The Windows To The Soul

Submitted into Contest #101 in response to: Write a story that involves a reflection in a mirror.... view prompt

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“Was there a big author convention somewhere when they all decided they were in on some strange inside joke, and now they were going to try to convince us all that ‘the eyes are the windows to the soul’? Am I supposed to genuinely believe everyone else in the world can read someone like a book just by looking at their eyes, that someone can look at me and watch my emotions change? It is just some useful metaphor, right? It better be. I look at people’s eyes and I have no inspiration for what they’re thinking. Not even a glimmer of something I can’t name. That’s something they say a lot as well isn’t it? Something about how they think they saw a ‘flash’ of something they couldn’t put their finger on in someone else's eyes. I mean what a load of rubbish, they better be joking or I’ve gone crazy and not noticed.”

He was leaning across a sink, switching his gaze between the eyes in the mirror. They were doing the same thing. Moving from one to the other didn’t change things, they were both the same plain orbs (that was the word they used a lot wasn’t it) that gave nothing away. He couldn’t help but think that the world would be a very different place if one could simply look into a mirror and gain clarity on what one was thinking. This was what those authors in their secretive meetings hadn’t clarified, sure it was ridiculously useful to somehow know how other people felt, but nobody seemed to consider the implications of that on oneself. There was no more uncertainty as to which decision was the decision you wanted to make, no wondering whether this was something you wanted to do or whether you were just doing what you thought was expected of you. Yes, the world would be a very different place.

Could you imagine, popping into the bakery on your way home from work only to find out that your baker hates you, or alternatively that your baker loves you. He briefly considered the bakery downtown and decided he would rather the former was the case, he would go somewhere else for his bread quite happily, he held no bakery loyalties. Anyway, back on topic, imagine how futile the justice system as a whole would become if everyone developed this superpower (or weakness, depending on how one looked at it he supposed) overnight. You ask someone politely whether they bludgeoned Mrs Poppins from down the road to death, their eyes answer the question for you, you go home. 

So what was it, a superpower or a weakness, now he wanted to know. Both, he supposed, depending on the circumstance one was in. Perhaps people would take to shutting their eyes in emergencies in a world like that. Would shutting your eyes after being politely asked whether you bludgeoned Mrs Poppins from down the road to death be counted as an admission of guilt, would it be enough to cause suspicion, enough for a warrant? How does one prove something like that and take it to a judge? Yes Ma’am, I asked him if he bludgeoned Mrs Poppins from down the road to death and he shut his eyes, may I have access to his house. Perhaps people would just continuously wear sunglasses.

On the other hand, it would probably do wonders for good relationships. The bad ones not so much, it was quite likely a lot would not survive such unintentional honesty, but some might thrive on it. Those relationships made up of people who truly did care for each other, who had no need to worry that their eyes would divulge their secret hatred of their dearest friend but could instead very handily solve all communication issues they may come across and send them on their way with absolute certainty they were loved. Sounded enticing. Would it become an act of devotion, a show of commitment, to take off one's sunglasses? Some of the more committed people would turn it into something special, would only take their sunglasses off for their significant other or something, would make a tradition about it and make it a part of a wedding. You may now remove the bride's sunglasses.

Blind people did seem to be at a bit of a disadvantage, not only could they not read everyone else’s emotions 24/7, nobody around them would ever verbally explain how they felt. Of course it would be necessary when in direct conversation with a blind person to explain one’s opinions on things but he couldn’t think they would be very good at it. Give it a good few years and everyone would have gotten used to it, taking it for granted that there was very little need to explain anything. Their verbal communication skills would plummet. 

Would even small talk be absorbed by the ability to almost mindread? If a friendly waitress approaches your table and asks if you would like to see the menu, does one bother to reply or does one simply look them in the eyes? No more ‘how are you’s. They were ill-fated from the second someone woke up, came downstairs for some breakfast, and discovered by looking at him that their husband was cheating on them. These things were simply no longer necessary, it wasn’t like you didn’t know already exactly how everyone was. No more cheating in exams, no more ‘of course I’m happy it just came as a surprise that’s all’, no more Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, ‘Mummy and Daddy are just having a little argument, it’s ok’. It seemed to him as if this was a downright awful idea, a nice useful technique to progress your story admittedly, but in the real world it simply did not work. Leaning on a sink, watching a mirror, he did not feel the eyes really were the windows to the soul.

He thought the eyes in his reflection looked empty, he thought they looked dead; not like he had died but more like he had never been alive at all. He thought that, more than anything, they looked inanimate.

July 02, 2021 22:35

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1 comment

Sharlene Addison
21:55 Jul 14, 2021

I liked your story. I thought there was a contradiction in the ending though. The last paragraph tells that the eyes are not the window to the soul; however, when he tells about his eyes, I think they did see his soul.


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