Reflections – a flash science fiction story

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Opening night at the Painted House. Some said it was tasteless to bring back body art when soldiers were still digging corpses from the rubble. But we understood that liberation had to be celebrated. What was life without light?

I had the honour of displaying first. My transformation was boldness personified, a reflection of the bright times again. Pale skin had become holograms that shifted through red, blue, and gold. My eyes and smile were widened. Sweet scents drifted from my pores. My hair, a waterfall of silver threads, swayed to the rhythm of small muscles implanted in my scalp.

The audience applauded as they walked around me. As my time ended and I stepped down from the podium, they rushed to fetch my clothes and buy me drinks. In that bright moment, the war was forgotten.

Then I turned to see Sylvon take the podium. Silence descended as their robe fell away.

Thin flesh was stretched drumskin tight across Sylvon’s broken bones. Exposed wounds covered their midriff. A cluster of mismatched arms and legs stood exposed from their back like the maw of a charnel pit.

“I am war,” Sylvon said, and spread their arms wide.

We all stared, aghast. The joy I had conjured whithered away. The war we had just escaped confronted us in all its ugliness. I remembered my sister, lost in the fighting on London Street. My mother, crippled when they bombed our road. The Elderside school, tiny hands protruding from its blood-stained rubble.

“How dare you!” I bolted toward Sylvon, teeth bared, hands raised. “This is sick.”

“I reflect the sickness in the world,” Sylvon said, their face calm.

“Then go reflect it somewhere else,” I said. “We’ve seen enough of this shit to last our lives.”

“You try to just forget?”


“And can you?”

“Shut up!” My fist collided with their face. Bone crunched. Blood spattered my skin.

Someone grabbed my arm. I stared at the fist, shocked that it was part of me, stunned by the fury that had seized my heart. As I was dragged away, Sylvon spread their arms again and stood, exposing their creation to a weeping crowd.

But I didn’t see Sylvon. I saw the bodies of those I had lost, the memories I had tried to escape.

I’m working on something new now. Bright colours still, but more angular, more irregular. I don’t know what I’ll call it. I don’t know what it represents. But it’s a part of me that I can’t ignore.

Every time I look at my changing body in the mirror, I weep. But every time, I weep a little less.

* * *


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