A Fear of Mirrors ( A Tales Told under the Darkened Moon Story)
by Carolyn Wolfe
I practice mirror avoidance. No, I am not phobic about my appearance, that is not the problem. It is the mirror itself, every mirror, but especially a mirror at night. Man, that is the worst. At first I see me, just me, then a shadow behind my head, growing, dark, not me shaped at all, just a shadow.
And if it was just that, maybe I would not have the nerves that I am suffering now. No, sometimes, if I am not quick enough to look away, I see-eyes. Human eyes, looking back at me, not mine, and not red or fiendish, just staring. Creeps me the hell out!
I have heard stories of mirrors as portals. I guess, but what is it in me that draws the mirror denizens from their hidden places? I do not know, but even as a small child I shivered as my mother combed my hair in the mirror. I sat very still, closing my eyes. She thought it was from the pain of tangles being untangled. No, far from it, that welcome pain was a distraction from who knows what might appear in the glass before my eyes. Who knows what face, what shape, what shadow might be drawn forth just from my gaze?
Now, I am an adult, it says so on my license. Adult with a capital A. But the child lives within, and knows a mirror is nothing to be trifled with. In my college days, my friends hoping to cure me of my phobia of mirrors, locked me in the bathroom with the lights off.
I sat with my eyes closed screaming until I was let out. No longer friends, I transferred to another college and kept mum about my little secret.
I am saying this now, because my boyfriend thought it would be fun to have me walk through a carnival Fun House. You know the place,the mirrors are distorted, with lights flashing on and off. I had not told him of my little phobia, for fear that he would think me mad. Besides, I was hot and bothered and wanted to impress!
Inside the funhouse I saw mirror after mirror, after mirror. Me fat, me tall and skinny, me a blow fish with curls... me...
and then not me. Not me at all.
I look out now, always out, into other peoples homes. I see a girl, with her eyes shut tight, getting her hair combed.
I see rooms, dark and light and faces not my own.
I am the eyes now, of the mirror.
Fun House my ass!
Bio: Carolyn Wolfe is a free lance writer, poet, and author of six books including her collections of poetry, short stories and bedtime stories for children. In May 2012 her sixth book, the illustrated children's book "The Unhappy Little Dragon, Lessons Learned" will be on a Virtual Book Tour, and featured on many children's author blogs, complete with interviews and reviews of her book which reveals the story of Happy, and unhappy little dragon, who, while trying to understand how to master his uncontrollable gift of fire, has an exciting adventure in the woods and discovers he is a very special dragon after all. Carolyn also hosts a poetry group, "The Downtown Poets of Winchester" a monthly meetup group that also does performances of their poetry throughout the area. Ms. Wolfe lives in the Shenandoah Valley with her Photographer, husband Scott, and her houseful of animal companions. For more information, please visit her website at: www.whenthemoonspeaks.com.
THE ARTIST MODEL
by Linda Thornton Peterson
Kerry had barely unpacked from her recent move to town, when a birthday gift from Jay arrived. She opened the case of colored pencils and liked the way they were so neatly arranged by color and value. They looked so nice she hated to use them, to sharpen them away to nothing. She decided to buy some colored papers. Jay would, of course, be the first recipient of one of her drawings.
It was raining as she ducked inside the store, one she’d never been in. Looking around, she was drawn in further by the vibrant colors.
No other customers were in the store. A sandy haired man behind the front counter smiled—a familiar smile? Did he recognize her? She didn’t him. His smile gave her an eerie feeling.
The rain was not letting up, so she browsed the aisles absorbing the colorful array of tube paints and the art work on the walls. The fresh smell of artists’ oil paints was intoxicating. She inhaled deeply as she ran her fingers across the paint tubes, enjoying their arrangement by color and value like her colored pencils. It was comforting. No one was there to notice.
She moved on to the aisle with the colored markers, then to the charcoal and graphite pencils. Black and gray . . . as she touched these blacks and grays everything in the store changed—changed to black and gray. The art on the wall and the walls themselves turned black or gray. She looked toward the counter for the man who’d smiled at her. He was there, but his hair had turned black.
She walked down the aisle where she’d seen the oil paints and there they were—black and gray, not a red, blue or green among them. She gasped. The wonderful smell of oil paints was gone. Instead, the smell was like ashes, ashes left for months or years in a fireplace. She choked on the smell and while she covered her mouth and nose with her handkerchief, the man ignored her.
Rattled, she decided not to approach him or ask what had happened. Maybe the store’s lighting had been changed to create some weird optical illusion or perhaps to suggest a painting as it changes from the original black and white sketch to the finished colors—the artist changed his mind. Pentimento.
Feeling watched, the hair on her arms stood up and she wanted to run out the front door into the pouring rain. But, to avoid the man, she headed for the nearest back exit. As she approached the exit, she turned and glanced at the black haired man still behind the counter and thought she caught him smile. Quickly, she looked away and reached for the doorknob, when a huge painting of a Japanese garden with a small bridge over a lily pond caught her attention. She recognized its similarity to a Monet. But, this one was in black and white.
Trembling, she turned the doorknob and looked back at the black haired man who smiled from ear to ear—as she stepped through the door, she heard herself screaming.
The sandy haired man smiled with a feeling of accomplishment as he looked at his painting and thought it was exactly as he’d envisioned it—a vividly colored rendition of a Japanese garden with a lovely young girl standing on a small blue bridge over a lily pond.
Painting figures was never his forte.
Bio: Linda Thornton Peterson retired from Northern Illinois University as a psychotherapist and teacher. Four of her short stories and a poem have appeared in The Green Silk Journal. Her poems have been published in other literary journals, including The Hanging Moss Journal, the Western State Colorado University Journal and a Northern Illinois University Journal. She founded two local writers group, one that also welcomes artists. As a former photographer and art teacher, she continues to paint as well as .