Lexi stared into the mirror unblinking, stunned by her own reflection. She looked away squeezing her eyes shut and shook her head. Then she focused all of her thoughts on her happiest memory; a trick she had learned as a child. When life got too hard, there was a memory, a place to disappear into, but this day wasn’t supposed to be hard.
She was preparing for a party, a celebration of holiday and a night of possibilities. But right now, she wasn’t looking forward to a night of gaiety. She was lying on her back in a tall, thick, corn field ripe with the scent of growth and life. More than the Victorian house she’d grown up in, with it turrets and lovely gables, the corn field was home.
She had spent so much of her youth holding Jenny’s hand while they whispered of dreams that neither wished to share with another. They picked out cloud shapes, hidden in their meeting place far away from everyone and everything. Her best friend’s hand in hers felt warm and reassuring, a simple touch that took her away from the troubles that waited at home; her abusive brothers, the overly familiar uncle that gave her the creeps. Lexi needed an escape and she’d found one there in the corn field waiting to embrace and envelope her.
Jenny’s situation hadn’t been much better but they sought and found solace in each other even now. Lexi smiled at the thought of her, then opened her eyes, reached for the phone and froze. Quickly she rifled through her thoughts for where she had acquired the thought that had terrified her moments ago. After all, she rolled her eyes, it could have been an awful story one of my horrible brothers made up to get rid of the kid-sister.
Convinced that must have been where she had learned such a dreadful thing, she turned back to the vanity with lipstick in hand. She looked into the mirror trepidatiously but the reflection hadn’t changed. There was still two of her. One was fainter than the first but there were definitely two of her.
Lexi panicked. She ran from the mirror dropping her lipstick as she bolted for another room, any other room sans reflective surfaces. She curled up on the couch struggling to remember, battling her own wits and fighting for control, when the memory returned to smack her full-on hard in the face. She was winded and stricken when she recalled the grandmother she loved deeply. Lexi heard her words, spoken in the small hours of the night; just before she’d died.
Granny had wakened her to come and sit by her bed. She issued instructions about how to protect herself and where to run when she wasn’t safe, or felt scared, by herself. She had imparted wisdom about both of them that defied logic and Lexi listened carefully when granny told her, “The women in this family have knowledge, my dear.”
Lexi interrupted her then, realizing the import and wondering why she hadn’t waited until morning, “I know granny, but I’m only seven. I don’t know very much yet.”
Granny reached to push a lock of hair from her eyes, saying lovingly, “I know, my child, but I meant a different kind of knowledge. We have a sort of clairvoyance, a precognitive vision. We see the real person behind every persona, and we see when the end is near.”
“What do you mean, granny? The end?”
She took Lexi’s hand then and pulled her close. Her features softened with pure love emanating from deep-set eyes that had seen too much in ninety years. She knew Lexi’s terror and had lived the last several years just for her, to protect and provide her support. So much was exchanged in that moment of pause. Then granny said softly, “It’s my time, child. I saw it tonight. Do you understand what I’m telling you, Lexi?”
She shook her head vehemently, terror-stricken at the realization that she had uttered parting words, “No! Where did… How?”
“Be calm, little one, shhh,” She issued stroking Lexi’s cheek, “We women know when death is near. When you see a double reflection in the mirror, it means the end of this life. Not all life.”
“Don’t leave me, granny! You’re wrong! You’re going to live! Tell me what to do! If I smash the mirror it will break the curse!” She ran weeping toward the ivory hand-mirror, meaning to destroy any trace of the evil thing.
“Stop now, child.”
“But I must! I have to!”
“Come here, little girl.”
Lexi stood defiantly still, sobbing with the wretched, vile object in hand.
“Come now, Lexi. I have much to tell you and not much time.”
With tears streaking down her face, Lexi flung herself into grandma’s waiting arms.
She woke several hours later, chiding, I’m only twenty-seven. You’re not about to die, ya goof! Your eyes were tired, obviously. Wait until I tell Jenny, she will get such a hoot from this, she thought smiling at the wives tale, certain that the mirror didn’t kill granny and couldn’t possibly kill anyone.
Finally, she composed herself and sat upright. Again, she reached for the phone as she wandered back to the vanity. She didn’t even notice that her body was lighter, or that her hand had not made contact with the telephone, just the double mirror-image that confirmed her worst fear. Just as she thought she might faint, granny appeared by the vanity reaching to take her hand; to lead her into the next life.
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