Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: REFLECTION (10/10/19)
- TITLE: Passersby
By Dennis Gallemore
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Passing by the next store, his alter-ego swam into view, its smile faltering, but not verbalizing the troubling thought that threated to bubble to the surface. His wife couldn’t find out about Jen. She couldn’t and wouldn’t. The thought receded into the distance as did the reflection behind him.
His pace slowed until he stopped. Turning on his heel, George retraced his steps back down the street, until he reached the previous storefront. Stepping closer to the window, he gazed at his reflection, his right hand unconsciously rising to stroke the angle of his jaw. He couldn’t feel the wrinkles on his face that the window reflected back.
Taking a quick step back, he bumped into a fellow pedestrian. He turned, his pulse quickening. The man stopped short, a grimace forming on his weathered face. He leaned closer; his eyes boring into George’s. “Watch where you’re going, young man.” Holding the stare a moment longer, he shook his head and continued up the street without a backward glance.
After another quick glance at the window, George uneasily returned to his morning sojourn. Reaching an intersection, he waited for the walk signal light to clear him for crossing. Stepping off the curb, briefcase in hand, he glanced at the nearest stopped car, the image of himself wavering on the windshield. Halting in the middle of the intersection, he stared at the image, his pulse racing. Bent over, his mirror image carried a cane instead of a briefcase.
The stoplight turning green, the driver honked, and then leaned his out head out the car’s window. “Hey, what’s wrong with you? Get out of the street!”
Bewildered, George managed to stagger on across the street. Reaching the opposite corner, he grabbed the signal light post and held onto it, his chest heaving.
“Are you alright?”
He turned his head, his cheek plastered against the post, and regarded the woman before him. “I…yeah, I’m fine.” He leaned away from the post. “Fine.”
Tilting her head, she regarded him with the bluest eyes he had ever seen. “You don’t look fine; you look like you’re lost. Are you?”
Ignoring her, he turned and trudged down the sidewalk, his briefcase feeling heavier with every step. He reached the first storefront on the block, his eyes carefully avoiding the shop’s window. He quickened his step, but his head swiveled toward the window involuntarily. Feeling like a puppet on a string, he stopped, his eyes widening. His image was in the window accompanied by his wife’s. He watched in horror as the image of his wife slapped his across the face, and then silently stormed out of view. His reflection sank to its knees.
“Secrets are hard to keep.”
George swiveled his head to find the man he had bumped into earlier. The older man stood, his umbrella tucked under one arm, his Fedora tilted at a rakish angle. “Don’t you agree?”
Taking a step back, he shook his head in a feeble attempt to clear the rampant thoughts swirling through his fevered mind. “Who…who are you?”
“I sincerely doubt that my name would mean anything to you, young man, so I won’t waste your valuable time by telling you. You are, after all, on your way to make another lucrative trade, are you not? One prompted by what I believe you would refer to as ‘insider trading?’”
George stared at the man before him, his heart racing. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Now, leave me alone.” He sucked in a breath. “You heard what I said; leave me be.”
“We could. Leave you alone, that is.”
He wheeled to the right, knowing who he would see. She stood before him, her blue eyes shining. “Who are you people? What do you want with me?” His gaze shifted to the storefront behind them. The three of them were reflected in the window, two, he realized with growing dread, were winged.
“The answer to your question, young man, is, as Charles Dickens once wrote, much.”
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