Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday Flash Fiction: The Mirror Is Not Your Friend

Every Friday Kurt posts another piece of flash fiction. This week...

The Mirror Is Not Your Friend
Word Count: 599

You stare at yourself in the mirror. The mirror is not your friend. Lines. Marks. More flab than you’d like. Is that a new spot on your shoulder?

Sigh.

Add it to the list of things that are now your everyday experience. Add it to the gray hairs, the bad knee, the trick ankle, the sore back, the neck cricks, the skin tags, the weak elbow, the loss of hearing in one ear, the stomach that gets all jumbly whenever you see the right combination of flashy bright colors. Just stack it on the pile. One more thing that you’re going to live with until it gets so bad that you can’t live with it anymore, and then the doctor will give you a pill for it that you’ll have to take every morning—with food. And then that will be something you have to live with for the rest of your life.

Well, it beats the alternative, someone might say to you—right before you decide that you want to punch them in the face.

Aging is settling for less. Every day your expectations for yourself slide a little farther. The wide-open band of possibilities gets narrower with every intractable step towards your last dying breath.

Not to be morbid or anything, it’s just that it seems impossible that anyone should ever age gracefully. Once you turned twenty-seven, that was it. Things that you had to work to improve, now you’re working to maintain. Things that you had to work to maintain, now you have to work to keep them from deteriorating as fast as the bits that you simply have no control over.

You stare at yourself in the mirror. The mirror is not your friend. Lines. Marks. Flab. Exhaustion. Bags under the eyes. Disappointment.

Maybe if you exercised more. Nah. Spending a fifth of your waking life on a treadmill isn’t going to add fourteen more years to it. But it will give you a conveniently ironic place to suffer a fatal heart attack. No, the people that appear to age gracefully are just saving up their bad luck for one calamitous fall. They’ll go from being absolutely on top of their game to being wheelchair-bound and unable to form sentences in a matter of months. Mark my words, you think.

Andy Warhol had the right idea. You dress like an old person from day one and spend the rest of your life hearing how well-preserved you are. At least until you hit your sixties—which Andy managed to avoid.

You wonder if it’s worth the effort to shave today. And don’t even get started on that shrinking little tortoise between your legs.

You stare at yourself in the mirror. The mirror is not your friend. Lines. Marks. The sad face looking back at you. Compromise. Settling. Disappointment.

And it’s not just the physical stuff. You were going to change the world. You were going to accomplish something. Now you’re just happy to have a job with 401k matching. Now you’re just happy to finish a library book before it’s overdue. Now you’re just happy to remember your wi-fi password when the DVD player forgets it.

Let’s face it, you’re happy that you got around to replacing your VHS tapes with DVD’s, never mind this Blu-Ray bullshit.

You stare at yourself in the mirror. The mirror is not your friend. Your friends lie to you to make you feel better.

Lines.

Marks.

Days.

Years.

You’d be mad, but anger is so much effort.

The past.

The present.

The future?

Disappointment.

Edited by Carolyn "I'm 27, Oh Shit" Abram.

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