Dream Narrative – Black Mirror

Posted: September 13, 2009 in graffiti living
Tags: , , ,

The woman is stood at the mirror. She is naked again, and dressed in scars. She has a jagged scar across her belly. Even the blind refuse to look at her. That’s what all the townsfolk say about her. But she likes to stand in front of the mirror, the black mirror thick with dirt. And also thick with something else, so much so that the glass has started to lose its effectiveness as mirror. There were bits of it that had become black or congealed and peeled away behind the glass; she couldn’t explain it, but knew it was because the glass was old. Like bodies rot, the glass had started to fall apart. Would its reflection be lost, or would it start to open up in the world for all to see beyond or behind the mirror?

She rubbed her belly where the big scar was. There were little scars on her arms and legs, but they were deliberate and intentional, and therefore less to worry about. It was ok to hurt her own body, but what the townsfolk did to her was unforgivable. And so, she would not forgive. They killed and took away her baby, that’s all she could think – either they stole it or they took it out and it was murdered.

“When I stand before the mirror, I stand before time and god,” she said. “But not man, he stands before me. You stand before me, don’t you darling?” She said this to a man in the mirror, stood behind her in the doorway. He was wearing a white cotton vest, covered in sweat, and said nothing. He leered and went out of the room. The woman smiled and held her breasts one in each hand, weighed them, like your sins are weighed against your virtue when you die. They were in balance with each other. She turned and grabbed the silk shawl. In the mirror the scars all the way down her back were reflected. She was all the more beautiful for them. They weren’t scars so much as scales rippled all the way down her spine.

The mirror showed a room empty of furniture. It was not the same room that the woman was stood in. Or it was, just many years before or after. Either way, it wasn’t the room that she stood in now. In the mirror all of the lights were turned off and the room was empty of furniture, whereas her own room was the exact opposite. The only thing that remained constant was her reflection in the mirror, that alone was correct – one woman in dark and the other in light, both striking the same pose.

The woman left the room, having turned her back on the mirror for now. When she returned, perhaps her own room would be in darkness, and the woman reflected in the black mirror would be in bright sunshine or brilliant white light, and have to shelter her eyes?

Outside, the townsfolk stepped out of her path. Except for the old women; they would just stare straight at her and refuse to move out of her way. One especially old woman stood in her path.
“I’m old,” she said. “What are you going to do about it?”
“Wait for you to die,” the woman said to the hag. Then she walked around her, as if they hadn’t exchanged words at all.

In the market, she went to buy fruit. She went to buy fruit in the market. Baskets overflowed with the strong scent of oranges, but inside she saw apples and bananas; like the baskets had been used to carry other things and had picked up their smell over time.

The woman took a bite out of one apple before she bought a bag full. She carried the brown paper bag home with her – or would do once heading in that direction. Instead, she headed to the garden. All the food around her was poisoned; they intended to kill her, and knew that they could not. She held the paper bag in one hand and ate the apple out of the other. Occasionally she would spit its poison on the ground.
“I prefer the taste of food when I know that it has been poisoned,” she said to the garden as she approached it. “I’ve eaten apples right out of the orchard, and they don’t taste as sweet as the ones that have been tainted by the jealous hands of men.”
The woman sat down in the garden, beneath the shade of a tree.
“We invented birth and death, even though we did not have to. Did you know that?”
She said this to the tree that she sat underneath, eating fruit that she had bought but didn’t need to buy.
Apples fell to the ground all around her as she spoke. It did not concern her or interrupt the flow of her speech.
“I like that I can sit here and listen to your stories,” she said to the tree. “But, most of all, I like it when you listen to mine. I was told these stories by other animals. The sort that eat right out of your hand, but would gladly rip the throat of their own young rather than starve or share food with one another. Last night, and this morning, I was dreaming, but I don’t remember what it was. I never understand my dreams. But, I remember saying to someone there that life and death don’t exist, that they didn’t have to, we just invented them. The person in my dream did not disagree.”
The woman continued to eat her apple and speak beneath the tree.
“It’s nice here in the shade. You can watch the long shadows of the day grow longer and then short, or is it the other way around? I have to confess, I’ve not been paying attention of late. When was the last time I sat in a garden and felt the earth beneath my feet like this? When will be the last time that I feel the earth beneath my feet, before I am beneath the earth and can no longer walk barefoot? It takes so much effort to walk in the light, won’t you sit down and join me under the tree?”
She said this to a young boy who stared at her. He had stolen into the orchard to steal apples, and eyed the ones on the ground.
“They are not for you,” she said. “Here, have one of mine.”
And with that, she pulled a bright red apple out of her paper bag and held it out for him.
“I won’t hurt you,” she said. “My apples are the sweetest. The ones on the ground are bitter. The tree is old and sour, you see, from all the boys that come here and steal its fruit. I bought mine at the market, where everybody loves and respects me. They gave me them especially, and only I am supposed to eat them. But, I am free to share them with who I want. So here you go, you can have one, if you want it.”
The boy took several careful steps between the apples on the ground and reached out his hand. He took the apple from her. He looked at it. It was so much brighter and more red than the other ones. So bright that he had the urge to polish it and rubbed it on his knee until it shone in one bright spot and caught the light from the sun between the shade of the tree. He bit into that exact spot, and lay down to die.

“Come, sit down beside me.” The woman patted a place on the ground next to her. So, the boy say down. For the part of him that had lay down to die was inside, and he could still move. She had told the truth – the apple was sweet, not tart or bitter like most apples, but sick with sugar.
“When I am an old woman, I will talk to death and count my blessings,” she said.
The boy looked at her in wonder.
“You sound lonely,” he said.
“I am, I am,” she sighed. “That’s why I wanted you to sit beside me. I have the tree for company, we tell each other stories,” she said. “But its not often that someone else would come and sit next to me. The men want to lie down with me, and the women want to stand in my way. But none of them want to sit with me.”
The woman and the boy sat together and ate their apples in silence.
“Why did you?” she said.
“Why did I what?”
“Why did you sit next to me?”
“I’m tired,” he said, for the boy had grown very sleepy. “You look kind, have kind eyes, and didn’t shout at me for stealing. And besides, you gave me an apple.”
“Ah, so you are a businessman?” she laughed.
“What’s one of those?”
“Don’t worry, you will know soon enough. They say the devil is an accountant. Would you like another apple?”
“No thank you,” he said. “You have been kind enough.”
The woman smiled.
“What would you say if I told you that the apple was poisoned?” she said.
“Don’t be silly,” the boy laughed. “It tasted far too sweet for that, and besides, I saw you eating them too.”
“True, true,” she said. “But you see, I can’t be poisoned. I’m too used to the taste. Once you have a taste for poison, there is nothing that they can do to stop you.”
“Is the apple really poisoned?” the boy asked.
“It is,” she said, “but try not to worry about it.”
“Will I die?” he asked.
“No, not yet, you are just getting used to the taste, that’s all. But, every day you must come here and sit down with me, or else you will die. Every day you must come here, and eat an apple that did not fall from a tree. Taste the fruit of the labours of men, for it is poisoned, and we are all god’s children, but have been stealing from his garden. Every morning, you will sit with me in the orchard, in the garden, under the tree, and listen to the stories told by the tree; and, in turn, tell your stories to the tree. That won’t be so bad, will it?”
“And if I do that, I won’t die?” the boy said.
“No, you won’t, not if you trust me.” the woman said. “Tell me your stories, and I will tell you mine; I will tell you how the earth was made, the banks and the rivers. And one day, I will take you to my house to show you my black mirror, the one that stands in my room between night and day, and you can see the world reflected there. I wonder if you will be able to see yourself in the mirror – maybe you will be in light or shade both in and out of the mirror at the same time, and it is only I who have the curse of having to be one or the other.”
“Please don’t hurt me,” the boy said. “I promise to be good.”
The woman laughed.
“I don’t want you to be good,” she said, “I just want you to sit at the root of the tree.”
“I will drink from the root of the tree,” he said.
“I said sit, not sip,” she said.
The boy blushed. The woman could see from the colour in his cheeks that he was fast becoming a man.
“Sorry,” he said. “I will come back tomorrow, and the day after that, and all the rest until you say that I don’t have to any more, and even then I will still come back to the garden. For I have been stealing from the orchard since I was a small child, and have sat beneath this tree many times; though I have to confess, I have never seen you here before, as I tend to steal at night. But I got lost in the woods last night, and was hungry; so I came here as soon as the sun opened up a way out of the woods. And then, well, you know the rest. Tell me more about your mirror.”
“I will, later child,” the woman said. “You shall see it for yourself, and meet my husband; or maybe we will go there when he is not at home. Either way, you will rest awhile with me under the tree. And then, I will take you home with me.”


  1. clvr_witch says:

    An allegory? Nicely done, sir. Odd, isn’t it, how we all bear scars, the deepest and most meaningful being the ones we show no one. And that, intentionally or no, we all poison our youth, polluting them with the pride and prejudice of the past. We say its for their own good, that we are allowing them to become free thinkers, but I wonder, are we really helping them?

    You are a great teller of tales, friend.

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