The wall was faded light blue, the paint rough and chipping off in places. One had to look very closely in order to see the faint outline where the large ornate mirror etched in gold had hung for years above the brick fireplace. Most people who came to the house forget it had ever hung there. But Lisa couldn’t forget. Sometimes, she would still hear her name being called from the mirror locked away in the attic. With a pounding heart, she would run to the small pedestal table in the corner, her hands furtively seeking the latch that would release the secret door revealing the skeleton key hidden inside.
But then the voice of reason, that of her dead husband Carl, would resound in her head and she would freeze. “There is no hope,” Carl used to whisper in her ear. ” You have to forget.”
Her beloved Carl had died two years ago. The Doctor believe his death resulted from having a bad heart, but Lisa knew it was from a broken heart.
Remembering his words, Lisa would drop the key she gripped tightly in her hand and gently close the door with a soft click. Lisa attempted to go back to her lonely mundane life until the next time she heard her name being called.
“Have you ever thought of adopting a child?” Lisa’s best friend Molly asked her one day. This was a conversation that popped up every couple of years since the incident. “You know Carl would have not wanted you to be alone.
Lisa looked at her friend, her bright twinkling eyes and laughter lines etched softly on her face in sharp contrast to her own dull eyes and deep sorrow lines. Lisa was aware her biological clock had stopped ticking a while ago. She was still young enough to adopt and raise a child, it was true, but her friend didn’t truly understand the circumstances of how they had lost Sara.
“I don’t think Carl would have wanted me to adopt a child,” Lisa replied feeling the familiar bile rising up, threatening to choke her. Let alone raise one in this house, she thought.
“You need to seek out some help,” Molly said. “You have been grieving for too long.”
Lisa let out a long sigh, turning her back to Molly. ” It’s hopeless. I have come to terms with this being my life.”
Molly gently put her hands on Lisa’s shoulders turning her around. “Sara has been gone a long time, sweetie. I know the pain from losing a child never goes away,” she said, looking deep into Lisa’s eyes. “I think Carl helped ease that pain for a while, but now he’s gone too.
Lisa abruptly turns away, successfully twisting loose of Molly’s grasp on her shoulders. Sobs threatened to escape from her throat, and she struggles to control her breathing. She wanted to tell Molly the truth for 10 years now, but how would she react to the fact that Sara had never died? To the fact there had never been a private funeral, like Carl and I had told everyone.
“I have to show you something!” Lisa said, grabbing Molly’s hand dragging her over to the small pedestal table with the secret compartment. Nervously scanning the room she half expected to see Carl show up and try to stop her. Realizing that was not going to happen, she drops Molly’s hand and takes out the skeleton key.
“What is that key for?” asked Molly with wide eyes.
“Listen to me carefully and don’t freak out,” Lisa pleaded to look deeply into Molly’s eyes. “Sara never really died. .”
Lisa almost changed her mind as she took in Molly’s open mouth and a stunned expression. No! Keeping this lie a secret has gone on long enough. It is time to reveal the truth.
Lisa grabs Molly by the hand once again, dragging her towards the locked door leading up to the attic where the mirror was safely tucked away. Pausing, Lisa takes a deep breath and rests her forehead against the cool wood of the door.
Inserting the key, the heavy wooden door creaks open on its rusty hinges and a foul rotting odor fills the air. With trembling hands, Lisa reaches up and pulls the chain. The light illuminates the cobwebs turning them into a silvery shimmer. An unpleasant shiver runs down her spine as a young girls voice suddenly calls out her name. Lisa! Lisa! The look in Molly’s eyes confirmed that she had also heard it.
“What is happening? Is that Sara?”
“Yes and no,” replied Lisa. “The voice sounds like Sara but is definitely not the same little girl we raised.”
” Did Carl know about this?” Molly asked with wide eyes.
“Yes,” whispers Lisa, shaking her head up and down. This is why he died from a broken heart, she thought to herself.
Lisa recalled when Sara first told her and Carl about the old lady in the mirror who sometimes talked to her. They chalked it up to Sara having an imaginary friend and didn’t give it much thought. However, strange things begin to happen after that. Sara disappeared one day for several hours and Lisa and Carl tore the house apart looking for her hiding place. They finally found her curled up sleeping on the white fur rug directly under the large ornate mirror. When questioned, Sara couldn’t recall where she had been.
The events after the second time she disappeared were completely different. Sara walked around the house staring blankly without speaking for several hours before appearing at the foot of their bed in the middle of the night. The foul rotting smell roused Lisa from sleep and her heart leaped into her throat as she saw Sara with her back to the bed, her feet not touching the carpet as she glided back and forth mumbling to herself. At least it looked like she was talking to herself because Lisa could see no one besides Carl and herself in the room. Suddenly, Sara became quiet and turned slowly facing the bed. Black substance oozed from her eyes and a gash where her mouth used to be opened wide as the moonlight reflected off the ax she held in her hands.
It was Carl who woke up, turning the light on and chasing Sara down the hall with Lisa close behind in pursuit. He stood looking bewildered as Sara seemed to vanish into thin air. Suddenly, the eerie silence was shattered by a voice calling for Lisa. Fumbling her way into the darkened living room, Lisa felt her blood run cold as the image of her daughter with the blackened eyes and evil slash for a mouth appeared in the mirror. Blood seeped from under the edges of the gilt covered frame and an evil laugh filled the room.
“Carl!” she screamed.
Carl ran into the room and came to a sudden halt. Eyes like saucers he snatched the mirror from the wall and sprinted towards the attic.
Lisa willed her legs to move and realized she was to late as Carl came clamoring back down the stairs, shutting the door with a resounding bang.
“That thing is not our daughter,” he said as his shaking hands fumbled with the key.
Lisa cried and pleaded, but Carl refused to bring the mirror back down. “She’s gone! Accept it and never ever unlock that door!” he said, running over to the pedestal table and placing the key inside.
For 10 years, Lisa listened to her daughter calling her name knowing it wasn’t truly her daughter. At the same time, she refused to forget her and move away from home.
Lisa had had enough. She was worn out and broken-hearted. She didn’t care what happened to her anymore. Sara and Carl were both gone. She was already living as if her life had ended along with theirs.
Lisa tiptoes up the steep wooden stairs leaving a pale-faced Molly waiting. Halfway up she hears Carl’s voice whispering, “Lisa doesn’t do it!”
Glancing over her shoulder she sees only Molly there. “I’m sorry Carl, but you are not really here,” Lisa whispers.
Determined, Lisa marches over to the mirror and with shaking legs she heaves it over her head.
I don’t care if she kills me! I can’t live like this anymore. I am alone and trapped in this house with her!” thought Lisa, as she violently threw the mirror onto the floor.
Suddenly, the dimly lit attic was brightened by a glowing white light that rose up from the broken shards of glass. The shards of glass begin to shake and swirl all around her and the noise was deafening. Lisa rubbed her eyes and tried to take a step back. Every muscle in her body commanded her to run, but her feet were firmly planted to the floor as the swirling glass above her began to form a silhouette. As quickly as it had started it was over. In the stillness of the room stood Sara. Not the demonic Sarah, but her sweet innocent little five-year old girl. She was smiling and ran to Lisa with her arms outstretched.
” Mama!” she cried. “You broke the curse. The old lady said when you finally broke the mirror I would be free.”