Friday, September 24, 2010

Magpie Tales: Reflections

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.

101 comments:

Titanium said...

Holy hell. I've got shivers running down my spine, and they aren't the good kind. You've done it again, Brian. This is tight.

Steven Anthony said...

I love this one so much! What a great tale for a chilly friday night :)

william said...

ooo felt the cold in this one mate, neverhteless an exciting story :)

TechnoBabe said...

Terrific. Really a great story. You kept me at the edge of my chair. I was pleasantly surprised with the way you drove the story.

kathew said...

yikes....what happened?
Great Magpie...but what happened?

Eva Gallant said...

Awesome! Shades of Alfred Hitchcock!

Sam Liu said...

Evelyn's character reminded me a lot of Dickens' Miss. Havisham in "Great Expectations". I got the same deathly and haunting chill from your writing. The ending, as ever, was superb and totally unexpected. A foreboding and almost fairy-tale-like twist.

Everyday Goddess said...

You are never predictable, that's for sure.
I love how the story changed, but never lost integrity.

Daniel said...

This was delicious as a short post, but I could also see it as the start of a novel or short story. This was a most excellent and worthy entry into your history my friend.

CM said...

Oooh, very spooky! Since Eva already took Alfred Hitchcock, I'll say it was very...Twilight Zone? Awesome suspense!

Helen said...

I kept reading and reading ... not imagining where you were taking us. Where you took us was truly a spine tingling place ... great Magpie!

Pauline said...

good heavens! how shall I ever fall asleep tonight?

Rene/ Not The Rockefellers said...

This would be a perfect campfire story.

Once again you bring us to the Outer Limits :)

Rene

HisFireFly said...

From stark lonliness
to loveless sex to win wealth
to confusion, panic and...
leaving us with more questions than we began..

Bravo! Well done. And I may not sleep...

JeffScape said...

Interesting... very interesting.

Like the ambition I'm seeing here lately. And the slowing of the narration. Rock it, yo.

黄清华 Wong Ching Wah said...

Glad to stumble into your blog... I like reading this piece, it is like a short story !

Brian Miller said...

the way i saw it was the woman in the mirror was the woman evelyn never allowed herself to be...the one who saw through her husband and was angry at being left behind...and so she went to find him...when evelyn would not...

perhaps he now resides with her in the mirror...

glad you like the end...i totaly scapped my original righ before posting as it was from his point of view...and while it added another level of terror...i felt seeing it all through the eyes of the women in his life and leaving it a bit more open...it worked better...

if it was a movie, she might catch a glimse of the woman in the mirror in the shards on teh floor...

Pat said...

I LOVE IT! Great suspense! You did it again!

Kaelin said...

This is fantastic - what a great read!

sage said...

Wow, great descriptions and then the twists and terror.

Cindybrown said...

I love it! I love that on the edge of my seat feeling!

steveroni said...

I should have read this in the morning--then it could have kept me awake all DAY, instead of all....

Written so well and suspenseful, and with that Brian touch. I swear...you would not have to sign your work, it is that unique.

PEACE!

Caty said...

I'm working all night tonight, so I don't have to worry about sleeping. This was a great terrifying tale!

secret agent woman said...

A woman sells her soul when she accepts shabby treatment in exchange for wealth. And a man sells his soul when he offers that trade.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

Creepy.......hell hath no fury and all that!

she said...

I love a good thriller and this was one indeed! Enjoyed it - what an intriguing idea to travel through mirrors...

kkrige said...

I love that your main female protaganist was not even fully aware of her inner mind's workings (literally hard work!). I got more goosey bumps with the potential image in the shards of glass on the floor. Way cool my friend.

sagirl said...

Great story - I loved it! What a wonderful imagination you have Brian... it has left me with goodflesh. (Adeeyoyo)

kathi harris said...

I luv this...creepy. Way 2 go!

Bing (PinkLady) said...

wow this was truly spellbinding, brian! well done!!!

Susan Deborah said...

This was so gripping! Tight write, Brian. Poor Robert! Not once I was distracted. You should think of full-time writing as a career.

Joy always,
Susan

Bloggin'withAmanda said...

Fantastic detail I loved the part about the brushes position morning and evening and the such a twist! just shows money cannot buy everything!

tattytiara said...

A multitude of wonderful little details in that one.

Reflections said...

Love the detail, the intrigue... yet leaves enough to set my mind to running.

Thanks for your thoughts about my gremlins, input can be so inspiring! Thank you.

Just Be Real said...

Super post Brian. Thank you for sharing!

Joanna Jenkins said...

I was on the edge of my seat with that one. Very scary and so well told. Nice job.
Happy weekend, jj

christine said...

Omgosh, what happened? Scary or what, it certainly had me jumpy, with the beginning and Evelyn I was lulled into a cosy romantic story and then ca-wow you woke me up! Very good and a very unpredicable ending

Doctor FTSE said...

Excellent story. A good read

Brigid said...

Great tense story and what a great insight you have into the mind of a woman!!

Deborah said...

You ought to put after the title ... and prepare to tingle. Wonderful story that could carry on inside the mirror, I loved it :o)

Alan Burnett said...

Another fine piece of writing Brian. It maintains the wonderful pace of your shorter pieces : the reader doesn't want to miss a sentence.

Valerie said...

Goodness me, Brian, that's a real chiller. I hope there's more to come.

slommler said...

Whew!! Goosebumps running up and down my arms and legs! Spooky and so real! Such nice twist and turns!! I will never put on perfume again without thinking of this story!
Hugging you
SueAnn

Máire T. Robinson said...

Great suspense in this and I love the cinematic quality of the story.

Words A Day said...

This was a brilliant tense short story, so well crafted - the idea is quite complex but it is presented really clearly. And chilling in the end (in a good way!)I could really see this as a short film!

Nessa said...

I love stories where people get what they deserve. Your use of the mirror as a portal of revenge is fantastic. A very subtly exciting story.

Birdie said...

my first thought was 'well he has got what he has asked for' lol :-) ... a great story, I hope I will never have to feel like Evelyne ... you know, just aging gracefully ... happy w-e Brian!!

Zuzana said...

Wow, what an enticing story of love, youth, aging, desire and betrayal.;) You paint images with your words, it is uncanny...
Have a lovely Saturday dear Brian and happy Birthday to your wife,
xo

the walking man said...

So uhh seeing as he was naked already did he wind up in the bath with Evelyn or arrested for public nudity?

Claudia said...

i always knew that a perfume can be a woman's helper…smiles
nice write brian - made me think of a colleague at work - her husband decided after more than 20 years of marriage to share his bed with a girl of 25…my friend gave him almost a year to change his mind, then she kicked him out - and has just moved into a new house with the new love of her life - same age like she is - and her former husband now lives alone in a 1 room appartement….

Heather said...

ooooh, great story...

Lyn said...

Just love a metaphysical mystery! Talk about "just desserts" all the way around!! ...the mirror knows...

jabblog said...

Excellent suspenseful writing - well done!

izzy said...

I can relate to a lot of it-( always wanted a dressing table!) Don't wear makeup but the perfume and hair brush
are familiar! The house setting is true
(we have very noisy/drafty accommodations)
I was just thinking about a particular attic room... might be time for a rumination.
The last minute twist w/ hubby was interesting- I thought another shoe might drop somewhere- really liked
the room you left for the reader to move around here. Thanks.

JennyMac said...

Absolutely brilliant. You are so gifted. I say that all the time to you but it is so true.

Cheryl said...

Egads, Brian. I echo Titanium. Tight and chilling.

Lorraine said...

The Scent of suspence ; a thriller, you are so awesome

Madame DeFarge said...

Excellently done. Both creepy and poignant at the same time.

ladyfi said...

Great story - spicy and dangerous!

drybottomgirl said...

Wow. This is good. I read it twice to make sure I was following it. I love spine tingling short stories, and I think I'll go dig out some Poe for further reading :)

Kulio said...

Creepy!!! Layers.

Paul Andrew Russell said...

Excellent story, Brian. It had me hooked to the end.

Mighty M said...

Such a great tale for a dark and stormy night. Of course, it is bright and sunny right now...but I can pretend too. :)

TALON said...

Oh, this was so well done, Brian, and so layered....thinking one thing and then having to readjust and being totally creeped out. Loved it!

Dianne said...

How do you do that? Start with one voice, intimate and calm, and end with another, almost two separate realities.....yeah that's the point.
have a great weekend, I'm gonna dab the musk on.
Dianne

otin said...

Good read, I was captivated! I just finished something that is along a similar line. kind of creepy. strange minds think alike! LOL

Carrie Burtt said...

Wow Brian this is truly an intense well written story...will there be a second chapter? :-)

ModernMom said...

Oooooh Shiver. I love how this one ended.

alex said...

wow this is great!!!! Once i started reading it i couldnt stop!!!
):)(:(

Nancy said...

Fascinating - I wonder where Robert ended up - shattered in the glass - or somewhere between the two bathrooms... good one!

Arts Web Show said...

Your stories never fail to impress

Betsy said...

Ooooh! I love this creepy story!

Tracy said...

This reminded me somewhat of The Hourglass. I thought for a minute you were revisiting it somehow. Really good, Brian.

Tumblewords: said...

Chills, scents, shattering glass and missing bodies - an excellent read!

ninotaziz said...

How do you do this, Brian?

I am awestruck.

Vicki Lane said...

Shivery and sad.

chiccoreal said...

Dear Brian: You have captured perfectly the essence of this woman, her aging beauty, her quiet desperation. Particularly shocking was the drama of the bathroom scene; quite well crafted the suspense. Who knew guys could have hissy fits? "She came in through the bathroom window, or rather, he left like a bat out of hell from the bathroom window" Lovely slant!

Mama Zen said...

Outstanding! You write women really well, Brian.

Sarah said...

Interesting, and very unpredictable. I like it a lot. I'm sure there are many women out there tonight wishing they could perform such a trick.

The girl with the flour in her hair said...

Nice. I always want to say more, but I can't seem to find the right words. As always, love the writing.

PattiKen said...

Creepy comes to mind, but it doesn't do this one justice. These always come as a bit of a surprise from you, making them all the more scary. Excellent.

(Is that Twilight Zone music I hear?)

Lydia said...

YOU. are a major writer.
I. am a fan.

Jerry said...

I'll be back to sit on the edge of my seat.

Miss Nikki said...

I went through so many emotions in such few minutes. Thanks for the great story, and thank you so much to continue writing and sharing with us!

mama-face said...

hm. I could not see the connection until the very end. And maybe my interpretation is different than what you intended... do any of us really understand our own reflections?

Suz said...

interesting
lots of good details to mull over

Stafford Ray said...

In the second story, I guess we can presume that if he left his phone, he certainly left his fat wallet! Creepy and captivating stories.

Lori said...

Wow. Talk about goosebumps. :) Great read Brian. :)

Patience said...

Ooo, I like the lady in the mirror, sounds like Robert got his. great write, Brian.

Goofball said...

how imaginative

willow said...

Wow, Brian! This one's good! That is one powerful scent. I like the mirror thing, too.

Linda said...

Loneliness, despair, suspense, you've got it all here. Great read!

Syd said...

Whew....that was a good thriller. I will wonder who is looking at me through the mirror next time.

Sue J said...

This is really good. I want more!

Kristen Haskell said...

Really good. I can imagine it so perfectly. It is really spooky and I love a good spooky fall tale.

OJ Gonzalez-Cazares said...

OMG - this is awesome!! I wrote my first magpie tale this week, inspired by the bottle of cologne... it is amazing how the same image can trigger different things - but I am surprised because in my tale, I also have a dresser, a mirror, a brush and reflexion... stop by if you have the chance - I would love your opinion!
btw - thanks for your comment as well on my life according to me lesson (goddess award day) last saturday!

www.castazero.blogspot.com

RNSANE said...

Amazing tale...mysterious, sad, full of suspense, and we will never know where Robert went!!

Magpie said...

Jeepers creepers! Great. I love when things work out right in the end. :)

Kavita said...

Good God, Brian!!! If you are to ever publish a book of creepy stories, I will be the FIRST to buy it!! You had me hooked here!!! I love suspense (in written stories ofcourse)! :)
And the finer details, you haven't spared them either! Maaaann... this was terrific!
You rock, B!!

The Retired One said...

Loved this spooky and touching tale!! You have such an imagination, I await every single one of your stories!!

Abhilasha-The Desire said...

super creepy..liked the other woman who went looking for robert... Just love your stories brian.. you've got a super-duper imagination :)