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James C. Clar




Severinus lived in a land of cold mist and perpetual twilight. His days were spent toiling at his nets as the sea beat rhythmically and relentlessly at the black rocks and grey sand of a narrow shore. At certain times of the year – or when the weather was particularly bleak – the earth, sea and sky seemed to meld into one colorless mass and the fugue of light and shadow rendered it particularly treacherous for those inhabitants who made what passed for a living from the ocean that all but girdled their country.


One such day, as he made his way home with his meager catch, Severinus spotted something unaccountably bright lying on the damp silt just ahead of him. Indeed, the strange object seemed to glitter in the half-light. He bent and picked it up. He was, at first, confused and even a bit frightened.


The oval object, although quite thin, seemed to posses a certain depth, an almost fathomless quality. After a few moments of disorientation, however, Severinus understood. He had seen a similar device once before. It had been exhibited by a trader from a distant land who passed through the region what must have been years ago now. Severinus smiled, a rarity for him, and he placed the object in his pocket. He would surprise his wife with his find after their evening meal.


Later, as Severinus was washing up, Radegar noticed a few new holes in her husband’s battered and weather-stained coat. Taking the garment down from the hook on the back of their cottage door she began sewing by the dim, wavering light of a candle. As she finished she felt something in Severinus’ pocket. Her curiosity got the better of her and she reached in to investigate. As she examined what she had found, she gasped and, then, she began to sob.


Severinus returned to find his wife crying. In her hands he noticed the object he had picked up earlier on the shore.


“You’ve found another woman,” Radegar stated plaintively.


Severinus laughed, even rarer than a smile.


“Nonsense, I have enough trouble feeding one. Besides, it’s yourself you are looking at. I believe they call it a ‘mirror’. Here, I’ll show you …”  With that he knelt beside his wife and took her hands gently in his.

JAMES C. CLAR shares...

BIO: JAMES C. CLAR is a teacher and writer living in upstate New York. He contributes regularly to Mystery News. His short fiction has been published in print as well as on the internet. Most recently his work has appeared in Every Day Fiction, The Taj Mahal Review, Long Story Short, Powder Burn Flash, Orchard Press Mysteries, Mystery and Static Movement.

MOTIVATION: "Too much time reading Borges these past few weeks. That plus a very gloomy walk home from work one afternoon ..."