by D. T. Vincent
Clamoring deep inside is a knowledge: shards have been hidden all around the world. I need to find all of them in order to complete the mirror, but I'm stuck taking orders at a bagel shop and can't figure out the goddamn register. The bagel flavors alone are 1,117 dizzying pages to scroll through. I'm suddenly so spatially and kinematically impaired I can't stand, but I'm clutching onto the counter. The room is spinning, but I persist, randomly pressing buttons on the screen, hoping this can somehow count towards clocking out and getting paid.
All night long I work shifts at old jobs, over and over. I'm a bus boy, bell boy, bagel boy, intern, designer-- sometimes in reverse chronology, sometimes all at once.
At the startup, I get up and walk through the office to step away from my spreadsheet. I don't recognize anyone who works here anymore, but their faces seem familiar. My eyes fixate on a small box of shards; twin girls are funneling them into large beakers. I am determined to apprehend them.
Doctor Wan spoke into his notetaker.
"Patient's dreamspace is often a venue for celebration or self-warning, but lately patient describes it as a, quote, sufferspace.
"In a recent dream, he engaged in, and arguably incited, a verbal altercation with his father, indicating a paternal conflict. At the height of the conflict, his father said he'd 'waited years to say this,' while dragging a wrapped framed canvas from behind a shelf. Patient was 'desperate' to hear and see his father's message. But before the father could say his piece or unwrap the item, patient awoke."
I'm back at my desk. The owner of the company approaches me and hands me an envelope. "This is my promise to you," she said, and walks away to attend a meeting.
I stand still and wait until she is around the corner to open the envelope. In it, a little handwritten story.
You check the math on your receipt and leave, climbing the stone staircase that rises to the town's center. You stop for a moment to observe the clear day, facing North. There is a tsunami to the North, and a sandstorm to the West. You feel a rippling tremor as a building falls. People are stampeding southward, but you catch twin Northern girls and ask why they are running. They say the wall of approaching water had passed through the patches of poisonous lilies-- the town's final set of defenses. You lead the stampede.
The twins are throwing shards into my back like darts. I smile. I will not pursue those shards' reflections, since now I only face forward.
D. T. Vincent
is a short story writer from Detroit. For a while Vincent named lipsticks for a living by copywriting for pervasively distributed cosmetics brands. Today, Vincent lives and writes in the San Francisco Bay area.