased parents, and his resentment towards them for getting into that car accident slowly turned into curiosity. He’d felt no drive to discover anything about them before, but he noticed there were no old photos, no information about them before they’d moved here. He didn’t even know what they had done for a living, but the inheritance had been sizable and must have been built up somehow.

Levi’s encounter with Keats occurred within a year of him moving in to his parents’ house. It fragmented his life, and he would throw away the shards in an instant if he could know more about her. He would ditch the job he’d battled to get after his degree. He’d let go of the photos of his parents, and the questions about their past he was sure he’d never find answers to. He would take any excuse to run away from the acquaintances he’d failed to form friendships with.

Unfortunately, that trade wasn’t on offer. Levi had to make do with what he had.

Friday Fictioneers – A Domestic Carol

Image

Copyright – Rich Voza

I haven’t done any photo challenges in a couple of weeks, partly due to my laptop breaking and partly due to the fact I’ve been so busy, so I’m feeling a bit rusty. On the plus side, I went to freshers fair today and joined the creative writing society, plus got lots of free stuff, including pizza, omnomnom. If you want to take part in Friday Fictioneers, click here.

“Let me guess. One door takes me to the past, one door takes me to the present, and one door takes me to the future?” Sam asked. He was bored after listening to the sage’s poetic witterings for the past half hour.

“No.” she replied, crossly. Her scowl made the wrinkles around her eyes deepen. “Why would you need a door for the present? You’re in the present, stupid!”

“So where do they go to?”

“Take a look and see.” she instructed, as annoyingly mystical as ever.

Sam opened the first door.

“It’s full of dirty dishes and laundry, I don’t understand.”

“I wouldn’t expect you to.” she said, sadly.

The Killer Question – Part Nine

The first letter can be found here.

Dear Mr Empwood,

I have no response to your last letter.

However, it would greatly aid the progress of this study if we had a face to face interview.

Either the study can continue as previously described, or you can take part in a face to face interview instead of completing two of the surveys.

How would you like to proceed?

Yours,

Ms E. Atkinson.

Alastair’s Photo Fiction – Cold Hands

Image

Copyright – Alastair Forbes

This flash fiction was written in response to a prompt from Alastair’s Photo Fiction blog.

All that’s left of them are bones buried under the battlefield. Those, and the sibilant whispers that echo through the corridors of my home. I washed the blade so carefully, sluicing off the evidence of combat until no sticky, scarlet drops tarnished the steel. I see my face reflected in its surface, and I know that something still contaminates this sword. Something that will not be washed, polished or buffered away. Perhaps the blood penetrated below the surface, and that is from where it speaks.

“You could be us,” they hiss. “You looked into our eyes as you killed us and we saw that you knew. You knew that the sword in our belly could as easily have pierced yours. That Death would have collected you as swiftly, would have opened His arms as wide, and would have swallowed your life as easily as He swallowed ours. From His land we watched you revel in your victory. One day, you will feel our cold hand on your shoulder and you will know that we are equals…”