Bob had never expected to find himself in an antique shop, but here he was. His wife had sent him, with a hand written note, to look for a specific mirror. It was hunting season; Bob would much rather be out in the furthest blind he could find, waiting for the perfect opportunity to bag a ten-point stag. This was going to be a very long day for him, he could already tell.
He stood at the desk, waiting for someone to come out from anywhere. He looked around, wondering if there actually was a person somewhere in the building or if they’d accidentally left all the lights on. He heard a bang coming from the doorway behind the desk and decided there must be someone here. “Hello? Anyone there?” he hollered irritably. He just wanted to get out of here.
An old man shambled out from behind the door and smiled. “Oh, hello there, sir. I didn’t hear you come in. Hopefully, you haven’t been waiting long?” he quizzed. Bob continued to gaze at the old man as he waited for a response. The old man looked old enough to have known Moses. It was a wonder that he was still standing, much less running a shop. His teeth were rotten at the roots, but still hung in their appropriate homes. How he’d enjoy chewing anything tougher than pudding was beyond Bob’s comprehension.
Bob shook his head and went into the speech he’d been preparing. “Look, Mister!”
“Seymour.” interjected the man.
“Huh?” retorted Bob, momentarily confused.
“My name is Seymour. It isn’t very glamorous, but it’s my own….” responded the old man.
“Well anyways, I know this may sound weird, but my wife sent me to get a hand mirror. She said she was in here yesterday and forgot to pick it up. She said you’d know it immediately,” he spouted, “by the patina, whatever that is….”
The old man smiled again, his eyes widening in a sense of joy. “I do know what patina is and I know just the mirror your wife must be looking for. It’s certainly a treasure.” responded the man. He turned and shambled out from behind the desk.
As he walked between shelves and furniture, Bob followed, both amazed at the man’s agility and slowness. This could take all day if he didn’t speed up a bit, but Bob was interested in watching his progress in the maze of antiques. He turned down another close aisle and finally came to a glass case. Inside the case was a hand mirror in horribly rusted condition. This surely couldn’t be the item his wife had requested….
Bob took the mirror gingerly from the ancient’s shriveled claws and turned it over in his own hands. “Are you sure this is the one my wife looked at yesterday? She doesn’t usually go for stuff like this.” Bob questioned Seymour.
“Oh, yes; this is the one. She will definitely want this item. It is truly a treasure,” responded Seymour.
Bob followed the old man back to the front desk. “I must tell you, you’ve come for quite a treasure, my boy. The story behind this is one of great interest, I would think. Would you like to hear it?” questioned the old man.
“Not right now, Old-Timer. I’m kinda in a hurry. I just wanted to get this for my wife before I go hunting.” answered Bob. “I’ll just take this to go.”
“Well, I would suggest that hearing the back stories to antiques is always worth the time it takes. If you change your mind about hearing that story, I’ll be here every day next week. Better get while the gettin’s good, I always say.” wisecracked the storekeeper. Bob just put down his cash and denied wanting to spend the time. This did not seem to please Seymour, but that was not Bob’s concern right now.
As Bob drove home, with the mirror in a paper sack on the seat next to him, he kept getting distracted by the bag. His left eye started to blur and the skin next to the eyeball started to twitch. He reached over while sitting at a red light and removed the mirror from the bag. He turned it one way, then the other, wondering if he had just thrown away money on something his wife would hate. The light turned green, but Bob was too busy gazing at the hand-glass to notice. It was only when he heard the car behind him honking that he realized the light had turned. He gassed the engine as he returned the glass to the sack and drove on.
As Bob pulled into the driveway of his residence, he face started to twitch again and his fingers started reaching for the mirror, without realizing it. Before he knew it, Bob was again gazing into the reflection in the glass. The facial tic got stronger as the image in the glass started to blur away from his own visage and reform into another face. How was it that he was seeing his brother’s face, instead of his own? He shook the mirror and looked into the glass again. It still showed his brother’s face, but now it looked as though he has been shot through the left side of his jaw. Blood dripped down the jaw and out of view. At this, Bob grew disgusted and dropped the mirror. There was no way he’d give this to his wife. Not tonight, anyway; maybe tomorrow. “I’m just tired. I’ve had a hell of a week. I didn’t really see that. I did not just see that.” Bob told himself as he shoved the offensive mirror back into the sack, then shoved it under the seat.
Bob walked through the back door of his home and into the kitchen, putting his lunch box down next to the counter. He was smiling, but when he saw his wife sitting down at the table, he stopped. “What’s happened, Judy? Are you okay?” he demanded. Judy sat and stared at a spot on the table without responding. “Judy! What’s going on?” Bob demanded again.
This time, Judy looked up at Bob and started sobbing. “Your brother… He’s been killed.” she uttered.
Bob stumbled back a step, shuddering and shaking his head. “No. That can’t be. I just talked to him yesterday. Why would you say that? Why, Judy?” Bob roared. She cowered in the chair, her face in her hands. When she didn’t respond, Bob took his phone out of his pocket and dialed his brother’s number.
After ringing six times, Bob hung up the phone, redialed his mother’s number and pushed send. “Mom, what’s going on? Judy said Trent was hurt? Why would she say that?” Bob demanded when his mom answered. He barely registered that his mother was sobbing on the line, as well.
“Bobby, your brother was killed. He was getting something from the corner store near his house and someone stopped in to rob the place. He was there and he got shot. He’s dead. My baby’s dead!” his mother cried.
Bob hung up the phone and hugged his wife. “I’m so sorry, baby! I didn’t know! How could this happen? Why?” he began crying, while hugging his wife. The rest of the night, Bob grieved for his brother.
The next morning was another school day for Bob. He’d have a full schedule of teaching students the benefits of physical exercise, followed by an evening full of soccer games to referee. He was not looking forward to the this day. He contemplated calling in sick, but wanted to tell his boss in person the reason he’d be taking some time off.
As he climbed into his truck, he glimpsed the paper sack poking out from beneath the seat. He pulled it out and peeked inside, at the mirror. He wanted to throw it back under the seat and never see it again, but instead, he pulled the mirror from the package. He fingered it with disgust, but turned the glass toward himself. As he looked at his face, he failed to notice the facial tic beginning on his left side again. The image in the mirror blurred again and this time he saw his mother’s face, frozen as if in pain.
In shock, his hands released the mirror. When he came out of the daze he’d been in, he grabbed his phone and dialed 911. He panted as if he’d just run a six-minute mile, waiting to be connected to an operator. As soon as he was connected, his breath stopped in his throat and he found that he could barely speak. “I know this is gonna sound whack, but I need someone to do a welfare check on my mother. I think she might be sick or injured or something!” he told the operator.
“Okay, sir, just calm down and give me the address please. Do you have any more information?” she questioned. After the address was given, the dispatch officer kept Bob on the line with updates on when the officers would be arriving at his mother’s place. Once they arrived, she let Bob hang up.
Two minutes later, his phone began ringing and he answered on the first ring. “What’s going on? Is my mom okay?” asked Bob.
“I’m sorry to tell you this, sir, but we’ve just found your mom on her kitchen floor. It appears that she fell and passed during the night. We’ll wait here for you to arrive.” answered a police officer. Bob dropped the phone and shook his head. After realizing that the officer was still on the other end of the connection, Bob picked up the phone and told him that he’d be there in ten minutes.
After a hectic morning of figuring out what to do with his mother’s remains, in preparation for memorial services, Bob sighed with exhaustion. He walked slowly out to his vehicle and climbed in. He saw the mirror, face down, on the floor of the truck. He reached for it, but stopped himself just before touching it. Instead, he started the engine of his truck and drove himself back to the antique shop he’d visited the day before.
When he pulled up in front of the shop, it was dark. He bolted out of the cab and pounded on the glass of the front door. He kept pounding on the front door until he saw a distant light turn on in the right corner of the cluttered shop. He waited impatiently while he watched the elderly shopkeeper amble up the center aisle of the store. Finally, the shopkeeper unlocked the door and invited Bob into the store. “I need to hear that back story now, fella. What the hell is going on?” demanded Bob.
“Ah, the mirror. I knew you’d be back soon. Had you some bad luck lately?” queried the old man, with a smirk on his withered face. “Well, here’s that story you missed out on. Back in the 1900s, there was a couple. The husband was very rich and his bride was very young. The man promised his bride the world, which included many treasures. One of those treasures was that mirror, as well as a complete house of treasures. You’ve heard of the Winchester House? Well, this house was much more eccentric. Some say that was because it was built on Ley lines, some say old Indian burial grounds. Personally, I think the inhabitants had some bad buried inside of them. Eventually, time took its toll and they became an old married couple, not so happily married. After years of indiscretions, the bride became very bitter. She decided to fix her husband—-permanently. She said a curse over that mirror. Any husbands that looked in that mirror would lose someone close to them. After the third time of losing someone close, those husbands would take their own lives.” The old man grinned as he finished his tale with a flourish.
Bob felt cold and bitter himself. He’d never cheated on his own wife. Why should he be punished for something another man did, before his time? “How come I am being punished? I never did any wrong to my wife. How do I fix this?”demanded Bob.
“Well, there is one way…” the shopkeeper said, joyfully. “You must take your own life.” Bob shook his head, refusing to believe that was the only way.
“There’s got to be another way!”
“None so fun as that!” squealed the shriveled shopkeeper. Bob stepped toward the ancient, towering over him. “Tell me!”
Bob raced home, the mirror in the paper sack sitting on the front seat. As he opened up the front door, he spied his wife resting on the couch. “Honey, I need your help. I need you to break a curse.” Bob told Judy as she sat up. Without giving her time to protest or question him, he spilled the details of what the antique dealer had told him, as well as the proof of the curse. “I saw Trent’s face in the mirror last night, as I was coming home. I saw Mom’s face in it this morning. Unless you decide to break the curse and then the mirror, it’s gonna happen again.” Bob explained. He put the mirror between them, on the coffee table. He still had it contained in its paper sack. He placed a hammer next to the sack on the table.
Judy looked up at her husband, with trepidation and doubts filling her face. “If I believe any of this at all, what would I have to do?” She asked.
Bob told her, “You have to look in the mirror, tell it that you break the curse over your husband, then you have to break the mirror with the hammer. The shopkeeper said that would do it, but he also said that it would be a good idea to burn the remains. So what do you think?”
Judy reached for the paper sack and gingerly removed the mirror from its packing. “I remove from my husband any curse that came from this mirror. I love him.” said Judy. As she said that, they both felt the floor beneath them shift, as if being hit by an earthquake. Looking at her husband, Judy reached for the hammer. She put the mirror on the table and whacked it. It didn’t break immediately, but she pounded it again as smoke begin to emit from the cracks. A third time she smashed the hammer into the mirror and it shattered.
Bob got up, found some kindling for a fire and threw it in the fireplace. Judy threw the remains of the mirror back into the paper sack, and threw it on top of the low flames in the fireplace. As the bag began to spark and the flames build, the couple heard a shriek begin to build in volume, then reduce in volume as the contents of the paper bag smoldered. Judy and Bob turned, hugged each other, and both said at the same time, “I love you.”