Mirror, Mirror – Flash Fiction


‘Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who’s the biggest loser of them all?’

The answer is clearly the single, unemployed 47-year-old, disguised as a drowned rat, staring back at me in the public toilet mirror.

Clumps of hair stick to my forehead. One of my false eyelashes is missing. And my Zimmermann silk-chiffon dress clings to me like wet toilet paper. 

Not the look I was going for to impress my high-school sweetheart.

Mark and I had drifted apart at university in Sydney. I loved city life as much as Mark missed his beloved horses. Our last argument ended with me saying he needed to change. Soon after he moved to Scone to train polocrosse horses.

I heard he married the Beef Week Queen and had a couple of kids. While I married my job as a corporate lawyer. 

Then I came across a profile pic on my school reunion Facebook page. It was a black and white picture of Phar Lap, just like Mark’s poster from high school. His profile consisted of old campdrafting photos and his basic details; Relationship status: Divorced.

Soon we were sharing memories and inside jokes. I could almost hear his booming laugh in his words. For the first time in years, I felt alive. 

I quit my job in London and jumped on a plane to drive the five and a half hours to my hometown. 

It may have come to something if I hadn’t stopped at the National Park’s rest area to reapply my make-up, and discovered I had a flat tyre and no spare. 

So I’m stranded in torrential rain, 50km from town on an old disused highway, with no mobile reception.

This is what I get for chasing fairytales.

Then a car pulls up and a gorgeous woman in her mid-20s leaps out of the passenger seat and races to the toilet block. She stops in front of me and tilts her head. ‘You all right?’

‘Flat tyre. No spare.’

‘Maybe ours will fit.’ She runs back to speak to a man silhouetted in the driver’s seat. 

‘He reckons it will fit,’ she says on return, ‘which is good because it looks like you’ve got something special planned,’ she indicates my dress.

‘Not anymore.’

‘Huh?’

‘Have you seen me?’

‘Come on.’ She drags me to the mirror and in a flash, she has fixed my make-up and angled the hand-dryer to dry my hair and dress. When she’s finished I look halfway passable. 

‘All done,’ the man shouts. I go to the doorway and find my knight in dripping armour, grinning under a flickering fluorescent light.

‘Dad. You’re soaked,’ she says. ‘You’ll have to change if you want to impress that lady you were talking about.’

I smile back at the man and meet his steady gaze. ‘Any woman who needs you to change should have her head read.’

His booming laugh carries over the rain. ‘As should the man who let that woman go in the first place.’

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