WORKS OF ART: DOORS OF PERCEPTION
WORKS OF ART is an exercise in serial flash fiction, as part of Declaration Editing’s Super-Short Summer Serial Challenge (S4C). Part three, Doors of Perception, is below.
“Doors of Perception”
Fig lit his cigarette off of Syl’s. She rested her hand on his for a second and looked away.
“You must hate working alone,” she said. She nodded toward Shorty’s. Fig looked behind him. They were standing in front of the restaurant’s glass doors. He shifted his focus from inside the restaurant to their reflections and the reflections of everyone else in line to get into The Din. What if reflections weren’t just reflections? What if they were parallel lives that could move and breathe and decide on a new course without the body in this life acting? He almost said this out loud. He could have said it and it wouldn’t have mattered, probably would have been par for whatever course Syl had mapped out for him in her head. It was part of his specific archetype. Fig knew of at least three late-night janitor archetypes: the bloated loser – Ernie, who worked Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The blue-collar family guy – Ray, who worked Mondays and Thursdays. And the burnout English major with too many theories. Fig.
Fig didn’t know where the archetypes came from, only that they existed. Everyone fit into one or another. He stared at his archetype in the window. It nodded at another archetype – the pent-up late 30s woman. He thought about how her hand had lingered on his a minute ago. Had it really done so? Or was it just something her archetype would do? Either way, he figured she could use five-minutes of grudge sex in one of restaurant’s booths, which was something his archetype would think but never act on.
“It gets lonely, doesn’t it?” she asked. He half-waited for their reflections to disappear together, literally walk into another panel, reflect something else out into another world until that reflection went off and did something new. That way we are all in concert creating new realities.
He turned back to face Syl. She held a sad sort of tiredness under her eyes. She blew a stream of smoke into the moist air a second after her reflection did the same.
“It’s not bad,” Fig said. His reflection said something more clever than that. Fig couldn’t figure what it was. He just knew.
Syl checked her phone, then looked for Blo. He’d worked his way ahead in the line, was near the door talking with four or five younger women.
“Stop in later,” Fig said. He looked down as soon as he said it, swept a wet scrap of paper into his pan.
“Knock on the window on your way out.”
She looked over his shoulder into the glass.