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Rural Georgia, 1875.

The mirror

Sarah stood put her hand on her aching back. Weeding the herb garden always took so much out of her when she insisted on doing it all in the same day, especially in the heat of mid May. So thirsty she could barely muster enough spit to swallow, she clomped to the well. She lowered the wood bucket over the edge, waiting to hear the splash when it landed.

Even hearing the splash made her feel cooler. Good thing, cause her arms were tired and her hands ached, but she turned the crank to bring up a bucket full of cold, sweet water.

Using the dented medal dipper, she poured water over her callused hands, reveling in the slight sting washing the cuts and scratches. Well, it couldn't be helped. Herbs added flavor to her meals and she needed the money from the sale of her herbs.

As she raised the next dipper of water to her lips she paused at a flash in the distance. A glint of sunlight on some trespasser's weapon? Drinking her fill of the much needed liquid, she measured the distance to her own shotgun.

At times like this Sarah missed having a man who could search the area to find the source of the flashes. Her daddy would have sighted any intruder and have him trussed in two minutes flat, but Daddy was out hunting men with bounties on their heads.

Never one to stand around and wonder, she dove toward the shotgun, crawling several body-lengths before she reached it. Struggling against her heavy skirts she raised into a kneeling position. No shots rang through the air. Maybe the trespasser wasn't looking her way.

Rushing short distances in a crouch she hid behind a bush, then a barrel. Daddy had taught her well. A shed offered protection while she caught her breath and waited. She'd have bruises to go with the aching back tonight and one very dirty work skirt. Today would have been a good day to wear a pair of her brother's outgrown trousers. Well, she hadn't, so now she had to sneak up on someone despite rustling skirts. Maybe if she removed them, or at least one? Not a good idea when her white bloomers would make her easier to spot. And she'd be caught in her under things.

Peeking around a corner she still caught glimpses of the flash of light. The closer she moved, the less the flash looked like sunlight glinting from a gun barrel. What else could it be?

Nearing the source of the light the larger it seemed to grow. Still, no sign of a person near it made her wary. Could the person be lying in wait for her, waiting for her to approach the large piece of metal or glass, whatever it was? She and her brother had used glass shards to send signals to each other as children. Who would have left either at the edge of woods on her family's property?

Within a few feet she saw clearly. A finely-carved fame on a stand holding a cheval mirror stood alone among the trees and weeds. A cheval mirror? Now she knew this was a trick. She had never seen a real mirror, much less one so elegant. Who would have brought one this way, much less left it here?

A trap? Maybe someone wanted her to try to take it so he could ..what, capture her? Buy her soul? Ridiculous. From this distance a man or woman with good aims could have shot her at any time this morning. She crept toward the mirror, finally close enough to touch it.

Running her hand over the smooth wood she considered the idea of selling her soul for the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. That mirror would belong to her, now. She felt it in her bones. She began the job of dragging the wooden stand toward her house. She couldn't leave her shotgun and she wouldn't leave the mirror. Every few yards she moved the gun ahead several steps, then returned to get the mirror. After three trips for each, she considered leaving it to fetch her wheelbarrow to help her tote this treasure home. Too bad she didn't expect her daddy or her brother home to help her for days.

Once she had prize in the open where she could see her house clearly, she scurried to the wheelbarrow and back. After that the rest proved easy.

By the time she had dragged the heavy mirror onto her porch and into her house, she hurt more than she had ever considered possible, but she had the mirror and would keep it no matter who returned to claim it.

3 comments

  1. Beth Trissel // May 20, 2008 at 11:47 AM  

    Mary, you continue to tantalize us.

  2. Nightingale // May 20, 2008 at 2:18 PM  

    I really like this one, Mary. Words like "tote" give it Southern flavor--There you go! Southern Gothic, you're on it, Girl.

    Kidding aside, it's very well written and intriguing.

  3. Nightingale // May 20, 2008 at 2:19 PM  

    How do you girls get your picture to appear beside your comments? Ditz Blonde here.