I was born ugly. So ugly, in fact my reflection broke an heirloom mirror three days after my parents brought me home from the hospital. My lack of beauty never hindered their love though. Instead, they gave away all the mirrors in our home and did their best to shelter me for the last twenty years.
Despite my hideous appearance, a girl’s got to primp, and I’ve since shattered four more mirrors, one of which broke just this week.
If you know anything about breaking a mirror, it comes with a price, seven years of bad luck. So besides a future of frightening small children, I’ve a sum total of fifteen more years of misfortune. As long as I’m not tempted by another mirror that is.
Then I got to thinking there might be a way to reverse my curse, which sent me to the Internet to search for advice. Unfortunately, all I found were nonbelievers. If only the skeptics had to live my life. So instead I let my fingers do the walking and found a shop in the yellow pages. The place was run by a Madame named Paulina, who professed to protect against a laundry list of evils and superstitions. Seemed like the best place to start, so I skipped a phone inquiry and drove down to her shop.
I knew I’d made the right decision as soon as I walked in the shop, and the lady behind the counter slipped a four foot mirror, framed in ornate gold off the wall. She placed it on the floor, hiding the reflective side.
Although darkly lit, the shop looked and smelled like a used bookstore mixed with the aroma of burning sage. As I passed a small round table, painted black but nicked up, I stared down in wonder at a crystal ball and deck of tarot cards.
The woman greeted me with a tightly held handshake. “Madame Paulina.”
“Cassidy,” I told her.
Finally she release my hand, frowned and said, “Nice to meet you, Cassidy, but I’m not sure I can help you.”
I sighed, hunched over and turned to leave, the burdensome curse weighing heavier on my shoulders.
She called after me, “I didn’t say I couldn’t or wouldn’t help you.”
I stood still and glared back at her.
“Breaking curses is a tricky thing,” she said.
“But you can break it?” I asked as I walked back toward the Madame.
“Of course. All curses can be cancelled so to speak, but I must first ask what you are willing to do to reverse your misfortune.”
“Anything, of course.” My high-pitched voice gave away my desperation.
“That’s the answer I always get,” she said while rolling her eyes. “In your case, I must warn that I see a double curse on you.”
I looked at her confused. “Because I’ve broken so many mirrors with my ugliness?”
“No, my dear, because your ugliness is also a curse, and the only way to break a double curse is with a curse.” Madame Paulina pulled a plain black handheld mirror out from under the counter, careful not to point it my direction. “Now, are you still sure you are willing to do anything?”
“I’ve lived with this for long enough.” My voice cracked as I pointed at my face.
“Then I’ll take that as a yes.”
Madame Paulina lifted the mirror to my face. The glass instantly cracked into three pieces that fell out of the holder and onto the counter.
“Seven more years,” I screeched and clutched my heart.
“No, no, my dear. This is a special mirror that captured your curses in the reflection.” She carefully picked up the pieces and placed them in a green velvet bag.
“So I’m no longer cursed?” I smiled so wide my cheeks hurt.
“If only it were that easy. You now must give your curse away to three people before midnight.”
“Cut a person with each of the three broken pieces of the mirror and the curse will transfer through to their blood. Put the chards back in the pouch then bury it somewhere it will never be found.”
“You’re kidding?” I told her. “If I cut people with shards of glass, I’ll end up in jail.”
“Curses are serious things, Cassidy. Be glad I’m not asking you to sacrifice a life.” She held out the pouch for me to take. “And you do have choices. Either you follow my instructions or live with your adversities.”
So I did it.
The first two were an easy cut and run. I did it in a crowd of people, at a concert in the park. Sure they felt the nick, but a small bandage was all each wound required.
Unfortunately the third shard was larger, sharper and pointier than the others. I held it ever so cautiously and approached a woman sitting on the end of a picnic bench. In my mind, the perfect target because she sat clutching the arm of a rather burly man while the two pecked at each others’ lips. My insane hope was that a curse like mine wouldn’t interfere entirely with such unbounded happiness.
I leaned in toward the back of her exposed arm. A quick slice and I’d be on my way, I thought.
That’s when the man looked back and saw my threat. He stood, his fist at the ready.
I stumbled, lost my footing and tripped backward. Not until I reached for the ground to catch my fall did I realize I had dropped the mirror shard. My hand landed on the sharpest edge lacerating my palm nearly a quarter inch.
When I went back to Madame Paulina she greeted me with the most frightful expression. “You cut yourself, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” I barely answered before bawling uncontrollably.
She shook her head and pulled out another black handheld mirror. This time it broke into thirty-four pieces and there are ten more hours until midnight. Wish me luck. Madame Paulina says there’s a political rally downtown.
© Copyright 2012 W. J. Howard