John Meiners, Jr.
Sabrina has had a bad two days. Night before last she and her fiance' called it quits, and she drank herself into a stupor then passed out. The next evening in a state of depression and nursing a hangover, she had a few drinks and then a few more. Now she contemplates ending it all by taking pills sitting in the open pill box on her vanity. Luckily her move to the bottle of bourbon she's had for years and her inability to hold it, proves heaven sent as she passes out before getting to the pills. After stumbling to the bathroom to throw up, she managed to fall in bed, and the pills remained in their box throughout the night.
The next morning Sabrina's bathroom door softly creaks open as she tentatively steps into her bedroom with a wash rag held to her forehead. She thinks, 'If I were dead, I wouldn't feel this bad.' She eases down onto her nearby vanity bench and looks in the mirror, horrified by the sight she sees. She picks up her antique hand mirror hoping not to see the same vile appearance. "OOOH Shit!" and quickly puts the mirror down.
A woman's voice emanates from the mirror, "Wait!"
"Must be the pills," Sabrina says. She picks up the bottle of pills, peers closely at it and shakes the bottle.
Again the woman's voice in the mirror says, "I mean you no harm."
'My mirror is talking to me... I'm losing it.' She cautiously, carefully picks up the mirror. "Who are you?"
"My name is Penelope Du Morant. It is my mirror you hold," says the apparition in the mirror.
"My mirror is over 100 years old," protests Sabrina.
"Indeed, it was presented to me on my fifteenth birthday."
Sabrina wonders if she is hallucinating and yet continues the argument over ownership. "My mother gave this mirror to me! It's been passed down through generations... What is it you want?"
Penelope with care and concern tells Sabrina, "Only to help. I am a good natured, loving spirit with your well being as my only concern. I, in times of fortune and trouble, confided in this mirror myself much as you have done."
"You've been listening to me?" Sabrina is confused yet curious as to what is taking place.
"I have, and I have seen the sadness and hopelessness in your eyes. Your despair has caused me great alarm."
Penelope is apparently up to date on Sabrina's last few days and Sabrina asks, "You know about Gary?"
"How he left me for that bitch, Donna?"
"In time, your heartache shall pass," says Penelope pleased with her counseling skills.
Sabrina responds bitterly, "Yeah, well get back to me when some bastard leaves your ass at the altar. Look, I didn't ask for your help, and I don't want it."
Penelope decides a change in direction is desirable. "Perhaps you would rather I summon demonic spirits from the deepest depths of hell to come to you, unexpectedly, in the darkness of night."
Sabrina is shaken for a moment at the thought of demons being summoned and asks, "You could do that?"
"Well, in truth, I don't believe I could."
"Let me get this straight. You are concerned about me?"
"Yes, truly I am. I fear you may harm yourself."
Sabrina is not sure at this point where all of this is going. It seems she is dealing with a goodie two shoes who may not know what the hell she is doing. "You think I might harm myself, so you thought you would try to scare me to death? And that would help me?" She started the day off with a hangover which would make anyone prefer death. Now she is dealing with Penelope who is certainly not helping. She mocks Penelope. "What happened to your... 'I am a good natured, loving spirit who only cares for your well being."
Penelope answers, "I thought it a new convention of which I've heard, called 'tough love.' I hoped it might prove beneficial."
Sabrina feels validated, Penelope doesn't have a clue. She's doing a paint by numbers counseling session, and she doesn't have the numbers. A vindictive thought crosses her mind. She relishes it and can't resist asking, "Wait, could you maybe send demons from hell to Gary's house and kill the lying, cheating son of a bitch?... But make him suffer first."
Penelope feels her methods may be lacking. "Perhaps it was an ill-conceived notion." In an attempt to be positive she adds, "Your spirit is strong, and your grief is moving into anger which is the next step leading to recovery and regaining your life."
Disappointed that her plan for demons killing Gary may not be possible, she spouts sarcastically, "Where did you learn that, Sigmund Freud?"
"Who?" Penelope asks.
"Oh, my God, you don't know who Sigmund Freud is?"
"No, I read about it in Modern Woman, 'Coping with Breakup' and 'Better Mad than Mope.'"
Sabrina shakes her head thinking to herself the conversation with the mirror needs to come to an end. She must be hallucinating. She picks up the pill box wondering if she did take some after all. The bottle appears to be full, but maybe a couple, or five or six are missing. She takes the cap off and peers inside trying to remember. They were pain pills she'd had since last year when she sprained her ankle. Ironically she feels more pain now when she remembers it was a "fun run" with Gary where she fell hurting her ankle. She stares off into space in melancholy mode when suddenly her friend, Marge, bursts in the door startling Sabrina. The pills go flying all over the floor.
Marge, one of Sabrina's dearest friends, heard the news of her breakup, couldn't reach her and is worried sick. "Are you all right, I've been calling and calling. You didn't answer the phone."
Trying to calm Marge, Sabrina tells her, "I'm sorry, it's turned off." Actually she doesn't know where her phone is.
Marge hugs her and won't let go. "I was so worried... I thought. I thought.... I just heard. Why didn't you call me? I'm not leaving you alone. We'll go out to eat, see a movie, something funny... a comedy."
Sabrina says, "I'm fine... I'm fine." She knows she's not but wants to end the bear hug, although it feels good to have someone care about her.
Suddenly Marge spies the open bottle and the pills scattered around the floor, and her demeanor, which had moved into the 'eye of a hurricane' suddenly moves out into the high winds. "What is all this? Did you take pills? How many? Tell me Sabrina. I'll rush you to the doctor."
Sabrina to protect Marge from having a stroke, quickly assures her, "I passed out. I was drunk. I promise... I promise that's all. Really." Marge's hyperventilating slows, and Sabrina suddenly changes the subject, "Marge,.. You know my mirror?"
Marge returns to earth and looks puzzled, "What?"
"My antique mirror." Sabrina points to it on the vanity.
"Would you look into it?... See if the glass looks funny or... different?"
Marge picks up the mirror, looks, says nothing, and checks out her makeup while Sabrina anxiously awaits her findings. Marge asks, "Do you think my lipstick and my eye shadow clash?"
"Marge, the glass?"
"Oh, right. Looks fine to me."
Marge holds the mirror out to Sabrina showing her there's nothing wrong, but Sabrina hesitates, afraid to look. Marge looks at her, frowns and lies, "You don't look that bad."
Knowing she looks like death warmed over, Sabrina says, "Thanks."
Marge notices she doesn't have her purse. "My purse, must have left it in the car. I'll be right back." She stops at the door. "We are going out. Somewhere fun. I'm not leaving you by yourself tonight."
Sabrina stands alone cautiously looking at the mirror resting at least four feet away. A few moments pass. Nothing happens, no voices, no movement. Relieved she thinks, 'everything's quiet', but she's still worried that her imagination got away from her. Remembering the horror at the glimpse of her own face and hair, she gives wide birth to the mirror and goes to the bathroom.
Suddenly a young woman walks out in a beautiful blue vintage dress. Inquisitively she touches the walls, a picture on the wall, the light switches, lamps, literally anything in her reach. She looks around, admires the vanity, picks up the mirror and admires herself saying, 'Quite a while since I looked from this side.'
Sabrina walks in, jumps, recognizes Penelope. "It's you! I'm definitely losing it."
Penelope asks, "What?"
"But the mirror is yours. I shan't take it. It's not lost."
Sabrina no longer concerned about Penelope, but frustrated with the conversation says, "I'm not talking about the mirror. I'm talking about my damn mind."
Penelope frowns and realizes, "Oh... You think yourself insane."
"Lately, it's crossed my mind, yes, quite often... Look, I don't know who put you up to this, but you need to leave."
Marge walks back into the bedroom. Sabrina starts to point out Penelope and watches wide eyed as Marge passes within inches oblivious to her. Marge stops on her way to the bathroom and says, "I'm going to fix my face. Were you going to say something?"
Surprised Sabrina shakes her head, and as the door shuts to the bathroom she says, "She didn't see you."
Penelope tells her, "You may be the only one who can. I wasn't told what to expect."
"Maybe you opened a portal from Hell. Would you know that? Demons are probably waiting outside." Sabrina realizes as Penelope stares at the door, and a worried look spreads across her face. "You don't know, do you? Unbelievable, you're a real spirit here to help me, keep me from killing myself, and all you do is drive me crazy. Couldn't they have sent me someone older and wiser? Someone... I don't know, twenty-five?"
Penelope hurt says, "I was never twenty-five."
"What?" Sabrina notices sadness fills her very being. "You mean you... died? This age you are now?"
"Yes, so you see I never became older or wiser, and I am doing the best I can. Honestly I am."
Sabrina has a broken heart, but now she feels she has two. "Oh... Penelope, you died so young."
"And I wish for you a better fortune. I, as you, had a beau... Matthew. I was but seventeen and madly in love. We walked hand in hand through flowers abloom as far as the eye could see and amidst them we sat, and Matthew would recite love sonnets and poems. He was handsome with the air of a nobleman, and he carried himself as such. However unbeknownst to me, he carried others to his bed."
Sabrina, eyes full of tears, shares a sad sympathetic smile with Penelope. "Just like that skirt chasing son of a bitch, Gary."
Penelope nods, "Yes, Matthew was a son of a bitch also." Penelope looks and feels obligated to finish her story. After all this is the reason she is here. "I must tell you, I took my life. Hung myself."
Sabrina takes a deep breath feeling she has heard enough and says, "You don't have to tell me," but Penelope must finish her story.
Penelope tells her, "I must. I watched as you wept, as you cursed your life. Sabrina, I missed having a husband, children. I missed my life. I threw it away when I threw myself from a limb with a rope around my neck. They found me with my hands clutching the rope trying to undo what I could not. My mother was a devout Christian, never missed church, gave to the poor, and ended up cursing God for what I had done. She spent the rest of her life questioning, wondering how she might have prevented my death."
Silence and peace permeates the room as Penelope's story is finally finished, and Sabrina has nothing to add. A bond between the two is strong as they stand together.
Marge calls out from the bedroom, "I won't be long. Are you ready?"
Sabrina, emotional and all but speechless answers in a soft, weak voice, "Yes."
Marge hears her voice and concerned asks, "You okay?"
Sabrina smiles at Penelope and while looking at her states with conviction, "Yes, I'm going to be fine."
A bright light shines upon Penelope, the glare causing Sabrina to cover her eyes, and then the light withdraws as quickly as it came. Sabrina looks at Penelope who appears dizzy, but recovers when she shakes her head. Penelope disoriented states, "I feel different."
Sabrina asks, "Can I get you anything?"
"I'll get you a drink."
Penelope starts laughing almost giggling. "I haven't been thirsty in 100 years... Pinch me."
"Pinch you?" Penelope nods, and Sabrina complies with a tender pinch. Penelope flinches, laughs, and says, "Pinch me harder." Sabrina begins to wonder how and when Penelope got into the bourbon, but Penelope's laugh is infectious, and Sabrina joins in.
Hearing the laughter, Marge walks in, sees Penelope and says, "Oh Hello, let me in on it. I could use a good laugh."
Penelope tells her as she giggles, "I'm thirsty, and Sabrina pinched me, and it hurt."
Marge nods and says patronizingly, "Uh huh... Guess you had to be there."
Sabrina realizes Marge now sees Penelope and introductions are in order. "This is my... cousin, Penelope. Penelope... Marge."
Penelope with a perfectly executed curtsy, replies, "Delighted to make your acquaintance."
Marge is surprised. "Likewise. Will you be here long?"
"I would love it if I'm able."
Marge tells them, "C'mon movie starts soon... We'll have a slumber party after."
Penelope hears this and is perplexed. She turns to Sabrina and quietly asks, "We will have a party while we sleep?"
Sabrina in a hushed tone, "I'll explain later."
Marge admires Penelope's dress. "I love your dress. Vintage?"
Thank you. "Yes, it is... vintage."
Sabrina tells them. "I'd better get changed," and heads to the bathroom.
Marge lays down the ground rules for the night. "Remember tonight, movie only. No spirits tonight."
Sabrina and Penelope share a knowing look, smile and chime in together. "Right, no spirits."