Siblings or friends? Jeremy's sure of his choice...until entering the House of Reflection.
|Jeremy awakens with visions of fried dough, roller coasters, and 8th grade best friends. He's
been waiting a month for this day to arrive, and reining in his smile is not an option...until his mom's
sentence vibrates his eardrums: That string of words meaning doom.
“I need you to take your sister today because...” blah, blah, blah. She could have been going to
the hospital for a complete head transplant - it didn't matter why. He just knew he was stuck minding
Colette. Beautiful little brown-haired, brown-eyed, eight-year-old Colette. Perfect, syrupy sweet
Siblings. The bane of our existence. Our competitors. Our mortal enemies. Our spoilers of
plans. Double...no...triple ugh!
Within 20 minutes of their arrival at Circletown Amusement Park, Jeremy's friends disappear.
His best buddy, Nick, broke the news. “We can't hang around the baby rides all day, Jer. We can eat at
the pavilion together later. How's that?”
How's that? Well, let's see...how's it feel when you thought you just won a million dollars a
couple of hours ago only to find out you really won this big bowl of brussel sprouts instead? Yeah,
that's great. Juuuust great.
To top it off, as Jeremy watches his friends leave, Colette speaks her first words of the morning,
God, why did she have to be so nice all the time? He turns away. “Come on.” Colette reaches
for his hand, but he pretends not to notice.
They walk over to the “baby” coaster. Jeremy figures he may as well go on too, instead of just
“Get in, baby.”
“I'm not a baby.”She glares, before stepping into the middle car. Jeremy buckles his sister, then
straps himself in the car behind her. As the cars run around the track, Colette squeals with delight as
though she were bobsledding for Olympic gold. Jeremy rolls his eyes.
“Let's do that again!”
Jeremy walks away. “I'm hungry.” With slumped shoulders, Colette follows.
The smells of cotton candy, fried foods and gasoline powered rides accompany them. After a
minute, a neon sign flashing “House of Reflection” catches Colette's eye.
“Just a bunch of weird mirrors.”
“Can we go in?”
Without answering, he changes trajectory and walks up the metal stairs. They take turns at
various mirrors distorting their body frames into eggplants or string beans, and their heads into
As they are about to leave, Jeremy stands before one last mirror. He looks about 300 lbs. He
puffs his cheeks, waddles like a Penguin, then turns toward the exit.
Upon exiting, the stairs wobble more than Jeremy remembered. Feeling rather exhausted for
some reason, he soon falls behind Colette. While contemplating his lack of energy, he feels
overwhelmingly self-conscious all of a sudden: As though people are staring, even laughing, at him.
“Why are people staring at you?” Colette asks.
“They are staring, right?” Jeremy says, relieved it isn't paranoia. He thrusts his head before
Colette, coming so close, she almost loses her balance. “Do I have something on my face?”
She brushes him back. “I don't see anything.”
Jeremy's confusion grows as the staring continues at the food pavilion. They reach the register,
and Jeremy gives the acne-clad teenager their order.
“One hot dog, a watermelon juice box, three cheeseburgers with fries and a Coke.”
The attendant gives Jeremy the up and down, then smirks. “We have salads. Maybe you should
get one of those instead.”
Where did that come from?
“How about you just get the burgers like my brother asked, bozo.”
To say Jeremy is shocked is an understatement. He's never heard his sister say a mean word...to
anyone. Getting told off by an eight-year-old isn't the highlight of his life, so the attendant processes the
order without further adieu.
Jeremy carries the tray over to a picnic table where Colette sits on the bench. An audible
CRACK fills the air as Jeremy sits across from her. He stands back up to a roar of laughter from others
A middle-aged, vodka sack of a sanitary worker ceases his sweeping. “Hey kid, mind sitting on
the ground so you don't break that thing?”
“Hey buddy, mind minding your own damn business?” Not Jeremy; Colette. Jeremy isn't sure
what's gotten into his sister, but he kind of enjoys it.
Jeremy carefully sits back down. Colette watches, mesmerized, as her brother voraciously eats
every bite on the tray. “Wow,” she says as he licks his fingers.
“Don't know why I'm so hungry. Gotta go to the bathroom. Be right back.”
An older patron gives Jeremy a wide berth as he walks in. It's then that Jeremy catches his
reflection, and his eyes widen with horror. All other objects are normal-sized, but he's 300 lbs...easy!
Colette sees him run from the bathroom – away from her. She bolts after him.
“I have to go back!”
He doesn't answer. Not out of rudeness, but out of breath.
He lumbers up the metal stairs and into the maze of mirrors. When he locates the last mirror, he
inspects it up and down. How did it do this to him?
Colette comes up behind him. “What's wrong, Jeremy?”
“I'm huge!” he says annoyed.
Colette pauses. “A huge jerk?” He turns to her with hurt and confusion, so she retreats, “I didn't
mean it. I'm sorry.”
But she was right. He had been a jerk. It wasn't her fault he had to take her today. His look
softens, and he holds out his hand. Colette hesitates.
“Let's go home. I need Mom to help me,” he says.
As Colette accepts his hand, Jeremy watches his reflection shrink away from the frame's edge
and his sister's smile grow. And with that, so does his.
Siblings. Our protectors. Our sharers of genes, dreams and problems. Our real best friends.
NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Contest Entry (1000 words max)
Setting: Amusement Park
Object: Juice Box