Here’s the third installment of my newest story, working title “The Frog Wish.” I hope you’ll read it and give me your opinions on it. It’s best to start with the first scene and work through them in order for them to make the most sense.
And here’s the third one. Enjoy!
“The Frog Wish” (part 3)
Moira whistled low when Eleanor told her she’d spent over twelve hundred dollars on a few new pieces of furniture for her bedroom. “I’m sure it’s a fair price for everything,” she said, but Eleanor knew she was thinking it was just a whole lot of money. “Would you like some help getting everything settled in?”
Eleanor would. Moira arrived a little after six, as soon as she closed up her shop. The delivery men had been gone only about fifteen minutes, and as soon as she let Moira in, Eleanor sprawled out on the floor with a cold bottle of water sluicing condensation onto her forehead.
“The bed is actually already put together,” Eleanor explained. “I got the supporting slats after I left the antiques shop and made it home just in time. But there aren’t any sheets on it yet, and the bureau is empty.” She sat up. “And there’s the matter of the mirror.”
“What mirror?” Moira asked, lifting the tapestry satchel off her shoulder and making herself comfortable on the sofa.
“I bought an enormous mirror. I don’t even know why.”
“You like mirrors. This one must have felt special to you.”
Eleanor took the water bottle off her face and turned to Moira. “Look around you at all the mirrors in this house.”
There were maybe a dozen scattered around the walls in the living room, the hallway, even the kitchen. And all of them were smaller than eight inches in diameter, some of them so decorated by their frames that they weren’t even useful as looking glasses. Eleanor loved mirrors, but she didn’t really use them.
Moira shrugged. “This isn’t the first time I’ve been inside your house. What’s so special about this?”
Eleanor sighed. “The mirror I bought is…large.”
Moira grinned. “Maybe you’ll be able to check your outfit properly before you leave the house each morning.”
Eleanor flipped her half-empty water bottle at her, but she wasn’t really annoyed. Moira caught the bottle and laughed.
“Yeah, that’s fair,” Eleanor said and heaved herself to standing. “Come on, I’ll show you.”
“Just a minute,” Moira said, rummaging in her satchel. She pulled out a gift-wrapped rectangle and handed it to her. “Here, have a house-reclaiming gift.”
“What is this?” Eleanor asked, eagerly sliding a fingernail under the edge of the wrapping paper.
“A book,” Moira said, although that was obvious from its shape.
The paper shed, Eleanor held a heavy volume of Grimms’ original fairy tales. She fingered the gilt edges of the pages and ran her palm down the thick spine, searching for something to say. She flipped through some of the pages.
“These illustrations are beautiful,” she said.
Moira smiled. “I thought you’d like them, since you love the art in my tarot cards so much.”
Eleanor only nodded slightly, keeping her eyes fixed on the book. She didn’t want to risk another reading tonight.
“This isn’t a full set of their stories, of course––there are hundreds of them––but all the usual suspects are in there, all the stories that most of us grew up with.”
“It’s really nice,” Eleanor said. “But, Moira…”
“Yes…?” She was still smiling, although Eleanor felt a little awkward.
“Isn’t this––I mean, aren’t I a little old for fairy tales?”
Moira sighed, but her cheerfulness didn’t fade. “Actually, my dear, that is the problem.”
“I don’t understand.”
Moira shrugged. “No matter. Let’s go see the new furniture.”
When Eleanor opened the door to her bedroom, everything felt strange and cold. Unlived-in. It actually felt like she really had just moved in.
Moira stepped over the threshold and let out a long, slow breath. “You really are reclaiming this space,” she murmured, her voice a mixture of admiration and awe.
“I suppose.” Eleanor sniffed. “It’s a lot of work––”
“Everything worth doing is,” Moira said, swiveling to catch Eleanor’s eyes. “Don’t be afraid of it. Even the upheaval can be an act of creation.”
That sounded like another one of those strange things Moira sometimes said that probably meant more than it Eleanor thought it did at first and which maybe felt a little confusing. Eleanor felt a sudden shift in her core that suggested she would understand it better later, whether she wanted to or not. She shuddered involuntarily.
Moira cocked her head. “Something the matter?”
“Just a chill down my spine,” Eleanor said.
Moira smiled and ventured farther into the room. As she inspected the carvings on the bedframe and the multitude of drawers and cabinets and hiding spaces on the bureau, her mood grew giddy. “You’ve made some beautiful choices,” she said.
Eleanor sighed and noticed a tightness in her chest. It didn’t feel like she had made amazing choices lately. A sudden powerful impulse to sit down and just have a good cry came over her. She didn’t want to, but she found herself plopping down in the middle of the floor, the fairy tale book in her lap, and leaning her face into her hands. Then Moira’s arm was around her shoulders, her head resting on top of Eleanor’s, and the world stopped spinning out of control. Eleanor sighed and lifted her face. Moira smelled like cinnamon and cocoa, one of Eleanor’s favorite combinations.
“Okay,” she said, dredging up a renewed sense of energy. “Come see this mirror and then let’s get some dinner.” They stood.
“Do you want a reading first?” Moira asked, opening her satchel again. “I brought your favorite deck.”
“I don’t think so but thank you.” She wasn’t sure she wanted to see what the cards had to say this time.
Moira opened her mouth but then just shook her head. Eleanor almost asked what she’d been about to say, but she knew if it was important to Moira she’d say it later over a roasted eggplant and spinach salad.
“Here we go,” Eleanor said as they stood in front of the new mirror. It took up most of the wall between the closet and the bathroom. The cloudy white streaks running down the entire surface distorted the image of the bedroom and of the two women standing in it. Moira cocked her head to the side again and flipped her long braids behind her shoulders. Her green sweater and broomstick skirt appeared to be one long dress. Eleanor’s unkempt ponytail looked even messier.
“Ah, I see,” Moira said.
That sounded enigmatic. “What do you see?”
Moira looked at her, a small smile pinching her lips, then went over to where they’d been sitting and picked up the Grimms volume. She came back and handed it to Eleanor.
“What’s this about?” Moira was acting more strangely silent than usual. She patted Eleanor’s pocket, the one she’d slipped the ribbon-wrapped something into earlier that day. Eleanor had forgotten all about it.
Moira smiled. “Don’t lose that,” she said. Eleanor reached into her pocket to take it out and see what it was, but Moira stopped her. “Not yet,” she cautioned. Then she positioned Eleanor squarely in the center of the mirror and stepped away. “Don’t move.”
Eleanor felt a strange compulsion not to, but she asked, “Why not?”
Moira reached inside her satchel. Out of the corner of Eleanor’s eye, she thought she could see a small vial, which Moira emptied into the palm of her hand.
“Do you trust me, Eleanor?”
Of course she did. Even when she wasn’t sure it was the best course of action. “You know the answer to that.”
Moira nodded, then stepped forward and kissed Eleanor gently on the cheek. “You’re going to be okay.” She stepped back out of the mirror range again.
“I appreciate the vote of confidence, but what––”
Then Moira blew whatever was in her hand into Eleanor’s face. She coughed in a haze of something glittery and sweet. This was getting a little theatrical, even for Moira.
“What was th––”
Then the floor trembled beneath her and she stumbled. The lights flickered. She dropped the book but caught it before it could land; for some reason, that seemed important. When she straightened up again and rubbed her eyes, she opened them onto a silvery landscape. She spun around.
“Moira? What was––”
She expected to see her bedroom, and she did, but it was a narrow view framed by the same beveled edge as the mirror. Long jagged streaks of cloudy white interrupted the view. Moira stood exactly opposite her, in the bedroom. But Eleanor wasn’t there with her.
She looked at her surroundings. They were both familiar and strange. “What the hell did you do, Moira?” She heard her voice growing impatient and felt her throat constricting. “What sort of hallucination is this?”
Moira shook her head gently. “It’s not a hallucination. And you’re going to be fine.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Don’t panic, love. I’ll take care of your house while you’re gone and be right here when you get back.”
“Back from where?” She gestured angrily around her. “Where on earth am I?”
“It’s all good, Eleanor. I’ll send Reginald to help you.”
“What? Your frog?? Are you out of you mind?” Eleanor felt like she was maybe out of her own.
Moira smiled. “Just sit tight. He’ll find you if you aren’t too far from this spot. It won’t take long.” She blew her a kiss then waved good-bye. When she stepped out of view, Eleanor’s bedroom looked unfamiliar and uninviting. Then the lights dimmed and she heard the door close.
She sat down heavily onto the silvery ground, trying to make sense of where she was and what had happened. But there was no way she could. Nothing in her reality could possibly prepare her for the possibility of entering a mirror world.
She pushed her hand into the streaky view of her bedroom, but she couldn’t press past the glass.
“I don’t believe this,” she murmured. She put her face back in her hands and waited for the sense of upheaval, the spinning and cold sweat, to subside.
When she got back to where she was supposed to be, she and Moira were going to have words.
Thank you for reading! In the comments, I welcome your feedback:
* What did you like?
* What confused you, if anything?
* What needs work?
* What are you most interested about?
* What do you think will happen next?
Want to read more of my writing that’s already finished and published? Click here for poetry, click here for urban fantasy, and click here for realistic flash fiction. You can also buy my books in Houston at Blue Willow Bookshop!