So a few days ago, I submitted this piece to a flash fiction competition. The word limit was one thousand words which I met on the dot. I would have liked to include a few more, but the rules are the rules.
Unfortunately, I was not a prize winner in this competition. In a later assessment, there was a structural inconsistency in the very last line 😐
I have since fixed it up, but it was silly of me to ruin my chances in such a way. So have fun reading 🙂
Bones crunched, and blood spat on the wall. It was a scene from when he was a child and like then, the reflection cracked, and two of him stared back. Harold punched the mirror until there were a thousand faces of Harold, each crouched over and breathing hard, hair limp and 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, intimidated by the image the panel of Harolds projected, All 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 cut sharp and fabric fine. He couldn’t stand it; he wanted out.
Harold removed his jacket, loosened his tie and upper pin.
“I can do this,” he said, he withdrew his shaking fists.
The restroom door opened; someone entered. Outside, 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 doors were closed.
Harold had already seen the defendant, Samuel Curtin Harold and his cadre of lawyers. They were prepared and already seated.
“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 bandages.”
“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. You stay here, and I’ll inform the judge.”
“No,” Harold said. He tore his eyes from himself, “I said no.”
The chief commissioner paused, watching as he washed his bleeding hands and straightened his tie. “You’re adamant about this aren’t you? God 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 since you were twelve.”
Harold hit him in the stomach, cried and nursed his hand. He was taller than Donald and stronger, but the man was unmoved, the pain hit harder than his fist.
“Why did you 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? 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 papers and flung them to the ground. “Samuel Curtin it reads. Twenty-six incidences of child abuse and five instances of battery and assault. Need I go on? Links to organised crime? Corporate theft and espionage, and the jailors’ own 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 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? Or 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 for 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 shards of a mirror.
It’s just a mirror, he told himself. He sighed, and let out a breath he didn’t know he held, then the mirror fell, and shatter below.
Suddenly he wasn’t Harold anymore.
He was Ashley Curtin again, and he stumbled back. Glass crunched against his shoes and 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.
Father would find out. He’d remember him. Fathers never forget sons.
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 his other hung 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, tasting the word, “He can’t make it.”
He hung up, and the silence sounded disappointed. It didn’t mask his steps as heturned away and the door clicked shut.