The short story below started off as a joke between friends. I took it too far (as most writers do) and wrote about it. Enjoy.
This could be a conversation between my husband and I. Maybe. I promised him I wouldn’t tell. All fiction, of course.
She was sure it was her Mother staring back at her in the mirror. This couldn’t be her. The lines on her face were new, her Mother had those, not her. She remembered tracing the lines with her plump little child fingers. Her Mother called them the map of her journey, of where she had lived.
“Your face tells a story, Mitsi. Don’t let anyone erase it.”
That was easy for her to say, wasn’t it? She was a stay at home Mum before it was fashionable. She wiped our snotty noses and kissed our grazed knees, all the while making sure we had food in our bellies and clean clothes on our backs, before blogger Mummies were posting photos of it on Facebook.
It’s an honourable job, but not for me. It’s been years since she’s asked me for Grandchildren. I’m sure she thinks I’m going to turn into ash or something if my uterus isn’t used for cooking up a baby.
It’s not what I wanted for myself.
The creaky boards of the stage, the blistering spotlight and the quiet reverence of the theatre. Yes. This is my home.
More than anything I lived to see the looks on the faces of the audience. The laughter and despair of a play, the entwined highs and lows. I wanted the adrenalin rush before I stepped on the stage, the staccato beating of my heart in my chest, the fizziness of excitement through my veins. This is my life.
But when the spotlight dims, the curtain closes and the adrenalin is washed away by the scotch. When your husband finally leaves you for his girlfriend, because she is pregnant.
The mirror is harsh without the soft backlights, but reality is harder. Behind the makeup and costumes. Behind the toothy smiles and couture, beats a real heart, inside of a real person. Sometimes in the insta-glare of fame, even the most talented are drowning.
“Thank you for coming. I can’t tell you how hard it is to get someone out here.”
As she opened the double doors, Rick couldn’t help but understand why no one else wanted this job. The plumbing in this house must be original, and probably wasn’t even connected to the town water supply, this far out of the main drag. There was no way he was going to be able to get this job in under what his boss had already quoted.
“Yeah. Ah, no worries. My boss thinks this should only take a day but this place looks like it might be a bigger job.”
The woman rung her hands together. Of course, Rick thought. She was worried that it was going to cost more, probably was. As he moved deeper into the foyer he noticed that the chandelier above the grand space was lit with candles, it didn’t even have electricity. Awesome. How the hell was he supposed to use his tools.
The thunk of the door bolt slamming home reverberated through the cavernous space, and he spun towards the woman, her shoulders trembled.
“I have to grab some more gear from the ute, I’ll be back in a sec.” No friggen’ way was he stepping foot back in this house. This was all just too weird, something felt off here. The way she was acting, but maybe she was just a weird lady that liked to live in the middle of nowhere, maybe she’s just not used to people in her space.
“No,” she held her hands out in front of her, her eyes darting around the room.
“Look, lady. I’m only going to be a second.”
“You can’t leave.” Her lips pressed into a thin line.
That’s when he felt it, like fingers stroking the back of his neck, making the hairs stand up. He turned slowly, the tread of his steel capped boots squeaking as he laid eyes on the last thing he would ever see.
The woman’s voice echoed in his head. “No one ever leaves.”