Bubble, bubble…

“It’s all done with smoke and mirrors, you know. It’s like what Death says – that eating curry is like biting a red hot ice cube…”
“Don’t you begin with the literary references now. I’ve had it up to here already. I wish I’d never signed up for extra classes.”
“The problem with you, kiddo, is that you take too much for granted. You thought it would be a cinch to earn writing credits rather than attending classes full-time… and oh, how good it feels to say ‘I told you so’!”
Hadrian scratched his scalp. His psoriasis was driving him crazy – he assumed it was the stress of having to write 1,000 words a day on random topics meted out by even more random dons whose mission in life was to make their students miserable.
That morning, Stinky (he was the poster boy for B.O.) had nonchalantly tossed an ‘Oh, by the way, ladies and gentlemen, your topic for tomorrow is The Smell of Mirrors,’ on his way out of the lecture room.
“You can’t write 1,000 words on…”
“What you mean is that nobody ever bothered to find out what mirrors smell like,” his mother interjected. “I’m sure Stinky was oh-so-casually informing you all that he knows what his nickname is. And maybe he wishes you all tried to smell the said mirrors, so that he could thump you in the back of your collective head in one fell swoop, while you did so.”
“Ma, I did smell the mirror. It smells of …glasses that have been wiped with a smelly dishcloth… and… fear…”
“There you go. You have enough notions there to write a thesis, go figure a mere 1,000 words.”
“If I peel the spuds and hose down the driveway…?”
“No. The essay is yours to write. But remember that echoes reflect sound.”
“Say what?”
“You heard me first time, kiddo. You really must pull your socks up. Read between my lines. ”
Hadrian had thought his offer to do the chores while his ma compiled his essay would be greeted with gratitude. After all, his mother was a writer – she could drum up a book in a week if she found a charitable cause to which to donate the proceeds, albeit secretly. Se was constantly on the best-seller lists, and her cast of characters was mentioned in everyday speech by ordinary people… yes, she was that famous.
Indeed, Hadrian had inherited her knack for words. His secondary school teachers could not quote believe he did his own homework… so they actually tested him at school, to see if the quality of his work would be consistent with that which he brought from home… and it was.
Yet, he was bone lazy. He wrote essays for his classmates, according to their level of proficiency, just so that he could copy their French and Mathematics homework exercises, on the school bus…
“I would compare and contrast mirrors and smell… but I don’t want to… A mirror does have a smell, however vague… and a smell mirrors something else deep within the primordial memories of a person…”
Yes, once the verbal gymnastics had begun, he could not help himself. Hadrian’s fingers took on a life of their own as they flew across the keyboard. “The mirror is the fundamental entity that mirrors the soul, more deeply than the eyes are said to do. Its smell evokes deep within us the elemental feelings of the womb, taking is back to the time when consciousness was not yet achieved – or, even, achievable…”
This, and more, he composed, as sweat trickled down his forehead and dribbled down his chin.
“The world outside seems to mirror our innermost thoughts – and the smell of the world intrudes on our psyche to make us react in ways we never thought we would, could, or should…”
He remembered reading somewhere that mirrors are actually super-cooled liquids rather than solids, or at least, amorphous solids… something like pitch… and expanded upon this bit of thermodynamic fiction into a couple of sentences, and mentioned the reeking dishcloth.
Hadrian was hungry, and sleepy, and had a crick in his neck. He was 400 words short of his word-count… when he suddenly remembered the television trope about how evil twins or other malefactors come out of mirrors. That was good for another 167 words, because he added that the smell of sulphur usually preceded the apparitions.
Hadrian sniffed the air. He sensed, more than saw, movement in the dressing table mirror…


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