Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Man in the Mirror

by Samuel Montgomery-Blinn

My sleep had been dreamless, timeless blackness.

I don't remember waking up or how I got there, only squinting in the bathroom as the fluorescent tube blinked to life, flickering. I kept my tired eyes downcast, on the sink, my mouth feeling dry, like bones and ashes. I yawned and ran my fingers over my scalp, turned on the faucet, splashed icy water into my mouth and onto my face, swallowing and then letting the cold drops fall into the sink a while before toweling dry.

Suddenly I felt I was being watched and looked up to meet an unblinking stare.

My perfect, left-right reversed doppelganger looked back at me, mouth slightly open, breathing slowly, hands gripping the sides of the sink as he examined me like a stranger.

I found that I couldn't break his gaze.

Hypnotized, the man in the mirror used me like a puppet: preening, grinning, winking. Unconsciously I yawned and my eyes jammed shut, watering. I slowly cracked them open.

There he was, still locking my eyes with his stare. He looked tired.

"Good morning," he said without much enthusiasm, and I felt the same, crackled words escaping my lips. Standing straighter and smiling--I felt my spine jerk upright and my lips curl up in concert--he repeated the greeting, louder, more confident, as if to convince himself: "Good morning!"

When he finally frowned, sighed, and reached to turn off the light, my hand hit the frame and I realized the awful truth, a moment before returning to blackness:

I was the reflection.

Samuel Montgomery-Blinn is a software engineer by trade andwho lives, works, and writes in Durham, North Carolina with his wife,two kids, and three cats. The cats help out as they can with his newest vocation as managing editor of a small speculative shortfiction publisher, BULL SPEC, at


Doug Murano said...

Great punch at the end. Almost wish you hadn't included that last line, though.

jonathan pinnock said...

Nicely done!

montsamu said...

Thanks guys. The last line was a hard call to make, but it did not seem quite finished without it, or without re-working the previous line to be a bit more straightforward.

Fran Friel said...

Nice work! Drew me in...

And I agree with Doug about the last line. It releases some of the fine tension you've created. But that's beside the point...well done.

Kara McElhinny said...

About halfway through the piece, I realized that the character was the reflection and I thought "OH, how cool!!!" Great idea. I loved the descriptions you used for waking from sleep... I could feel it.

Nice Story!!

Cate Gardner said...

Oh, I like that. Beautiful.