Stories: the muse

by Chad V. Broughman
“I don’t know why they left it.” Laurie’s tone was short; our move had rattled her. I strode to the mirror – chocolate-red frame, shiny finish and intricate trim work with whittled s-shapes and curlicues. It was tall and its legs sturdy and the feet were bowed like a lama’s jaw.
Laurie gnawed her fingernail, eyeing the packing crates. “Maybe the owners thought we’d like it?” She raked her yellow hair, clamped her lower lip in her teeth then dove into a box marked BEDDING AND ART – perfect block letters. “We could sell it?”
“Yep.” I stroked the smooth casing.
“… maybe sand it… or stain it… or…”
“Sure.” I peered into the dusty glass.
“… this will be a cute guestroom… if we paint… and curtains…” Laurie droned on, yet in the mirror, an image of her stony face drilled through me. My heart hammered at my chest and I sucked hard for air.
“What did you say?” Laurie continued her frantic pillaging. “Well, anyway… with the right fabrics and such…” I turned to my beloved, steeped in blankets and nerves, then back to the mirror.
“Tell her,” Laurie’s reflection mouthed, slow and amplified, through clenched jowls; its ice-green eyes bore down. I fumbled to the floor, locked in my lover’s rabid likeness. “Laurie?”
“Yes?” My skittish bride walked over and knelt behind me. “What happened?”
I couldn’t speak.
Laurie looked into the dubious glass, “you’re so handsome,” but glanced back at the unpacked boxes. I could feel her anxiousness.
The figment shuddered like it bit a lime. “Tell her… Now!”
Then all my misdeeds struck at once – my soul wrenched like bait. I watched her lips in horror as they mimed emphatically, “Or… I… will.”
“You’re bluffing!” I spat. Laurie twitched – my lovely, nervous bride felt my sins and poured over them. And I squirmed beneath the ire. She quietly stood and crept to the mirror then reared back her pretty head…
… and lurched. Her face split the glass like a tree.
Sweet Laurie sprawled her fingers across her bloody face and swayed amidst the shards before staggering back to the boxes and resuming her work,
“… now, as far as color schemes go…”
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