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Fiction Horror Mystery

‘YOU MUST COME to my shop. And I mean, now!’ Reah said as she grinned into her mobile.

‘Why? You know I can’t afford anything in there,’ said Bella.

‘Come anyway. You will love this.’

‘What have you got?’

‘Come and see. I’ll even treat you to a coffee.’

‘Big deal. See you soon.’

‘Are you going to look for a job today?’ asked Bella’s mum as the front door opened.

‘Yes, Mum,’ lied Bella.

‘Don’t forget I need you to look after Gran later.’

‘No, Mum.’

‘Is that coffee ready, I need it.’

‘Stressful at home is it?’ asked Reah.

‘Christ, if only you knew. I need a job to escape them.’

‘I can’t offer you my job, but I’ve got something you’ll love.’

Coffee mugs chinked together.

‘Come with me.’ Reah led her friend to the antique shop’s back room.

‘Wow, I’ve not been in here. Is this where you tart everything up before you display it?’

‘Now, now, we don’t fake anything, we clean and show off goods to their best. What do you think of this?’ Reah pulled Bella past dusty sheets to a dark corner. ‘There, what do you think of that?’

‘It’s a dirty mirror, with a weird frame.’

‘Yes, but look,’ Reah’s phone torch brightened the item.

‘It is still a mirror, but I can see it better.’ Bella laughed.

‘Whose name is that, engraved in the plaster frame?’

Bella leaned closer and stretched up on tip-toes. Then fell backwards.

‘Where did you find it?’

‘Now that is a good question. But first, that is your surname, but whose Christian name is it?’

‘The name in full is “James Robertson-Levine”. My grandfather or his grandfather. The male side of the family was all named the same, why? I haven’t a clue. So that fancy mirror could be from fifty to hundreds of years old. So, where did you get it?’

‘My boss wants to know its history. What can you tell him?’

‘I’ve no idea, that is the first time I’ve seen it.’

‘What about your granny? Will she know anything?’

‘She may.’

‘We know the old lady couldn’t get here in her wheelchair, so how about we lend you the mirror? Take it home and see if you can get any info, from your mum or gran?’

‘What if I drop it? Is it insured?’

‘Don’t worry. It’s probably only worth anything to your family.’ The friends giggled.

‘Are you going to tell me, where did your boss find it?’

‘Now that is a mystery. It was in the attic of a long-empty old house. Why did they have your mirror?’

’Not from “Peak Manor” was it?’

‘Yes, how did you know?’

‘Gran was freaking out about it. She said she knew the owners and they were all “bones and dust”. I asked her what she meant, then after cackling, she clammed up.’

‘My boss out-bid other dealers to get the rights to empty the place and sell whatever was valuable. There are no living ancestors. He took a gamble with his bid, so he is keen to learn what he can about the items.’

‘Let me look closer. The frame is wooden with a decorative plaster border. Is that usual?’

‘Yes, they were popular in the 19th Century.’

‘Now, what have we got? Farmyard animals?’

‘Yes, but look closer.’

Bella peered, her nose almost touching the glass as she studied the creatures. Suddenly, she leapt back and glared over her shoulder. ‘Don’t do that…’

‘What? I’m here,’ Reah said.

‘Did you see that?’

‘No. What are you talking about?’

‘There was a man reflected in the mirror. Where has he gone?’

‘There was no one here.’

‘Is your boss playing tricks on us?’ asked Bella.

‘I doubt it. He hasn’t got any sense of humour. Anyway, he’s at another auction today.’

The item was wrapped, and Bella carried it home.

Gran wheeled away from the TV, ‘What have you got there, love?’

‘Something I’m sure you’ll be interested in. Come and look.’

Sellotape snipped and the paper peeled away.

‘Where did you get that? Destroy it now,’ screamed Gran. She stretched across the table, her arms swinging like a bird with broken wings. Her cheeks reddened ready to burst, her open hands slapped the table and then the arms of her wheelchair. ‘Get rid of that fucking thing!’

‘Nan, whatever is wrong?’ Bella had never heard the old lady say swear before. She grabbed the mirror and ran upstairs. The wheelchair sped to the bottom step. Its rider bellowed and cursed, slapping the balustrade wood. The bottom rungs splintered and split.

After dumping the frame on her bed, Bella grabbed her mobile and ran to the landing.

‘Mum, you had better come home, now. Gran has gone mad, she is trying to climb the stairs. I don’t know what to do.’

The old lady slumped wheezing into a heap. Bella ran down calling an ambulance as she skidded over the stairs.

‘Gran, Gran, wake up. Please wake up!’

Ambulance lights flashed through the frosted glass of the front door. Bella rushed to open it, and her mother arrived as the door swung back. Two ambulance staff rushed to the stairs. Soon they were shaking their heads and mouthing, ‘Sorry.’

Later, mother and daughter sat in silence, nursing a cooling coffee. Neither spoke as words led to more tears.

Bella's mother stood and fetched the remains of a sherry bottle. It had sat lonely for as long as anyone could remember. ‘Do you think it’s okay to drink?’

‘I’ve no idea, Mum, we could try it. You go first.’ Bella snorted.

Some tearful ice was broken into glasses. The two women shared memories of the dear departed lady who had shared their lives.

‘Oh, I almost forgot. Mum, I didn’t tell you why Gran went into a frenzy. I brought a mirror home from Reah’s store. It has our name on it. Reah's boss wanted to learn more about it.’

‘A mirror with your Dad’s name on it?’

‘Yes, the family name, Robertson-Levine.’

‘Where did she get it.’ Mother froze, ‘Don’t tell me, Peak Manor?’

‘Yes, Mum, how do you know?’

‘Where is the mirror?’

‘Upstairs in my bedroom, come and look.’

Bella propped the mirror against the wall.

Instantly Bella turned and flashed a look over her shoulder.

‘There is no one there, dear.’

‘Mum, I saw…’

‘Yes, your Grandfather.’

‘He smiled this time. Now he’s gone.’

‘He’ll probably never come back.’

‘Mum, you are worrying me. What is this all about?’

‘I guess there is no harm in telling you now. Your Grandfather had a girlfriend. His wife, your Grandmother found out. The girl was the daughter of Peak Manor’s owner.’

Both ladies slumped back onto the bed. Mother shook her head, daughter looked puzzled.

‘Your grandparents fell down the stairs. My mother ended up in the wheelchair, my father broke his neck and died.’

‘Was it an accident?’

‘I don’t think so. The police wrote it up as misadventure. Whatever, they were grappling on the landing.’

‘How old were you? Mum, do you remember anything?’

‘I was only five. I remember my father as he lay at the bottom of the stairs, he pointed to the mirror and said: “The truth will be told there.” I had no idea what he meant. Until today.’

The END

November 24, 2023 05:00

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