Saturday, March 23, 2013

Prompt: Do we see what’s there, or what we want to be there?

Sarah could see her mother through the living room window as she pulled up the driveway to her parent’s house. She sat in the car and watched her mother dancing, arms stretched out as if she had a partner. Sarah shook her head and glanced down at the package in the passenger seat. Paperwork for the retirement home, specializing in Alzheimer’s care. She didn’t want to do it, but what choice did she have? She left the papers in the seat and climbed out of the car.

“Mom?” The door was unlocked, although she had locked it when she left last night. “Mom, it’s me, Sarah,” she called as she closed the door and kicked off her shoes on the foyer rug.

“Of course it’s you, dear. We’re in the living room,” her mother replied. Sarah didn’t want to provoke another argument, so she didn’t comment on the “we”. She came in the living room to find her mother sitting on the couch, sipping a cup of tea. “Would  you like some tea, dear? I made extra for you.”

“Mom, how long have I been a coffee drinker?” Sarah teased, leaning down to kiss her mother’s cheek.

“You shouldn’t drink coffee this late, it will keep you up. That was fine when you were in school, but now you should—Oh, Robert, hush. I’m not treating her like a child!”

Sarah’s eyes widened, and she reached for a cup and poured some tea to give herself a moment to think. How could she get through to her mother when she was so lost in dementia?

“Mom, I found a really nice place I’d like you to come take a look at. It’s like a country club resort. I swear you will love it.”

Her mother shook her head, smiling calmly. “There’s no need, dear. We’re fine here. Please don’t worry so.”


“Sarah, that’s enough!” Her mother stood abruptly, and Sarah wanted to cry when she saw the lost look in her eyes. She leaned down and collected the tea cups onto the silver tray and carefully carried it out to the kitchen. Sarah heard her rinsing and putting things into the dishwasher. Her mother really did seem quite functional. It was mainly her delusions about Sarah’s father that indicated the onset of dementia. Ever since he had passed away last summer, Sarah had watched her mother pretend on a daily basis that he was still there. An only child of only children, she had no close family to help make this decision, and it was breaking her heart.

Sarah walked to the kitchen door and leaned her hip against the counter, watching her mother’s calm, efficient movements in the kitchen.

“Mom, how can I convince you—”

“Sarah, how can I convince you—”

They said at the same time and burst into surprised laughter. Sarah stepped forward and hugged her mother. No matter how small and fragile she seemed now, Sarah always thought of her as the tower of strength she had known in her childhood. She closed her eyes and hugged tighter until her mother laughed breathlessly and pulled away.

“What’s wrong, dear? What’s the matter?”

Sarah shook her head. Her mother expected her to have some tale of woe from school, or maybe work, or a boyfriend. She couldn’t seem to hear Sarah’s concerns about her own age and health and care, no matter how many different ways Sarah tried to express it. She didn’t know what to do, but whatever it was, it wouldn’t be tonight.

“Nothing, Mom. Nothing. I’ve got to head home. Would you like to go to Provino’s for Italian tomorrow night?”

“Oh, that would be lovely, dear.”

“Okay, I’ll call you after work. I love you, Mom.”

“I love you, too, dear. Good night.”

Sarah kissed her cheek and headed back to her car. She carefully locked the front door and stood on the porch for a moment, looking up at the crescent moon. When she was little, her father used to carry her out every night to say goodnight to the moon.

“Ciao, bella luna,” she whispered, tears in her eyes. She climbed in her car and started to back down the driveway. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw something through the window that made her whip her head around. Inside, she could barely see her mother dancing again in the kitchen. Sarah’s heart skipped a beat. Her mother held her hands out in a waltz pose, and Sarah swore she saw a familiar figure swing her across the floor, out of sight.


Dogs in house:

Time writing:
~35 minutes

March word count:


  1. Prompt: Do we see what’s there, or what we want to be there?

    My first memory of the mirror people is sitting in a car seat and seeing them in the rear view mirror. I must have been pretty young; people didn't use car seats for long back then. It wasn't until high school that I learned other people didn't see them. Yes, I know, it sounds unbelievable, but I figured it was one of those things that people just didn't talk so much about. And it's not like they're always there--only at certain angles, or something. But now that I'm older I have to wonder.

    I think other people do see them. I've seen children tracking the same 'other' people in the mirror that I can see. I think what happens is that as we grow older, we learn things (like I did in high school physics) about light refraction and how mirrors are supposed to work. So we don't see what's actually there anymore, only what we expect--a reflection of this world.

    But, you see, mirrors don't reflect this world. Or rather, they don't _only_ reflect this world.

    1. Nice beginning. Is it only car mirrors, or all mirrors? Nice idea of the narrator not realizing it was something unique to self (again, not set as masc or fem). Could go into more detail about *not* seeing the mirror people any more - because of expectation/learning/grow out of it? Intriguing...

  2. Very powerful! Even though I expected the end somewhat, based on the prompt, I was still affected strongly by the almost-glimpse in the final paragraph.

    (And just got to reading yours today, again, what with barely getting the writing done last night...)

    1. I blame this one squarely on too much Delta Rae, Dancing in the Graveyard! :)