So a few days back, I happened to get results back from a flash fiction competition I entered. It’s a bit unfortunate I think, but I didn’t place as an award winner. In hindsight after some discussion it was noted I had some typos (a left over from my editing) in my submission draft, which (wasn’t explicitly stated but for purposes of ego) was the reason I didn’t place.
So here is my piece below. It’s a one thousand word submission, and I hope you enjoy 🙂
Bones crunched, and blood spat on the wall. It was a scene from when he was a child and the reflection cracked. Two of him stared back. Harold punched the mirror again, and again until there were a thousand faces of Harold, each crouched over and breathing hard. Their hair was limp, lathered in sweat. It dripped down their necks, but only Harold knew it dripped in his pits.
“You can do this,” he looked himself in the eye, breathing hard, intimidated by the image the panel of Harolds projected. Powerful suits and straight-laced ties.
The blazer stifled him, constricted him. It was a custom made and tailored, comfortable when Donald commissioned it; it was to celebrate his rebirth, from prospective lawyer to Crown prosecutor. Each button he was familiar with, the notches sharp and lapel’s hung fine. He couldn’t stand it; he wanted out.
Harold removed his jacket, loosened his tie, shirt and upper pin.
“I can do this,” he said, he withdrew his shaking fists.
The restroom door opened; someone entered. Outside, the sounds of activity echoed against the marble walls and tiled floor. The press was still setting up. It wouldn’t be long now—he glanced at his watch.
Ten minutes until the judge would arrive—fifteen until the court was in session.
Harold had already seen the defendant, Samuel Curtin Harold and his cadre of lawyers. They were prepared and already seated; mum sat elsewhere, somewhere in the audience.
“What are you doing?” a voice said.
Harold turned, but his eyes never strayed from his reflections, the Harolds taunting him.
It was Donald Rogerson, the chief commissioner. He stood by the door, staring at Harold’s hands aghast, “For god’s sake, Harold, what’s got you? Stay here. I’ll get the first aid officers.”
“I can do this,” Harold said again. He levelled out his voice as he’d been taught, speaking forcefully.
“Bull,“ he checked his watch and swore again. “We’re rescheduling. I’ll inform the courts, and you will stay here. You’re a no show.”
“No,” Harold said. He tore his eyes from himself, “I said no.”
The chief commissioner paused, watching as he washed his mangled hands and straightened his tie. “You’re adamant about this aren’t you? Gods let me do that for you. Stop it. You’re still bleeding. Stop. I will do it.”
He pushed the offending hands away. “If you had trouble with this case you should have told me. I’d of assigned another prosecutor; someone that could hold their hands straight.”
“I wasn’t always called Harold Jackson you know.”
“You think I didn’t find out when you applied? Your involvement with the Department of Human Services. God, you moved schools sixteen times by the time you graduated. Of course, we dug out your records. The abuse, the custody battles and restraining orders?” The tie was pulled straight, “Do you think we would let anyone become a Crown prosecutor Ashley Curtin? Do you like that Ashley Curtin? You haven’t gone by that name since you were twelve.”
Harold hit him in the stomach, cried and nursed his hand. He was taller than Donald and stronger, but the pain was lightning in his fist. The man was unmoved.
“Why did you let me take the case and put me through this?” He shoved the commissioner against the Harolds. The broken mirrors clattered to the floor. “I’m crippled, emotionally compromised. For god’s sake, you’re making me prosecute my father.”
The commissioner repeatedly tapped Harold’s wrists. “Let go, Harold. You think I didn’t know? Look, I thought maybe you’d have the best reason to see your father behind bars. I said let go.” He twisted the offending hand until Harold let go.
“Here, look at this.” He pulled out a stack of papers and flung them to the ground. “Samuel Curtin it reads. Twenty-six incidences of aggravated assault and five instances of rape. Need I go on? Links to organised crime? Corporate theft and espionage, as well as the jailors’ damned recommendations.”
Harold’s hands clenched. “He’s still my father.”
“A father that abused you so bad that you couldn’t speak? That you had to move to fifteen schools and then interstate to escape? He had no regard for the rules of society and no respect for you. Do you think he cares about anyone but himself, that he cares for you? You’re killing yourself.”
He glared back defiantly, His fists were bleeding, and they dripped on the papers, the glass and the floor.
Donald sighed, “I’m not making you do anything. We can delay the trial, get another prosecutor in,”
“I will do it,”
“Good”, Donald reached for the door, “Now find something to stem the bleeding. I’ll get something for those hands of yours. Oh, and the hearing is in five minutes.”
Noise filtered inside and then the door clicked shut.
Alone, Harold turned toward the mirrored wall, and the sink splashed with blood. There were only two Harolds. They stared at each other through the remnants of a mirror.
It’s just a mirror, he told himself. He sighed, letting out a breath he didn’t know he held, then the mirror fell, shattered against the sink below.
Suddenly he wasn’t Harold anymore.
He was Ashley Curtin, and he stumbled back. Mirror and paper crunched against his feet. Step after step, he collapsed.
“No,” he whispered, “no.”
Back against the cold marble wall, he slumped, and terror gripped him. He struggled to breathe, hands to his face, warding off his father’s inevitable blows.
He’d see through him. Recognise him. Father would find out.
Blood was in his hair, on his shirt; Ashley couldn’t muster the courage to care.
He couldn’t do it.
The door creaked open, and outside it was quiet, the hearing almost in session. There was a step, or two and Donald were there, perturbed.
He held bandages in one hand, but it wasn’t the bandages that caught his attention. The hand was loose and free. It slipped beneath his coat and withdrew a mobile phone.
“Hey, it’s Donald here. Listen. We can’t do this. Our prosecutor,” he paused to marble the word, “He can’t make it.”
He hung up, and the silence sounded disappointed. It didn’t mask his steps as he turned away and the door clicked shut.