Mirror

Although her girlfriend was about to break up with her, Nancy smiled over the table. As long as they could maintain this expression, everything would be fine.

“I really like what you’ve done with your hair tonight,” she said.

“Thanks, I like yours, too.”

The resulting silence prompted them both to take sips of wine. Nancy held hers in her mouth just a second longer before swallowing, as she saw a flash of disapproval cross the face in front of her when they reached for their glasses simultaneously. “I’ve been thinking about what you said.”

She watched the smile grow limp, and tried to hoist it back with her own. “I’ve been thinking,” she repeated, “and I want whatever you want.”

They had had the same boring conversation last night, and had yelled at each other, “I only want to make you happy. What do you want? I want you to be happy!” Nancy couldn’t remember anymore which part of the conversation had been hers. It existed between them and belonged to neither.

“And I want whatever you want,” she heard again, and it played back between them and around them, at every table in the restaurant. Every couple made the same faithful promise, and Nancy repeated it. Hers was the only voice that didn’t sound fake.

#deception, #fractal, #mirror, #reflection, #relationships, #restaurant, #self-control, #self-importance, #wine

Homunculus

The Phoenix Lord was in the middle of some speech when Jocelyn received the order to strike. Even though she was newest member of the right arm, she was in charge of the killing blow, a complicated manual control that required finesse. The rest of the crew stood around her console, shouting encouragements. She could do it. As she began the crank, tension built, and she steadied herself. She spun the wheel faster, pulling out the pegs as necessary, in even intervals.

“You’ve got it.” Murmurs from all around her gave advice, but she maintained her concentration.

“Pull the switch!”

“You have to do it now!”

She waited. The official go-ahead hadn’t yet come through, and she couldn’t make a move without their say-so. A sudden quake knocked her from her seat.

“Are you going to finish the job, or do I have to take over?”

She looked up. The final lever was only a few feet away, and she leapt toward it. Her fingers fell into place around the shaft.

“Why isn’t she pulling the lever?” asked her head of operations. The crew around him made no suggestions, though they clearly had ideas of their own. “What’s going on in the right arm?”

“We’ve lost communications. Most likely, they’re waiting for our go-ahead.”

A hand pushed her back to the floor. Jocelyn looked up at her coworker, a stodgy fellow in a bird costume. “You had a chance to prove yourself, but that moment is over. You will have to defeat me if you want any professional glory, but as you can see, I’ve already won.”

As he yanked down on the switch, Jocelyn struck him in the eye, a perfectly tuned punch that knocked him cold. Her coworkers gasped.

“What’s gotten into you?”

#fractal, #mecha, #meta, #microfiction, #professional-rivalry, #science-fiction