The Reaction

A mirror cannot lie. It can give you warped or broken truths, but it cannot present falsehoods. At the moment, one mirror reflects a quaint happiness. A man takes an ivory brush to his lover’s long hair. Each stroke goes from the top of her head down, down, down to her dimples of Venus. When he started this years ago, he kept losing the brush near her cups, so she gave him help by setting her hair behind her first. He knows it’s almost time to stop when he sees Morpheus stroking her eyelids. A mirror cannot lie, but it also cannot expose whole truths. Every time he finishes and sees her napping, it always hurts because he wants to whisper in her ear. But she’ll never hear him. Instead, he gently blows and she comes back to life.

In their years together, Taylor has been trying to figure out the perfect way to thank Beth. She’ll never know, but she saved his life the moment they first kissed. Under the boardwalk. Neither believe in marriage so it can’t be something as easy or well-worn as a bended knee. So many cars were almost wrecked whenever his mind drifted to the problem of gratitude while he drove. Or when he imagined her getting into an intense signing debate with one of her friends. Their fingers frantically swishing and tapping is strangely soothing to him. Until, of course, they come to him for an opinion. Verbal arguments are hard enough to mediate, but gestural arguments… and Beth doesn’t always sign complete sentences.

Earlier this week, Taylor found his perfect solution, which is the big to do of today. He didn’t sign her anything specific the night before, only that he had a surprise for her. As they get dressed, she slides on his favorite bra and panties. A gift for later, if the shock is good enough. He HATES corduroy, but she LOVES the feel of it. Today’s her day, so he grabs her favorite jacket as they make their way to the car and the day’s mystery.

On the way there, Beth looks out the window as she gets a fingerful of corduroy. Taylor’s focus as he drives is appreciated. Autumn is her favorite time of year, the drowsy trees are a welcome treat for her greedy eyes. As they dance across the passing leaves, she wonders what the surprise could be. They had cake last week, so it can’t be that. Surprise sex gets one arrested. She doubts he finally got around to building her The Matrix. Beth suddenly notices there’re posts for the science museum and for a split-second, she almost believes her last idea. She doesn’t have to look at him to know that he’s angry about paid parking. She can feel his arm tensing under his jacket and signs something encouraging.

Unless a sinkhole ruins everything, Taylor’s plan looks to be going according to… well, plan. Beth would kill him if he tried blindfolding her, so he signs a plea for her to keep her head down as they make their way through the museum. They came early enough so they won’t have to worry about bumping into anyone. A turn, another turn, an escalator, another turn, and a long corridor later, Taylor stops in front of a podium and Beth does the same. He signs her to look up and she’s grateful she’ll never have to pronounce that name. Still, she signs a question about what a Chladni plate is. He takes her hand and places it on a knob in the podium. He then points to a sand-covered square and signs that the plate allows someone to see sound. She doesn’t believe him and he signs her to turn the knob. She does, and the sand suddenly arranges itself into a pattern. She gasps as her hand drops. Beth stares at the plate with a child’s eyes, and she can’t stop a tear from trailing. Taylor signs her that she can make different sounds and patterns. She wraps an arm around the corduroy and reaches for the knob. She turns it for hours, and she never stops smiling.

For those who’re wondering, the Chladni plate is real. If you liked that story and wanted to read something with less science, give my first novel, “Lie”, a read. It’s a surreal dramedy about four women who go on a getaway to help one of their own through a life-changing choice. Here are the first four chapters. If you liked what you read, just look up Rathan Krueger wherever eBooks are sold and “Lie” will pop up for $1.99. Thanks for reading.

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