Veil Thinning

Written by Kerry Elizabeth Blickenderfer-Black, Day of All Souls, 2013

Myra considered her surroundings carefully, confusion playing across her features.  Turning to her companions, she shook her head, saying, “This is not right.  I don’t recognize anything.”

“Consider carefully, my dear,” said Lucy, the elder of the two.  There is a strong family resemblance between the three women present, with dark eyes wide set above regal cheekbones.  Susanna is the youngest, a bit paler than her kin, wispy and frail.  “Things change,” she said with quiet wisdom.  She ran a thin-fingered hand over the top of piano ivories, a windy, ethereal tune responding to her delicate touch.

Cocking her head to the left, as though seeking a different perspective on the matter, Myra shrugged.  “Nothing.  I recognize nothing,” she exclaimed in despair.  Lucy twisted her arms around herself in a seemingly reassuring hug, pulling her pink cardigan closed.  “Really, darling, look carefully.  There has to be something that looks familiar,” Lucy said, looking nervously about.  With an airy sigh, Susanna reiterated, “Things change.”  She ruffled the lacy curtains using only fingertips before draping herself in an overstuffed floral-printed chair.

The older women considered Susanna’s melodramatic posture.  “You do go on about things changing, Susanna.  We know that.”  Susanna turned seemingly ancient eyes, saying in breathy tones, “I speak from experience.”  Frustration overtaking her, Myra’s eyes filled with tears, but then opened wide in surprise. 

She pointed a shaking finger at a painting hanging over the chair in which Susanna sat. It was an oil on canvas of a snowy country scene, a red barn iced in the background.  “I painted that!  I remember painting that!” she said, excitedly.  Lucy closed her eyes with relief.  Susanna simply smiled.  “See, there, there is my signature!”  She said with obvious excitement.  “It is a fine signature, my dear!” exclaimed Lucy.  “So what else can you claim?” Susanna asked, sounding bored. 

Myra’s efforts increased.  An angel cross stitched in wool on a tiny throw pillow, a china geisha doll on a top book shelf, and a leather-bound copy of Jane Austin’s collected works all belonged to Myra, she was certain.  “Good,” observed Lucy.  Susanna walked to the mantle and wiggled her fingers through the light of a cinnamon-scented candle, making the flame change to pale blue as it danced and spit.  She smiled a crooked, knowing smile.

“Not to rush you, but we haven’t much time left,” said Lucy.  Shocked, Myra protested, “But we just got here!” 

“I know it seems that way, but…” Lucy began.  “Time works differently here.” Susanna completed.  She sauntered to a large, ornate oval mirror hanging from an orange and black ribbon in the hallway.  Her straight, knee-length, beaded dress swaying with each movement of her lean body, making gentle hissing noises as the silvered crystals clinked together.  The headband that adorned her bobbed hair had a matching beaded pattern, with white feathers peeking from the top on the left side. 

Lucy took Myra’s hands into her own.  A compassionate look resided in dark eyes set in a matronly face.  She leaned forward, protectively, saying quietly, “If you concentrate, you can feel the pull.  We must hurry or we will be out of time.”  Myra sighed and looked away from Lucy’s intense stare to regard Susanna who was fiddling with her long strand of pearls while standing in front of the mirror.  However, the reflection did not belong to Susanna.  Instead, a woman of middle age gaped, mouth open in a silent scream, dark eyes bulging in disbelief.

Lucy followed Myra’s gaze, then admonished, “Don’t frighten the poor dears, Susanna!” 

With ethereal gentility, Susanna said with a quiet giggle, “I don’t intend on it, but it is just so amusing to see their scared faces!”

Feeling as though tossed into a frozen pond, Myra realized, “I know that face.  Don’t I know that face?  That girl.  But it couldn’t be!  She is too old, too grown.”

Lucy patted Myra’s shoulder while Susanna intoned slowly, “Time works differently here.”

Frantic, Myra looked around the room, rushing to the hallway and the mirror.  “Where is she?” she demanded, pointing an accusatory finger at the image in the hall mirror.  A fog was creeping over the glass, as though they were in a steamy bath.  Myra put her hand on the smooth, cold surface, fighting to prevent her tears, struggling to find some sense.  The image became further obscured as the fog thickened in the mirrored oval.  She placed hands on either side of the gilded wooden frame, willing the reflection to return.  “Please.  Bring her back,” she wept.

“I am sorry,” Lucy sighed.  Tears rolled silently down her own full cheeks.  “But it is time to go now.”

“But, my daughter!  It was her in the mirror, wasn’t it?  I just want to see her some more.  To talk with her.  Please.”  Lucy’s eyes were steady and sympathetic, but she said, “We must follow the natural order.   We might as well go home now.  You saw that she is well, healthy.  For this we all wish.”

A dramatic red streaked the eastern sky, heralding the sunrise and the beginning of a new day.  The three women turned from this dramatic display and walked toward the west.  Lucy had her arm around Myra’s waist, comforting and supporting the emotional woman.  “When can I see her again?” she asked. Susanna answered, “We can return when again the veil thins.”