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- - -Jane- - -
I am Jane. I am the very embodiment of my name – plain, simple, and nothing special. Not only do I look ordinary, my personality is ordinary, and even my name is ordinary. They often say the middle is easily forgotten. Lucky me, I live in this middle world. A world where there is no one to love me, no one to hear me, no one at all – just me and only me.
But it wasn’t always like this. There was a time when I felt loved; that was before
my mother went away, and my happiness left with her. The cold, silent winter of her leave, my father remarried and brought a new family into our lives. She was Beverly, the most beautiful woman I’ve ever met, and by her side stood Amy and Rose. By the look on their faces, I knew my role as a daughter and sister would be worth nothing at all.
“This is our oldest daughter, Amy,” my parents say proudly.
“And this is our youngest daughter, Rose,” they say fondly.
“And this is what’s-her-name, our middle child,”
As each day passed by, I drifted further and further away into isolation. My father refused to acknowledge the past, it was too painful for him to accept – and so he chose to forget us instead. But I will never forget my mother, even though she is not with me, I keep her close in my heart. Before her departure, she left me a present, the last present I received, “never to be opened until the time is right,” she said. I have always wondered when the time is right, so I have never opened it, and I probably never will.
Now I sit here, five years later, in the very same spot I was five years ago. In my hands, I held onto the present, it was the only thing I had left of her. A loud slam brought me back to face reality, Rose barged in, no warning, nothing. She looked at me, and then at my hands. The pinks, greens, and lively flowers had caught her eye, she had found the box, and I knew. I knew she would take it away from me, and she did.
- - -Rose- - -
Rose ran from Jane’s room, prize in hand. She had to get to her own room before the plain girl, the forgotten girl, came after her. Reaching her room, Rose slammed the door, locked it and examined the stolen gift. There were roses on the wrapping, which caught her attention in the first place, and therefore the box was rightfully hers. Without a moment of hesitation Rose pulled on the green ribbon and scratched the wrapping off impatiently.
She thought to herself, “What could Jane have been hiding for so long? What is in this box? Dolls? Candy? It must be something so great, she didn’t want to share!”
The moment of truth came, the wrappings had vanished, laying on the floor in the increments that remained from Rose’s vicious attack. She lifted the cover, and inside, there was nothing but a mirror. A mirror! To her disgust it was an unsightly mirror, not shiny, not clear, in fact, it is old, scraped, and dirty. Yet she felt compelled to keep it, she didn’t want to give it back to Jane. “That’s what she gets for hiding things from me” Rose rationalized.
Gazing at the pitiful mirror, she found her reflection. Looking into it she saw herself, as cute as ever. Her wheat blonde hair curled, her eyes seemed brighter, lashes flickering longer, and then she smiled. Oh, it was beautiful. She loved looking at how cute she was and as she kept staring it seemed as if she was getting cuter by the second. Outside, it was evident that Jane was pounding on the door, but it didn’t matter. Nothing mattered, except the mirror.
Hours passed and her mother bellowed at her door; it was dinner time. Rose thought, “Food? There’s no need for food, there’s only the need to look in the mirror.” But it was that split moment of distraction that she finally noticed her room became dark and her muscles became stiff from holding the same huddled position for so many hours. But still, it didn’t matter; only the mirror- “Does her hair look shorter? It does, doesn’t it? And her face, it looks smaller, right?” No matter, it’s probably the dark playing tricks on her eyes or perhaps she’s just tired. Rose’s skin had a sudden itch and as she reached to scratch her arm, she felt her skin. It was smoother than she could have ever made it since it felt like the skin on a baby’s bottom.
She continued to stay huddled over the mirror as light slowly crept into the room. Even when Amy banged on the door announcing it was breakfast, she hadn’t moved. A few moments later, her mother joined Amy. The mirror was too captivating, clinging onto her soul, seeming to never let go. Outside, everyone wondered “What could that girl be doing? It’s been almost a whole day and she hadn’t stepped out of her room. Not for dinner, breakfast, even the bathroom! She can’t just be sick, she won’t even answer back. Something must be horribly wrong with her.” Rose’s mother stalked off into the kitchen to call a locksmith. If that doesn’t work, there’s always an axe or hammer. It was past lunch when the locksmith finally arrived, and none too late either. Rose’s mother nearly attacked the door with a kitchen knife if her husband hadn’t stopped her. Her little baby could be dying in her room for all she knew and she could do nothing. The blasted locksmith looked incompetent enough to be a melted down Neanderthal released into the modern world. Would her child be alright? Would they be too late? She couldn’t stop pacing as the Neanderthal worked calmly and slowly at the lock. Calmly wasn’t what she wanted and slowly wasn’t what she needed. The clock ticked the minute had passed, and she was not going to wait any longer. Beverly picked up his hammer in the tool box and started pummeling the door to bits. After the fifth wild swing, the maniac mother kicked the door with all her might, creaking it inward slightly. Ecstatic that anything was progressing at all, she wheeled around at the two staring men.
“How can you two just stand there? Pick something up and make yourself useful for once!” nearly screamed Rose’s mother as she returned to her smashing.
The men didn’t know what to do and so did as she bid. They picked up screwdrivers to unhinge the door, though how that would do anything they didn’t know, not when the door had nearly five holes. As the two men approached the door to unhinge it, Rose’s mother pushed them aside, saying they were too slow. She scrabbled for the door knob on the other side. When the door finally gave way, Beverly barged in, only to find herself consumed in utter darkness. “Rose didn’t even bother to turn on the light!” Hands shaking, Rose’s mother turned on the lights and saw no one. “Where was Rose? She’s not here! Did she run away? No, not her little Rose, she couldn’t do anything so… un-Rose like.” Rose’s mother took a tentative step into Rose’s room, but found nothing out of the ordinary, when she heard a baby’s coo. She looked down and saw Rose’s clothes. In the midst of the tangle was Rose, sucking her thumb, as if she was a baby.
- - - Amy - - -
Hearing her mother’s cries for help, Amy runs into rose’s room to find out what was going on. But her mother’s wails seemed irrelevant to her when she saw what was in the unknown baby’s hands, a mirror, a plain and simple mirror, yet it fascinated Amy to the point of ignoring her mother’s cry for help and taking the mirror right out of the infant’s hands. With the mirror in hand, Amy walked slowly to her room, ignoring Jane’s cries that it belonged to her, shut and locked the door, and began to look at herself in the mirror, admiring her beauty, but to her disgust, as she kept on looking at herself, she started to see wrinkles on her perfect skin, and crow’s feet near her beautiful eyes.
As night fell, Amy realized that she hadn’t moved since this morning, she was still discovering more and more wrinkles upon her once silky smooth skin. No body came for her at dinner because everyone was out looking for Rose and the infant’s parents, Amy ignored everyone’s pleas to help look for Rose, all she could do was be amazed at how she aged so quickly. Getting angry at the mirror, she started to believe this was all a trick, that someone was going against her because they were jealous of her beauty, as she started thinking it through she threw the mirror and began to put on more make-up than she ever has Blush, concealor, eye liner, mascara, anything she could put on her face, she got it. Once she was all done, she went to her personal mirror and was flabbergasted at what she saw, an old woman. The wrinkles, crow’s feet, moles, translucent skin, gray hair, everything had about how had changed. At the corner of her eye, she could see the plain mirror at the side of her room; thrusting herself at it she grabbed it and started wailing why this happened to her.
Hearing Amy’s screams, her mother came to the room trying to figure what was going on. As she entered the room, she was shocked at what she saw, an old woman clutching a mirror in her hands and wailing about why it had done this to her.
“Who are you?” said Amy’s mother, “and where is my daughter?”
Distraught at what she just heard, Amy realized that it was not a trick at all, but that it was actually happening to her, it was real; all she saw in the mirror was real.
“Mom…I am your daughter, it’s me, Amy, don’t you recognize me?”
- - - The Mirror - - -
My stepmother became enraged, not knowing what was happening to her beloved daughters. There was only one person she could blame, me. She strode across the room to me and slapped me in the face. I fell to the ground with both hands holding onto my stinging cheek. My stepmother grabbed the mirror from the floor and threw it at me, shaking with anger she yelled, “Get out of here and take the cursed mirror with you. I don’t want to see your face in the house again until you get rid of that thing!”
I got up quickly and sprinted out of the house clutching my mother’s mirror to my chest, the tears flowed endlessly. I grew tired and stopped running, after wiping away the tears I looked around and found myself at small beautiful river that I had discovered as a child, not many knew of this place. I bent down by the river bed and looked at the girl staring back at me in the water, then I looked at the girl in the mirror, they were the same. Staring at my reflection, I thought about what had happened to my stepsisters. I was puzzled with how a mere mirror could change them. I know was told to get rid of the mirror, but I still wanted to keep it because it was the only thing my mother had left for me.
The sun started to set; I finally decided that I was going to throw the mirror into the river. Afterall, it was evil, even if it was my mother’s. As I raised my arm, ready to throw the mirror, I heard a soft voice behind me say, “Wait, don’t throw it.”
Startled, I lost my balance, slipped on the rocks, and was about to fall into the river when I felt a pair of arms catch me before it was too late. I looked at the face of the person whose arms had saved me. It was a woman. I focused her eyes on the stranger’s face and gasped. The woman let go and I was bewildered. Right before me was a woman that looked just like me, only older. “Who are you?”
The woman had a small smile on her face. “You really don’t know who I am, Jane?”
“No. Who are you and how do you know my name?”
“Jane, it’s me.”
I didn’t know what to feel and I couldn’t find the words I wanted to say. We stood there in silence. Finally she spoke again, “I see you have finally opened your present. Why were you about to throw it away?”
I managed to find my voice again. ”Beverly told me get rid of this mirror or else I wouldn’t be able to return to the house. The mirror had changed my stepsisters and she has blamed the curse on me. I’m sorry.”
“The mirror has just fallen into the wrong hands. This mirror is meant for you that is why I left it with you.”
Mother continued to explain why nothing happened to me when I looked into the mirror and finally I understood. She told me how everyone struggles through their lives, covered by a mask, the sum of what society dictates that we be, and all that the world tells us we feel and should feel. The mirror can see through the mask. When Rose gazed into the mirror, she had brought with her arrogance, her narcissism, her childish behaviors, the mirror showed her exactly what she was – a spoiled crybaby. When Amy got a hold of the mirror, it revealed her personality, her desire, her obsession with looking mature, beyond her age. When she finally got what she had long waited for, she was horrified to find that it wasn’t what she expected, age does come with its benefits, but mostly downfalls, and she got what she deserved.
Mother continued, “When a person beholds her true self behind all her masks, she realizes that she is not those masks. All her life, she identified herself with her masks, but now suddenly she knows them for what they are. Her cares and her worries melt away and are replaced with a true inner joy. Not the mask-joy of this world, but the innate true joy of life.”
When I gazed at The Mirror, I did so with my bare face, unobscured by any mask.
This is why I had to leave Jane, I’m sorry, I couldn’t live with your father, his new family, they were so different, I wanted to take you with me, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to give you the care that they can.
All this, everything, was so shocking, I didn’t know what to believe, what was real, what was not. But what I did know, was that I finally feel happy, for the first time in many years, I’m happy.