Mirrors and Joe
Posted: 13 March 2012
Word Count: 1474
Summary: Joe has a unique ability to pass into other times and places.
MIRRORS AND JOE
WORD COUNT: 1487
Mirrors are the bane of my life. Not every mirror, just some.
Don’t get the wrong idea. I do not have a mirror fetish. I am not a poser either, I don’t have to look at myself in every mirror or shop window. David Beckham I am not! It’s just that some mirrors give me an opportunity to look into other worlds. Mary Elizabeth Coleridge wrote a poem called The Other Side of a Mirror, but I don’t think she meant that anyone could pass through mirrors like I could.
I think I had better start at the beginning. My name is Joe, and I am normal. I lived as a child with a normal family, in a normal house. I worked on a normal building site, had normal girl friends, and got married normally.
Every now and then I know I go missing. I am never sure how long I have been gone until I get back, and every time I have to lie to my wife and family. Over the years I have gotten better at the travelling and the lying.
It all started when I was eight years old, staying on my grandparents farm. Most school holidays my mum and dad dropped me off to stay with them. It wasn’t a punishment. I loved staying on the farm, especially throughout the summer.
There were so many exciting and adventurous things to do. I loved washing lettuce with a hose-pipe to get them ready for market. Egg-collecting was fun, unless one of the hens was broody and pecked at me when I tried to get the eggs. Picking the tomatoes from one of the five greenhouses was good. Gathering peas was my favourite, but granny knew I loved raw peas so made me whistle so she knew I wasn’t eating them!
After I had done all the jobs I loved exploring. Granny’s farm had so much land I could climb, run, hide and build dens every day. I could also look around the outbuildings and find things. Some days I would find farming instruments or tractor parts no longer in use. Climbing up ladders or slide down chains I imagined I was a pirate boarding an enemy ship.
One day I found a large wooden shed that had old furniture stacked. Some chairs and wardrobes were covered in sheets, some lay dusty. They were probably from the farm house and redundant or they may have come from auctions. My granny loved auctions.
In one corner there was an old dresser, covered with some sacks. Checking the drawers I found nothing of interest. When I lifted the sacks I was fascinated by the beautiful mirror. My reflection was a bit musty due to some dust, so I cleaned the mirror surface with my shirt sleeve. I could not believe what happened. My arm disappeared into the mirror!
I immediately pulled my arm back, trembling all over. I looked all around the mirror and dresser; it did not make any sense. It was an ordinary dresser and mirror. The back was wooden. The mirror was only an inch in thickness. There was no way my arm could fit in that space.
Reaching out to touch the mirror again I noticed that in the centre there seemed to be a circle of blue like a whirlpool. My hand went into the mirror! Really scared, I ran back to the farm. Granny asked me where I had been. I told her that I had just been playing.
That night I couldn’t sleep, tossing ant turning thinking all night about the mirror. The next day was market day and granny didn’t need me, so after breakfast I decided I would investigate the mirror. It was becoming an adventure.
I had re-covered the mirror with the sacks, so took those off and had a close look. Apart from the swirling blue centre the mirror was like any other. Unless a person stood right in front of the mirror they would notice nothing unusual.
Reached out to touch the mirror once again my hand was going through the mirror, like the surface was water. I stretched as far as I could with my arm, but could go no further unless I climbed on the dresser and had a better look. Ever curious and adventurous I clambered onto the dresser and pushed my face into the mirror. Soon my whole body followed my head and I tumbled into a large square room similar to my grandma’s outbuildings but with lots of mirrors and other reflective surfaces.
I looked backwards and could recognise the dresser that I had just fallen from, relieved I could get back if I needed to. To my right was another old-looking typical farmer’s dresser, next to that was a shining brass shield on the wall, after that a cowboy-style saloon dresser complete with bottles of spirits and glasses.
The northern wall facing me had an immaculate white theatre-dresser with light-bulbs surrounding the edge. On my left was a mirror in which I appeared really squat and fat, next to that was a large vase with water, and after that a large copper warming pan attached to the wall.
Walking past each item I observed my reflection in each surface. In each mirror there was a blue whirl-pool hazy centre. I had the curiosity of any eight-year old, reasoning it would not do any harm to explore the mirrors.
The first mirror I tried was the old farm dresser, similar to my grandma’s. I mounted the dresser and slowly eased myself through. At first I wondered what had happened, as it was like I was going down a big plug-hole. Dropping into a bail of hay I took a look around. It was a barn. Outside the sun was shining. I tiptoed down the loft ladder, making sure I knew where the dresser was so I could return.
I didn’t know where I was. People were working in the fields, harvesting the hay in the old-fashioned way with scythes, and someone with a pitchfork tossed the hay onto a horse-drawn cart.
Walking towards them, very slowly, I was unsure of who they were or what they would think of me. They appeared confused but waved and beckoned me over. When I reached them I was given some food and drink which was mainly bread and fruit. I did not recognise their language and felt an outsider by my clothes.
To break the ice I pointed to myself and said, “Joe”. They understood as they shook me by the hand, and some hugged me. At the time I did not know they were speaking French.
Because they had shown me kindness I helped my new friends with the harvest until the sun was going down. The lateness worried me. Judging I had better get back to granny I made my way back to the barn, up the ladder and through the mirror.
I plopped into the room with the mirrors, my “Mirror Room”, and quickly climbed onto the dresser like grandma’s and climbed through. Relief filled me as I dropped into the outhouse filled with furniture. I quickly covered up the mirror with the sacks and walked toward the farm. It was getting dark.
“Where have you been, Joe? We came back from the market hours ago. You have missed your tea.”
For the first time I lied about my travels. “I fell asleep granny, and didn’t know what time it was.” My gran believed me, gave me some sandwiches from her fridge. I went to bed. The next day I went home to my parents as summer holidays were over.
Since that first adventure through the mirror as an eight year old, I have visited a cowboy town, a mediaeval castle, Hollywood, a Circus, Egypt and China. Now that I know some French I have also returned to help with the harvest in France, a place called Tours. I endeavour to earn my keep, helping the people wherever I go.
In every time and location my new-found friends know me as Joe and I am treated with kindness. Sometimes there are new mirrors in my “Mirror Room”, and some familiar ones do not appear. I have so enjoyed my stay in some places that I have lost all track of time.
I am now 22 years old and my wife is having our baby. It will be wonderful to one day take my little family through the mirrors.
In the poem Mirror by Sylvia Plath it says:-
“I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful”
Mirrors may be truthful, but people who travel through them have to tell stories.
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