This is the first part of the second fairy tale adaption I wrote in 2012. I decided to do a to a twisted version of the Snow White legend and tried to write it in a young adult format. As I was writing this, I remember asking myself how Neil Gaiman would do it. Obviously, this is nothing as good as what he can write. I’m excited for the opportunity to go back and work these stories again to make them better. My writing makes me cringe a bit. It was hard not to edit because I think I could make this so much better.
Mrs. Winters found the magic mirror on a Thursday in the back of the thrift store. It was on the back wall between an old bookshelf and giant stuffed teddy bear. Of course, she did not know at the time that it was magical.
Every Thursday afternoon, Mrs. Winters would walk three blocks to drop off her dry cleaning and go down to the grocery store. Although by her age, her legs were no longer what they used to be, she would still perform all of her errands on foot rather than drive. She wasn’t about to let a little leg discomfort disrupt her Thursday routine. Walking was the best exercise after all, as she always said. No matter how busy she was going to be on those days, Mrs. Winters would always make it a point to stop into the old thrift store at the corner to look for bargains.
This particular thrift shop, Secondhand Treasures, had been there long before her Philip has passed away. The bell rang over the door, announcing her presence to Billy who usually worked behind the counter on Thursdays. There didn’t seem to be many customers at that moment. The store was usually pretty slow through the week, but sometimes a few of the older gentlemen in town would play chess in the backroom.
“Hey Mrs. Winters,” said Billy in his usual monotone voice. He was a lanky read-headed boy with braces and was leaning over the counter reading a motorcycle magazine. Although he was in that awkward stage everyone goes through, Mrs. Winters thought he would make an attractive man someday, at least if he wouldn’t slouch so much.
“Hello Billy,” she replied. “Is Mr. James in today?” Mr. James was the owner, who was usually taking inventory on Thursdays. Mrs.Winters never understood the reason for the weekly stock check, as business was never that good. Perhaps, he likes to stay busy, she thought.
“No he’s out,” said Billy, as his eyes continued to scan the magazine. “Let me know if I can help you find anything,” spoken with an enthusiasm that would put someone in a coma.
Mrs. Winters looked around the shop, slowly scanning the various items with eyes well trained in finding good bargains. Secondhand Treasures had one of the largest collections of historical books that she had ever seen, but that been more of Philip’s preference. Mrs. Winters always had to be careful walking around the store, as books tended to be piled up everywhere, on tables and on the floor. She often wondered why Mr. James didn’t organize more properly. One particular grip Mrs. Winters had about the shop, and on a good day she had several, was the nothing was in a particular order. Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Stephen King, and others were just scattered everywhere. It was obvious the man loved his books. As she continued to scan the selections, she cam across The Complete Poems of Robert Frost. Having a soft spot in her heart for dear Mr.Frost, Mrs. Winters opened the inside cover to see the price of $1.50.
With book under arm, she made her way into the very back of the store, eyes again carefully examining each item. One thing that hadn’t worsened with age was her eyesight. There was a nice set of candle holders for a dollar and a ship in a bottle for three. After carefully picking those up, along with half a dozen other miscellaneous items, she gently placed them back. At one the tables against the back wall, she saw Jimmy Goss and Bernie Lewen playing their typical daily chess match. Mrs. Winters couldn’t help but roll her eyes, not at the sight of these two men engaged in their intellectual battle, but at the woman standing between them. It was Christy Dearman, or as the ladies of the neighborhood called her, Christy “I Need a Man.” She was slumped forward talking to Jimmy with a look that shouted please come home with me. Mrs.Winters had to keep herself from laughing at this sorry display. With her chest practically hanging out of her shirt, she could think of a few other names for dear Christy. Honestly, she thought, why do some women have such little respect for themselves?
Mrs. Winters didn’t want to start a conversation, but then found it unavoidable when Christy saw her and waved in greeting. “Hi Mrs. Winters. How are you doing today?”
“Oh, I’m fine dear,” she replied, picking up a dish and pretending to study it with great interest. “I thought it was a nice day for shopping.”
“Yeah same here. I always know I can find my favorite guys here,” she said, turning her head to smile at the old gentlemen. “I just cam in for a second, and the next thing I know, Jimmy is chatting my day away.”
“That’s nice sweetie,” Mrs. Winters said, as she picked up a vase she would never buy in a million years. She couldn’t imagine Jimmy staying awake for longer than an hour, let alone chatting anyone up.
“Well I better get out of here. You take care okay?” Christy then went back to the table and continued to flirt. Mrs. Winters couldn’t help but roll her eyes at the sickening display before continuing her shopping.
Mrs. Winters had been walking around for a good half hour and was about to call it a day when she saw the mirror. A giant stuffed bear with one missing eye had fallen on the floor near it. After putting the bear aside, Mrs. Winters studied the mirror. It had a plain circular frame and looked a bit worse for wear, but with some polish could look quite nice. She thought it would be perfect for the entryway of her house. As her hand brushed the mirror, it came away with a lot of dust. Something else happened. She felt an almost tingling sensation. Closing her eyes for a second, she then slowly gazed upon herself in the glass. It was strange, but the first thing that came to mind was how clear she looked in it, and that was even with the thick dust on most of its surface.
Mrs. Winters looked at the deep gray of her hair and the individual lines of her face. Despite the gray, she thought it did seem a little thicker today. The new shampoo must be working. She then reached for the mirror and plucked it from the wall. She thought it was exceptionally light. It seemed like it would weigh a lot more.
Mrs. Winters walked back up to the counter and set the mirror along with the book of Frost poems in front of Billy. “How much?” she asked.
Billy picked up the mirror and looked at the back, then at the inside cover of the book. After pushing some keys on the register, he said “That will be $8.50. Oh sorry Mrs. Winters. I forgot it was senior day.” He cancelled the purchase and rang a new total of $5.00. Mrs. Winters handed the five-dollar-bill over without looking Billy in the eye.
“You want me to wrap it in newspaper?”
“Please,” she replied softly while trying to find something of interest to look at on the counter.
After her purchase and the completion of her errands, Mrs. Winters went home. Sam, one of the grocery store stock boys was kind enough to carry her one bag of groceries home for her. She insisted she could carry the mirror on her own. After giving Same three dollars for the trouble, she put up her groceries and setup giving the house a thorough straightening. She gave the mirror a good cleaning in the kitchen and marveled about how good it looked when she was done. The layer of dust had been pretty thick, but now the mirror had a nice shine to it. She then proceeded to hang it in her entryway over the little chair with the teddy bear on it. After hanging it, she once again couldn’t help but stare at herself in it.
It wasn’t like her at all to be vain, but Mrs. Winters continued to stare at her reflection. The reflection of an old woman, she thought. After carefully looking, she realized maybe she wasn’t so bad. Her eyes, for example, still had a youthful appearance about them. Philip once told her they twinkled when she was happy. Maybe her hair could look a little better with some color. She might even be able to make herself look ten years younger. She looked over at the mantle where a picture of her husband stood. She sighed. Oh, who am I kidding? Silly old woman. She turned back into the kitchen and made herself a nice little meal of roast beef and potatoes. Afterwards, she decided to take Mr. Frost upstairs for a little reading in bed. It felt like an early night, and she was tired.
The next morning, Mrs. Winters got out of bed to notice her leg ache was gone. I must have slept really well, she thought. She remembered as she sat up in bed that her friend Evelyn was coming over that morning for coffee. She quickly rose and headed to the shower. She noticed feeling a little more energetic too. “This is gong to be a good day,” she said to herself.
After getting ready and starting the coffee, the doorbell rang. Mrs. Winters opened the front door and gave her friend a hug. Evelyn Gentry lived a block away and always came over on Friday mornings for coffee. There was never a shortage of conversation with her as she knew all the latest gossip. Evelyn hung her coat by the front door and then saw her reflection in the mirror.
“You like it?” said Mrs. Winters. “Got it yesterday, only $3.50.” At first, her friend didn’t respond, just stared at her reflection.
“‘m sorry but I don’t really care for it,” her friend said after a moment. “It just reminds me that I’m getting old.”
“You’re only as old as you feel dear,” Mrs. Winters said, brushing her long hair away from her face.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you with your hair down before my dear.”
Mrs. Winters let out a laugh. “It’s just a good day dear.” She looked into the mirror and admired how her hair looked this morning. There seemed to be less gray. She may even be able to put off going to the beauty parlor for another week.
The two friends enjoyed their coffee a little and their gossip a lot, but as time flies, Evelyn had to go and the two friends hugged goodbye.
As she showed her friend friend out, Mrs. Winters eyed herself in the entryway mirror again. I do look good today. I wish Evelyn would try to take better care of herself. After making her final goodbye and closing the door, Mrs. Winters turned to the mirror again. Perhaps she wouldn’t look this good again, she thought, and wanted to savor the moment. How long she stood there, she couldn’t remember. She realized through when it got dark, perhaps she would make some supper for herself.
Click here for Part Two!