I met my love today and it was like the first time all over again. She followed giggling children through winding halls of corrugated steel, their rushing feet stomping and ringing on the trampled surface so that even when lost, she quickly found them. Her face was rosy, flustered by the chase. Her eyes, bright diamonds in the neon lights. She turned a corner, racing-
-we crashed together, she and I, a tumble of limbs and a frantic “Sorry” in the Hall of Mirrors with its infinite, stretched-compressed and glittering crowd. Confused, she thrust away from the silver-backed glass, losing me again.
Or perhaps losing is not the right word. Perhaps more accurately I could say ‘forgetting’.
It is so easy to forget someone you no longer want to see.
For though we crashed together just as once before, this time it was not funny. This time our pas de deux was short, not sweet, and the giggles bouncing gently through the halls were not our own. Twenty years of dust fell down and made us sneeze instead.
-and she was gone.
Off she ran, my secret love, chasing tiny humans in their game of let’s-be-scared. She’s scared as well, scared of me. She hides it in her heart, in a locked box grown hard and heavy. I know she’s scared that once she sees me, truly sees, that everything she has will have to fall. That seeing will unfasten all her clever little layers, the lies she sets. The disguises that she wears. I want to peel them back, bring them cursing to the light. I want to show the world all of her protections. Her little cloaks. Expose them and deny them, strip away until all that remains is my love, stuck in her own Hall of Mirrors where images refract forever… so that now she cannot tell which is real at all.
Is she all of them, or none? Only I know the truth.
Today I met my love again, but she no longer sees me. We do this battle every day, and still she will not see. Without me, she is hollow; without her, I am nothing.
She has forgotten.
One day she will return to me, to where I hide in plain sight. Maybe she’ll bring grandchildren back to Luna Park, face again the winding halls and whispering mirrors of her childhood. Maybe she’ll be brave enough by then, brave enough to stand there looking in.
Until then she’ll continue to run, chasing dreams like children chasing bubbles. She will wear her cloaks, her little protections. She will try to hide from me, and I will wait.
What else do I have, but time?
I met my love again today, but all she saw was her reflection.
EDIT: I wrote this post on my iPad. Whilst it’s great for on-the-go writing, there are some features that I can’t seem to grasp relative to the desktop WordPress. So just a few extra points here.
This short story was my 500-word entry to March’s Furious Fiction competition run by the Australian Writer’s Centre. The criteria was that it had to take place in a park, feature a person in disguise, and include a mirror. You can see the winner, runners-up and long-listers here. As always I learned so much from reading others’ work. Do head over to check them out!
Even though I was not listed this month, I loved writing this piece all the same. It was a bit different for me, a bit existential and philosophical. It was tricky to get the perspective right and bring across my meaning without making it too plain, or too clouded. I’d love to know what you think.
Today I submitted my competition entry for April’s Furious Fiction. I look forward to sharing it with you later this month.
Until then, keep safe, and as always subscribe below if you would like to receive notice when I post to the blog.