The Droste Effect

watercolour of a vermouth bottle, in the style of droste cacoa, beside a martini, painted in sepia tones, illustrating a story in which the 'droste effect' is alluded to

Read Part 1: Missing Person

Read Part 2: Forrest Trail

Garnishing a Blood Mary with the stick of celery I’d bought at Al’s Corner Produce, I had no idea where I was, or where the hummus or Forrest were for that matter. Swallowed in the dark nothingness, once I’d lost my grip on Forrest, I was alone for what felt like hours. Time enough to regret my meddling that had caused all this. ‘It’ was what I wanted, but now that I was in It, feeling like the same person, but dressed differently, and from all appearances, working at a bar, I wasn’t sure what kind of mess I had created.

Mixing drinks seemed to come naturally to this other me, although I had never before done more than pour tonic and gin over ice, with a pretty relaxed take on ratios, as the mood required. It wasn’t just the celery and myself that got spirited away to wherever this was. My classroom black board was mounted on the wall behind the bar, announcing bar specials, but with faint traces of numbers and the alphabet, in my handwriting.

Who am I? This me still dislikes sloppy attempts at cleaning black boards. Is this what it felt like to be the woman on the Droste Cacao box? I was met by the familiar reflection in the bar mirror. A picture being revealed, within a picture. Identity is a funny thing. For now, all I had was ‘bartender’, ‘woman’, and potentially ‘black board obsessive’. I couldn’t even be sure of my name. I was going to have to feel my way through the other pieces that would fit together as I continued my search for Cynthia.

Prices seemed a little odd in the bar I tended. $4.53 for a Bloody Mary? I turned to serve the drink, and there she was, looking just like the face on the poster, complete with medal around her neck and what was probably a band t-shirt, with the words ‘Missing Persons’ emblazoned across it.

“I’ve been waiting here for ages. Did I interrupt your trip to la la land?” Her smile softened her obvious irritation.

To be continued…

 

Third of a 6 part serial – Timeline. Originally Published 18th April, 2016. Illustration added 2nd July 2017.

Inspiration for this week’s installment of the unfolding series ‘Timeline’ was from WordPress’ Discovery Challenge, Identity.

Regular readers – 10000hoursleft now exists outside of the WP world- check out the Instagram widget in the side bar-  I will post illustrations for stories, behind the scenes shots, pics of inspiration for stories etc.

 

To Catch a Butterfly

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Ella lit the burner beneath the red kettle which sat poised on the stove top, ready for the after dinner tea that she always made her mother and herself. The oven was only a short stretch from the sink which was filling up and Ella was able to reach and push the arm of the tap down without too much effort. She gently placed the plates with their faded floral pattern and silver cutlery stained with food and age into the sink. It had been a long day, and she was looking forward to putting her mother to bed shortly and getting on to marking the assignments of her grade 9 students. Lost in these thoughts, Ella noticed a stray lettuce leaf that she mustn’t have scraped off one of the plates. The limp green leaf lay still and lifeless, buoyant in the sink of suds. Ella felt the blood drain from her face and a film of sweat coating her. The leaf, dead, still, floating took on the form of Billy. Still but for her right hand reaching into the pocket of her apron, Ella stared at the lettuce leaf and felt for her rosary, chanting the familiar prayers, hoping to push away the thoughts of Billy, her little brother. The kettle let out a desperate scream making Ella jump from the piercing sound reminiscent of an ambulance approaching. Continue reading