Evelyn sat in front of the dressing mirror, removing her face for the day with little sponges. Each caress took another layer, exposing that which lay beneath. This is how she spends most Friday nights. Home. Alone.
The warm glow of the light allowed her to see the blemishes, the darkening areas. She is meticulous in these places, letting the raw truth of what she sees stare back at her in the mirror. Age was taking her. Her lips formed a tight line, folding from cheek to cheek.
The house was deathly quiet, usually the moans and pops made the house seem alive. It was quite old already, when they bought it, twenty years ago. Back when they were young and in love. She did not mind the small creaking noises. They made her feel not so alone, as if someone were with her. She would welcome them tonight.
Their room is on the second floor, the view from their window overlooking the finely manicured lawn. The gardener would be here tomorrow to give the hedges fresh shape. Swans to greet those that made it to the end of the long driveway, finding their house. Tonight, darkness crawled across the grounds quietly, stirring nothing.
Robert was at a function. Quite often, he had these on Friday nights, entertaining clients or investors, for work. Details she need not fuss over, according to him. He had the gift, speaking money, and they had wanted for little. She has whatever she needs. Mostly.
Her ministrations complete, her face felt fresh, tingly. She studied it in the mirror, distastefully. The girl she once was, was nearly gone, replaced by hollow cheeks and crows feet. Her eyes followed her neckline to where her silk robe had slipped open, allowing her to see her body. There was a time she would have been on Robert's arm on Friday nights, but she was a trophy no more.
Cinching the robe back tight, sparing herself, she took a silver handled brush and began running it through her dark hair. Her mother did this for her when she was a child. She did it for her girls and now she did it for herself. Thirteen... fourteen... fifteen... She counted the strokes, taking her time. It is not as if she had anywhere to be.
Finished, she placed the brush in its place, on the left. She thrived on order. Morning to the right, evening to the left. Little had changed over the years in this regard, except the perfume that once resided in the middle, available for all occasions, now hidden behind her morning rituals, often forgotten.
Taking one last look at herself in the mirror, she stood, the small cushioned bench where she sat, stuttered against the cold floor. Walking across the bedroom, she entered the adjoining room to run herself a warm bath. The rush of water into the tub roared through the silence and she closed the door, leaving just a crack so the heat did not become overwhelming. Her robe slipped to the floor, without a sound.
In the mirror, a figure moved across the room to the dressing table. Reaching through the silvery surface, a well manicured hand retrieved a bottle of perfume. Taking it back into the mirror, a woman, nearly an exact replica of the one now relaxing in the bath, admired herself, smoothing a long flowing evening gown with her free hand. Jewels sparkled at her ears, only accenting, not taking away from, her beauty.
Unscrewing the top to the perfume bottle, she wet her finger with scent. Spicy and dangerous. One dab behind each ear, she then ran a line down her collarbone. Resealing the bottle, she reached again into the cold reality of the lonely woman on the other side of the mirror, placing it in the middle of the dressing table. A reminder to not always accept what looks back at you in the mirror, then passed, once more, out of the reflection.
A shiver rippled across Julia's back as she felt his move from the bed. Rolling over, she watched as Robert disappeared into the bathroom of her one bedroom apartment and close the door behind him. She did not love him, but he had the fattest wallet she had ever seen and for a taste of that, she could handle a little Friday night intimacy with a man twenty years her senior.
She was just about to drift off to sleep when the shattering of glass brought her full away. Tearing the sheets from her body she dashed to the bathroom door, screaming his name. Opening the door, she saw large shards of the mirror laying in the basin of the porcelain sink. Small slivers sprinkled the floor. The room was otherwise empty, and Robert was gone.
He had never come back into the bedroom, and there was window or other way out of the bathroom. She began to sweat, as a wave of fear washed over her. Confused she grabbed her phone from the nightstand, and struggled to dial his number. Happy tones rang from within the pile of his clothes, still by the bed. The scent of a strange perfume rolled out of the bathroom.
Grabbing the pile of Robert's clothes, Julia dumped them in the trash, deciding then and there she really did not want to know what happened to Robert. She just needed to get away from the noxious smell.
This is a Magpie Tale.