Friday, September 18, 2009

Reflect - fridayflash

At the urging of one Elizabeth Ditty, I decided to participate in this week's #fridayflash. I'm suffering under the worst ear infection ever, so I'm not really in any condition to elaborate on anything. But I hope you enjoy the story, at least.

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REFLECT

He stood at the window and peered out into the twinkling sea of lights in the city. His apartment was high above the rest of the world, a luxurious penthouse far above the squallor of the city. But tonight he stared out longingly through the huge windows, peering through the reflection of his own face distorted by the darkened glass.

He stepped back from the brink of the city unfolding below and looked at himself in the glass. He was naked from the waist up, the dark room warm in the summer heat.

On the other side of the window was his reflection, pale and slender. He looked down at himself. His skin nearly glowed in the darkness. His chest was narrow and flat, a faint dusting of feeble hair across the middle of it. He frowned, rubbing his hand across it. A hundred memories of being mocked for his bird-chested figure crossed his face, his lips pulling tight and his eyes narrowing. It wasn't an unfair comparison.

He looked up at the reflection in the mirror, reaching up with his free hand and brushing a wild strand of hair from his eyes. The reflection before him mimicked the action, but instead of a wispy lock of hair it pulled back a long, straight length.

The figure on the other side of the window was equally slender and equally pale, but it wasn't nearly as emaciated or weak. The twig-like torso was expanded into subtle curves. The hollow chest had filled out with two small but graceful looking breasts. The detestable tuft of hair was gone.

He looked into the face in the reflection, afraid to see his hollowed cheeks. But instead there was a rounded face that was beautiful and feminine and utterly alien. Yet when he looked into the eyes, the eyes that looked back were his own.

His hand reached up and touched the glass, and the woman on the other side reached up and touched the glass from the other side. Her fingers were slender and artful, beautiful in comparison to his own hand, with hairy, over sized knuckles.

He pressed harder against the glass, trying to reach the figure on the other side. The reflection seemed to strain to reach out to him, too, muscles in her arm flexing. He stared into the eyes of the other person, seeing her yearning to come across just as strong as his yearning to pull her through the window and into the reality of the room.

He sighed and relaxed his hand, realizing that nothing would get the reflection to come through the other side. She was forever opposite him, floating like an angel above the myriad lights of the city. And there she would remain for as long as he stood there staring out into the darkness, yearning for the impossible.

His other hand came up and pressed the barrel of the gun in his hand against his temple. On the other side, the reflection did the same thing, her slender feminine arm rising up against her head. The reflection of the gun was dark, though. So dark that he couldn't even see it against the night sky.

"I'll never see you again, but ... maybe that's for the best," he said, pressing the muzzle tightly against his temple. He closed his eyes, hoping that the reflection would continue to mimic him. He didn't want her to see this. She was too perfect to be sullied by the gross reality of his existence. His finger tightened on the trigger.

The noise of the gunshot was loud, but brief. This was a luxurious apartment, and noise was swallowed up quickly. There was only the darkness, and a body slumped against the ground, hand still outstretched towards the window, grasping in vain.

There was silence that settled in the apartment. The city continued to shine below, oblivious. But in that silence, with no eyes watching, two slender feet stepped between the splayed legs of the man lying there on the carpet, a hole in his head and a blood stain like an oil spill on the hardwood floor.

The female figure stood there, arms crossed over her bare chest, looking down at the man lying on the floor. She stared at him as though he was possibly familiar, but then shook her head as if clearing away the last remnants of a bad dream.

On a nearby chair was a dress shirt that she pulled on and buttoned up. She approached the window, stepping over the body, and looked at her reflection in the mirror. The reflection was of a man, thin and sickly and disgusting looking. But it didn't seem to bother her as she adjusted the shirt in the mirror, seemingly ignorant of the aberrant reflection staring back at her.

The shirt adjusted so that it didn't look too out of place, the woman turned and walked out of the apartment. At the window, the reflection of the man remained. He stared at the woman living where he had once lived, beginning where he had ended. He pressed his hand to the glass. There was just him and the body lying on the other side inside the apartment.

Slowly, the man faded from the window. The body remained, backlit by the hustle and bustle of the city, but it was alone.

8 comments:

The Writer said...

Wow! Matt, this is my first exposure to your work. I loved this. Something neat and creepy about mirror images that gain lives of their own. I hope you'll do more. Welcome to #fridayflash!

mazzz_in_Leeds said...

Mesmerising!
I like the idea of stepping through the other side of the looking glass when dead
It's been my first #FridayFlash today too, good fun isn't it? :)

shannon said...

I had to read it twice because I read it too fast the first time trying to figure out what was going on. Love the concept. Haunting story, thanks for sharing this one and welcome, looking forward to reading more from you!

Chris Chartrand said...

This may be your first time posting to #fridayflash, but I bet it isn't your first piece of flash. I liked this a lot. Hope to see more of your work next week.
~chris

Rosa Say said...

Very imaginative and so well written. Welcome to #fridayflash - hope you feel better soon :)

Literary Rock Star said...

Thanks everyone! I'm pleased that so many people enjoyed it. Certainly makes me want to do another one.

Mazzz: The fridayflash is WAY different than what I usually write. Sprinting versus marathon running, so it's rough but was pretty rewarding.

Chris: Afraid this is my first one. I normally write novels, and maybe the odd short story, but this is probably the shortest piece I've written in years.

hojpoj said...

This piece was bittersweet. I can't decide if it is creepy or freeing, so I'm running with a bit of both. Interesting and well written. thank you!

J. M. Strother said...

Nicely written, and with an earache, even. Impressive. As someone else said, this is sort of haunting. I get the sense of betrayal here. I think she used him to escape the nether world.

As you can tell, I'm still making the rounds. Welcome to #fridayflash. Hope you're better by now.
~jon