The hand mirror was so old the silver was degrading. The surface of a new mirror is flat, hard and perfect, the reflection is immediate. An old mirror, however, has depth. There are layers of obfuscation before the image is reflected back. It is as though time becomes revealed in the shadows and craquelure of an old mirror.
The hand mirror was once part of a bureau set. The owner received it as a wedding gift from her husband when she was 20 years old. The mirror was gold and had a long handle. On the reverse side of the mirror the surface was embellished with golden flowers, vines and framed with an intricate filigree trim. On the glass side, at the base of the mirror and just above where the handle was formed was a delicate golden bow. Each day she would hold the mirror and gaze into it, it reflected her own golden beauty. The mirror was perfect and she was too.
One day, several years later, she spilled some perfume on its surface by mistake. She quickly wiped it dry but some of the aroma must have seeped behind the glass. A few days later she noticed a stain of erosion in the mirror. When she held the mirror up the stain affected her reflection, it was as if a jagged line demarked her face. She still used the mirror but now she didn’t smile when she saw the reflection. She tried to avoid the imperfection but the adjustment was not satisfying.
As time passed she noticed the mirror graying. She wanted to whisk away the cobwebbed effect that lay beneath the glass surface, but could not. And yet the hand mirror was still beautiful, just showing a bit of wear.
One day she gazed into the mirror and noticed it was harder to see the details. The mirror had a new layer of smoke curling up and cutting into the reflection, like a cataract clouding a lens.
She still loved the mirror though, and remembered how it once perfectly reflected her image. A friend suggested she have the glass replaced or at least re-silvered to make it perfect again. She said no. The mirror was aging, just as she was, and within all the reflected layers she saw her life revealed.
I joined Writers Bloc, a group of writers from Monmouth County, NJ, whose styles are as diverse as their backgrounds and interests. Here are some of my writings from our meetings.