Click here for Part Two.
“Oh please, like I don’t know that trick,” replied Mrs. Winters. “I grew up on the stories you know.”
The old woman stared at her with cold grey eyes. “Can I come in and explain myself then?”
Mrs. Winters thought the better of it, but ultimately she let the old woman enter. As she made coffee for them both, she was frightened of how she would handle the situation. Clearly, this was something dangerous. She didn’t understand why she had let the old woman in. Part of her just couldn’t send this wicked woman away, at least without hearing what she had to say.
When she walked back from the kitchen, Mrs. Winters found the old woman looking into the mirror, staring sadly. “You can drop the disguise, I know you aren’t really a frail old woman,” she said.
The old witch sighed. “It’s not an illusion. This is what I am without it. You see I realized after looking into the mirror for the first time about how it changes you, makes you think you are young. Without it, I am what you see now, an old woman whose days are numbered.”
Mrs. Winters looked into the mirror and smiled. “Well, it’s mine now.”
“Tell me dear, have you found yourself starting to lose yourself in it for hours and hours? That’s how it starts, then hours become days, then days become weeks. Then, you look into it for eternity. You will do whatever it takes to keep the good thoughts you have of yourself.” The old witch looked down on the floor. “You even contemplate hurting loved ones you feel threatened by.”
Mrs. Winters looked at the poor pathetic woman, thinking about the terrible things she must have done. The witch looked down with her sad and wrinkled face. Mrs. Winters gasped as she looked deeply into those tear-filled eyes, as they looked so much like her own.
“Just get out,” Mrs. Winters said disgusted.
The old witch looked up. “Please let me take it. I’ll destroy it I swear. You have to realize by now the power it has over its victims. It only pretends to be your friend.”
“I said get out!” screamed Mrs. Winters, grabbing the old woman by the arm and throwing her out. She fell to the floor and started crying. On the floor next to her sat the basket of apples. Mrs. Winters continued to cry. She thought of all the things she could do now, the power she felt inside herself. She rose slowly and looked at the young woman in the mirror. “You can have anyone you want. You can be anything you want.”
Walking into the den, she picked up the photo of her and Philip. She smiled sadly. “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both,” she whispered. Deciding to bypass the mirror, Mrs. Winters went upstairs and found a red dress to wear. As she went back downstairs, she decided to bypass the mirror this time. It’s time to act, she thought.
Billy was in his usual spot behind the counter. He was slouched over and reading from a sports magazine this time. Today’s the day, thought Mrs. Winters.
“Hey Mrs. Winters,” said Billy, not looking up from his magazine.
“Hi Billy,” she said. In an attempt to do her best Christy impression, Mrs. Winters leaned over the counter in what she felt was a seductive pose. She thought the red dress hugged her body in just the right way. How could Billy possibly resist? “I was wondering if you could come over later and help me with a little problem.”
Billy actually took his eyes off the magazine and looked at her. Noticing his eyes bulge a little, Mrs. Winters knew she had him right where she wanted. “Umm, what is it?” he asked.
“Well, my yard is starting to look something dreadful. I usually pay Tyler Downs every summer, but he’s on vacation with his family.” She twirled a strand of hair in her left hand. “If you could help me, I’d be ever so grateful.”
“Um, sure, I guess so.” I’m supposed to be helping my dad after my shift so….”
“Oh please Billy. I’d definitely make it worth your while. My poor yard really needs it.”
The bell over the door sounded, as Christy walked in. “Hi Billy. How….” Christy was speechless for a moment as she looked over at Mrs. Winters. You would think her eyes were about to pop out of her head altogether.
I knew it, thought Mrs. Winters. She’s jealous. She’s definitely feeling threatened by not being the only attractive woman in town.
“Oh my Mrs. Winters, I see you have a new look.”
Mrs. Winters smiled as she straightened up and looked at Christy directly in the eyes. “Oh just something I threw together. I thought it was time for some changes. Billy and I were just having a lovely little chat.” She loved how threatened she was making the little tramp feel. This must be so embarrassing for her.
Christy smiled and looked from Mrs. Winters to Billy. “Well I certainly didn’t mean to interrupt. Why Billy, I do believe you are turning a nice shade of red.”
Billy didn’t say anything. Mrs. Winters hated that Christy had to walk in on them right at that moment.
“Billy has been kind enough to come help me with my yard.”
Christy and Billy smiled at each other. “Is that right Billy? That’s sooooo nice of you to help her out.” Mrs. Winters looked back and forth between the two of them as Christy started laughing. Billy appeared to be restraining back a laugh of his own.
When she finally got her laughter under control, Christy said, “Honestly, this is just sad. I mean at least I flirt with adult men.”
Mrs. Winters felt her face get flushed as she looked down. That’s when she saw her reflection in the glass counter. There was nothing in the reflection except an old and embarrassed woman. She could see each little wrinkle and every bit of wispy hair.
“Yes well never mind Billy. I should get home.”
“Mrs. Winters I can come over this weekend and help with the yard.”
“It’s ok,” she said. “I think Sam from the grocery store can help. He’s saving money for a car after all.”
Christy smiled. “Well maybe Sam ca n give you a ride in it once he has his new car.” This brought on a fresh round of laughter.
Mrs. Winters pushed past Christy and left the store. She felt hot tears welling up inside her as she made her way home.
The tears finally started pouring as she slammed the front door of the house. “What do they know?” she asked the mirror. “They don’t see me the way you do.”
She stared at how beautiful she looked. She was practically a young lady again. the reflection in the counter was just wrong. This is who she is, all young and vibrant. The wrinkles were completely absent from her face. Her hair was a deep golden brown. Maybe she could even pass for half her age. Christy Dearman had tricked her in some way. She felt so threatened about someone else moving in on her territory, that she would do anything to bring her down.
The witch’s basket of apples still lied on the floor. I wonder if Christy likes apples.
Mrs. Winters shook the thought away. She remembered everything the witch had said. then she thought about Philip, her precious husband long gone. She knew she couldn’t keep going like this. She could hear them in the store, making fun of her, laughing at her. It wasn’t real. The image she was looking at was just a lie. A miserable lie. When did it get dark again?
“Give me strength Philip,” she whispered. The twinges of joints ached as she grabbed the mirror off the wall. It was practically red hot to the touch. She screamed as she threw it down to hear it shatter into several pieces.
A feeling of relief filled her. It stopped when she looked down.
The floor was filled with several twinkling images of perfection. It was herself multiplied by dozens, all looking beautiful and glamorous. She couldn’t help but look back at all those tiny faces, unmarked by the sands of time. Her youth and beauty immortalized in so many shards of glass. So much beauty.
————————————————————————–Mrs. Winters wasn’t found for two weeks. If Evelyn hadn’t gone out of town for a week on a family emergency, maybe it would have been sooner. It actually started with the mailman who was concerned due to the pileup on her box. When she didn’t answer her door, he contacted the police.
They found her on the floor, her body hard like a statue. The medical examination concluded that Mrs. Winters must have slipped on the floor and died. Her skin was white, almost like she was a preserved marble statue. The most curious thing of all was that she was lying face down on a mirror, staring at herself.
Since she had no children or immediate family, there was an estate sale of all of her possessions. Mr. James had found a lot of stuff for the store, although the truth was the stuff had come from his store at some point. It seems like things made their way back to Secondhand Treasures sooner or later. About one week later, a purchase was made for five dollars. Billy handed the change back to the teenage girl. It was Alice Dunker, a slightly overweight teenage girl who wasn’t the most popular in school. After putting her change in her purse, Alice picked up the mirror and headed out into the rain. She declined to have it wrapped. Some observed her staring into it all the way home.
My apologies for being so late on putting part three up. I only have hard copies of these early stories now so have to type them all out again. My hope is that I can go back and make this story into something much better. As always, thanks for reading!