Noah had been sitting Shiva for his departed mother for seven days, so given the darkened nature of the house, both emotionally and literally, as well as the covered mirrors and the fact that he was alone, as the sole survivor of the family, it was not surprising he did not notice the intruder until the man literally announced himself.
“Hi, Noah,” a naggingly familiar voice said, startling him to the point he fell off the admittedly slippery, plastic-covered sofa. Of course, given that he had barely eaten or slept for seven days, since his mother had had few friends left, other than the Rosenberg twins down the road who had brought company and food that were not especially appetizing, though it would have been impolite to say so at such a time, he was on edge and easily surprised.
Noah got up off the floor and turned to face the voice, instinctively, if not very correctly, pulling together his torn shirt, given the fact he had a visitor, albeit possibly a criminal and, at the very least, suspicious one.
“And you would be…?” Noah said, though even as he did, his squint penetrated the slightly twilight dimness of the living room.
“Is that you, Mort?” Noah said. “I haven’t seen you since high school. Have you come to pay your respects?”
“Ah,” Mort said sheepishly. “That would explain the torn clothing, the mirrors and, well, frankly, the fact that you kind of smell.”
“Yes,” Noah said. “My mother, Esther, died, and what with Dad being dead and me being the only child, there was no-one else to sit Shiva. Turns out she didn’t have many friends either. The rabbi’s been by, of course, but I’ve pretty much been here alone for seven days since the burial.”
“Sorry to hear that,” Mort said. “I haven’t really been keeping up with the newspapers, so I didn’t know.”
“Ah,” Noah said. “I figured maybe you heard about it on Facebook. After all, I befriended you there about a month ago. Imagine, at our ages, fooling around on that page – you’d think we were twenty instead of fifty.”
“Yeah, well,” Mort rejoined. “You gotta do something to feel like you’re still living, nu?”
“Yes,” Noah said vaguely. “I’m not wild about that turn of phrase right now, but I know what you mean.”
“I’m not completely sure you do,” Mort countered, heading over towards one of the mirrors, which was incongruously covered in faded Bionic Man sheets.
“What are you doing?” Noah said, slightly alarmed.
“It’s already sunset,” Mort soothed. “Seven days are over. I think it’s important you see this – or rather, don’t see this.” With one dramatic flourish, he pulled the sheet from the mirror above the fireplace.
Noah saw himself, and was glad he would soon be able to shave, to shower and to comb his hair. What he did NOT see was…Mort.