Member Spotlight

September Newsletter Member Spotlight

Member Spotlight: Richard McGee

Richard McGee joined Critique Café in 2015. Retiring as Western Region Communications Manager for Enterprise Products that year, he contemplated what he wanted to do in the next stage of his life. After spending his working life in technical fields, he has found satisfaction in creative pursuits, includingwriting. Richard’s first effort at creative writingwas in eighth grade, a fifty-page novel about time travel. Luckily, no evidence of that story remains to injure his reputation. He spent odd moments throughout his life working on fantasy tales that never reached completion. He began reading instructional books on fiction writing and worked to hone his craft. After learning of the Critique Café, Richard joined the group and gives credit to them for helping to improvehis skill. Richard’s primary interest is inspeculative fiction, but he has also delved into other genres. He has completed one fantasy novella, several short stories, and is working on his memoirs to pass on to his two children and four grandchildren.

 

Spotlight Feature Article: The Mirror by Richard McGee

The image in the mirror smiled at me. This had been my morning ritual for almost a year now, ever since I bought the mirror at an estate sale. I still found it disconcerting. My expression in the mirror changed from day to day, though my face did not. The image did not reflect my face but was a preview of my day to come. It was my face, but it smiled even when I frowned at it. Some days it frowned, even as I smiled or laughed. One morning tears slid down the cheeks; that was the day my mother died.

After getting dressed, I left the apartment to catch the bus to work. Onthe bus, I had the same debate in my head that I’d had numerous times before –was it a prediction of what would happen, or was it bending my mind so that Iwould make the prediction come true. The conclusion every time: it didn’t matter – my day was foreordained.

As usual, I ate dinner alone that evening. The smile had come when the boss congratulated me in front of the team. My idea in the suggestion box had been ac- cepted. We would use the new software program to better forecast sales and cut down our necessary warehouse space. There would be a five-hundred-dollar bonus in the next paycheck.

If only the mirror would always smile at me. Those days were fun at work, knowing it would be a good day. The days when the mirror frowned at me could be tough. Waiting for the boss to yell at me in front of everyone or that jerk Jason tease me about my sex life (or rather, the lack thereof).

Waking the next morning, I pushed the button on the coffeepot, so it would be ready after my shower. I stepped into the bathroom and stood over the toilet to empty my morning bladder. Yawning as I pushed the flush lever, I stepped in front of the mirror.

I stopped mid-yawn. There was no face in the mirror. The reflection of the ugly wallpaper with the trains on it was there. The blue towel hanging on the rod was there, but no face. Wiping the mirror surface with my hand produced no change.

Most of my time in the shower was spent thinking about what it meant. Maybe the mirror wanted to surprise me. I had complained enough when the frown showedup. Maybe it was going to be a frown day, but the mirror didn’t want to disap-point me before the day even began. Or maybe something extraordinary was going to happen. If Jill agreed to a date with me, the smile would be gigantic.

Getting out, I swore a little as I noticed the time and saw I was late. I hurriedly got dressed and filled the travel mug with coffee, no time for a lei- surely cup at the table that morning.

My jog to the bus stop was joyous. A day to look forward to with no idea of what was to happen. I felt liberated and carefree. Still half a block from the stop, I saw the bus accelerating from the traffic light. I put it into high gearand began running, couldn’t miss the bus. Just as I reached the stop, I trippedon that darn hole in the sidewalk and fell. Sideswiping a post, I winced with pain as I rolled into the street. The last thing I saw was the bus tire coming toward me.

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