Lily's Travellers Inn

Submitted into Contest #24 in response to: Write a magical realism story that takes place in the Wild West.... view prompt

1 comment


Lily poured four beers and set them on the wooden tray. She made her way over to the table where the men sat. They were strangers in town and for some reason she felt a suspicion creep over her.

''Nella, can you watch the guests for a bit? I'm just going upstairs.''

She nodded at her boss with a knowing smile.

In the bedroom, Lily stood before an ornate full length mirror.

Suddenly, the reflection of this beautiful young woman morphed into a young boy. He was dressed like any other boy in town. He adjusted his soft cap and returned downstairs.

As a boy, he sat next to the four men. He concentrated on fixing his sling shot as he listened to the men talking in low voices.

Without suspicion, he was able to hear their conversation.

After a few minutes, he realized that they were in town to rob the Clarksville bank tomorrow at noon.

The boy, learning as much as he needed, made his way back upstairs and stood before the magic mirror. The reflection shimmered, then Lily returned.

She wrapped a shawl around her shoulders and told Nella she would be back shortly.

Walking down the wooden sidewalks past the general store, she entered the bank and strode into the bank manager's office.

''Hello Charles, I had another inkling and I would suggest a few more guards here tomorrow.

He knew not to ask for details. He nodded his head.

She left the bank and returned to the saloon.

The town loved Lily. She had bought the saloon years ago when she was a young widow. She held a secret that only her bar maid Nella knew. A magical secret.

Years ago, a weary gypsy woman had arrived in town with a lame horse and no money. Lily had welcomed her warmly and gave her a place to stay while her horse recovered.

As the gypsy woman felt strong again and ready to move on, she had a special gift for Lily. Together they had wrestled this unwieldy gift up the stairs wrapped in a heavy blanket to Lily's bedroom.

The woman explained in a whisper how the mirror worked. Lily listened to the woman as she explained the magic of the mirror. Lily was amazed and just a little scared.

Anyone could change into another body by standing before the mirror and saying, ''morphe.. mystic.. magic.'' They would change into whatever image they held in their mind.

Lily at first avoided the mirror, but as the years went by, she could see the benefits.

She had once morphed into a young soldier's mother as he lay dying. He had died in what he believed was his mother's arms.

She had morphed into midwives, preachers, helpful boys, and one jovial lawyer who arrived in town to find a family in financial troubles. Turns out a dead relative that they had never heard of, saw fit to leave them a modest windfall.

Goodwill stories accumulated as Lily began to use the mirror.

She only used this magic for good deeds and to help the fine people of her town.

Her musings were interrupted by Nellie as she ran towards her excitedly.

''Miss Lily, Sarah is having her baby today but she is mad with fear because her midwife has not arrived from Carson City yet. The baby is due any minute now!""

Lily rushed up the stairs and held the image of the midwife in her mind.

Once again, she morphed. This time into a chubby middle aged woman with grey hair wound tight with a bun.

Sarah gave birth that afternoon. The ''midwife'' held her hand soothingly as she encouraged, then congratulated the frightened mother and her baby.

The next day, Lily sat by the window crocheting booties. She watched the four bank robbers from yesterday being led to the town jail by the sheriff.

She waved coyly at the bank manager.

That afternoon, the saloon doors swung open and a woman entered.

Lily shivered as the traveling woman signed the guest book and took a room upstairs.

She seemed nervous and kept glancing around. She told Lily that she was just passing through town, but Lily felt an evil intent about this woman.

As the woman sat by the window sipping tea and watching the townspeople, Lily made her way upstairs and softly closed the door. She stood before the mirror and while chanting ''morphe.. mirror.. mystic'' she imagined herself as a handsome man.

Then, a handsome man stood there. He ran fingers through thick, graying hair and shot his cuffs.

Whistling as he went down stairs, he introduced himself to this shady woman.

Lily was sure the woman would share her story to this eligible, smooth bachelor.

The woman's eyes lit up as she swooned with delight. Soon they were sitting head to head discussing her true intent.

As her new friend listened to her story, he soon realized that she knew about the mirror and its magic. Her plan was to steal it and use it for nefarious deeds.

The woman, captivated by the attention, revealed her plan to steal the mirror this afternoon.

The man excused himself shortly after and returned up stairs. Back in the bedroom, Lily was relieved to see the mirror still hanging. She locked the windows and closed the curtains.

She knew that she must be careful and remain alert for this impending theft.

Nella met her on the stairs. Her bar maid explained that widow Jackson needed someone to help her unload the cart from town. Usually they would find a young boy, but the kids were in school at this time.

Lily debated her decision for a moment then decided to help her elderly friend. It would only take a few minutes, then Lily would remain on guard for the rest of the day.

She back tracked upstairs and turned into the young boy once again.

The boy brushed the powdery flour from a ripped bag from his trousers. Widow Jackson tucked a few coins into his hand as he headed quickly back to the Inn.

The shady woman was sitting at the bar drinking lemonade. She looked around anxiously when the door open, perhaps searching for her elusive suitor from yesterday.

The boy raced up the stairs to change back to Lily. At the landing, the sound of crashing glass from her room, froze the boy in his tracks.

As he fearfully entered the bedroom, he could see someone as they esaped out the window.

The magic mirror, after so many years of doing great things, now lay like a sparkling carpet across the floor.

"'Dang!'' the young boy swore.

The townspeople accepted the story that Lily had traveled to see her ailing sister and her nephew would be taking over the saloon. Leon was just as helpful as Lily but without the magic.

The shards of glass lay now beneath the old oak trees where little birds preen in their reflection.

Bluebirds morphe into sparrows and robins into magpies.

January 14, 2020 11:22

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

1 comment

Bruno Lowagie
07:10 Jan 23, 2020

Hello, I'm new on Reedsy. I received the "Critique Circle" mail inviting me to read your story and comment it. I really liked your story. The pace at the start was slow, but it was compelling enough to keep reading. You developed the story well; I thought I could predict how it would end, but I was surprised anyway. The last sentences are golden.


Show 0 replies

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.