The Man In The Mirror

By: Georgia Le Carre

“Have you ever seen him? Mrs. King used the word unsightly to describe him.”

Her face showed her disapproval. “I’ve talked to him on the intercom many times, but seen him only once. It was at night in the corridor. He had just left Zackary’s room and was on his way back to his wing. He wears a mask on his face and there are some scars on his neck, but he is a fine man. Tall and broad with a full head of thick black hair.”

“What happened to him?” I asked, my voice hushed.

Chapter 7


“The poor man was in a car accident about three years ago. I think he was paralyzed for almost a year, but he fought back. He was in a wheelchair for another six months, but he wouldn’t give up.”

“Mrs. King said that if I was to accidentally run into him I was to pretend I had not seen him.”

She sniffed. “You must decide for yourself what you want to do, but I wouldn’t kick a man when he’s down. There’s nothing wrong with a polite greeting. He’s not a monster. In all my dealings with him I found him to be fair and honest. And the man who comes in from the village four times a week to clean his wing says, he keeps to himself, but he never has a bad thing to say about anybody.”

“I see,” I said slowly. “What is the boy’s relationship with his father like?”

She frowned. “I don’t think they are ever together. Zackary’s days are filled with activities that don’t include his father.”

“Why not?”

She sighed. “You must ask Madam that. She is the one who decides what happens in this household.”

“What about the boy’s relationship with his mother?”

“Oh, he just adores her. Worships the ground she walks on. You saw what he was like this afternoon.”

“She must be a brilliant mother then,” I said softly.

Mrs. Blackmore couldn’t bring herself to agree. “She has her own life … her own plans … her own lovers …”

My eyes widened. “Really?”

“It’s not for me to gossip or anything, but men come in from London and stay at the village bed and breakfast.” She stopped and sniffed. “She visits them there. Once a month she will go to London herself and when she comes back, the other staff say, she has bruises all over her body. God only knows what she does there.”

“What about Mr. King?”

“I assume he knows. She doesn’t exactly hide it, coming back all hours of the night with slick men. It’s none of my business, but honestly, no man should have to put up with it.” She lowered her voice. “I suppose that is why they live completely separate lives. I have never, not even once, seen him and Madam together, not even to stay and talk in the same room. She occupies the East wing and he never leaves his quarters in the South.”

At her words something heavy struck my heart. I didn’t know who he was or the extent of damage that had been done, but I knew what disfigurement could do. It can completely ruin your life. When I was sixteen my friend had been the victim of an acid attack. Overnight her entire world changed. Her scars were so horrendous her own parents couldn’t recognize her when the bandages came off. After years of surgery she was still a mess.

I used to fly into a rage whenever we went out together. All I wanted to do was confront the staring people and tell them to fucking stop staring, pointing, and whispering, that she was just a normal person with some scars, but I couldn’t because then I would have called attention to and made it even worse for my friend. So I either glared at them, my eyes shooting sparks of fury, or I completely ignored them.

It was through her I learned how shallow and cruel the world can be. She didn’t stand a chance. They rejected her purely on the basis of her looks. The depth of pain and abject despair she felt haunted her eyes and crushed her little heart. Sometimes she told me she wished she had not survived the attack.

In summer we used to go and have breakfast picnics at the park. We’d go so early there would be hardly anyone there. At that time I was still living in my parents’ house. One night she called me and asked me to come really early to her house. She said she had made my favorite double-chocolate cake. I was very greedy in those days so I left my mother’s house at five. When I reached her house it was still in darkness. Surprised, I let myself in through the back door and crept up the stairs to her bedroom. I honestly thought she had overslept.

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