In the Mirror

I knew I shouldn’t have looked in the mirror. My sister said vanity would be my undoing.

But . . . after years of being told I was fat, ugly, with no trace of beauty, no need for clean clothes, clean hands, clean face, brushed hair, I had to look. But . . . after years with no reason to smile or laugh. Or cry, either. Only beautiful children are held when they cry. No one would ever hold me.

Just today, I overheard the antiquities dealer telling mother and sister that the mirror was magic. It would show them what they most desired.

My sister laughed in that tinkling, little girl way. “Maybe it would show a world free from her,” and looked at me scornfully where I crouched with a scrub brush and pail of water. I ducked my head and pretended I didn’t hear.

Late that night, I crept into the hall. I looked in that mirror, and I looked and I looked. There was nothing. Eventually, my breath fogged the mirror. I wiped it away with the flat of my hand.

The mirror showed me what I most wanted. It wasn’t beauty, after all.

 
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