Last night I met with the local writing group at our library and as usual we shared our responses to a writing prompt. One of the things I find amazing about writers is how we can look at the same picture and all see something different. Our work reflects our senses of humor, our backgrounds, our writing styles. Each experience molds and shapes us as writers and only becomes obvious once our words are laid out on the page.
So I thought I would share a couple pieces that came from the same inspiration. The picture was our prompt. The first response is mine, and the second, my sister, Arielle’s.
Alex shuffled her feet, heedless of the dew that soaked through her shoes as she made her way across the garden. Her throat burned as she fetched up against the side of the old wishing well, but she fought the tears with everything she’d gained from years of quiet perseverance.
Her fingers gripped the crumbling stone and she leaned over the still water as though she would leap into the depths. Her pale face stared up at her. She dropped a rock into the water, shattering her reflection the way Rob had shattered her that morning.
When the water smoothed, Alex gasped and jerked back. There were two reflections below her now.
She looked up at the figure beside her, only just stifling a scream. Her own face stared back at her, her own eyes slanted in satisfaction, and her own lips quirked in an unpleasant smile.
“What-?” Alex started. “Who are you?”
The other Alex cocked her head. “I am you,” she said. Her eyes narrowed. “The only you.”
She shoved Alex with a vicious grin and Alex stumbled back…over the low stone wall. And down, into the cold and damp.
Above her the other Alex laughed.
I have been many things, and I have been none of them. I’ve been you. When you smile, I smile. When you frown, I frown. When you talk to me, my lips move with yours. I see you, but you don’t see me. You look at me and see yourself. I am you, but only when you’re with me. When you leave, I cannot follow. I am left to wait for your return. Then silently I will show you yourself again. You will hate me for it. You will use me to make yourself better, but I will always tell you you’re not good enough. And you will never know I didn’t want to. It’s only what I was made for.
We both managed to turn out something fairly creepy (and to be fair, we are related, with similar backgrounds and influences), but there were other responses in our group that were amusing, nostalgic or passionate without the darker shading. I liked how some of us saw the girl looking in a mirror, and others saw her looking at her reflection in water. Some saw her as a tomboy, others thought she seemed fragile or abused.
At first, it may seem like there is only one truth here. There is a little girl, well dressed, looking down at her reflection. And this may be the one truth. But there are many stories.