Writing The Camera Obscure- Story 3 ‘Reflection’

‘Here today, staring at my reflection again, I barely recognise myself. As ever, I am completely absorbed, drawn in to inspect every detail. My sense of self is disappearing as the face reflected back seems unfamiliar, as if there are two of us, the one here outside the mirror and the one on the other side of the glass, looking out.’

Refection is quite an odd story. It’s shorter than the first two, and I really don’t know from what depths of my anxieties it sprang from. Have we all sat in from of the mirror long enough for the outside world to recede as we get lost in our own reflection, or is it just me? Has anyone else imagined the person on the other side of the glass having an independent life?

The story definitely alludes to the mythical Narcissus, (note the girlfriend works for The Echo newspaper, which was inspired by the nymph Echo who loved Narcissus, and also note the little white flowers around his mirror). The theme is about vanity, but also anxiety about ageing – I guess that is me. I am slightly dysmorphic, where I can over-stress about perceived flaws in my body. It’s more than just that, and is the opposite of vanity really, and I can discuss that condition another time. I also fear ageing – not because of my looks growing old though, but just the sense of always being chased by time; I have so much more to do in life!

It gives a little nod to Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray thematically, and in the supernatural element in it. I have loved this story since I was very young. And look out for the reference to Keats’ La Belle Dame sans Merci – Time is the ‘Belle Dame’ in my story, but also addiction rears its ugly head in the poem, and my protagonist is certainly addicted to his own image.

The protagonist is a self-absorbed and vain creature – and yet you may find yourself sympathising with his horror at the end. No spoilers here!

The blink of a wrong eye; the wrong eyebrow raised…if only I could once again be the beauty in the mirror and he be forced to live in aged misery and loneliness’

Find the whole story and others in The Camera Obscure available now and I will be signing copies, as well as my poetry book, Tourist to the Sun, at Primadonna Festival on 31st July – if you are in Suffolk come along!

Finally relaxing with my beloved violin.

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