(From The Dress-Up Mirror, by Raymond Bial.)
“I know it’s a lovely mirror, Liddy,” her father chuckled. “But I can’t believe you paid two hundred dollars for it!”
“It was for a good cause,” her mother said. “The annual fundraiser at the county historical museum.”
A full-length oval mirror with scalloped edges stood in the corner of the dining room. It was held upright on a mahogany stand by brass hinges so that it could tilted forward or backward.
“It’s an antique,” Liddy Tucker went on. “I thought it would make a lovely house-warming present for ourselves.”
“We’ve already sunk a fortune into this house,” Steven moaned. “We have to be careful with our expenses.”
A delicate woman with dark brown hair and eyes, Liddy touched her fingertips to her forehead. “I know, but I couldn’t resist bidding on that mirror. You’ll laugh, but I felt drawn to it.”
Amanda eased into the room and exclaimed, “What a beautiful mirror! Where did you find it, Mom?”
“I was out for my morning walk,” Liddy Tucker explained. “It’s strange, because I don’t usually walk that way, but I passed by the historical museum, and they were having an open house and auction for all kinds of antiques. I stepped inside and saw lots of lovely items. But like your father says, money is tight for us now. So I just poked around a little, and I was about to leave when I noticed this mirror. For some reason, I just had to have it, and I could have gotten it for a song, except this old man kept bidding against me. I do believe he would have paid any price for the mirror, even a thousand dollars, but he hadn’t brought enough cash and the auctioneer wouldn’t extend credit. Luckily I had my checkbook with me. I have to say it was odd how mad that old man became when I got the mirror.”
“Mad?” Amanda asked.
Liddy nodded. “Furious. He offered to buy the mirror from me—said he’d give me double the price I’d paid. But he was so nasty and annoying that I didn’t want to have anything to do with him. He made quite a scene. He got so angry his face turned purple, and he ranted that the mirror was cursed and I’d be sorry. He raised his cane, and I thought he was going to hit me. But instead he lunged at the mirror and yelled, ‘I have to shatter it once and for all!’”
Amanda and her father were speechless.
Liddy continued, “Fortunately, some men rushed forward and restrained him. They called the police, but I didn’t want to press charges—he’s just a poor, senile old man. The police escorted him from the museum. Everyone apologized, saying the man’s family had lived in Maysville for generations, although curiously no one knew him well—he apparently keeps to himself. They assured me that he’d always been mild and painfully shy. He certainly had never acted that way before.”
“That mirror is probably jinxed,” Steven joked. “If I look into it, maybe I’ll go cross-eyed. Or my hair will fall out.”
Amanda couldn’t pass up the chance to kid her father. “Don’t you mean the rest of your hair, Dad?”
“It’s so strange that the old man claimed the mirror is cursed,” Liddy chuckled. “Can you believe such a silly thing? In this day and age?”
Amanda asked, “Where did the mirror come from originally?”
“That is a mystery,” her mother said, shaking her head. “Nobody at the historical museum could tell me. Apparently, one morning someone left it by the front door with a note, saying that it was a donation to be auctioned off.”
“An anonymous donor,” Amanda wondered. “Who it could be?”
“Many generous people don’t like to draw attention to themselves,” Mrs. Tucker explained. “Like the person who always slips a gold coin in the Salvation Army bucket just before Christmas.”
“It is a fine mirror,” Steven acknowledged. “And it goes perfectly with the house, as if it belongs here. It appears to be from the same time period—turn of the century. But may I ask one question?”
“What?” Liddy asked cautiously.
“Uh, where do you intend to put this mirror?”
Although the Tuckers had just moved into the house, it already seemed quite full with books, toys, photographs, and keepsakes, besides all their furniture—not to mention the computers and large-screen television that were the special love of techno-whiz Sally, who at the moment was shoveling down another bowl of cereal in the living-room. Amanda was sure Sally had her eyes glued to an episode of Saturday morning cartoons, in between emailing or texting friends on her laptop and cell phone.
Gazing at the antique mirror, Amanda had an idea. “How about the attic?” she suggested.
“The attic?” her parents asked simultaneously.
“It would be perfect for dress-up,” Amanda explained. “I’ve already got all my old clothes and a lot of other stuff up there.
“Besides, it will be perfect for my sleepover tonight.”
The Dress-Up Mirror (excerpt)
by Raymond Bial
copyright 2015, Raymond Bial. All rights reserved.
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