By J. vanderHorst-Buckley
About the author
WASN'T ME. I SWEAR I DIDN'T DO IT,” I cried. It all seemed pretty
well hopeless. Empty words seemed to be all I had left to defend myself.
I guess I can understand why they thought it was me and why they wanted to take me to the hospital. I suppose then there would be neverending questions too. Trying to explain that it wasn’t me but him. It all sounds bad for me, I know… but I swear I didn’t do it.
The whole house always was in a shambles so the mess
and clutter didn’t faze me. Mother had always been a TV addict and had
not done much but move from her chair to the fridge and back again and
her necessary trips to the john. That had been the extent of her days
Our relationship had always been odd and over the top concerning everything. Mother always nit-picked. Every little thing was wrong even if it was right. She expected everything from me, while she sat in front of the box twenty-four hours a day. I took care of our old run down farm, trying desperately to scratch a meager living out of it. There always had to be enough money to pay the electric and cable for Mother so she would not be deprived in any way.
All I ever really wanted from her was a little gratitude and recognition for what I did. I didn’t have a life of my own, Lord knows there was never time. My days and nights were filled with Mother. Always wanting, never asking… instead barking out orders for me to do this or that. None of the few friends I’d ever managed to convince to come home with me to what the town’s people fondly called The Squat had ever met Mother’s unreasonable standards.
Mother was an overbearing old ogre. Bossy and full of anger, her words always cut me like a knife. Not once did I ever hear her say anything kind to me. I knew she took great pleasure in aggravating me daily; her one joy seemed to be taunting me into daring to speak back. Something I admit I am guilty of. But being almost thirty and treated as a lackey all my life, sometimes my temper got the better of me too.
Life was always the same routine. Usually there was little or no sleep for me; I could doze and just about be asleep when I would hear her screeching from downstairs.
Tony, where are my pills? Tony, where is my Coke? Well, they were always there, right beside her and she knew it. I tried sleeping through it but lately I hadn’t been sleeping very well. In fact, lately I don’t think I’d even really been there.
I awoke late that morning. Immediately, I knew something was different. Mother usually awoke before six in the morning yelling for her tea. I must have slept in. She would be furious at me but then I didn’t care anymore how mad she got. I was totally devoid of any emotion when it concerned Mother. Frankly I had prayed many nights for God to take her and let her do her screeching up there with him. I got dressed and headed off down the stairs towards the living room.
Walking by her chair I could clearly see her. Her eyes fixed in the direction of the TV. To me, she looked very peaceful. Hollywood Squares was blaring and I knew how much she enjoyed that. Next to her were her snacks and other necessities lined up neatly on the old TV tray. The picture of the Coca-Cola bottle on it had long been worn off leaving only a partial bit of the bottle, the rest peeling back in strange little bits and pieces. Mother was very meticulous in how she wanted things arranged on her tray, but could care less about how dilapidated the tray was. Coffee and Coke at the back end of the tray and popcorn and chips in the middle. Of course, the tray wasn’t complete without a TV guide and numerous bottles of medications she needed to take care of her stomach upsets and headaches.
Everything seemed normal to me, although even with the TV blaring I found it eerily silent. I looked at Mother closely; her eyes were still glued to that infernal box. She always had trouble paying any attention to the rest of the world. It was always TV this and that and she knew the answer to every quiz question ever asked.
Stumbling sleepily up to Mother, I bent down and offered my usual greeting, a peck on the cheek. She always raised her hand to brush me away, but this morning she hadn’t even bothered and I was thankful that I avoided the dreadful insinuating statement: Boys should not do that to their Mothers. What’s wrong with you?
I suppose that is when I saw it. I let my eyes travel down her body; I almost laughed out loud when I saw it there. Protruding from her. Mother was fat. She’d always insisted she was just big boned, but let's face facts. If you sit in front of a TV twenty-four hours a day and never walk farther than the fridge you’re gonna be fat. But there she was, in her glory, feet up on the footstool looking very peaceful and relaxed…with the large carving fork from the kitchen drawer, stuck in the middle of her chest.
I walked into the kitchen and called 911. After I
talked to my friend Pete, I put some bread into the toaster and the
kettle on the stove. I sat down and ate my toast. I’d nearly finished
the last piece when I heard the sirens in the distance. It sounded like
they were almost at our turn off when I heard the gravel flying and
tires spinning as they sped towards our old farmhouse.
Without even knocking, three policemen were suddenly standing in Mother’s kitchen. Old Pete Hawgraves, Jimmy Cole and Tim Jones. The entire local police department stood there staring down at me expecting some explanation for what had happened. Mother definitely would not have appreciated all these intruders into her solitary solemn life.
“Where is she, Tony? What happened?” asked Pete. He’d been one of my best friends in school and now he was the local cop in charge of homicides.
“She’s out there, in her chair. Right about where she was the last time you came calling for dinner with us. She looks dead to me. I think someone did her in last night.”
“Stay with Tony,” Pete told Tim as he and Jimmy headed for the living room.
“I swear I didn’t do it, Tim. It wasn’t me,” I whispered hoarsely. “Can I get my jacket, I’m pretty cold here? It’s just over there, hanging on the hook on the back door.”
“I’ll get it for you.”
By the time I finished my coffee, Pete and Jimmy were back in the kitchen. Pete was on his mobile phone calling for an ambulance and the coroner’s office.
“OK with you if we get some coffee? I haven’t had time for any yet and I’m sure the other boys would love some to,” Pete asked.
“Sure, help yourselves,” I said.
“OK, now you tell us what happened here and we can get this all cleared up in no time,” stated Pete, all business like now.
I tried my best to explain to them. It was hard to tell them about the mirror and how I could walk through it. Their eyes about popped when I told them about the other me who traded places with me after I walked into his world.
“Whoa, Tony -- are you telling me you walk through a mirror every night into a different dimension? Then you trade places with another you?” asked Pete.
“Yeah, Pete, that’s how it happens. Almost every night now since I bought the mirror from the auction at Jacobs farm a month ago. I don’t know how it works. At first it called to me and I walked through. The first time I put my foot up to the mirror, it slid through like jelly on bread followed by the rest of me. When I walk through, the other me passes through me, trading places.”
I tried explaining that I hardly ever slept anymore; most of the night I was on the other side of the mirror. There it was so peaceful and quiet. The house was spotless and well looked after. There was no Mother to yell at me and make me feel small.
“The other me had no trouble at all with Mother. He says she is always as quiet as a mouse. I knew he was stronger than me and he always had protection with him in case she turned on him. He wasn’t about to let Mother get him,” I told Pete.
“Well, Tony, I think I know what happened now. We’re going to take you down to the police station for more questioning. First we will stop at the local Hospital and make sure you’re OK though,” Pete slowly explained to me.
“Before we go I want you to take us upstairs and give us a demonstration of this mirror of yours,” he said.
“Sure Pete, follow me.”
I started up the stairs with all three of them
following close behind. When we reached my tiny and sparsely decorated
bedroom, all three of them went over and began checking out the mirror.
I sat down on my bed and waited for them. It was just an old army cot
Mother had bought for me when I was three and it had been my bed ever
“Tony, show us how this works?” asked Tim.
“Sure, Pete,” I said smiling.
This was my chance. Why should I pay for something I didn’t do? Without stopping, I rushed across the room and ran through the mirror. As I stepped through, my body flew forwards as my counterpart was sucked through my body like a vacuum. My body always felt like a bowl of jelly and it took a few minutes before I could move around well. Then I turned and kicked the mirror, cracking it into pieces.
I figured I would be safe here; he could get all the trouble I didn’t need. He did it and he could pay for it. As I walked through the dimension into the old farmhouse kitchen I looked forward to all the peace I would now finally have. The house was exactly the same as the one on the other side of the mirror, but much cleaner and peaceful. I poured a cup of coffee and listened for the peace. The TV was still blaring but that made no difference to me; I was used to that noise. I leaned back and took my first sip of coffee in freedom.
The cup dropped out of my hand and smashed to the floor in pieces as I heard it.
“Tony, I’m waiting, where’s my tea? Where’s my pills? Where’d ya hide the remote this time?” she shrieked.
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