Ariion Kathleen Brindley

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The Vanity

Steam came pouring out of the bathroom door as it creaked open and Lori came running out to answer the front door. Resounding again, the doorbell was released as she opened the door to the delivery man. Clutching her robe about her, she smiled at his expression of surprise and stuck her hand out to receive his clipboard. Signing her name she was a bit concerned when he turned and walked back to his vehicle without giving her a package.

Waiting in her doorway, she observed him as he slid a dolly out of his door with a large package on it and lowered it to the ground. He seemed to be taking his time as he scrutinized her leaning in the doorway. She courteously moved to the side so that he could place it just inside the doorway, since it was so awkward. Bidding her good-bye, he left.

As the front door closed, the room was dark except for the streams of light that were omitted through the blinds that hadn’t been opened yet. Still, the package seemed to almost glow. A label was attached to it that projected somewhat from the package itself. Lori tiptoed into the kitchen to snatch a knife and returned in no time, flat. Peeling the label from the top, she realized that it was a letter from her second cousin that lived back in her hometown in Indiana. She and Anita had been very close as youngsters, but as time drew on and their lives changed, becoming more and more complex, they lost touch.

Anita wrote to her and let her know that what was in the package had been Lori’s grandmother’s until she died. Anita took it over to her own home until they could afford to pay for it to be shipped out to her. Thinking for a second, Lori ran her hand through her wet ringlets, her grandmother had died nearly ten years ago and this was the first she’d heard that she’d been left anything at all. That’s all that the note had said. There was no description of anyone or how they were doing. It was as if it was some sort of a ‘good riddance’ note.

Shrugging her shoulders, she bent over the package and began to cut the tape down the center of the flaps. Everything would have been fine if her mother hadn’t gotten into the picture and poisoned her whole family’s blood with jealousy. Sometimes she wondered why they had really moved so far away from their relatives, but in the end she knew that she’d be ashamed if she knew.

The package was cut completely open except for a small portion at the end that became stringy. She really hated this tape, anyway. Sawing the knife back and forth across the strings, it finally broke loose and bit into her other hand which was holding onto the edge. "Ow!" she yelled, gritting her teeth. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d injured herself, especially with a knife. Shaking her hand to try and dull the pain, the blood was pumping more feverishly as droplets littered the box flaps, running down inside. Lori rushed into the bathroom and ran her hand under cold water. It stung horrifically and she was sure that she wouldn’t be disappointed if it were another ten years before she pulled this stunt again.

When she returned to the living room with her bandage on her hand, she opened the flaps to see what was inside.

Pulling it out, piece by piece, she realized that it was a gorgeous white vanity with one gold heart on each side. On the back was a large mirror embossed with hearts down the sides. Now she understood why Anita hadn’t been in such a hurry to get rid of it.



It was her sister, Tonya, on the phone. She wanted to know what was going on and when Lori told her, she insisted on coming over to take a look for herself.

When Tonya walked into the room, her hands were at each side in tight little balls. "I wonder why I wasn’t sent anything!" she stated coldly as she stared at the vanity.

"Maybe yours hasn’t come yet," her younger sister reasoned. "They just barely got the money to send this, she said."

"Who said?" her eyes gleamed bright green with envy as her mouth tightened into a thin, white line.

Lori was beginning to feel as if the girl she’d grown up with was gone and that this begrudging monster had shown up to take her place. She knew that the last thing they needed was to have another fight within the family. She also knew that Tonya was the spitting image of her mother in every way. Perhaps that was why they had moved out west, she figured.

"That’s just what they told me," she made a meager attempt to smooth it over.

"Hmm!" was all that she heard as her sister turned to walk back out of the room without another word.

Standing with her arms folded under her breasts, Lori drew a bit closer to the antique mirror and its uneven glass that seemed to have large ripples in it. Her blue shirt reflected in what seemed to be an even brighter shade of blue and her blond hair seemed to have almost white highlights. Though her image wasn’t exact, the one that she saw was one that she’d consider to be beautiful, regardless. It had been many years since she’d admit that she was even worth looking at, much less pleasing to see.

There was a loud, reverberating bang as the glass on the shelves shook with the closing of the front door. By the time she arrived in the front room, Tonya’s car was pulling out of the driveway. Lori waved out the front door, striving to collect her sister’s attention to no avail.

Drifting back into the bedroom, she sat on the bench and picked up the brush from the holder. The brush was very old as well. The entire vanity had come complete with brush and comb, though they were very old and exceedingly used. She pretended that she was her grandmother as she looked into the glass, stroking her hair with the brush. Allowing herself to float into the past, she saw her grandmother’s younger face pleasantly watching her from the mirror. Suddenly, she felt alone. She’d never realized before how alone she had been, living out west with her mother and sister. Her father had died eight years ago in a plane accident. It didn’t take long for her mother to spend the insurance money she’d received, on everything from T-shirts to stuffed animals. It had been a total waste, not at all what her father would have wanted. That didn’t matter now. None of it mattered now.

Looking back into the glass, she saw a tear run down her cheek and onto the top, mixing with a bit of blood that must have gotten on there when she was opening it. Lori looked for her tissues that were usually beside the bed, but not now. Making her way into the restroom, she gathered some tissue and dampened it under the faucet before rushing into the bedroom to clean off the dressing table.

When she hastened to the vanity, the smudges were gone. Setting the dampened tissue to the side, she began dreaming again.

"…exactly what I mean!" Tonya’s voice rolled over the top of her dream and brought her back in a blink.

Spinning to face her bed, Tonya was sitting there with one of her pillows crushed to her chest. "You’re always in some fantasy world, pretending your some sort of princess or something while the rest of us are left picking up the pieces… it gets old!" she shouted. Her face had more lines than usual as her eyes narrowed, piercing her younger sister’s face. "I’m so tired of you getting everything…," she grumbled.

Lori was still mentally stumbling over the fact that her sister had managed to come into the room, walk right past her and sit on the bed without her knowing.

"Well, what do you have to say for yourself?"

She still remained in her dazed state of mind, only now her mouth hung open and her brows furrowed as she gawked at her sister.

"Just as I thought, the usual…" she laughed crazily, "…nothing!"

The knock at the front door caused Lori to shake her head hard, looking from her sister to the bedroom door several times before she ran out of the room to answer it.

Pulling the door open, Tonya stood on the other side of it. "You look like you just saw a ghost," she said as she pushed past her sister into the front room.

"What do you want?" Lori whispered, afraid to talk in case her real sister from the bedroom heard her.

"I just wanted to congratulate you and look at your trophy again!" With that, Tonya stretched out her long legs and headed down the hallway toward the bedroom.

"Wait!" Lori chased after her, "Please wait!"

Inside the room, her sister was sitting on the bench in front of the mirror. "What kind of mirror is this?" she asked. Lori’s eyes flicked around the room quickly in search of Tonya’s twin, but she was nowhere to be seen.

"Hello!" Tonya shouted, "I asked you a question."

Lori stood behind her, looking at the image over Tonya’s shoulder. The image was disfigured, but in a different way than it had been with herself. This image had vertical lines going down it like dripping wax or melting plastic. "Why is it moving?" Tonya asked quietly at first before screaming at the top of her lungs, "What’s happening?"

Lori thought that her sister was possibly experiencing the same thing that she’d just experienced, but her visual adventure had been good.

"What’s wrong?" Lori asked her, not understanding what was happening herself.

Tonya turned around and her face resembled a candle that was half melted, "It’s the vanity! It’s the vanity!"

Indeed, it had been the vanity which had separated Lori from her family… long before the package had arrived.

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