Smoke and Mirrors
by Maura Lydon
It is silent. But I can hear
the ticking of the clock in front of me.
Ancient thing. Who would want
that awful sound circling their ears? It
echoes, sickeningly, into the mirrored silence.
The walls reflect back my paleness,
a rebuke to my anger.
I’ve not been angry
in a very long time
I am not alone. He sits smug behind
the clock with a varnished
smile covered by wood and gold.
And the smoke: his smoke
curls sunward, if I could
see the sun from here. But of course not.
Tick tock. The cloud envelops me with
a smell of rum. I do not cough.
I am enraged.
“In a way, I am your creator.”
His words purr through me, soft
at first, until their meaning sinks in.
“No.” My voice, overwhelms
the ticking of the clock, and I
assure myself I will not speak
in time with it. “I am my
Creator. I tore myself
out of scrap metal and magic.”
“And you want to play the
God card with me? No fucking
What did he expect? I have
been alone for so long,
learned for my own survival
to dread the sound of sirens
or the way my hands sound
when they break.
Out comes more smoke,
a rebuttal written in curlicues
I know what he will say.
“But I can give you power.”
Maura Lydon is an undergraduate sophomore majoring in English, with a concentration it creative writing, at Hollins University. She has won both the Smith Mountain Lake Arts Council scholarship and the Mysticon scholarship for speculative art or fictio