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.

Read Part 4: The Order of Things


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.


28 thoughts on “The Droste Effect

    1. 😊 have you ever taken a pic like that? A friend and I stayed in a kitsch capsule hotel that had mirrors on two sides of the bathroom so we had a lot of fun taking pics and being silly. Fun times. Thanks, re :story. As I said to Marissa, I don’t think it was that good, but will try for something more interesting next week. I got caught up finding a place for the similarities in this other reality and the one the protagonist left.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Kerfe! I went to an exhibition recently called ‘house of mirrors’ it was really disorienting trying to walk through a maze of mirrored walls. I lost my bearings and even seeing my reflection didn’t convince me I couldn’t walk through what was in front of me. Fortunately I didn’t walk into any mirrors though.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I remember those from amusement parts of my childhood! I wonder if they still have them? I’ve been in some restaurants that have mirrored walls and it’s an interesting experience…

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I think doing both is richer, Mek – one expression of creativity complements and inspires another. And even though it’s risky, sometimes we can benefit from taking a break from our writing routines😊.


  1. Hello sweetness, I went to your Instagram page and wow!!!!!!!!!! You’re amazing. I don’t use Facebook products, which is the only reason I’m not on Instagram. Otherwise, I’d be all over it. Your sister has her own radio show, I discovered. Are you going to on? Please let me know and I hope that there’s a YouTube/website link to the audio. Best of luck out there, Mek. You’re a genius.


    1. SB!!! You are on the pot of gold at tge end of the rainbow end of the sweetness scale! Your comment just added to the perfection of my unseasonable warm winter day outdoor lunch (japanese curry). I get the IG aversion…I’m not on fb either and resisted IG for ages, but there you have it…I surprise myself sometimes. e is not my sister as in biological…she is another lovely blogging friend and calls me sis. I haven’t listened to her show but will tune in one of these days. Totally respect your boycott decision but would be so cool to see your art and snaps of your observations on insta, but I guess you can share on your blog and via email too. Glad to have you back adding light into my day. Have a good one xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Japanese curry – yum. It’s good to have sisters even if they’re not biologically related. My daily observations are usually my desk, my handbag, my navel and my wrist. I do not get out much. I wish Elon Musk would buy Instagram. Would make my life much simpler. I’ll still check out your posts, and follow up by email or through your blog. Hang in there, health wise. Hope the little man is doing well. xo

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah bo biological ones in my life. See I’d totally enjoy pics of your desk, handbag, navel and wrist. There could be interesting paperwork, tea cups, post it notes, lint, tatoos, piercings to study…mind boggles! Let’s start a petition for an Elon Musk takeover! Health is a rollercoaster and I haven’t helped myself of late by getting out of step with my ayurvedic routines…probably my own worst enemy. How are you? Little man is 3 now! He’s good – sweet and funny and smart for the most part 💕

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Little man… he’s the man. I laughed so hard at this. I don’t have tattoos or piercings but I meditate a lot these days because I need to get back in touch with my Buddha nature. Once you’re balanced out you don’t have to follow the routine so much. Please listen to your body and let that be your guide. If you feel like fasting to give your GI tract some rest, it’s also an option.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Thanks for the advice SB- yes, I am starting to listen ti my body again. Just a return to a little routine the last couple of days has made a world of difference. I may do a fast soon…I have a couple of weeks left on steroids so will do after that to make it less challenging with the gnawing hunger that steroids cause. Ugh. Ok I am going to stop talking medical. I’m so happy for you being on the path to finding your true nature…it has always been there but can get drowned out by the chatter and distractions of mindlessly doing this thing called life. Catch you soon zen master SB xx

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I also liked the structure of this segment. I thought it was quite well done, and I was completely absorbed. Very interesting, being part of a puzzle in the quest for identity. I chuckled over the phrase, “potentially black board obsessive” (I am a substitute teacher, ha ha) 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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