Short-Short: Mirror, Mirror

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Painting: Judit Reigl

By Salini Vineeth

“Mirror, Mirror,”

“Yes, but not again. I am fed up lying.”

“But, you need to play by the script. The children are watching.”

“Ok, you are the fairest maiden in the land.”

“Thank you! See how the children clap. Doesn’t it make you happy?”

“I hate children. Now, what about you telling me the truth?”

“What truth?”

“Behind that thick, abhorrent make-up, I know you are hiding something. I can see it.”

“Mirror, you are being rude. Why don’t you just do your work and let me do mine? And, it’s not my fault they put so much foundation.”

“So, you mean to say you love your work? Dressing like the evil queen, holding me up, and entertaining the unruly kids on their field trip?”

“Why not? The theme park pays me well. I just have to stand here and pretend to be the queen.”

“Don’t you get weary, standing all day in this mindless theme park? It’s kind of sad.”

“What’s sad?”

“I mean, you are a human mannequin, a living doll. Aren’t you sick of these people, their fake smiles, and selfies? Don’t you get fed up pretending to be someone?”

“No one has ever asked me that. But, I have no obligation to answer your questions!”

“Yeah, I know. Even after these many years, you don’t consider me your friend.”

“Oh, come on, Mirror, just cheer up, Ok? You are my friend – maybe the only friend.”

“Ok, then tell me. Are you happy? What are your dreams?”

 “Dreams! Mirror, don’t make me laugh. My crown will fall down.”

“Please, stop that evil laugh! Stop acting for a second.”

“But Mirror, Aren’t we all?”

“All what?”

“Pretending to be someone else. Aren’t we all in disguise? Don’t we all live in a theme park?”

“There you go! Finally, you are talking some sense. So, tell me, who are you?”

“I don’t know who I am, but my uncle used to call me a princess.”

“Yes, you must have been a very pretty princess in your childhood.”

“Yeah, very pretty. That’s why my uncle chose to share his secret with me.”

“What secret?”

“You know, the secret game.”

“What are you talking about?”

“The game we used to play in his room upstairs. The undressing game, and touch and show your body parts!”

“I think I am going to be sick,”

“There you go, Mirror! You cannot take it when I talk about myself. That’s what dad and mom also said. I shouldn’t tell anyone about the game and never show my scars.”

“What scars?”

“The cigarette stub burns. My uncle got very angry with me one day. He had tried to lay on top of me, and I wriggled. So, he put his cigarette stubs on my face. Maybe that’s why they put such a thick layer of foundation.”

“I don’t know what to tell you.”

“Yeah, I guessed. Another group is coming. So, you tell me, who is the prettiest of them all?”

“You.”

Note: The story was longlisted in the Australian Writers Centre Furious Fiction competition in March 2020. 

Bio:
Salini Vineeth is a Bengaluru-based fiction writer. She worked for ten years as an engineer before turning to full-time writing in 2018. She has self-published four books and has contributed to various short-story anthologies. Her stories have appeared in Kitaab International, The Bombay Review, and eShe Magazine. She is currently working on the final draft of her debut novel. Author website:  https://salinivineeth.in/

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2 thoughts

  1. Very well expressed. All the anger and angst, disguised as Princess, leaving mirrors to see the truth. Nice metaphor for a sad, deep feeling

    Like

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