“A Darkness of Mirrors” / A Memorable Fancy #165

There is a death in the dusty mansion; an old man has died. From long custom, all the mirrors are covered in dark cloth for mourning. A five-year-old grandson pokes around the house, finds himself in the old man’s bedroom where the man lies, dead. The child spies a black velvet drape covering a large mirror. That would make a super-cool dress-up, the five-year-old thinks. Grandpa will not mind, because he is dead. The child pulls the cloth from the mirror.

There are various ways this event could continue, and even end. In the infinity of possible worlds, every one of these, and more, will happen an infinite number of times:

(a) The child dies. This is the shortest of the short stories, and does not allow for character development.

(b) The old man comes to life. Now, this could be more interesting. Grandpa could regret his many sins and become a pious old bore.

(c) The mother discovers the child playing in the dead grandfather’s room and punishes him. In later life the child, now grown, develops a compulsion to dress up in dark robes and swirl about the house. His friends all think he’s gay.

(d) The child is not apprehended. After playing a while, he puts the cloth back on the mirror. He forgets the whole event, and in later life becomes a developer of innocuous productivity apps.

(e) None of the above. There never was a grandson. His name would have been Billy, if he had been born. There never was an old man. His name would have been Jerome. He would have hated that name. He would have wanted to be called “Billy.”

 

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