The peridot-green tint of algae penetrated the wood, like it had been brushed on with a watercolour paint brush, like it was part of the mirror’s design. The wood, once damp, now flaky and dry in the barn, still sported delicate fretwork and inlays – though one touch and they’d crumble. And the glass, cloudy like a cataract, showed no reflection and mirrored nothing.
Rachel moved closer, her feet stumbling as she stepped over long abandoned debris and rubbish strewn across the floor of the barn. Chairs – covered in faded, torn damask, a tarnished bronze bedstead, garden tools with broken wooden handles, a pile of rusted metal-springs, coils, barbed wire, and myriad other lost items filled the space within the ramshackle walls. Rachel, however, noticed nothing but the mirror, as she shuffled forward.
Cobwebs floated to and fro in the light draught that drifted through the barn, as did the white hair framing her face, and she deftly brushed her errant tresses aside. Her flowing nightdress wrapped itself around her legs and she shivered. She smiled at the sensation the shiver sent through her. She didn’t think a shiver would have registered these days, she was so tired, so –
A bird flapped at the door, feathers rustling in the wind, and Rachel glanced back at it. A raven sat, perched with its head cocked on the splintered door. It watched for a moment as Rachel met its eyes then Rachel returned her gaze to the mirror.
She stood before the old looking glass, trying to see her face in its murky reflection, but only indistinct shadows stared back.
The raven cracked its wings in the silence and flew across the floor, this time landing noisily on the bedstead rail. Its feet clutched tight and Rachel watched its outline waver in the shadowy glass.
“Is it time?” she asked, her voice soft, and as quiet as the gentle spring breeze.
There was no reply, and she moved her hand to the decaying, rotting frame around the oval of glass. For a moment, as she touched it, the mirror was restored, a thing of simple beauty. She gazed into clear glass, her face surrounded by ebony hair, and her fingers young and slim. The wood – oak, warm, and delicately grained framed the mirror, and she was twenty-two, not eighty-two. The image faded, like the wood, and Rachel stood once more before the old mirror.
She smiled and nodded again. “It’s time,” she said, as the raven shifted behind her. She peered into the glass, and in it, or was it in her mind’s eye, she saw two people. The woman behind her, with raven black hair, like hers, wrapped her arms around Rachel, and Rachel let herself melt into the long missed and welcome embrace.
The mirror reflected nothing, as Rachel rested cold and unresponsive on the freezing floor. The raven, a ghostly shadow in the gloomy mirror, muttered and flew off soaring away into the cold, white morning sky.
Miranda, at Finding Clarity, chose one of my own photographs for her Mid-Week Flash Challenge, and I’ve always wanted to write something for this picture that I took of an old crumbling mirror in my dad’s barn… so here we are.
Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.
This story has it all, Lisa: beautiful imagery and sensory detail; a deepening sense of magical, mystical atmosphere; and a wonderful slow build of tension. Just lovely.
Thank you so much, Kern, that was exactly what I was going for. You’ve made me very happy!
This is beautiful!
I loved every word.
Thank you, Michelle! I loved writing this x
Wonderful and complete. I loved it! Sorry for the delay in reading, I hadn’t realised I hadn’t already read it! Really enjoyed it.