All Stories, General Fiction

This Face by Diane M Dickson


Today I know this face.  I stare into the mirror and I know this face.  It is me, not the me that it was when we bought my mirror all those years ago.  Down in the antique market, Martin and I trawling for treasures to make our home and we found it dusty and forlorn, how pleased we were.  No it doesn’t show me that person, but it is the me of now and of just yesterday.

It has known me long years this mirror, it has seen me pregnant and it has seen me proud bringing my new baby into the house.  It saw a young mother tearful at the first schooldays.  It has seen me when I worried at unexpected latenessess and teenage tantrums.  It watched as I dragged myself shocked and numb in my new black hat, with reddened eyes awash as I said goodbye to Martin.

Today this mirror knows me I think but tomorrow , what of tomorrow?  They have told me that at times I look into the mirror and ask them, “Who is this?” at first they thought that I was joking and then they saw that I was not.

Last week I stood for hours in the kitchen with a chicken in my hands.  I knew it was a chicken, now why should that be?  A puzzle among so many.  I stood before the window staring out and wondering why I had a dead chicken in my hand and what I should do with it.  Melanie came then and she cooked it and made a meal and we sat and talked and laughed and the spectre of the chicken and my puzzlement joined us at the table and we shunned it and bade it leave us.

Today though, today I see my face and know myself.  I am old now, not as old as I may be one day but old nonetheless; I am wrinkled now.  I never realised before that my eyes are misaligned, maybe it is the pull of gravity or perhaps they were always so and no-one ever said.  My nose is too big, it always was.  Martin said it gave my face character but it gave me many sleepless nights when I was young, my oversized nose.  I suppose nowadays I would have – oh what is it, what is it – not make up but like make-up.  Cosmetic – aha my face in the mirror smiles now in victory, see I beat it THE THING, I remembered.  Cosmetic Surgery and they would make it small and neat.  Maybe then I wouldn’t have met Martin, maybe Phillip would have paid me some attention.

It’s odd I remember Phillip and he was years and years ago, at school.  The Head Boy and oh how I loved him, how I yearned for him in the quiet of my bedroom in the evenings. Still better not to go there now.  That has made me smile. The mirror saw my smile and paid me back with a glimpse of happiness.  In my time though a big nose was a big nose and just get on with it and so I did and Martin loved me nonetheless.

I am sad and glad that he is not here.  I miss him daily of course I do but I wouldn’t want him to see this.  He is still young to me, well fifty-seven is young to die isn’t it and I like to think that wherever he is I am still young to him and he doesn’t see this now, this problem with chickens and telephones.  The telephone one was so difficult.  My little mobile rang and rang in my bag over and over and all the people at the bus thing stared at me.  I had no idea what it was.  I heard it and I saw the looks and the covered glances but I didn’t know it was anything to do with me until the, oh damn, the, the, the shit no can’t get it.  Sorry mirror no smile this time.  Somebody anyway told me it was in my bag and then when I took it out and saw the little flashy screen I didn’t know what to do.  Mel was so worried for a while then and came rushing over, bless her heart.

What is to become of me mirror?  “Mirror, Mirror on the wall”. That’s familiar; I have heard it somewhere before, a rhyme or a song perhaps.  No matter it will come to me suddenly days from now.

I suppose this openness is good.  When they sent me to the hospital for the tests and that nice young doctor told me the results I am sure he thought it was for the best but I wonder.  If I didn’t know that my brain was turning to a piece of rock, if I didn’t have a word for it “Alzheimer’s” – hmmm I can remember that can’t I – well would I have more peace.  Maybe the little glitches and the blanks would have passed me by in the fug.  Oh I don’t know and there’s no help today you are supposed to know and so we know, me and this mirror.

Anyway, today is a good day, I know myself and the mirror knows me and Melanie will come later and I can tell her it’s a good day.  I wonder if I should show her the poem I wrote.  No, I think not.  I will tell it to the mirror though now as we see each other.

Its age, they said your arteries and veins have turned to stone
And soon you’ll find it isn’t safe for you to be alone.
You may forget your children and even your own name
It’s not your fault, it’s illness you should feel no sense of shame.
But as the darkness deepens I’ll leave everything behind
‘Till all that’s left are shreds and strings of my inclement mind.
Day by day I’m losing everything that makes me, me
As I struggle to retain my grip on fading sanity.
I used to fear my death and thought that nothing could be worse
But that was in the time before I met this vicious curse.
This thing that looms before me horrifies me and I find
I can’t face what the future holds with my inclement mind.
I am waiting now in sadness, in anger and in fear
As my mind is taken from me leaving just my body here
I used to think that leaving life would be my greatest dread
I didn’t know that there were things much worse than being dead
The best that I can hope for now is that the end is kind
And peace will take the fear away from my inclement mind.

Is it morbid, I think it probably is a little bit but then, only the mirror and I have heard it so it doesn’t matter.


Diane M Dickson


banner Image:- By Martheau (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

13 thoughts on “This Face by Diane M Dickson”

  1. A story about holding on. It was strong. It felt personal like I shared her struggle. Well done. ATVB my friend


  2. Beautiful, Diane, and so relatable to seniors, especially one my age! They say you’re as young as you feel; still, it’s wise to avoid mirrors, and the struggle with words is not the worst thing in the world if you refuse to worry about it. Cheers! June


    1. thanks June – yes mirror should all be magic and then we could carry on looking but as they are not I do tend to skim past them these days !!! I think the main thing to remember about ageing is to appreciate the fact that you got there – lots of people have not been so lucky. Thanks as every for your kind comment.


  3. A long time ago, a devout enemy of mine, when she saw me gazing at myself in a lavatory mirror,
    passed this comment: “Good news, Irene, ugly folks hang onto their looks longer than the rest of us.”
    Under normal circumstances I would have reworked her face to the degree that she’d have avoided mirrors for a month or so. Instead I put a positive spin on the comment, and from it I took heart in the fact that the human race is safe for at least another seventy years or so, because I can’t imagine hell closing shop without having this person be a part of it.
    Your writing not only tells why beauty is an eternal yet changing thing; but it shows why. Nice work.
    Irene Allison
    (never mind the JC Freeman heading I am under. one of us is a member of the international Union of nom de plumes, aliases, pennames and imaginary friends. We’re both convinced it is the other)


    1. Well I think anyone who could say a thing like that has an ugly soul and and ugly soul is far worse than an everyday face. Thanks so much for your kind words.


  4. Hi Diane,
    Great to see this back up.
    I can’t believe this was four years back.
    I wonder how many of this type we are now getting – But no matter how many, this is still one of the best I’ve read.


  5. Interesting look at a consciousness…. it’s a good day because she knows herself… the memory mirror… she’s more or less whole. Her mind will go into “strings and shreds” as the illness progresses, and on this day she’s aware of that. Pretty frightening for someone to contemplate.


  6. I missed this the first time around. An enduring question is what is happening inside the head of someone with dementia. Observed this at close hand with my grandmother. At least at my age, I can’t have early onset dementia.


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