‘My mother was a witch.’
He laughed loudly. Throwing his head back to let his mirth spill into the night air. She looked piqued at his reaction to her confession.
‘I mean it. She really was!’
‘Okay, sure. What, she was so mean to you?’
‘God, no. Never mean to us at all. She was an enchantress.’
She watched his eyes search her face for the lie. There was no lie, however. She bit her lip.
‘Go on,’ he prodded, finally.
‘She had the night sky in her eyes.’
He rolled his.
‘When she spoke, her voice was like the angels. So gentle, so quiet. A calming effect in the stormiest of seas. When my little sister bawled my mother sang to her. She swayed about the room, swishing her skirts and singing until my sister, sprawled on the floor, stopped her fit and stared in wonder.’
He shrugged, ‘She loved her mother.’
‘It was more than that.’
The silence hung between them like a heavy drape. The air was still, the stars above twinkling brightly. The city spread beneath them, their feet resting solidly on the edges of the plateau. He was staring out at the lights, she couldn’t read the expression on his face.
‘More than what?’
‘Oh. She was ethereal. Every mundane experience we had was something magical when she became involved. The table was a plateau. The fox was a wolf. The bread was cake dripping with honey. The blossoms were homes for the fairies and the daises were their purple tinged dresses.’
He turned to look at her then. His blue eyes looked black in the darkness. His face was thrown into shadow. She saw his outline against the backdrop of lights, which spilled into the inky blackness of the sky above, so that the stars over the city vanished, even though the ones above them were so brilliant.
‘You really loved your mother.’
His voice was soft. Sad.
‘I loved her, yes. But even if I hadn’t, even if I hadn’t’
‘How did she die?’
She looked down at the city again. She could hear it, all the way from here. The sound of a rising highway. The sound of hundreds of machines. A loud, yet soft humming. A thrumming in the earth. The roots of concrete and people. She knew this was not the natural noise the earth made, and it made her feel part of something greater, somehow. As though she wasn’t entirely alone.
‘She didn’t die. She just tripped back through the mirror from where she came’
‘Emily, come on..’
‘My father always said that she stepped out of the mirror one day. He called her the Girl in the Mirror, when we were children, and we would laugh at him, calling him silly. He would tug at her long black tresses sometimes, and his eyes would look at her sadly. Once, when I was ten years old, he held her in his arms and whispered, ‘thank you for giving me your four little gifts’ – he meant us, of course. When she went back in, he told us it was her time to go back, and that she had left us four for him to always remember her by.’
She did not look at him. Her large violet eyes reflecting the thousands of lights spread before her.
‘There’s a girl in my mirror. I know she is not me. Sometimes when I blink, she doesn’t. Her smile is a little more sly than mine.’
‘I think this is all your imagination.’
‘And once I caught her making faces at my little sister.’
‘A coping mechanism, to cope with the pain of losing your mother..’
‘We are enemies now.’
‘I’ve always wondered who my mother’s Other Woman was. And if she looks like her at all. And if she knows her Mirror Woman came out and lived with us for a while.’
He didn’t say anything. Her face had a faraway quality to it. He realised that she wasn’t even there, with him, at that moment. He didn’t know if she’d heard anything he had said. He began to wish he hadn’t said it at all.
A low breeze wafted suddenly through the trees behind them, tugging gently at her long, ethereal black tresses, that cascaded all the way down her back. He heard it, swishing in the leaves and rumbling in the sky, he saw her dress move with it, but he didn’t feel it.