Monday, 20 April 2015

Quite Pretty #AtoZchallenge



(excerpt from My Mother’s Mother’s Mother, "That Sadie Thing and other stories", print edition)

I sit on the floor in front of the full length mirror in the hall, with my candle, with a box of matches. Behind me is the unlit dining room, and I perversely recall every horror film I’ve ever watched; every psychotic murderer, vampire and green-skinned alien is waiting for me unseen in the gloomy corner of the room. Get a grip, I tell myself sternly.
The room in reverse reminds me of Alice before she stepped through the looking glass. An alternate room; an alternate me. I wonder what she’s like, this other me. If she’s a direct opposite, she’ll be extrovert and idealistic, she’ll be lazy and flaky. She’d go out of her way to help a person in trouble; and always try to save people, even those who don’t want to be saved. I’d probably find her as exhausting and frustrating as I find myself on this side of the mirror.
The flame flickers as I breathe slowly in and out, wondering whether I’m supposed to be chanting, or counting down from twenty to zero… or something else entirely. So I simply look at myself in the mirror, watching my expression alter in the flickering shadows. In this half-light I look quite pretty, although the more I stare, the more distorted I become.

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47 comments:

  1. Hi Annalisa - that's a chilling thought to be sitting on one side of the mirror, or in the mirror looking out ... and I can quite see the distortion building, the flame flickering ... the thoughts questioning .. it must make an interesting read .. cheers Hilary

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    1. Thanks Hilary. Mirrors can be very creepy things in the right (wrong) light :-)

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  2. Mirrors fascinate me, and I always liked 'Through the Looking Glass', or that state of things not being quite what they seem. I also like having one mirror opposite another mirror so that there is an endless repetition of the images. I liked Quite Pretty, it is quite well done!

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    1. The endless reflections of two mirrors opposite each other is better suited to film though - but it is a fantastic image, isn't it?

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  3. I found it interesting how by listing what traits the mirror image would have, we find out a lot more about the character. It's a chilling excerpt!

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    1. It's a lot more chilling than the story it's taken from. I think the full story is quite a positive one :-)

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  4. Be interesting to find if we are reversed like that in the mirror.

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    1. I'm not sure I'd like to find out though, Alex!

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  5. Great concept! Would make an awesome sci-fi or fantasy novel.

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    1. This excerpt comes from a short story. The scene is based on a Halloween article in a teen mag I read many, many years ago, where if you look into a mirror in candlelight you'll see your future husband!

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  6. Love the idea of seeing her total opposite in the mirror. And I'm not even sure why but the whole mood of the piece became creepier and creepier to me as I read.

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    1. Everyone's pointed out the creepiness, but the full story isn't that creepy at all :-)

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  7. See if I was her it would be every ghost waiting to get me from the unlit dining room! Lovely imagery with the candle. I wonder if her mirror self sees thing becoming more and more distorted as well?
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

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  8. I like the distortion from the flame flicker. Quite eerie. Great writing

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  9. Another bone chiller, so beautifully rendered. You've inspired me with your work. I'm working on a long form free verse poem. Besides that I'm all into the eerie and strange so keep it coming.

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    1. I never plan to be eerie and strange, Stephanie - but sometimes it just happens :-)

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  10. Chilling and yet fascinating that she can see her opposite self in a mirror. I imagine her getting sucked inside the mirror and switching places with her other self. That would make a great book. :)

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    1. The short story that this excerpt comes from is actually very grounded and realistic!

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  11. This gives me one more reason to be afraid to look in the mirror...for more than the usual ones! Lol

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    1. Lol, yes most people have a love/hate relationship with mirrors. There's one in my house which makes everyone look fantastic - I ought to sell tickets!

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  12. That was quite weird. Quite is a weird word - extremely difficult to define accurately. "Qite pretty" is really not a compliment, is it?

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    1. Quite pretty isn't a compliment, no - but we never see the positives in ourselves, do we?

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  13. I always think there might be another me in there. Wouldn't that be interesting. I could be just like Alice and enter an entirely reversed world. Good look on the challenge! I'm panting on the this hill with everyone else.

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    1. I'm not sure the world is ready for an alternative version of me. It can barely cope with this version! :-)

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  14. I've always found mirrors somewhat devious! If only they told the truth.

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    1. They are very devious, Keith! Don't trust them!

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  15. For sure, that would be quite an image to be watching as that flame flickers. :-)

    Sia McKye Over Coffee

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    1. The flame would probably be very hypnotic.

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  16. fascinating idea to imagine the exact opposite of oneself

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    1. I'm not sure I'd like to meet my direct opposite though!

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  17. I love all the possibilities with mirrors.

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  18. quite pretty is used in Uk as understatement sometime meaning not half bad - mirrors are powerful tings to be treated with great caution - creepy was a good description - I wouldn't do it - and I dont believe in ghosts or horror films:) maybe I shouldn't have said that - might have angered them:)

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    1. The idea behind the flame and the mirror is to see your future husband. It's the kind of thing teen magazines in the 80s used to write about around Halloween!

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  19. Cool. I like it. I don't mind new mirrors, but I don't like old ones. They give me the creeps.

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    1. Old mirrors... oh yes. Just think of all the echoes of people who have looked into them over the years suddenly awakening. Now that would be a great ghost story!

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  20. Great last line on this one. The whole piece has a creepy vibe. Cool!

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    1. The full story isn't creepy at all - but this scene just stood out on its own. I'm happy with creepy though, especially as I'd make a rubbish horror writer!

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  21. "...I’d probably find her as exhausting and frustrating as I find myself on this side of the mirror."

    Haha! Love that line... *Quite* clever :)

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  22. That was a really well drawn scene. The idea of her opposite number in the mirror is intriguing.

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  23. I like this, but I find it sort of an odd sentiment that she sees beauty, particularly beauty in herself, as a distortion. It definitely made me think for a minute. I love how you put together your paragraphs, it's like watching a master painter who doesn't need many brush strokes to put the whole picture there.

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    1. I think it's more that the longer she looks, the more distorted the features become - the visual version of saying your name out loud over and over until it sounds completely alien.

      Thank you so much, Rena. I love the master painter comparison :-)

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  24. Like when you write or say a word and it doesn't look or sound right, especially with repetition. Very nicely done. You have a great way of bringing your character right out from the get go and putting us in their head. Lisa, co-host AtoZ 2015, @ http://www.lisabuiecollard.com

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Please comment - I love a good chat!