Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2019/29/2019 (Week 126)

It was good she’d won the photography contest. “Best Photograph”. She deserved it. I knew she’d spent taking endless pictures, processing them, re-balancing the colors, enhancing certain details, softening other details, to tune each picture. Make it draw the viewer’s eyes where she wanted, make the viewer see what she wanted.

Of course, we hung the picture on the wall. In a huge frame. To show it off. A wall covered with other photographs from other contests, other shows, where she’d won.

“Well. What do you think, dear?”

With each photo we put on that wall, she asked the same question. And I told the same lie. “It’s perfect. I love it.”

I never told her the truth, I knew to keep that sealed inside, never let it out. It’s something I’d learned early in life. I never saw things like other people. I saw things differently. Somehow. I couldn’t get it right. The picture everyone thought was gorgeous, I found to be nothing special. The ugly picture might well hold my attention for days. The picture everyone adored the model’s smile in, I might not even see the smile, and see only the bracelet on her wrist, and the details within it. “Doesn’t she look so happy?” And all I’d see is the emptiness or the agony, in her eyes.

But, I’d learned, you know. I’d had to learn, to survive. I’d learned to say something appropriate. “Your best shot yet, I think. I love the balance of the colors, they way they play off each other. How everything is centered on the model.” I could tell if it was enough, because she’d smile at me, and hug me, “Thank you.”

She knew I was lying. I knew that. But she knew I understood how I saw things wasn’t the way the rest of the world did. She knew I made basic comments, kept it simple, so I could pretend I knew what everyone else saw, what everyone else felt when they looked at her pictures.

I wished I could tell her what I really saw.

“I know, dear. You don’t really see that. I know.” She hugged me again. “And someday, maybe you can tell me what you see. What makes my work special to you.

I tried to smile, and failed, rather miserably. “You want me to say what I see?”

“I’d love that.”

“She’s trapped, isn’t she.”

It’s tough when the person you love, the person who means the world to you, doesn’t really understand you. She came closer than anyone else ever had, or ever will. That’s why she mattered to me. That’s why I loved her so.

And still, in so many ways, I was a mystery to her. “How, my love. How is she trapped.”

“The blue. I pointed to the blue fabric flowing from the model’s waist, to the ground, spreading to cover the entire floor. “It’s pulling her back. Drawing her back to the way everything is. The way everything is supposed to be.” I took another breath. Deep one. Slow. “It’s so sad. She’s trying to find her way. Be the unique person she is. And our world. It won’t let her.”

That got me another hug. “It makes sense, you know.” She studied her picture and slowly nodded her head, “It does make sense.” She snuggled into me, pulled my arm around her. “In your own, unique view of life, it makes sense.”

I made another weak smile, “So sad. She tried to break free, only to learn the world won’t let her.”

“Do you really like it?”

“Yeah. I do. It’s so sad. And so true.”

Snuggled in, she looked at me, her blue eyes always touched everything in me I never understood. “Thank you for being honest. And not lying to me.”

“Well. I suck at lying anyway, you know.”

“I know.”

645 Words

It’s week 126 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. You can read about Miranda’s small fiction challenge here. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed.


Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2019/09/22 (Week 125)

The song says,

“A mirror is a negative space,
With a frame,
And a place for your face.
It reveals what the rest of us see.
It conceals what you’d like it to be.”

Mirrors reflect everything, but you can’t see into them. Instead, you only see what they see. That’s how mirrors work. Light strikes the surface, and it’s not absorbed, or filtered. It’s reflected. Sent back the direction it came.

Standing in that forest, on that day, I saw them. The mirrors. They walked among the trees, like we did, going around, over, under, moving small branches, and pausing to look at things.

At first, I didn’t notice them, after all, they looked like the rest of the forest. Eventually, I realized they were there, only because underbrush doesn’t move, and sections of tree trunks don’t appear out of nowhere, and then vanish into thin air.

They stopped moving when I stopped, which made them difficult to see. I moved short distances, a step or two at a time, always stopping to look around, and see how everything changed. That’s how I found them. The background changed. The background didn’t always show the right things. By moving a yard to the left, I could make a tree branch vanish. A yard right, and a branch that wasn’t there showed up.

When I found such a branch, I started trying to get closer to it, only to see the scenery change in different ways, like bits of the forest were moving away from me.

The only sounds were my feet stepping on leaves, and twigs, my breathing, the occasional bird, the sounds a forest makes. I never heard them walking, or breathing. They made no sounds at all.

Eventually, moving bit by bit, I caught one off guard, it’s figure cut a human shaped hole in the image of a tree trunk. Mirrors reflect. The mirror was there, between me, and the tree, and a human shaped image of leaves resting on the ground, a couple of mushrooms, and my right shoe, looked back at me from in front of that tree.

“Who are you?” I reached out my hand, to indicate it was OK. I wouldn’t harm them. That I’d noticed them. And was curious.

They panicked. Like forest animals. “The human has seen us! Run!” Reflections went insane, parts of the forest flashed to and fro, moving in impossible ways. Until they were all gone, nothing moved. Nothing reflected an image that was out of place.

They were gone.

Without a sound.

Since then, I have returned to that place in that one forest, a hundred times, hoping to catch another glimpse of them. Always failing. It’s like they watch for me, and hide, when I arrive. I’ve never seen them since that day.

Sometimes, I wonder if they were really there, or if my mind was playing tricks on me. Sometimes, I wonder, are they hiding in other places. Outside the forest. Maybe in broad daylight. Maybe they walk through our parks, along our city streets, filled with glass, and reflected images. And we never notice them. Just another reflection among thousands.

And I wonder if they have faces, eyes, ears, noses, fingers, toes. Like we do.

I may never know. I may never learn. Because I have never found them since that day. When they showed me how mirrors work. How mirrors reflect light, so you can see what they see, and never actually see them.

I will keep looking. I will have my camera with me when I look. I want to get them in pictures, to prove they exist.

They do exist, don’t they?

I know what I saw that day. I know!

They do exist.

Don’t they?

625 Words

It’s week 125 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. You can read about Miranda’s small fiction challenge here. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed.

The music lyrics in the above piece are from the song “Mirrors” by Blue Oyster Cult. Here’s a link to a youtube video of the song:

Blue Oyster Cult: Mirrors

#MenageMonday Week 2×50 : Berlin Was Gone

My phone beeped again when it received Pamela’s message, “What are you doing at the fountain?”

I’d known she was going to ask that, when she’d asked where I was. Even knowing, I didn’t have a good answer. Lacking anything else to say, I sent back the words, “Waiting for the missiles to arrive.”

“With all that’s happened?” I watched the fountain as I wondered if the water noticed what we humans did. I wondered until the next beep of my phone. “Berlin is gone, and half of Germany with it, and you’re watching a fountain?”

I looked to the East. Berlin had been seven hours ahead of us. “Did anyone see the cloud?” A tactical nuclear weapon had struck Berlin. The news had exploded, and interrupted everything, just after 5 in the afternoon.

My phone beeped again. “I need you here. The world is ending.”

Since Berlin, London, Paris, Madrid, and Lisbon had also been struck. I texted my wife. “I’ll wait here, for the missiles to arrive.”

Pamela managed to turn the tables on me one last time. “The world is ending. I don’t want to die alone.”

“I’m on my way.” I started walking home, thinking I was a heel, a selfish ass, an uncaring soul. As I walked, I wondered, “Will I get there before the missiles get here? Will it make any difference one way or another?”

I sent one more message, “Meet you half way?”

Then, I prayed to see her one last time.

249 Words

It’s week 2×50 of Cara Michaels‘s #MenageMonday flash fiction challenge. You can read about #MenageMonday here. Please, go read all the short tales from this week. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed.

#MenageMonday Week 2×49 : Can’t Cheat Death

The big empty. It’s where I was born, where I’d always lived, where I was trapped. A world where you got through high school, and went to work on a farm. Maybe you got a job at the nearby chicken or pig warehouses. Maybe you got nothing but a summer job at the nature adventure tourist trap 50 miles from home, and spent summers in a tent city, working for virtually nothing, and spending half of it on food from the only place you could get it. The place where you worked.

At 18, you got engaged, at 19 you became a parent, and at 21, you got your first divorce. Because. That’s how it went in the big empty.

That’s why I packed my few belongings in a backpack, and walked out of the house one day. “You can’t cheat death, but you can change everything else.” I wasn’t going to die in the big empty. I wasn’t going to have no education, no job, no future. I was going to escape to anywhere.

Anywhere was better than the big empty.

I’d never tried hitchhiking before. I’d never been on a road trip either. Yet there I was. Trying to catch any ride I could, away from everything I’d ever known. Yeah. I was terrified. But I knew it was better to be terrified than to become as empty as the big empty itself. So, I kept walking. And working. For that first ride. That first step.

To anywhere.

246 Words

It’s week 2×49 of Cara Michaels‘s #MenageMonday flash fiction challenge. You can read about #MenageMonday here. Please, go read all the short tales from this week. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed.