Guide to Moral Living in Examples: Fireplaces

Hyacinth brushed sawdust off of her face with the back of one sweaty hand while she waited for the whine of the saw in her other hand to stop. She set it down and picked up a piece of coarse sandpaper and used it to give the raw edge of the plank a buff.

She really enjoyed the smell of fresh wood.

Satisfied that this plank was identical to the others, she stacked it on top of the rest. Swirling a can of beer to confirm that it was empty, she tossed it on top of the pile with the others and opened up the cooler to get a cold one.

The shelves were coming together well. Gustave really should be here to help, Hyacinth thought, considering that it was his fat, acrobatic ass that wrecked them in the first place. I suppose that I should've tried to stop him from showing us his new backflip, but those shelves had looked so steady.

Not only had the bookshelves that Gustave climbed collapsed, but the set on the opposite side of the fireplace had collapsed just a few seconds later. Hyacinth had spent an afternoon picking up the books that they'd ejected and clearing up the wood. She'd asked him to help, but he begged off by claiming to be doing a show in London for two weeks.

"If the plane can get off the ground with you in it," she'd said to him.

She had finished her can of beer, which meant it was time to get back to work. She tossed it into the pile, grabbed her hammer, and started pounding a few nails into a bracket.

A series of thuds, lagging behind the rhythm of her hammer by a heartbeat, pounded along with her. She stopped, and so did the mystery thuds. Frowning, she pounded in another nail, and the mystery thuds started and stopped with her.

She glanced around the room. Her sister wasn't home to play a prank on her. Hyacinth hit the nail three times in rapid succession, and so did the accompaniment.

Stepping back from the shelves she tripped over her beer cooler and fell against the table with the planks, making a massive racket. She heard a similar massive racket a heartbeat behind her own as she gathered her wits back about her. It sounded like it came from the fireplace.

Carrying the hammer, she approached the fireplace. It was a large stone maw that could handle a massive amount of firewood to keep the large room warm even in the deepest winter. The flag stones extended out quite far to catch any stray embers. Now, though, in the warming spring, it had lain dormant for months. She stepped into the fireplace and stopped. She heard footsteps with the now-familiar delay. Taking the hammer, she rapped it once on the stone. A faint reply echoed in the air.

What the hell, Hyacinth thought.

Feeling along the stones, she found a loose one. Wiggling it, the fist-sized rock suddenly fell out. The mortar around the others collapsed and dumped stone around Hyacinth's boots. It left a waist-high hole in the back of the fireplace. A blast of hot air flowed out of the .

She peered into a mirror.

Or thought that she had. Through the hole was an exact copy of the room that she stood in, down to the constellation of rubble on the floor. And, peering through the hole, was an exact copy of Hyacinth, reflecting her own look of confusion.

"Hello," Hyacinth said.

"Were you hammering something a minute ago?" asked Hole Hyacinth.

"Yes, were you?"

"Of course. I'm repairing some bookshelves."

"So am I!"

"Did one of your friends break it?"


"What the hell is this?"

"I don't know. A terrifying portal to an alternate dimension, I presume. Do you want to come over?"

Hyacinth wanted to, but shook her head. "It's so hot in there. But you could come here, if you want."

"It feels pretty cold," Hole Hyacinth said, shivering. "It's funny because that's where our iceplace is."

"Iceplace?" Hyacinth asked.

"You know, where you keep your ice and it cools the room."

"I'm standing in front of my fireplace. We keep fires in it to warm the room."

"Bizarre, but I guess you must get pretty cold in there."

"Sometimes. But I bet it's real hot in there."

"Not too bad. You get used to it. I could never tolerate being so cold all the time."

"Better than being hot, in my book."

"That doesn't make any sense. Being hot is better. Keeps the muscles limber."

"Yes, but if you're cold you can always just put on a sweater."

"And look like crap."

"You look like crap with that belly hanging out of those shorts."

"How dare you! You're the most unpleasant person that I've ever met."

"You're so nice to insult yourself so that I don't have to, you ignorant fireplace-livin' nutjob."

"At least I don't have beer cans scattered all over the floor."

"Better than paper cups from hot chocolate, fattie."

"You're the fattie!"

Hole Hyacinth began stuffing the bricks back into place, yelling obscenities the entire time. Hyacinth did the same.

The Moral: If you're a judgmental ass over minor differences of opinion, you're not going to get to have awesome adventures in a mirror dimension.

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