MIRROR MIRROR ......

MIRROR MIRROR ......

A Story by alanwgraham
"

Tom has a very unusual day!

"

Mirror, Mirror …


When you reach a certain age, as I have done, time seems to take on a different quality. Before retirement, each day’s events passed as measured as a piece of music to the conductor’s baton. Now that I’m retired time has become my plaything. I can plan my day down to the last detail or I can daydream to my fancy.


My preference is somewhere in between. To give my days some structure I go along to a number of clubs, frequent the gym, etc. However, I also like to have time free to take advantage of fine weather, meet up with friends or just chill out. Of course all this will change in two years when my wife retires! As Mary likes to tease, 'twice the husband on half the income!'


This morning, it felt like a Wednesday, I slept late, surfaced to find the house empty. Mary left at 7.30 am to drive to the station for the mind numbing commute into the city centre. After a spot of breakfast I metaphorically licked my finger to see which way the breeze of ease was blowing - it whispered coffee in the Mocha then a leisurely walk along the river. Hopefully I would be back in time for Mary’s return.


 After catching up with emails and a light lunch I strolled into the village and took my usual seat in the end alcove in Mocha’s. I’d been a regular since I’d retired three years ago. Sue was busy at the coffee machine.


‘Hi Sue, no rush, I’ll have the usual with a slice of your flapjack.’ She didn’t seem to hear and came along to take the order from the couple in the next booth. Sue headed back to make up their order. In the Mocha the booths are private with luxurious, red leather seating round an oak table. I like to snuggle in and catch up with my latest book. A few minutes later Sue returned with the couple’s order. When she had finished I poked my head round the corner and tried to attract her attention, ‘Hey Sue!’ but she kept walking away.  I shrugged. ‘That’s strange,’ I thought. ‘She must be deaf today! I’ll read for a bit and catch her later.’


I had been reading for only a few minutes when I became aware of the couple in the next booth conversing. It was obvious that they didn’t realise I was sitting a few feet away.


‘Mmm, Sarah, this carrot cake is to die for.’

‘You know Mike, I was just thinking, I haven’t seen that old baldy guy that comes in here to read for a week or two.’

‘You’re right Sarah - he’s one of these guys that just merges into the background. I’ve tried to be friendly but he just grunts.’


This was my chance to say, ‘hi guys, ‘I’m here!’ to avoid any developing embarrassment but instead I shrunk back into the leather.


‘He’s called Tom isn’t he? He used to work in the bank before he retired. He was always bad tempered and not very helpful.’

‘Remember he lived next door to Aunt Betty. She said he was one of these neighbours from hell - always complaining about something.’

 ‘What a sad life!’

 Sue came to clean the table opposite.

‘Sue, have you seen that grumpy old guy recently?’

‘Not for a few days. No great loss though, he was a stingy old moaner.’

I felt mortified listening to all this. You rarely hear others talking about you in this fashion. In fact the portrait they had painted was so unpleasant that I tried to persuade myself they were talking about someone else.


I waited until the couple left and decided that I would try to sneak out unseen. Just as I opened the door Sue turned from the coffee machine. ‘Oh, bye Sue, I’ve just remembered I have to go to the dentist.’ She blanked me, obviously from embarrassment.


The whole thing in the Mocha’s left me feeling depressed but I decided to walk down Drover’s Lane to the river. It was a fine day and the walk always lifts my spirits. The river meanders down through the town but you can forget the traffic and enjoy the luxuriant vegetation and the wide variety of animal and birdlife.

I’d barely gone a few yards when a cyclist appeared at high speed and seemed to head straight for me. I leapt to safety and shouted, ‘are you blind?’ and then ‘imbecile!’ She seemed oblivious.


I found a bench a few yards on and sat down to recover. Gradually I recovered my composure and began to enjoy the peace and quiet of the river. That was until the dog appeared, a spaniel! It barked a few times and then sniffed around. No sign of the owner. Then the damn thing came to my bench, lifted its leg and peed on my trousers. I swore and took a kick at it - for some reason it didn’t seem to connect. Then it wandered off, looking pleased with itself.


I was just getting up when I noticed a new memorial plate on the back of the bench. I read the inscription. ‘What the fu**!’ I read it again. Then it dawned on me. ‘You  bast*** Nigel. Then I laughed. Nigel had always had a twisted sense of humour.


My friend Tom spent many happy hours here. Now even the dogs can take the piss!


Watching the ducks I let my trouser leg drip dry and decided it was time for home. I decided to jump on the bus but the driver wasn't even interested in my pass. I sat near the front and bizarrely an old lady tried on sit on my knee. ‘Yuck, this seat smells of dog piss, driver!’ She whined. This was turning out to be a peculiar day.


Back home I opened the door and passing the living room I could see Mary sitting on the settee with her head in her hands. I barely took in the cards lining the table and the wilting flowers.

‘What’s the matter darling?’  She didn’t seem to hear. ‘I have to go to the bathroom and then I’ll come straight down.’ I thought she nodded.


I went upstairs, peed and then glanced in the mirror.


My heart froze. The mirror was empty! I looked again searchingly. 


Mirror, mirror, on the wall


who is the deadest of them all?










 

 

© 2018 alanwgraham


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Featured Review

This story was a little hard for me to follow in spots, but I settled on the explanation: every story doesn't have to make perfect flowing sense!?!?! You start out trudging along with ordinary observations about retired life -- to me, this is SHOW instead of tell, since you paint this bloke's life as a boring snooze-fest. But little by little your story becomes more animated in the telling, as if you're working up some steam and the guy is coming alive. One little bump is how he starts out worrying whether he'll beat Mary home, but then this concern seems to evaporate, & it's not even mentioned later when he does return home. I did sorta get the bench inscription, tho . . . as if his friend was messing with him, as if he was as good as dead, now that he's retired. That was a fun little trick I've never heard referenced before & seemingly the climax of your story. I feel like my review is hard to follow, so maybe it's me, not you! (((HUGS))) Fondly, Margie

Posted 6 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

6 Months Ago

I almost never get pieces that are written in a way to blur the line between living & dead. I'm not .. read more
alanwgraham

6 Months Ago

Lucky you! I don't believe in ghosts and spirits anyway!
Thanks again,
Alan
Norman223

5 Months Ago

So you didn't use that ghost writer called Amenuensis to write this for you then, Alan. But I thin.. read more



Reviews

Aaagh! Hitchcockian stuff alan! Mysterious, suspenseful and scared me into tomorrow at the end. Great writing carries us along until clues manifest themselves little by little. You gave all of us retirees a fright with this one!

Posted 4 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

alanwgraham

4 Months Ago

Thanks Annette. I really don't know where this came from. Perhaps it is a sign of advancing years.read more
I love the detail in your writing Alan. This was an interesting read and I enjoyed the way you approached your subject matter. All good wishes.

Chris

Posted 4 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

alanwgraham

4 Months Ago

Thanks Chris. Just some fun with the main theme of how do others are us.
Bedtime here!
.. read more
Christine Anne Shaw

4 Months Ago

Goodnight Alan. Sleep well
I enjoyed this Alan, he forget he passed away and was acting like everything was normal, interesting, entertaining and fun at times. Top marks Alan. Sad at the end thought as didn,t want to miss his wife, aw.

Posted 4 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

alanwgraham

4 Months Ago

Thanks Dawn. Not meant to be taken too seriously apart from seeing ourselves as others see us.
.. read more
cor blimey guv'nor you just made me head swim... love the twists and turns a great write and an even greater read tis true.... Nicely put our Alan ... :)

Posted 6 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

alanwgraham

6 Months Ago

Thanks once again. I had to tweak this several times because others were not getting it. The ending .. read more
Neville Pettitt

6 Months Ago

Good luck Alan, not that I think you will need it.. do let me know how it goes... 2019 has not been .. read more
And here was me thinking the twist would be that its 2019 and its just a statement of how we can walk through the world unseen. Even when I thought he might be dead, I double bluffed and busted :)
im sure I speak for only myself, but the being invisible part I would so dig, but just think of being stuck in a coffee shop, smelling, but unable to get served. AARGH!

Posted 6 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

alanwgraham

6 Months Ago

Ta Lorry. I'm badly needed some inspiration in this new year. Maybe the answer is to stop taking my .. read more
Lorry

6 Months Ago

And to yourself.
I enjoyed the voice of this piece, with its journal entry style of recall. I liked the ease in which the tale unraveled.


Posted 6 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Cherrie Palmer

6 Months Ago

Ya know I was going for more of twilight zone ending and missed your light leading. I was all in for.. read more
Cherrie Palmer

6 Months Ago

...The mirror was empty! 


All became clear!... I rubbed my chest as I rememb.. read more
alanwgraham

6 Months Ago

Oh Sherlock, great! You have got first prize in a defective detective work!
Alan
This story was a little hard for me to follow in spots, but I settled on the explanation: every story doesn't have to make perfect flowing sense!?!?! You start out trudging along with ordinary observations about retired life -- to me, this is SHOW instead of tell, since you paint this bloke's life as a boring snooze-fest. But little by little your story becomes more animated in the telling, as if you're working up some steam and the guy is coming alive. One little bump is how he starts out worrying whether he'll beat Mary home, but then this concern seems to evaporate, & it's not even mentioned later when he does return home. I did sorta get the bench inscription, tho . . . as if his friend was messing with him, as if he was as good as dead, now that he's retired. That was a fun little trick I've never heard referenced before & seemingly the climax of your story. I feel like my review is hard to follow, so maybe it's me, not you! (((HUGS))) Fondly, Margie

Posted 6 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

6 Months Ago

I almost never get pieces that are written in a way to blur the line between living & dead. I'm not .. read more
alanwgraham

6 Months Ago

Lucky you! I don't believe in ghosts and spirits anyway!
Thanks again,
Alan
Norman223

5 Months Ago

So you didn't use that ghost writer called Amenuensis to write this for you then, Alan. But I thin.. read more

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Added on December 12, 2018
Last Updated on December 28, 2018

Author

alanwgraham
alanwgraham

Fife, Scotland, United Kingdom



About
Married with three grown up kids, I retired early from teaching physics but have always enjoyed a second life enjoying the outdoors, particularly the mountains. In my mid forties I experienced a manic.. more..

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