He stared at the ghost in the mirror. The wet hair, pale lips, and the emptiness in those dark eyes – they were not his. The person gazing placidly at him looked foreign. And for a long time, he didn’t know what to call him.
As he glanced at the reflection of the window, framing the thundering world outside, he tried to recall the missing memories. Who was he? How did he get there? What was his name? Everything was a blur – her face, their words, his very own voice. Everything was lost in his hazy thoughts; everything… but a white, ceramic plate.
It shattered at a time much less gloom than this. The sun was warm and bright, and the air was fresh with a green scent. He was looking forward to a new start. But then a plate fell from the counter top and tempered the promising day.
“Don’t touch that,” she said, scrambling toward the toddler inching closer to danger. “Help me, will you?”
He looked up from his phone and spotted her annoyance. She gestured at the shattered glass pieces on the floor, before carrying their child out of the kitchen. Grunting, he dragged himself to clean the mess. Why did she have to drop it? Why was she so careless? When he was done, he snatched his bags and left without a word. There were no goodbyes or well wishes for the day – their marriage had come to that.
It was a sad and undeniable truth. But their marriage had grown apathetic not because either of them had changed. Both he and she, and their little one, were very much the same. He still liked sketching, she still liked reading, and the little one still liked his stuffed bear. But after the invasion, life became different.
The invasion: they came and they conquered. That’s how invasions work. They came and they conquered.
Friendly as they may be, their motive was never changing. They needed this planet. They took it to survive. And if you’re too weak to fend them off, you accept your fate. Those were the rules of the game.
Honestly, he didn’t like the game. And ever since they took over, their lives were never the same. Some would say it was for the better. But better is subjective. Everything was foreign and adapting to the change put everyone on edge. So, he didn’t blame his wife for pulling away. She had every right, and so did he. But perhaps he should’ve approached things different. Perhaps he should’ve tried to truly win the game. Then maybe he wouldn’t have a broken umbrella by the doorway and an empty house. Then maybe… she wouldn’t have gone home.
“I’m leaving,” she said that same evening. He’d just returned from work, soaking to the bone, after the heavy rain had contorted the man-made umbrella.
“To where?” he simply asked.
“Home. And I’m taking our child with me.”
“Home? This is your home.”
“No. This isn’t. This isn’t a home. You’re not here and I’m afraid to be alone. I just want to feel safe again.”
“You will. You’ll get used this. Just give it some time.”
“Get used to this?” She chuckled in disbelief. It was only when she picked up their child did he notice the packed suitcase on the floor. She was serious.
“You can’t leave,” he said.
“Yes, I can. They gave us a choice to return to the ship. I’m leaving with or without you.”
She stalked to the door and he stood frozen. He didn’t feel entitled to stop her, but he didn’t want to follow her either. As strange as it sounded, he wanted to try this new life. He wanted to give it a shot, even if it meant staring at a stranger everyday. But now he wasn’t sure. Who was this man before him? Who was the man with the high cheekbones and the scarred complexion? Why did he get the rose tattoo on his neck and why was he wearing this blue check shirt?
As the earth continued to rage at its new inhabitants, he finally remembered. His name wasn’t John. John was the host with the sad, soulless eyes. And this world… this world wasn’t his. Not the sky, not the trees, not the house, and not even this body. Yet he wondered why, for even the briefest moment, did he attempt to accept it? Why could he look past the foreign face and try to adapt? Why was he willing to lose his identity to live this better life? If this was the gold and glory of a war, why did he feel like a loser?
Perhaps he should return to the mother ship. That’s where his family had gone. That’s where he could be his true self again, until they found a way for earth to sustain their race. But perhaps he should just accept fate. Most of his people were doing it. So why can’t he?
Mirror, plate, and umbrella were words given by angeloflove712. And boy, it’s harder than you think, working with three objects. At first, I thought of doing a crime-sherlock-esque story, but then I decided to go with something that requires a little more reading between the lines. I hope you liked it!
Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words and write a piece of your own. It could be about anything and everything. You might think that makes it easier, but it isn’t. So write away and be sure to link your work in the comment section below.
Also, I’d like to hear what you think about this short story – your comment, constructive criticism, and feedback are much welcomed 🙂 Oh, and if you have 3 news words you’d like to suggest, leave it down below too!
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3 Words, 1 Story © 2016 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.
(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)