I’m writing a few stories this week for Hallowe’en.
Here is the first.
[Image by superfluousmonkeys at DeviantART]
Tina was so angry with Robbie. The way he had just dumped her like that. And for Missy Adams too. It was humiliating. Everyone knew that no one missed with Missy.
It was hard when you were in a group of friends and someone fell out with someone else or in Tina’s case, you broke up with your boyfriend. The power of the group meant that unless you wanted to live in social isolation and be dubbed a loser you still had to see each other.
Tina was sick of pretending she was okay with it. Seeing Missy all over Robbie was making her stomach turn. Missy had actually put her hand on Robbie’s crotch when no one was looking. Robbie’s face had lit up like a Christmas tree. Her Aunt Julie said that all the time. I won the meat tray at bingo and my face lit up like a Christmas tree. I got two for the price of one at the discount store and my face lit up like a Christmas tree. I told Juniper she looked like she’d lost weight and her face lit up like a Christmas tree.
Juniper was Tina’s cousin. She has a glandular problem, Aunt Julie said, brightly, thinking no one saw the furtive look she threw at the thin daughters of her friends.
I’m fat, Mum, get over it. Juniper believed there was nothing to be gained from beating about the bush. Beating about the bush causes nothing but trouble, she said. Juniper used beating about the bush the way her mother used lit up like a Christmas tree. They were a family fond of catch phrases.
It was Juniper who told Tina about the Hall of Mirrors. The carnival was in town and in the Fun House was a hall of mirrors. As usual Juniper didn’t beat about the bush. That Hall of Mirrors will change your life, she said. It will reveal your true self.
Tina got the chill at the back of her neck she sometimes got when talking to Juniper. For a long time now she had thought her cousin had some kind of power inside. She knew things it wasn’t really possible to know, like she had a sixth sense or something.
Tina and her friends attended the carnival that Friday night. The lights were soft amber and gold. There was sawdust on the ground. The scent of toffee apples rose. Tina saw that Robbie had already bought one for Missy. She held it aloft like a trophy as if it was a symbol of his love for her.
Tina went on all the rides alone, crying over the stupid toffee apple. Robbie had always bought her one when the carnival was in town. Toffee apples were her favourite.
Juniper was waiting for Tina when she got off the Ferris Wheel, her vision blurry from flashing lights and tears. She handed her cousin a toffee apple. Missy and Robbie have gone into the Hall of Mirrors, she said. I thought we could watch.
Juniper linked her arm in her cousin’s and dragged her to the Fun House. They waited by the exit.
A horrible scream came from inside, then crying. People came running out, all of Tina’s friends. Then Robbie, sickly white, eyes wide as if he’d seen something shocking; trembling, cowering.
Let’s go and see what’s going on, Juniper said. Somehow Tina ended up in the Fun House with her cousin, standing in front a row of mirrors that rippled like water. Tina looked fat, then thin; tall, then short. Juniper pulled faces, posing and laughing.
The Hall of Mirrors was fluid. They felt it wouldn’t take much to lose their footing, as if they were walking underwater.
Each mirror revealed an unfamiliar image of themselves. They held their breath as they were transformed into creatures not of this world, their faces snaking outward and upward like ribbons.
Someone at the end of the hall was crying. Lying face down on the floor. It was Missy.
She was different. Shrunken. Crooked and buckled like an old gate. She was moaning, clutching at her stomach. Juniper turned her over. Tina screamed. Missy’s face was wrinkled and misshapen, her hair was thinning and grey.
Don’t look at me, she screamed. Don’t look at me.
Missy half-slid, half-crawled out of the Hall of Mirrors and disappeared into the night.
Robbie was still outside, shaking, gasping as if he’d run for miles. What happened to Missy? he cried.
She saw her true self, Juniper replied. That’s all.
Tina felt the chill at the back of her neck again. Juniper had a power inside her. She knew it now.
I’m sorry about Missy, Robbie said, taking Tina’s hands. I missed you the entire time I was with her. I really want you back.
You don’t beat about the bush, do you? Juniper said.