Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The Mirror

The Mirror

posted Monday, 21 April 2008
Written today and first published here

The clock was easy about the mirror. He didn’t mind it being hung just above him where he tuck punctuatingly to himself on the mantlepiece. The lady owner of the house spoke a different language from the clock's but he had correctly gathered from the noises she made around her various gentlemen callers that she had bought the mirror as a bargain from a local antiques shop. The clock’s ability to look up or behind was not great but he did manage to ascertain that the mirror was fussily framed and more reflective than normal. It often took a mirror’s huge age, strangely, to enhance images upon its shiny surface to the most perfect pitch when one might otherwise have assumed visible cracks or skewed incidence. Time was usually not a good conditioner. Paradoxically, this mirror was so old and yet so very clear-sighted, the clock could precisely see itself by the mirror’s means even from such a sharp angle of squinting upward.

The clock clucked. He did not like what he now saw. He had long assumed that he was an antique of some standing, judging by what the lady of the house told her gentlemen friends about him in so many words. But within the mirror’s blank stare he suddenly feared he saw he was a fake – a clock unworthy of its own movement: a clock that, abruptly, may now not even be the ‘he’ that the clock had long thought he was. The small round aperture towards the bottom of the O-shaped dial-face – where the winding-key was regularly groove-inserted – appeared to contain more of a spindle’s retraction than its protusion. The mirror could not hide the worst of it, however. This was the fact that she, the clock, was not only misgendered but mistimed! She felt the springs tightly sprung within her newly aware body, straining against rather than in synergy with the cogs while all these moving parts continued to release – by piecemeal pizzicato music-box technique – the jewel-facets of the pronged hunker-drive in its own eventual course of misjudged time throughout the aberrant frictions thus created. The worst of all worlds, indeed. Not only faked but fucked.

The mirror chuckled to itself. It had no pretensions to life or even gender. The clock below it was a prissy miss; it had earlier been able to judge this as soon as the lady of the house had hung its own sloping back upon the chimney-breast just above the clock’s relentless tutting. The lady’s face was so close to the shiny surface that it could see her mole hair sprouting. It was almost as if it possessed a shaving-mirror’s powers of magnification. The sweat on the lady’s upper lip was clearly visible – as was the aggrieved strain in her eyes, as she sensed the arms of some man suddenly around her from behind. Valuable antique mirrors should not be submitted to such uncouth scenes, it thought to itself. It spat out the sight.

The clock fell from the mantlepiece with a crash; each ricochet of its many exploding parts became a kaleidoscope of animate and inanimate life that the mirror collected for a sensory posterity. One day, all mirrors, old or new, cheap or valuable, real or metaphoric, would steep themselves in a sufficiently deep reflection with which to unpick an antique mankind’s festering wounds once inflicted upon time’s substance if not duration. A bloodcount without a face.

The Mirror (2)

posted Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Written today and first published here

Johnny did not like rooms with mirrors. He had a superstition that any mirror somehow collected his image, later to be released forensically and used in evidence against him. Johnny was a burglar and his own evidence for such a superstition was the famous occasion when an actual burglar many decades before was found inside a burgled house’s mirror just as if he were Alice trying to escape back from her nightmare into the real world. To weigh two nightmares in the balance, as that famous burglar must surely have done, he needed to turn a blind eye towards the general rule that all nightmares were equal in nightmarishness. To him, there always seemed a lesser evil, as if evil were relative. That famous burglar soon learned the error of his ways because prison in his day and age was a dreadful experience from which many of the inmates could only escape by committing suicide.

So, Johnny, once he was inside any room that he was intent on burgling, did slide and sidle with his back to the wall and then turned any mirror to face in its opposite direction by stretching out his hand to the edge of the mirror-frame so as to twirl it surreptitiously before it could capture him as its own property. Johnny did not want to become a famous burglar.

One rare day, Johnny found himself in a room with ostensibly no mirrors. He looked warily from corner to corner. Then with growing confidence, he strode into the middle of the floor where he made a few outlandish signs of contempt for Fate, then bowed to an unseen audience. He may not want to be famous, but he was a born entertainer. Silent applause was however all he ever received. He soon concentrated on the business at hand. There was no money to be had from miming to nobody.

There were oil paintings, jewellery-strewn dressing-tables, and other items that set his mouth watering. He was greedy enough to carry away more than he could carry away. And he often wished he had more than one pair of arms.


I was inside the wardrobe as Johnny rifled the room in which the wardrobe stood. The wardrobe, I knew, was the most valuable antique in the room, but being so large, he would probably miss seeing it. The door’s wood was randomly knotted with an image that if one imagined hard enough could be turned into a dark human shape. This shape went straight through to both sides of the door. I couldn’t see it, however, as it was too dark within the wardrobe where I was stationed trying hard not to breathe for fear of discovery. It was no wardrobe for any Alice or Lucy to explore as it literally led nowhere. Hard done-by children had often complained to Uncles and Aunts that this wardrobe was the most boring wardrobe they had ever encountered. Little did they know its value as an antique.

There were many cloaks and suits hanging up against me. I could sense them in the darkness. Mothballs, too, in all the various pockets. I went to hold my nose for fear of sneezing. But I could not find my nose. I could not even find things to use with which to find anything! If any sneeze could sound like ice shattering like glass, then I must have had the worst cold possible.

I heard Johnny stop in his tracks. He was evidently surrounded head and foot with undivided swag. A mound moving clumsily doorward, except it was the wrong door in his urgent haste.


A child peered out from among the cloaks and coat-hangers - and applauded.

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