Tag: Reflection

REFLECTION: My Brother, My Reflection By G. Ackman

Word Count 499

My Brother, My Reflection
By G. Ackman

Mom, mom. He’s here again. Here – in your closet. . Come quick and see.

Mom, mom. Look at him. And he’s barking. I can’t hear him, but I see his mouth open and he’s hopping backwards a bit, so he must be barking. Stupid dog – maybe he doesn’t know how to make that sound come out. It’s so important to be loud and continuous, so that the humans know that something is there – or that we think something might be there.

He’s so short too. He’s rather funny looking, with that long nose and those wrinkled little legs. He can’t even stand up straight. His legs go out to the sides.

I’m just going to give him a quick smell. I’ll head around to his information end – wait – where did he go? He’s gone. I’ll turn back around quick… – oh, there he is. He’s barking again.

I guess I’ll have to smell his front, but doesn’t have near as much information.

Ouch! He hit my nose! And he doesn’t smell at all. That’s really weird.

Mom, mom. Are you going to come see or not?

She closed the closet door. Now he’s stuck in there, bu I’ll give the closet one good bark just to let him know that I am on to his tricks. I’m protecting this house and my mom. I won’t let him get out of that closet – no way.

Mom is talking to me again. I don’t really understand, but I want her to think that she’s making sense. It would hurt her feelings if I didn’t understand, so I’ll cock my head to the side and wrinkle up my face a bit. She likes that. She always says that I know just what she is thinking when I do that. She’s kind of silly, but I love her anyway.

Up. I know that word. She’s taking me to the place where she does her business. It always seems strange to me – she does her business inside. I get in trouble when I do that, but I guess she gets to set the rules. I would think she would prefer to go outside on the yard like I do. Well – except in the winter. I hate that. You have no idea what it feels like to have snow wrap all around your – ummm – dangling bits – at five in the morning. What a heck of a wake up call!

Anyway – she’s holding me up and pointing to the wall. Why? What’s….oh, it’s that dog again. How did he get out of the closet? I’ll get him. She wants me to stop wiggling, but I have to bark at that funny looking dog again. He just keeps barking back at me.

Mom is saying soothing words. I hear – “it’s all right” and “reflection.” I don’t know what that reflection word means but it must be the name of that other dog. She used that “it’s all right” when she brought my brother Harry home. Welcome home, reflection.

REFLECTION: Reflection on a Life Gone Wrong B.A. Sarvey

Word: Reflection
Word count: 500
Reflection on a Life Gone Wrong
B.A. Sarvey
No remorse that he was gone. If anything, she felt relief. No remorse that she had wished him so. She was, after all, not the cause of it. Even if she had told herself the only way she would be free of him was through death—his or her own. If wishing could make a thing happen, then innumerable musings might have created for her a drastically different life than the one she had. Remorse, perhaps, for the way things had gone for him; that she had, perhaps, prevented him from joy as much as he had prevented her from experiencing anything akin to fulfillment.
He had been a cyclone, spinning out of control, gathering debris, uprooting homes, overturning lives; a puma, stalking in the night. Stealthy, cunning, looking for weakness, then springing out of nowhere to bring down its prey; jagged rocks, wrathfully attempting to bash the life from waters boiling out of the sea, but succeeding only in stultifying his own awareness. She had been the untethered sacrificial lamb, first tossed by the tempest, then naively led into his jaws; a weak swimmer swept into the tidal wave he created, battered against his sharp edges, left for dead. Fitting, then, that something demonic had come out of the darkness, snatching him, spiriting him away. Would she ever know what had happened? Would she ever tell?
You seem not to grieve, said one. You grieve too long, said another. I grieve just right for me, she replied. I grieve for lost chances, for songs not sung, music not written, tales untold. I grieve that beetles ate the lilacs before they could bloom, that three pale, smooth eggs cool while waiting in the bluebird nest for the mother who will never return, and that the chipmunk in the road was too slow. I grieve that winter never ended, and spring never came, and summer simmers but for some will never come to fruition.
Her friends feigned understanding, though who can truly understand such ramblings, or imagine how these errant images connected to her loss. Her real loss.
So she retreated to her spot. New frogs and bullfrogs cheeped and galumphed, two cardinals vied for territory, song ricocheting in the heavy air—a flute duet. A mockingbird pretended to be a red bird, a lark, a chipmunk, and a wren, until a hawk soared overhead and he took cover. Sweet grasses and tiny white wildflowers, whose name nobody knows, faintly scented the air. It reminded her of a day, much like today, when they walked through the tall grass to this place, discovered this pond. His kiss was tender then. His voice gentle, sincere.
Regrets? Too many to name. She studied the water now, trying to discern her tear from all the other molecules, as it splashed into the pond, thus splintering her reflection into a thousand waves of uncertainty. But of course, the tear was lost, just like her thoughts, which spread to the edges of the pond and disappeared.

REFLECTION: Reflection By Anne Nassar

Word Count 501
By Anne Nassar

He wouldn’t tell them anything. So, they guessed: he was a teacher from the city, and he had a nagging wife who wouldn’t put out. He had a small dog that he around carried under his arm. He tried to laugh it off, but he couldn’t figure out why they’d ascribed this sad life to him. Instead of two shots of Southern Comfort, he had three. The extra alcohol had a profound effect.
He knew that he shouldn’t drive home, but he didn’t want to ask for a ride. He didn’t want anybody knowing where he lived, and he didn’t want his wife knowing where he drank. After driving a few miles, his eyelids got heavy. He slapped himself in the face, and dug his nails into the skin of his forearm. Nevertheless, he was asleep when he hit the kid
The force of the impact snapped his head back and he opened his eyes just in time to see the kid’s body land in the ditch. He slammed on the brakes and the car spun around, tires squealing, before it skidded to a stop. He put it in park and tried to catch his breath. He could hear himself panting and keening, but it sounded far away.
There was the possibility that the kid was still alive. So, he threw open the car door and rolled out onto the road. His quivering legs wouldn’t support him, so he crawled over to where the body lay. The kid was Hispanic, like most of his flock. His curly hair was shaved over the ears. He had round, acne-pitted cheeks. He was wearing a sleeveless hoodie and expensive sneakers. He was big, maybe two hundred pounds. The kid’s head was twisted at an unnatural angle. His neck was broken; he was certainly dead.
But Garrett did CPR anyway. The intimacy of it was sickening. He’d just killed this kid, and now he was crouched over him, breathing into his mouth. Eventually, he gave up. He sat back on his heels and cried. He prayed for the kid’s immortal soul, for his mother and father and grandparents and siblings and friends.
Then he was at a loss. What am I going to do? he asked God, out loud. He couldn’t call the police or an ambulance – he didn’t have a cell phone. No one was going to drive by.
Nancy, he thought, she’ll know what to do. He didn’t like leaving the kid all by himself in the muddy ditch. It was nearly dark and there were all sorts of flesh-eating creatures in the woods that were probably already poised for the feast. But he couldn’t put the corpse in the car and drive around with it in the backseat – it would be gruesome and disrespectful. So, he got in the car and drove towards home. Soon he could no longer see the body’s reflection in the rear view mirror. And it became very difficult for him to believe that the accident had occurred.

REFLECTION: Reflections By Jane Malin

Word Count 458
By Jane Malin
I came across a photo today, one that always makes me pause to think about life. Not just my life, but a more global panorama.
The photo is one of my most treasured possessions. It depicts my stepson, John, during his deployment for Desert Storm and later the Operation Iraqi Freedom campaign. He stands silhouetted against the South West Asian sunrise. I’d know his outline anywhere – the shape and tilt of his head; his protective arms that never quite relax against his torso; the slight bend in his knees. He’s wearing watches and radio equipment, and combat boots. But that’s not what I see.
I see a young man who sat in my kitchen months prior and almost apologetically told me he wasn’t going to college. He was going into the military. John and I have always shared an unbreakable bond. I caught plenty of trial balloons for many adolescent confessions. Who could have known now the perils that lay only a year down the road?
No, when I look at that photo, I see the honorable soldier who found his calling, despite the emotions which twisted my innards. The picture brought me peace during those years that he fought in Iraq. While shadows cloaked his Mona Lisa smile that I knew he had on his lips, his stance also symbolized his preparedness and resolve.
Many years later, I became a government contractor for the Department of Defense. I led numerous teams of engineers in optimizing supply chains for operations in theater. Oddly enough, the war had only shifted a thousand miles east. It was now called Operation Enduring Freedom, but that’s a different story.
This photo became the wallpaper on my laptop. Now it symbolized something different to me. John was home safely, but men and women just like him were still in harm’s way. I walled off my political emotions. My mission now was to make each day just a little safer, just a little easier for my new clients. Life became about getting night vision goggles to the airmen without cracks in the lenses. When drone cameras broke, my team’s new procedures got the birds back in the air in hours, rather than days, providing life-sustaining cover to the guys patrolling the hills. We optimized processes and eliminated paperwork. We hardened packaging and randomized supply routes.
At night, I would look at John’s picture and say, “I helped a couple of your buddies today.”
This photo is a reflection of who John is, who I am; of the blood and bones we treasure; the prayers we say; the freedoms we cherish. I can agree or disagree with war, but I will always be honored for the time I was able to help our soldiers.

REFLECTION: Unintended Consequences By Mike Cecconi

Word Count: 500
Unintended Consequences
By Mike Cecconi

In every timeline where we killed Hitler early, things ended up as least as bad. Usually worse. Here at Zeitgeist Time Management, sitting outside of causality, we learned this the hard way. Every fresh staff member, that’s the first thing they want to do, kill Hitler when he was young, suffocate him in his crib or frag him in the trenches of The Great War. But looking back, you need to consider how half of why the Allies won at all was that Hitler was a paranoid deluded blowhard who just could not brook negative news, let alone accept good advice.

Germany in the 1920s was a stew of economic collapse, empire-lust and racism with or without any one syphilitic propagandist. Something like the Nazis were going to rise no matter what, but without Hitler, they pulled it off much more efficiently. In many of the timelines his early death created, millions more were sent to camps, the war dragged on for decades even when the Allies still won, ruining Europe for generations, killing so many more. With someone competent at the helm, often only the atomic annihilation of Berlin ended the madness. There are worlds where the person filling in that void won by simply not double-crossing Stalin so very early on. Your history hinges largely on that one awful man undermining military strategy with his arrogance.

There was the one timeline where we sent back people to prop him up as a celebrated painter in his youth instead of killing him that went just… equally as bad but then he ended up replacing Bob Ross as the resident artist on American public television and so we scrapped that one too.

No, the bunker underneath Berlin, that was the perfect time for us to do it, so we did. Killed him like a sewer-rat and staged it as by his own hand, to put a punctuation on the entire mess. What, you thought he had the courage or inclination to take his own life? He’d spent his days believing his own lies, no one like that can see defeat when it arrives, these narcissists always have a new rationalization for how they’ll still somehow end up on top, up to the bitter end.

You should’ve seen the realities where he was taken alive, then tried and executed at Nuremberg. It made a martyr of him, deified him, fueled resistance into the Sixties. An extra million needless deaths, twenty-five more cities ruined in block-to-block warfare with that fascist remainder. The image of him blowing his own brains out in a basement was exactly what history needed and so we made it happen. We take our job seriously at the Zeitgeist, trust us, it could’ve been so much worse. In the long-view’s reflection, in text books and in life, you can’t only focus on how it all could have been so much better, you need to face down how much worse it could have all gone down, as well. You’re welcome.

REFLECTION: The Comb By Sally Madison

Word: Reflection
Words: 477
The Comb
By Sally Madison

Peter bent to one knee, bringing his unusual height down to Alexandria, as she sat in front of the mirror in her boudoir. “I brought you a gift, my dear,” he commented as he carefully, took the comb out of its box. He knew of her fondness for black pearls and had it specially made for her in Paris. Expertly, he placed it into the tight swirls of her silky flaxen hair that he loved to touch. Six black pearls in the center formed a crescent, each pearl surrounded by a ring of white pearls and the long teeth were made of mother-of-pearl. The black pearls represented her, six, one for each year they had been lovers. The white pearls represented his loving arms surrounding her. Caressing her shoulders, they looked lovingly into the mirror at their reflection. If only such ecstasy, could last a lifetime.

They were alone this evening and Alexandria knew that she needed to tell him. Peter strode into the dinning room dressed in his military uniform, which he knew she loved to see him wear. With his extreme height, Alexandria nearly swooned, he was absolutely magnificent. He looked into look in her eyes, so soft and warm. Alexandria was wearing his favorite gown, which she had loosened in the bodice for this occasion. The white silk gown had mother of pearl sequins embroidered around the low neck line and the hem of the skirt. Of course, the new comb with six pearls, matched her necklace, bracelet, broche, earrings and ring, each one a previous anniversary gift.

Watching his handsome face, as his mouth formed the words; she barely heard a word of what he said, as he spoke of far off cities, ship building, and plans to westernize his empire while enriching his people. Her mind focused on her plans for the night. His increased excitement was paralleled by hers. Her heart beat so hard, she thought he could hear it. She had tried several times to approach the subject, but his exuberance for the plans suppressed her. He hadn’t noticed the small bulge of her abdomen.

The next day she could feel her hear break again, when the general called, “It is time to go, your majesty.” She knew that his brother, Ivan was not well, but she grateful for the time together, and tried not to be possessive.

Lovingly, she fingered the pearls, and smiled at the symbolism. If only she had been born in Russia, she could have been the next tsarina. Carefully she put the jeweled comb in its specially designed box and rewrapped it. She knew that each time she opened the box; it would be like experiencing this visit, all over again.

Putting the treasures on the high shelf in the back of her wardrobe, she tucked them away from the inquisitive eyes of her husband.

REFLECTION: Cast No Shadow By Sam McManus

Word Count 500
Cast No Shadow
By Sam McManus
I woke up this morning on the left side of the bed. I usually sleep right. Such a small idiosyncrasy but something I couldn’t help noticing, and this one niggled at the edges of my brain a bit more than the others. Because it had been so long. Regardless, I slid out of the comfy confines of my twin bed, determined to make the most of the day.
First stop: the bathroom. In my mind-numbing daily morning ritual I always arrived there a half step too slow, still encased in my fuzzy dream state, so at first I didn’t notice. At first I thought it was just a trick of the light, and I passed right by. But, just as with the classic double take, when it finally kicked in, it kicked in hard. I eased backward, inch by inch, and looked into the mirror.
It was like I didn’t exist, like I wasn’t corporeal, no flesh, no blood, no shadows to prove I had ever existed. I could, however, make out the shower curtain, the bathmat, and the tiny window in the background. Or was it the foreground? I looked down at myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. I seemed disheveled enough to be really there. I even pinched myself like in those old cartoons, and it hurt, but when I lifted my gaze there was still no sign of my existence in the glass.
“Nothing weird is going on,” I told myself unconvincingly. Once I was in the shower it was relatively easy to do, because the mirror was no longer there mocking me.
I got dressed in my ratty Ramones t-shirt and bleached khakis, studiously avoiding any mirrors in my apartment. I grabbed an apple and a water bottle on my way to my bike, on my way to work. During the commute, I racked my brains trying to come up with an explanation for what seemed an impossibility. First explanation: I was a vampire. It was about as logical as anything else, really. I mean, if I subscribed to vampires being real, wasn’t one of their gifts not being seen in mirrors?
I looked up at the sun and ruled that one out. Second explanation: this was the most convoluted dream ever, and I was still in the middle of it, pinching aside. But it seemed too real, too concrete, everything besides the no reflection thing. I checked that off my list. I really didn’t have another explanation, so I put the issue aside when I pulled into the parking lot of the McDonald’s on Elm. I began to worry again when I walked in the door and no one greeted me. I wasn’t employee of the month or anything, but usually the others acknowledged me.
“Too bad about Billy,” my best friend Corey was telling a circle of employees gathered around the break room table. They all had somber looks. “I told him that sleep apnea would be the death of him some day.”

REFLECTION: Laurel Doves Chapter 7 By Sharon Collins

Word Count 499

Laurel Doves
Chapter 7

By Sharon Collins

With the matters of food for the body and food for the soul settled, and ruffled feathers smoothed, the girls sank into the noon-warmed grass. They shared a simple, travelers’ meal of bread, hard cheese, and sips of well-watered, red Languedoc wine. However, before a single bite was taken, they paused, waiting to recite the Lord’s Prayer as Père Jean had recently re-instructed them each girl saying her assigned portion. He started for them, his voice both reverent and encouraging, “Notre Père, Our Father, which art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy name…”

“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done…” whispered quiet, little Giselle.

“On earth as it is in Heaven,” added Geneviève without hesitation.

“Give us this day our supersubstantial bread,” continued Marie-Claude with an elbowed nudge to her sister on the word bread.

“And remit our debts as we forgive our debtors…” added Lisette tentatively, seeking assurance from Père Jean’s nod of encouragement.

“And keep us from temptation, and free us from evil,” finished Hèléne with a flourish and a return nudge to her sister on the word temptation.

“Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen,” they all chimed together.

“Très bien, mes colombes,” praised Père Jean as he broke apart the crusty loaf and shared it round. “But remember, from this day forward, you must say the last part only to yourselves. Where we are headed, those words are forbidden. To speak aloud them is dangerous and deadly,” he cautioned. “Promise me you will say them only in your hearts.”

Chewing in silence, every one of his Doves wondered why Père Jean had assigned her only a portion of the prayer reserved for the Parfaits. They had often discussed this odd practice, but never within Père Jean’s hearing. Geneviève had given the mystery considerable reflection and believed she might have an explanation. In their final lesson together, Grand-mère had tutored her in the meaning of the six-petaled rose at the center of the labyrinth paved into the central courtyard of Montségur. “Each of the six petals represents a portion of the Lord’s Prayer and offers a space to meditate on its meaning,” she said. “Empty your mind while you walk the circuits, Geneviève, so that when you enter each petal of the center rose, you will be open to the Prayer’s wisdom.” Père Jean’s six-part division of the Notre Père seemed too similar to be happenstance. What did not make total sense however, was that there were only five of them. Without Père Jean to start them, the prayer could not be completed. Bothered as she was by this inconsistency, Geneviève decided she would think more on it later. For, at the moment, she needed to find a private place to attend to nature’s call. Kilting up her patch-work skirt, off toward the hedgerow she dashed followed by four, gray cloaks flapping in the breeze. Listening to their high-pitched giggles, Père Jean smiled at his doves flying free.

REFLECTION: Memories in Silver By Josh McMullen

Words Count 493

Memories in Silver
By Josh McMullen

Joy could see her reflection in the silver locket she held in her hand, and for some reason, she felt safe. It had been given to her eight years prior by Gabriel as a birthday present, and she had mistaken it for a ring at first when she opened the box.

It had been inscribed with the date of their first date which, coincidentally, became their wedding day. She remembered he was 45 minutes early and spent the intervening time chatting up her parents. They went to the movies and enjoyed a nice dinner where a floating musician played her favorite song, a line of which wound up inscribed on the back of the locket (“Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers…”)

Of course, the ring came soon after, two years after the locket. Gabriel had managed to hide it from her in the days before the wedding – Joy had spent most of the last two days before tearing her apartment apart looking for it – and gave it to her with a new adornment just before the ceremony: a diamond and a peridot (their birthstones). Somehow, she resisted actively crying for fear of ruining her makeup, at least until they said “I do.”

Another diamond came a year later, at the birth of their child, a daughter named Sarah Grace. It would turn out to be their only child, through no fault of their own nor the doctors’. She hurt for a while, especially when looking at the locket. Seeing this, Gabriel put the first pictures that had ever been in the locket: one was the two of them looking into each others’ eyes at their wedding and on the other side, the first picture of their daughter.

The pictures would change several times over the years: Gabriel’s graduation from West Point, followed by Sarah’s baptism, and many, many more. She was expecting so many more pictures to hold right to her heart, but then the call from Uncle Sam beckoned.

At first, they sent Gabriel to Fort Drum to train soldiers fresh out of boot camp. Then, on a rainy Tuesday afternoon while he was on leave, he was sent a message requiring him to report to his base commander immediately for deployment. There was no getting around it: he was going away for quite a while.

They stood at the bus terminal for quite a while, mainly because Joy seemed to be welded to Gabriel’s waist the entire trip there. She cried until she ran out of tears, then cried some more. Just before the bus arrived, Gabriel handed him the locket once more, imploring her to open it. She did so, and found two pictures: one from their first date and the other of the two of them holding hands, walking away from the camera.

Joy could see her reflection in the silver locket she held in her hand, and for reasons she now knew, she felt safe.

REFLECTION: Physical Education By Terry Rainey

Word Count 500
Physical Education
By Terry Rainey

Mr. Radatz, ex-Marine, buzz cut, square-jawed and flinty, taught us physical education Wednesdays and Fridays. His ever-present tobacco wad garbled his words but didn’t conceal the anger and urgency. Everything he said sounded like a verdict. Legend had it that he had taken Okinawa single-handedly. He expected us to be tough, hard-nosed, and ready to defend ourselves.
So we boxed two days a week in the basement of Father Guinness Parish Hall. While we sweated, Mr. Radatz sprayed us with manly wisdom and tobacco juice. He’d repeat “Lead with the left, keep the right up for protection,” his voice rising. He called us by our last names, if we were lucky. Even when he mispronounced our name, that was preferable to a nickname like Bullethead, Lipper, Muldoon, or Boneboy. Radatz nicknames stuck to kids like bad tattoos.
One Friday, we squared off against a real opponent, with the entire class ringed around us in the sweaty Guinness Hall basement. I was matched up with Nathan Berryman. Nathan was docile and impassive. Facing Nathan was an insult. I considered him below me in the toughness scale. That supposed superiority actually drained my confidence rather than enhanced it.
The boxing gloves, ones that my older brothers had likely used, were difficult to put on my trembling hands. I felt the eyes of 30 boys on me as I walked to the center of the mat. I swallowed some fear. All of a sudden, I was a little unsteady.
I masked my doubt with action. I immediately set in on Nathan, fists flying. I landed ineffectual blows to his shoulders and the side of his head. I held up a bit, wondering if Nathan wasn’t interested. Then I put all my might behind a punch, but I missed and dropped my left hand, completely forgetting Mr. Radatz’s lessons. Nathan wheeled and threw a roundhouse right. His thinly gloved fist landed square against my mouth, mashing my lips into my teeth with shocking force. I felt his hard knuckles.
I saw stars. I staggered. I couldn’t breathe. Nathan saw it in my wounded eyes, in my unsure footing, my lurch. I was muddled, and Nathan knew it. We stared at each other. Nathan’s blue eyes radiated heat and rage while mine watered. Mr. Radatz saved the day by blowing his whistle and ending the bout.
Blood dripped in my mouth through the afternoon. It tasted like ashes. It carried the acid taste I knew from my father’s scorn, my brothers’ dismissals. My downgrading of Nathan turned on me and scalded me.
That Sunday, I served as altar boy at the 9:15 mass for Father Badassari. When he lifted the chalice during the consecration, the shiny gold vessel was like a mirror. In my reflection, I could still see the red mark of shame on my remorseful face. I held the platen under Father’s hand as he distributed the healing body of Christ to the congregation. Each parishioner, I was sure, noticed it as well.