Nimue felt it for the first time after walking into the musky antique store. A faint whisper in her ear, a pull on her fingertips. It was a calling with a sweet hint of nectar, beckoning her down the dusty aisle. Her feet wanted to follow, but the grasp of her mother’s hand kept her close.
“There is a lot of glass here, I don’t want you to knock anything down sweetheart,” the mother told her young child.
“I promise to be careful,” Nimue pleaded, holding up her pinky finger. “I pinky promise that I'll be careful!” her mother chuckled at the enthusiasm before connecting their pinkies. Nimue left her mother’s side and let the feeling guide her way.
Nimue couldn’t see over the top shelf even when on her tippy toes. They were lined with weird-colored plates, old dusty teapots, and dolls with shiny eyes. All the dolls stared in the same direction, towards a dim corner in the back of the store. Nimue followed their gaze, coming up to a mirror hun upon the wall with great care.
The mirror was grand, worthy of the gaze of a Queen. An outline of gold, not a single crack or crease upon the flawless glass. Nimue was stuck in its gaze, wishing she could see herself wearing a crown. If only she had brought the one her uncle had given her.
In the reflection, there was a flash of white. Nimue turned around, but there were just more dusty shelves under dim light. Nimue walked closer to the shelves to see if she missed anything, but they were still the same boring shelves. Satisfied, Nimue went back to the mirror—but there it was again—the flash of white replaced her reflection. Nimue decided to stare at the white, watching with wide eyes as the white came closer to the mirror and took a misty form.
Nimue stared in awe as a woman in a wedding gown took form in place of her reflection, a beautiful bouquet of flowers held in her hand, adorned with pink lace. The scent of sweet nectar was as strong as ever. A veil covered the lady’s face, but with the slow movement of her hand, the veil was moved, and a kind but sorrowful face shined through.
“You look pretty,” Nimue spoke, still looking at the bride through the reflection in the mirror. Her smile warmed, but her eyes still sad and cold.
“Thank you, my child.” The bride replied, her voice sounding like a distant echo right in Nimue’s ears.
“Nimue, there you are!” Nimue turned around at the sound of her mother’s voice. Her mother stood next to the dusty shelf, bag in hand. “It’s time for us to go now.” Nimue looked around one last time, but the bride was nowhere to be seen. Nimue took her mother’s hand and left the antique store. The scent of sweet nectar got faint, then gone.
Nimue felt the pull again, ever so slightly on the tips of her fingers. She sat between her mother and grandmother in a restaurant not too far from the old antique shop. It was the first time they had been back in the neighborhood in over six years. The restaurant was filled with an aroma of freshly baked bread, but the sweet scent of nectar called her away.
“Can I go to the bathroom?” Nimue asked her mother before leaving the table. Passing by the bathrooms, she left the restaurant and found herself in the middle of the sidewalk without knowing where she was. Nimue didn’t remember the way to the antique shop, but the tug on her fingers lead her. The scent became stronger, leading her to the door of the antique shop.
The door was locked, and beyond the glass of the window were nothing but shadows of old pottery and dolls with shiny glass eyes that reflected the sunlight that shined through. Nimue did the only thing that came to her mind and searched under the doormat. Underneath the dirty matt was a key. Unlocking the door, Nimue followed the scent to the back corner of the store, where the golden mirror shined the white light that stood as her reflection. Nimue crossed her legs and sat in front of the mirror, waiting for the bride to fully appear.
“Hello again,” Nimue chimed once the bride came to be, still as beautiful as ever with her bouquet giving the sweet scent of nectar. “I’m Nimue Omari! What’s your name?”
“Rose,” the bride spoke, her words still a distant echo swirling around her ear. “My name was Rose Williams.”
“I’m 12, how old are you?” Nimue scooched closer to the mirror as the bride lowered herself to sit in front of Nimue, her dress flowing gracefully down onto the floor.
“I’m 22,” Rose responded, eyes still holding their sad look. Nimue remembered her eyes well. It was the one thing that constantly appeared in her dreams, along with the smell of sweet nectar.
“Are you dead?” Nimue watched as Rose gave a short nod. She was about 95% sure that the bride was a ghost. Nimue couldn’t think of another way for someone to get stuck in a mirror. “Are you a nice ghost?
“Do you think that I am nice?”
“You seem like a very nice ghost, I just wanted to check,” Nimue nodded, watching a smile took place upon Rose’s lips.
“And you are a very nice young lady,”
“Why do you look so sad?” Nimue watched as Rose clutched the flowers closer to her chest.
“I’m lost, I can’t find him. I don’t know where he is.” Nimue thought up more than a million questions to ask Rose about this him when a creak from behind her stole Nimue’s attention.
“The store is closed, you shouldn’t be in here.” An old man grumbled. Nimue guessed that he was the owner. “How did you even get in here? The door was locked.”
“No it wasn’t!” Nimue shot back, voice high and cheeks red. “I thought it was open because the door was unlocked.” She glanced back at the mirror, saddened when she no longer saw Rose.
“I can’t have a kid running around, come in the office and call your parents,” He stumbled back to the office, cane clicking the hardwood of the floor. Turning his head over his shoulder, he expected to have the young girl following, but that was not the case at all.
Nimue made a dash for it, bolting down the unfamiliar street, hoping that somehow she would make it back to the restaurant. Nimue asked a woman passing by for directions to the restaurant. It wasn’t long before Nimue retook her place between her mother and grandmother, appetizers already served.
“Nimue, what took you so long? I was about to go looking for you.” Her mother asked, placing a hand over her forehead. “Are you feeling unwell, do you want to go home?”
“I’m all better now, see?” Nimue stuffed her face with a piece of fancy bread and hoping her mother would drop the subject. Luckily she did, and as her mother returned to the endless conversation between the family, Nimue was left to ponder Rose, the beautiful bride in the mirror.
There were way too many Rose Williams to narrow it down. It was challenging to bike to every cemetery in the city, but Nimue was determined. She had sketches of Rose that she had made over the years, any links to a 22 year-old Rose Williams that she could find pinned to her wall. Her room looked like she was an investigator from the shows her mother liked to watch, searching down the one that always seemed to getaway. That’s kind of how Nimue felt.
No matter how many times Nimue went back—which wasn’t very often with how far it was and the limitations of a bike and curfew—she could never get Rose to appear again. In moments of doubt, Nimue wanted to sum it up to an active imagination, but she could still remember the sweet smell of nectar, the sweetest smell she had ever smelled before.
It had to be real.
“If I was trying to find a dead person with just a name, what would be the best to do it?” Nimue asked her uncle Victor after they had sat down with her mother for dinner. Victor was a police chief, a tall and confident man who hardly ever came down to visit the two. Nimue wanted to squeeze out as much as possible.
“Only a name? Do you have a year of death?”
“Nope,” Nimue sighed, twirling more spaghetti onto her fork. The swirling felt endless, just like her mission. “All I know is that she was 22.”
“That is quite the case,” Victor hummed.
“Let your uncle eat, he has had a long day,” her mother scolded, but Victor waved her off.
“The girl is hungry for knowledge, and I love case questions!” Victor shoved another forkful of spaghetti into his mouth, red sauce painting over his glorious mustache. “Do you have anything that belonged to this mystery woman?”
“I know about a mirror that belonged to her, a really big golden one.”
“There you go, that’s all you will need! Track down the origins of the mirror and you will find your mystery woman.” Victor slapped her back with a chuckle before going back to devouring his plate of food. It wasn’t long before her mother dragged him into a boring adult conversation. Nimue was more than alright with not being a part of the conversation. She had more important things on her mind.
The next day, she somehow convinced her mother to let her roam free while she took the day off to visited with her brother. Nimue was able to get her uncle Victor on her side, leaving her with a day of freedom, all leading to her standing in front of the old man who owned the antique store, praying that he didn’t recognize her after she had broken in five years prior.
“I’m looking for someone responsible, not a teenage who is going to do nothing but play on their phone or find someone to make out with in the back.” The man waved her off, Phil as the nametag said.
“It’s very rude of you to make such an assumption,” Nimue barked back, urging her resume closer. “I’m 17 and fully capable of being responsible. Take a look at my resume and you will see that I’m not lying.” Phil rolled his eyes and pulled out a pair of janky-looking reading glasses before holding the paper up and reading it.
“Fine, I guess I only need a part time cashier anyways. Come in my office and we can do the interview.” Nimue gleamed as she followed him and went along with the monotonous interview. Within a week, Nimue found herself with a part-time job and in the perfect position to discover the origins of the mirror. She also believed that there would be the added benefit of talking with Rose more, but the bride had seemed to have gone into hiding.
In between customers, during the quiet hours, and right before weekend openings, Nimue would sit right in front of the mirror and wait for the flash of white. There was no sweet nectar, not a single tug on her fingertips. It felt like hours of her life were drained, staring at her own reflection. Never before had her own face been such a disappointment.
Nimue was fine through—besides the frostbite from the cold shoulder—she found herself elbow deep into the world’s most unorganized file cabinets. Papers were thrown, crumpled, and stained with coffee, a mess that was far from worth minimum wage. In a chaotic balance of school, soccer, working, and searching for Rose, Nimue found herself six months later, exhausted and only halfway through the mess of documents. She volunteered to organize it to hide her tracks. Phil was impressed, but not enough to give her a raise.
It wasn’t much, but there were a couple of pages that mentioned the mirror. It had been in the shop for over thirty years, being here since the store was bought from the previous owner, a clothing store turned antique shop. There was nothing else but a name for Mary Ricket, a woman that owned the store before, so all that left Nimue with was another treasure hunt with an address for a house on the other side of the city.
It was time to start saving for a car.
Nimue felt terrible, but desperate times called for desperate measures. Besides, Nimue was due for some teenage rebellion during her last months of high school. Instead of biking to school the following day, Nimue spent almost two hours biking far north in the early summer heat. After knocking, a man opened the door, and a tornado of sounds blasted through. Saying the man looked exhausted was an understatement. With puke staining his shirt, one baby in his arms, and a toddler on his leg.
“Can I help you?” He asked, voice horse and most definitely missing a morning coffee.
“I am looking for a Mary Ricket, is she here?”
“Why do you want to see her?”
“She used to own a store called ‘Gowns and Stiches’, and I just had a couple of questions that I need to ask her.” Nimue pulled out the document and showed the man. He glanced at the name before pushing the door open and welcoming Nimue into a living room.
“I hear that you were looking for me dearie,” a soft voice poked from behind her, an older woman slowly coming around to sit on the seat across from her. She looked a lot like Rose, minus the ghostly glow and the wedding gown. “Something about the store I owned?”
“There was a golden mirror that you left in the store when you sold it, I was wondering if you knew who it belonged to?” Nimue took out a sketch of the mirror, one without Rose in it just in case Mary wasn’t a believer in the supernatural.
“Oh yes, I remember. It’s been passed down a couple of generations, bit of a story if you have the time.” Mary said, handing back the sketchbook.
“Please do tell!” Nimue responded a bit loud, but the excitement was overwhelming.
“It was a courting gift given to my great aunt Rose from James, a carpenter that had been in love with her since they were just kids. My grandmother used to tell me about the songs James wrote for her, and the garden that the two of them had planted. She said that the two were made for each other.”
“Rose Williams?” Nimue asked, heart pounding.
“It was Rose River, Williams was James last name. They were set to marry but the wedding day never came. James was drafted off to war before they were able to wed. Rose fell sick with the Spanish flu and died just before we received news that James died in battle. It was awful how the two were separated.”
“So Rose never got to learn what happened to James?” Nimue sighed after Mary nodded.
“It was hard on my grandmother, watching her sister lose everything to death. James had written her almost every day, but Rose never got to read the last letter.”
“Do you still have it?” Nimue nearly jumped for joy when Mary beckoned her to enter the attic.
Nimue had never been so excited to have a closing shift before. With the words of the final love letter basically burned into her mind, she was sure that Rose would come out of hiding. Years of searching, all coming to this day. Phil left for the office half an hour before close to doing ‘paperwork,’ but Nimue knew that he meant sleeping. She has started sweeping the floor after officially closing when the sweet smell hit her nose. Dropping the broom, she raced to the mirror and pulled the note from her pocket. The flash of while replaced her reflection, stepping through, finally, the face of Rose.
“Rose! I missed you!” Tears started to swell in the corners of her eyes.
“I’m sorry to have kept you waiting,” Rose said, sadness drenching her every word. “It is dark in here. I couldn’t find you, I can’t find him.”
“I found him!” Nimue unfolded the letter, showing it to Rose. “It’s from James!” For the first time, Rose’s whole face glowed with joy as she urged Nimue to read.
My sweet flower
I won’t be able to come home. The love you gave to me helped keep me alive, but my time has come. I will wait for you, I will find you when your time comes as well. I shall never be happy again until you are back into my arms. Together we can plant our garden and stay forever in God’s graces.
Your one and only,
“My James is looking for me,” Rose spoke softly, her words a tingle in Nimue’s ear, the glow around her becoming brighter. “Thank you, my sweet child, for I know he is looking for me. I must find my way, for he cannot see me in the dark. Goodbye, my dear Nimue.”
The white light took over the mirror before it shattered, glass cascading down, but all of them missed Nimue as if she were being shielded. On the ground, surrounded by the shards, was a single pink rose. Nimue picked it up, bringing it to her nose, and took in the sweet smell of nectar.
“What happened!” Phil stumbled from his office, cane in the air. Nimue froze as he took in the scene of the shattered mirror where she stood dead center. He grumbled something about teenagers before using the cane to point at her chest. “That’s coming out of your paycheck.”