Thursday, July 19, 2012

Flash Fiction: Scowling at Mirrors

Based on a writing prompt from G+. This is based off the current work in progress, kind of a prologue. Mostly this is just an experiment to get into the main character's head. The prompt was 750 words starting with the first line of "I scowl with frustration at myself in the mirror."


I scowl with frustration at myself in the mirror.

When had I gotten so old?

My joints pop as I sit down on the old leather chair, ignoring the view the mirror gave me of my sagging cheeks and liver spotted head.

Behind me, the ghost of my long dead father lets out a snort of laughter. “You know,” he said, “if I was your age...”

“You’d be king,” I finished for him with a long suffering sigh. I’d only heard him say that every day for the last 30 years. “Father, you are dead. I am talking to myself. Would they let someone who talks to himself be king?”

“I raised you to be king!” he retorted, angrily.

I look at the mirror and see my father’s face where mine should be. His face was all strong lines. His hair was thick. Women had swooned over him in his youth. He’d told me that more than once. No girl had ever looked at me twice.

“My brother is king,” I reminded my father. My brother was the one with the strong face.

“He does not deserve the throne,” was his retort.

“He deserves it more than I do,” I tell the ghost. “You raised me to take the throne, but you weren’t there to help me take it.” I waved a hand to brush off the argument. In the mirror, the ghost of my father slammed his fist on the chair’s armrest.

“You should have taken it anyway!” he yelled. “I didn’t raise you to become an old man, broke and laughed at! I didn’t raise you to be mocked by your own brother!”

I let out a bitter laugh. The mirror sneered at me. “My brother is the King. He can mock me all he likes,” I reminded my father.

“You should take the throne away from him. You could prove to everyone what a fake he is. You should do a lot of things, things you could have done as King. You should have started this years ago, but now you’re just an old man. What will you do, son?” my father’s voice turned dark, almost sinister. His dark, questioning gaze warred with my old and tired one.

I could imagine it. My brother was a fake, the magic he used to keep his throne was weakening. No one believed me, of course. The power of the King was undeniable, magic was everlasting. It was one of the strongest beliefs everyone held, except myself of course. It helped that I could see more than anyone else could. I don’t know how or why, I wish I did so I could prove to everyone else that I told the truth. Other mages, my brother included, couldn’t see the lines of magic below us were smaller than they had been. I had traveled as far as my old bones could, to the old woods where my father had raised me to live without magic. I knew the lode lines there were gone, leaving a dead forest as proof of their passing. I could see the death in the lines was as real as the ghost of my father was. The problem was, no one else could.

And here I was, a bitter old man. I looked in the mirror and saw only myself. My father had gone. He knew his point was made. I had to do something, I couldn’t just die knowing that the world would soon die after my passing.

I had to find a way. I grimaced and forced my tired old bones to get up and move. I had to finish the last piece of the puzzle and find the room only hinted about in the old books I’d found. The room filled with the last magic from the great Lord Otinan, the ones that could restore magic and send the ghost of my father on his way.

I scowled at my reflection in the ornate mirror in my study, wishing I was years younger. My shriveled body looked absurd in my big warm robes. My hair stuck out at all angles, well, what little hair I had left. My body stooped with age and I shuffled badly when I walked. Was I really to be the savior for this world? I snorted a laugh. Poor world. Relying on old men!

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