A surreal work of flash fiction wherein a newlywed comes to terms with a shocking revelation…

by: Cecilia Kennedy

It’s just a face in the mirror in the food court bathroom, but I can’t believe it’s mine. Hollow eyes, black and blue, stare back. It’s the face of death, of distant eyes, a skeleton. It’s enough to make me jump when I first see it, wondering if I’ve always looked like this. Assuming it’s just makeup, I dab at the black and blue circles, but the tissue wipes clean. It’s the fluorescent lighting in the bathroom, I tell myself, but as I rush through the crowd of people, to get back to the car in the ferry line, where my husband waits on me, I catch the stares of strangers and wonder how long everyone else has seen what I’ve just noticed.

“What’s wrong with my eyes?” I ask Don, who’s waiting with the windows rolled down.

“They’re fine.”

I flip the mirror open on the visor and my face looks normal at first, but then I see the black and blue. And it’s all I can see.

“These shadows, it’s like I’ve got makeup or something in the corners of my eyes, and I look dead or sick or something.”

“It’s lack of sleep. You don’t sleep at night. Never have.”

The line moves forward. Don starts the car, and we enter the ship. Upstairs, on board, I rush to the bathroom again, catching the stares of strangers all the while. Looking in the mirror, I gasp. No matter the light, my face looks sick, and strange. 

When we reach the dock, we drive the car back home, and I head upstairs to the wooden chest, where we keep the wedding photos and I stare at the woman wearing the white dress. My white dress. I think I start to see the circles emerging as I’m standing there — with my whole family as witness — my eye sockets beginning to gape. My focus has always gone to the center of the photo, but today, they also drift to the background, to the lights above which have faded. In doing so, I notice a hazy form floating above. I move the photograph to a different light and I see the face — mine…and hers.

“Honey?” I call to Don. “Come look at this photo.”

“Yeah. What about it?”

I point to the hazy figure in the background. 

“Is this Kelly? The one who died before I met you?”

Don traces his hand over the hazy shape and starts to tremble. 

“I suppose so.”

“How did she die again?”

“No one knows.” 

When he leaves the room, I place the photo back in the chest, pushing it down to the bottom because I don’t want to see it. I don’t want to see her. I don’t want to see my face. My hand brushes against a bottle of something, with a prescription written on it — something for resisting sleep — something with her name on it. And I don’t feel myself at the moment. Instead, I feel like something has entered inside me, taken up space, arresting my thoughts. I slip downstairs to find Don sitting in the den, watching the birds in the yard. 

“Kelly’s face — her eyes  — they look like mine do now. Have these shadows always been there?”


Don pulls me in close, holds me tight against his chest, and whispers, “They’re the reason I married you.”

In the light, I watch my hands turn hazy, my vision blur; the threads in my jeans go wavy, as I float above Don and Kelly from the ceiling of the house.


Cecilia Kennedy (she/her) is a writer who taught English and Spanish in Ohio for 20 years before moving to Washington state with her family. Since 2017, she has published stories in international literary magazines and anthologies. Her work has appeared in Tiny Frights, Maudlin House, Tiny Molecules, Meadowlark Review, Vast Chasm Literary Magazine, Kandisha Press, Ghost Orchid Press, and others. You can follow her on Twitter (@ckennedyhola). Instagram:  ceciliakennedy2349.

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