Lord, it is hot up here. The smell of dust and crisped blankets. Dead flies on the sills, even the bunched curtains look brittle. The musk of old cloth and mothballs. Carved newel posts from his grandparents’ bed, leaning against the east wall, spumy spiderwebs draped around them. Old trunks, a kneehole desk I brought along that serves no purpose downstairs. Boxes of clothes, bushel baskets of trinkets from another life. And two full-length mirrors covered with yellow bed sheets. The dust, Lord, you could scrape it with a butter knife and lay it on toast.
But there was another smell underneath the clutter. Something fresh and familiar, almost raw.
I dragged my feet towards the mirrors, mindful of the powdered clumps of mildew and scraps of junk. The largest mirror was almost five feet tall, and heavy. I remembered Jeremiah bringing it up the stairs a few months after we were first married, him and Will McCracken, straining their backs to haul it without breaking it. There really was no place for it downstairs, and it did seem like a thing of vanity, but it was beautifully made, as pretty as a splash of water. Jeremiah and Will spent the better part of a morning lugging it up the narrow staircase, then the better part of the afternoon drinking mash on the front porch.
That smell…. it didn’t belong here.
Suddenly, I decided I didn’t want to unclothe the mirror. Silly, superstitious woman. You cover mirrors in a house after someone’s passing; you only uncovered it after a suitable time of mourning, usually a full year. Was I mourning and didn’t know it? I was scared. It felt like I’d be inviting things back into me. I wasn’t sure if I believed in ghosts or spirits, but here, standing before it, I was certain. I didn’t want to think about what would be reflected from behind me. Mostly, I didn’t want to see what was reflected in me.