knew he was forgetting something. He pondered as he drove home from work,
carefully combing through his thoughts when it hit him.
forgot to buy an anniversary gift for his wife, Iris.
Every year he forgot her gift
and would search
for something last minute. Anything. This
year was no different. He went to turn
around when a twinkle of light caught his eye. The light came from the side of
the road. Slowing down, he saw it came from a set of wooden furniture. It
glimmered in the setting sun, compelling him to stop.
it’s something Iris would like, he assured himself. He pulled into the adjacent driveway.
When he got out, the sight captivated
him; it was
a dark wooden vanity carved of cherry oak. Bernard held his breath as he saw
the light that caught his eye; a green gem encased on top of the mirror rim. A
tingle of excitement grew in him.
Bernard looked down the driveway
and saw a man
“Interested?” he asked
with a smile.
“Why, yes I am,” Bernard
answered, “How much?”
he said with no delay. “Free of
felt suspicious at this response.
“One question,” he
said. “What’s wrong with
“We had a small fire. There’s
damage and my wife doesn’t want it anymore,” he said.
Bernard looked at the vanity and
saw no smoke
damage. He didn’t dare protest though.
”Would you like some help
loading it up?” the
“That would be very helpful,”
but deep down he still felt suspicious. It unsettled him. Then he imagined how
delighted Iris would be if he brought this home. Seeing her face light up would
be worth anything in the world.
year will be different,
loaded it up and he took it home.
felt let down with every anniversary gift Bernard gave her. She said that he
didn’t need to get her anything, but they both knew a white lie when they heard
one. Hoping to avoid disappointment, she didn’t get her hopes up.
arrived home in good spirits. He smiled and took her hand, leading them
outside. Bound in a large ribbon, sat her new vanity. The green gem glimmered
at the top. She broke into tears of joy.
finally got me an expensive gift, she thought to herself.
cried with outstretched arms and hugged him tightly.
night she sat in front of the vanity and brushed her hair. She stared at her
reflection, unable to resist smiling.
“What a luxury
this is! How thoughtful of Bernard!”
she said into the mirror.
he isn’t such a bad husband after all? She considered. Lately, he had been working long hours at the
law firm and they didn’t see much of each other. She stayed home all by herself
watching television and reading beauty magazines. Bernard claimed that it
wasn’t unusual at their firm to work late, as did his colleague Patrick
Weisman. Iris accepted it, but Patrick’s wife didn’t. Alleged rumors concerning
her spread, but what could Iris believe? It didn’t matter. What does matter
is Bernard gave her a
She sat thinking when she noticed
behind her in the reflection. A tall woman with raven black hair and beautiful
green eyes stared back blankly. She gasped, then quickly turned to see Bernard
standing where the woman had been. She looked back at the reflection to see it
was still him.
wrong?” he asked.
laughed in relief, “Nothing is wrong. I thought I saw someone in the mirror. It
was just you though.”
me in the flesh, right here,” he said. “I hope you like your present.”
love it,” She surveyed him flirtatiously. “Now it’s time for one of your
They made love then went to bed.
next day Iris wanted to express her gratitude. She made a marvelous dinner with
all of Bernard’s favorite fixings-- including her famous apple pie. He deserved
to feel special. In fact, she would surprise him. By the time Iris prepared
everything, he still wasn’t home. A half-hour later she received a call.
wait up for me tonight, Iris,” Bernard said. “It’s going to be a late one.”
She hung up the phone and sighed.
How could I be so naive?
Things were back to normal again
she guessed. He just had a good day, but now he’s back to
being a shitty husband. She knew not to get her hopes up, yet she did
The wind whispered faintly from
window. A night breeze felt cool on her skin, yet unsettled her. Iris, unnerved
by another night in an empty house, closed the window and decided it was time
She went upstairs without cleaning
Iris sat down at her vanity and
her eye makeup. She stared back at herself with blue eyes the hue of a blooming
pansy. Many times she swam in those eyes of hers, thinking of ways she could
beguile her husband... or any man who would actually
give her attention. She thought of her husband’s colleague, Patrick. It wasn’t
the first time. Patrick is a great man
and deserves better than his wife, Iris thought. Everyone knows she sleeps
her fantasy, she suddenly realized someone else staring back at her from the
mirror-- a lovely woman with captivating emerald eyes. Her coal-black hair
cascaded over pale shoulders. Iris gaped in fear. The dark-haired woman burst
into a bright flame. Her body disintegrated into a cloud of black smoke that
hung ominously in the air. Iris felt an overwhelming burning sensation all over
her body and began to scream.
Bernard pulled into the driveway. Stepping out of the car, he heard a deafening
wail from inside the house. He dropped his keys and sprinted toward the front
door. Inside, smoke poured from the kitchen. Bernard quickly grabbed a fire
extinguisher. Spraying the red glow in the heart of the smoke, the fire died to
reveal a pie in the oven had caught fire. He breathed in relief for the
moment-- when the cries came again. He dropped the extinguisher and followed
the echoes upstairs. Hideous thoughts taunted him. He crashed through the
Iris sat at her vanity, shrieking
into her own
he calmed her down, Iris explained the story. He listened and comforted her,
but she knew he was skeptical.
would you go to bed when there was a fucking pie still baking in the oven?”
he asked. “You almost burned the house down. If I didn’t come home you
would be dead.”
was beginning to wonder if you would be coming home at all,” she spat.
can’t help that I’m good at my fucking job,” he said. She stared at him with
contempt. His face flushed. He continued speaking, this time in a patient tone.
I’ve been thinking. I’ve suspected, but not until now am I more convinced. I
don’t mean to be rude, but I’m going to just come out and say it… maybe
you’re...going through menopause?” the last word escaped as a whisper.
fire burned in Iris’ eyes. She didn’t have to say anything, Bernard knew
her rage. She grabbed a blanket and
placed it over the mirror.
She grabbed a second blanket and
threw it at
him. “You should sleep on the couch tonight.”
He knew better than to argue.
passed and the matter faded. In retrospect, Iris began to question herself. Maybe
she over-reacted at the anomalies in the mirror? She believed it was her subconscious
something to light; the recent trouble with her marriage--which was only
getting worse. He continuously failed to read her signals. They rarely went on
dates or had sex anymore. His absence was out of hand. She could admit she was
no longer happy. Not only that… but no matter how rude Bernard suggested menopause…
Iris was getting older. Did her
mother go through similar circumstances? She didn’t know; her deceased mother
would never be able to tell her.
thoughts led Iris to a conclusion.
Tonight was an important party
from the firm. There was potential for new clients, and greener pastures. She
would not admit it to herself right away, but Patrick Weisman would be there…
and she needed to look her best. A man with that status could be her out if
Bernard continued following his path. She deserved better than that lazy asshole she
called her husband. Not only that, but Patrick deserved
much better than that slut he called
Convinced, Iris removed the blanket
mirror and began her work.
her brushes, Iris felt whole again. She sculpted herself as the work of art she
would need to be for the occasion.
The room stood silent like a judge
delivering a difficult sentence. She checked her work. Not only was she
beautiful-- but she outdid herself beyond expectation. Iris felt the vitality
of her early twenties. Basking in her own radiance, she stared.
The bedroom door swung open behind
her and she
took her eyes off of the mirror, expecting to see Bernard; he was not there.
Her eyes fixed back to the mirror, only to find deep emerald eyes where hers
had been. The dark-haired woman glared malevolently. Terror overwhelmed Iris.
She turned to run, but a cold, invisible force held her in place. Desperately
she struggled to break free. The black-haired woman’s face dissolved into wisps
of black smoke, revealing Iris’ face beneath. She felt beads of sweat running
down her forehead as the terrible smog swirled around the room. Her body heated
until she cried out in pain, only to inhale smoke. A sudden flame erupted at
her legs. A revolting smell plagued her; the burning of her own hair. Flames
engulfed the rest of her body.
A shrill, sinister laugh echoed
blackened room-- yet Iris knew nothing but her own inferno.
Bernard came home to find his
wife sprawled out
on the floor of their bedroom. He quickly awakened her. She became hysterical,
thinking she had burned to death. He held her in his arms until exhaustion
When she had regained consciousness,
stood and held her hand in his own.
“Honey, you’re alright.
I’m here,” he told
in her resonated and she did feel better. He gently ran his
fingertips up and down her back. Gooseflesh prickled.
long ago has it been since he did that? She wondered.
She hadn’t felt this much
love and warmth from
him in years, she almost melted. It gave her unexpected strength. Bravely, but
not without apprehension, she surveyed the room before her. Nothing was burned
and no remnants of black smoke remained.
agreed to get rid of the vanity. He took it to an antique dealer the next
morning. The dealer examined it closely. He was clearly interested and ready to
offer a price when he noticed something off-putting; the inlaid emerald. His
it out of here,” he said. “Right at this moment. I’m no longer interested.”
rude remark upset Bernard... but also piqued his interest.
wrong with it? Please, tell me. My wife is terrified to even be in the same
room with it. She’s said some disturbing things have happened, and she believes
this vanity to be the root of them.”
dealer listened. His hard stare softened into pity and understanding.
wife might not be far from the truth, sir. I will tell you,” he said gravely,
“but let me warn you. You may not want to hear it.”
all ears,” Bernard replied.
men sat in silence for a moment, before the shop owner began.
old Europe, a woman by the name of Valentina Beauveux became very popular for
her wealth and beauty. It was said that she never left her house unless she
looked nothing short of enchanting. Folks called her The Emerald Eyed Witch of
England back in her day, because of her deep green eyes that captivated even
the most strong-willed of men,” the dealer said.
chill passed through Bernard.
a wedding present,” the dealer continued, ”her husband Antoine Beauveux had a
gorgeous vanity made for her of dark cherry-oak, inlaid
with an emerald the very color of her renowned eyes. Though she adored it,
eventually she grew bored with her husband. She became promiscuous.
Eventually, her husband caught wind of her infidelities. One night, while
sitting at her vanity, the constable broke into the room and arrested her for
charges witchcraft. Though no proof was ever found, she was still condemned to
burn alive before the town and her husband,” he trailed off for a moment.
one knows if she truly was a witch,
but it is widely known that her
husband brought the charges against her. He remarried shortly after and the
beloved vanity was auctioned off. However, it did not go to just any owner. Uncannily,
unfaithful found themselves, the vanity appeared. Yet no one has it for long,
and a lesson is learned that Valentina knew all too well herself,” he finished.
both said nothing for a while. There was one question that Bernard was burning
to ask, however.
do you know all of this?” he asked.
shop keeper looked at him for a while. He shook Bernard’s hand with a firm
Beauveux,” he said darkly. “My forefather auctioned this vanity off for good
reason. My only concern for you,” he said, “is how you’re going
to get rid of it.”
That’s an excellent question, Bernard thought.
he got home he found another car in his driveway. Pulling in, he saw Patrick
Weisman and his wife, Evelyn, sitting on their front porch with Iris. Upon
seeing the vanity, Iris’ face grimaced
in fear, yet only Bernard noticed.
were just coming to check on you guys,” Patrick said. “We missed you at the
caught some kind of bug and it wasn’t pretty, but she’s feeling better now,”
Bernard answered. “Isn’t that right, honey?”
nodded. Her eyes stayed fixed on the vanity. “Why didn’t they take it?” she
asked, her voice wavering.
going to call me back with a price,” he lied.
Evelyn Weisman sprang up in excitement.
a beautiful, ornate, vanity! You’re selling
it?” she asked. “Why ever would
you? Oh, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know!” Evelyn felt an unexplainable
attraction towards it. A force drawing
her towards it as if it had been specially crafted for her. In her mind, it had.
“Is that an emerald? It almost
matches my eyes!” she said.
knew what kind of woman Evelyn was... and he did need the vanity gone. He looked
at Iris. He knew she would have
trouble sleeping anywhere near that horrible thing. Regardless of what she had
done, or was planning to do… he still loved her dearly.
looked at the vanity, remembering the day he brought it home, then Evelyn.
much?” she asked.
wicked grin cracked over his face.
yours,” he said. “Free of charge.”
name is Tristan Miller.
I’m a 23 year old Michigan State University student studying Physics and
Mathematics. I teach around the schools for work, as I am a future educator.
I’m also a musician and fill in on drums for metal bands in the mid Michigan
area. I enjoy horror but deep down I’m a fantasy nerd at heart.