If I'm going to succeed as a writer, I need to be doing lots of writing! So here's a bit of flash fiction for your enjoyment.
What was that? Out of the corner of my eye…
I’ve just got home from work. It was a hard day. Pete was being a dick again, almost literally. Slammed my keys on the side, shoved the door shut, struggled out of my coat and scarf and strung them up. Then, movement. A glimpse of something.
I live alone, no people, no pets (unless you include Fred, the cactus I’ve managed not to kill yet). Nothing that could move.
It’s an old mirror, hanging in the cramped hallway. Inherited from my grandmother, rest her soul. Must have caught sight of me, or maybe it was my coat swinging on the peg. Whatever. Got my heart going, so I can call it cardio.
Kitchen. I grab a glass from beside the sink and fill it with cold water from the tap. Stand and drink that while I try to plan dinner. Can’t afford to order takeaway and I’ll be ill if I keep skipping meals just because I don’t want to cook.
What food do I even have in?
Wilted lettuce, some cheese. Bread looks a bit mouldy, but the slices at the other end of the loaf should be ok.
Who am I fooling? A sandwich isn’t going to cut it. Freezer food it is. Chicken nuggets and chips, as if I were 5 again. Peas, to add some colour at least, and a bit of that lettuce. That’ll count towards my 5-a-day, right?
I’m not going to eat standing at the sink. Back into the hallway to the lounge, and again a sense of seeing something as I pass the mirror. A sense, not of being watched, exactly, but of being not alone. Ha, I’m so lonely I’m turning my reflection into a friend.
It’s a bit easier to shake off the creepy feeling this time.
Collapse on the sofa, legs up, plate on my chest, and I’ll eat. God, I’m a slob. Maybe if Pete saw me like this he’d leave me alone. But then the other women would just get it worse. Wish HR would do something. They won’t, though.
Grab up the remote and try to find something on one of the services that catches my attention. Disaster cakes, or something.
And again, that nagging feeling of being not alone. I pull myself to sit up a bit straighter, plate in one hand, remote in the other, and look around.
No response, not that I expected one. Settle back, wary. Put the remote down and resume eating. Before long, I’m laughing at some poor person’s unfortunate mistake. Don’t think it makes me a bad person: they went into it knowing the risks. I think it’s ok, right?
A noise! I jerk upright again, spilling my mostly-empty plate from where it rests on my stomach.
“Hello?!” Heart races. A skittering noise from the hallway. I move the plate - fallen peas will have to wait - and pick up the remote again, holding it like a baseball bat, and creep out of the room.
That mirror catches my movement, backlit by the flickering TV. I turn away, not liking the feeling of being watched even if by myself, Pete’s eyes rising unbidden in my mind.
I spin, and face my ridiculous reflection full on, wild-eyed and wielding a tiny TV remote. There’s a small cat at my feet. It looks like the one in my grandmother’s photos.
I look down. No cat.
The cat is still in the mirror.
I back away, not taking my eyes from it.
Insistence in its voice, and it starts purring. I can feel the vibration where it rubs itself against my leg in the reflection. I lower my weapon in disarmed confusion: there is a cat at my feet, rubbing itself against my legs.
There is a cat.
No idea where it came from, but here it is. It doesn’t ask for much. I’ve never seen it leave the flat, but I haven’t had to buy a litter tray or any food for it, and it’s never here when my landlord comes to visit, but after a hard day’s work, there it is, waiting for me. Waiting in the mirror.