Today’s flash fiction comes to us from Cathy MacKenzie. She has just published three new e-books: two collections of short stories, LIARS AND OTHER STRANGERS and LOVE, WITH A SLICE OF LEMON; and a flash fiction collection entitled A LITTLE BIT OF FLASH – FICTION, THAT IS. These books can be found on her Smashwords page at: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/camack.
Next week’s story will be by Jessica Degarmo, who grew up in Upstate New York and now lives with her husband, children and dog in rural Pennsylvania. When she is not writing, she is an insurance agent, the lead singer in a classic rock band, and an avid collector of gemstones. Her publishing credits include: HOW TO MEET A GUY AT THE SUPERMARKET (Night Publishing, November 2010); HOOKING UP (Night Publishing, May 2011); DECISIONS (Silver Publishing, July 2011); and THE STORM WITHIN (Night Publishing, September, 2011).
While strolling through the mall, Carmen jerked back in shock at the glimpse of an image in the mirror. The person was someone she immediately recognized, but that individual had been dead for many years. She wished she hadn’t missed that last eye appointment, because surely her eyes deceived her.
She peered again, tilting her head one way, then the other. She threw a faint smile at the reflection, before looking grim. Her hand smoothed down her unruly hair. She bared her teeth and scrunched her eyes and stared until the resemblance disappeared. Sanity returned when she finally gazed at herself. Even then, something seemed amiss, although she wasn’t sure what.
After she finished her errands, she quickly exited through the back door. She did not want anyone to see her. She had to escape; there were too many mirrors hanging on endless walls and numerous glass doors bragging of more reflections. Self-observation was unavoidable no matter where she turned.
Without examining herself again, Carmen knew the other face had returned. She had caught another glimpse of that same face when passing by a second mirror, even though she pretended she hadn’t noticed. She could not deny that no matter how she pictured herself, Carmen’s mother, Bernice, who had passed on to eternal life many years previous, glared back at her.
Carmen did not want to test any more mirrors, understanding in an instant that mirrors don’t lie, although, of course, that was something she should have known. She realized she could glance into a dozen mirrors of all different shapes and sizes, in numerous malls across the country, but she’d still look the same.
Age had crept upon her. Death lingered somewhere close.
The previously young Carmen – that face framed in her mind of how she thought she appeared to the world – had disappeared. She wondered in horror how the years had crept by before she was aware a life could slip away forever.
[This is an excerpt from Cathy’s novel-in-progress, with the working title of MADNESS TAKES OVER, SOMETIMES. It also appears in her e-book of flash fiction.]
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Catherine A. MacKenzie