As a young girl Ginny wondered why her grandmother never kept mirrors in her house. It was an abnormal superstition, but she never questioned her grandma about it. She only ever brought it up once and it was to her mother.
“Why doesn’t Grandma like mirrors?”
“It’s been that way since I was a girl.”
That was all the explanation she ever got, and it was enough to put her curiosity mostly to rest. Over time the lack of mirrors in her grandmother’s house became so normal that she never gave it much thought. Not having any mirrors couldn’t keep her from coming over. The Victorian-built house was warm and inviting. The house had been in the family for years, each generation keeping it up. Ginny loved going to her grandmother’s house. She would run up and down the halls singing and laughing with her grandmother. They would play explorer, conquering rooms in the house. There were parts of the house she wasn’t allowed to explore. In particular, was a room at the back of the house with a giant red door that her grandmother closely guarded. Ginny was told to never go near it, but she didn’t mind because the rest was already enough for her to enjoy.
Ginny spent many days at the house as a child, but as she grew up, she began coming over less and less. It was hard for Ginny because of the love she had for her grandmother and the house. As an adult she would visit once or twice a year to check up on her grandma. She especially regretted not spending more time with her grandmother after she passed away. Ginny had always known that she wouldn’t have forever with her grandmother, but she didn’t think it would happen so soon.
With her grandmother gone, Ginny returned to the house that she had made so many memories in. It was bittersweet being in the house she felt so fondly about again because for the first time, she was there without her grandmother. Ginny’s mother had asked if she could help go through her grandmother’s things and help clean up the house. They began with the stack of photo albums her grandmother had kept on the bookshelf. Ginny couldn’t help herself and had to go through every picture. She enjoyed seeing her grandmother when she was younger and full of life. She found a picture of her grandmother alongside her grandfather. Her grandfather had passed before she was born, so Ginny had never gotten the chance to meet him. She’d imagined what he was like though and pictured him with her grandmother.
“I wish I’d gotten the chance to meet Grandpa.”
“He was a good man, but one day he changed. It was like he was a different person in the same body. I think that was when he first got sick, and after that we didn’t have much time with him. That’s when Mom became superstitious. She removed all the mirrors from the house, she even took my makeup compact. It was strange and the rest of the families on the street thought we were weird.”
“Maybe that was just Grandma’s way of grieving, blaming the unknown.”
“I’d like to think of it that way. She would never explain why she did it, just that she had to.”
Ginny felt bad about bringing it up but was also glad to know something about her grandfather even if it was bleak.
As the night approached, Ginny continued to work. A part of her was happy to finally be able to explore the parts of the house that she’d been restricted from going into as a child. The room she wanted to go into most was the one at the back of the house. From time to time she’d wondered what could be in the room that her grandmother wanted to keep from her, and she was finally about to find out.
She opened the door, and inside stood a wardrobe against the back wall. The wardrobe’s cherry wood doors were slightly open as if inviting her in. As Ginny got closer it seemed as if the wardrobe grew and towered over her. When she reached the door she hesitated, wondering why her grandmother would have left this wardrobe alone in this room. She opened the door and peered inside. In the middle stood a cheval mirror covered in a sheet that was worn with time. She removed the sheet from the mirror and stared at her reflection. Ginny inspected the mirror, trying to figure out a reason for it to have been covered and placed in the wardrobe. It was old but didn’t look valuable. There was nothing special about it, just a regular mirror. Ginny laughed to herself: after all this time wondering what was in the room, this was it.
Just as she was about to recover the mirror something caught Ginny’s eye. In her reflection the bracelet she wore on her left hand was now on her right— a detail so minuscule, yet so noticeable. She jumped and as she tried to cover the mirror a hand grabbed her wrist. The hand was exactly like hers. She felt herself pulled forward and thrown to the ground.
When Ginny got up, she ran out of the room. She was shocked to find that she had been in there overnight. It was now morning. Ginny sensed that there had been a change. Something was different with the house, but Ginny couldn’t place what it was. She went to find her mother but was surprised to see an older man making coffee in the kitchen. He was tall and lean with fully grey hair, wearing a sweater he had seen her grandmother wear years before. He seemed familiar but only after she asked who he was did everything fall into place.
“Ginny, you don’t recognize your own grandfather?”
As Ginny went to confront the man claiming to be her grandfather, she noticed the house now had a mirror on every wall. Everything was still in place with the addition of the mirrors but flipped as if she were looking at a reflected version of it. Before her mouth could form any questions, her head had already answered them. Ginny had wondered why, after removing all the mirrors from the house, her grandma would keep the one in the wardrobe; but now she had her answer. The mirror was important because of him, because of her grandpa. He didn’t just act different when her mother was a child, he was different. What had just happened to her had already happened to him. Her grandfather had been replaced by his reflection and now so was she.
Justise Wright is a student at the University of South Carolina Aiken and is pursuing a degree in creative writing. As a writer, Justise tries to incorporate different genres and themes to create something unique.