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Mirror. Mirror.

This post is the first of a series that will run all week. Thanks for reading.

The box always lived in the top of a closet. Dusty. Tattered, with its top spines pressed flat such that the top always slid off and tumbled to the floor if she was careless. Standing on tiptoe, stretching on the ledge of a precarious chair, her bare toes curling along the front, she knew what she wanted. That faded cardboard container held the nose she wanted to see again.

It was HER nose. Somehow.Β 

People always told her she was pretty, but, when she looked in the mirror, she saw stringy hair, a bushy uni-brow, and a prominent, unfortunate nose. Too big for her face. Pointed. Forever scarred by a mishap when she was two. She chased a boy through the house, ran into a door, nose-first. She avoids the mirror. When she peeks, she feels like she’s starring in that sinus medicine commercial on television, the one where the inflamed nose grows into a person’s head. It becomes normal again when a healing mist is sprayed into a gaping nostril.

No over-the-counter concoction will help her rhino-issue. She knows it springs from ancient times – the mid-1800’s are a long time ago.

She rifles through the box to the yellowed photograph. A scowling man, clearly forced to stand against his will in trousers and vest, elegant topcoat lending grace to his picture-phobic expression. His head blooms from his outfit, all wispy hair and mustache that punctuates the ugliest face she has ever seen. She has nightmares about a mean-visaged man in period clothing, chasing her everywhere. In her dreams, he has a cane in one hand and a carved pipe with a naked lady on it in the other. He waves the cane in her direction, tries to touch her with its tip. When he blows pipe smoke, she knows her face will freeze in the hideous mask she sees him wearing.

He’s already polluted her face with his nose. The more she grows, the more it morphs into the one from the fragile photograph. Thomas Jefferson DeFriese.

If she has this man’s snout, will she also inherit his nasty disposition? The exaggerated frown that growls through the ages from every picture? Does a similar trait in the mirror indicate a kindred soul, a repeat performance of people who came before? A signature that indicates the right of that dead person’s spirit to inhabit the person they claimed with a certain smile, the same complexion, or a dastardly nose?

With trembling hands, she replaces the pictures. She tries to seal the nose into the box with tape, continuous ribbons that will keep him from whispering through the mist of her dreams.

Another glance in the mirror.

Is she destined to let him claim her, simply because he autographed her with his nose?

37 Comments Post a comment
  1. Well, the likelihood is high that all that has come before will indeed be visited upon the descendants, It may be looks, demeanor, attitude or less obvious gifts. Just be thankful for the pipe with the naked lady.

    October 17, 2011
  2. I get startled when I look into the mirror and see some feature of my mother’s looking back at me. Really shouldn’t be surprising, but it always manages to catch me off guard.

    October 17, 2011
    • I feel like I look more like my father as I age. “There’s the bulldog!” I keep saying when I look in the mirror.

      October 17, 2011
  3. I used to rarely cut my hair, thinking I was holding off father time in some way. When I bought the clipper set and shorned it all off, I was a bit freaked to see my Dad in the mirror. Now I can’t go back…

    October 17, 2011
    • Ha. Perhaps that’s one reason I stubbornly keep my hair long. πŸ™‚ those sightings are sort of unsettling, aren’t they?

      October 17, 2011
      • At first. Now I am proud and thankful for my chance to carry on and represent those that made it possible. πŸ™‚

        October 17, 2011
      • It is still strange, though, to find old pictures of long-dead people and recognize a bit of oneself.

        October 17, 2011
  4. Nature or nurture? Poor Gracie already displays signs of being doomed to be a mini-me, and there are baby pictures of us that are almost indistinguishable, side by side. Harder to deal with though are the non-physical traits – as Lou says, the demeanor and attitude. Hopefully those parts of us are at least somewhat under our own control, through the choices we can make, if awareness allows us?

    October 17, 2011
    • Both of your girls are delightful. It makes me smile to think that, by knowing Gracie, I somehow know you as a little girl.

      October 17, 2011
  5. Excellent. I can’t wait to read this entire series. The thoughts of the young lady are very evocative and intriguing and I am interested to see how this develops. Is there a theme for this series of posts?

    The powerful thing about our personal heritage is that it is much like being dealt a hand of cards. We all get different cards from the deck of our ancestors, but how we choose to play those cards says more about us than the card themselves.

    October 17, 2011
    • I guess the theme will emerge as I write it. I have an ambitious concept for tomorrow. We shall see whether I can pull it off.

      Just walked by a train shop. πŸ˜‰

      October 17, 2011
      • Where are you?! What train shop? Did you at least take a picture?

        October 17, 2011
      • Savannah. I did not take a picture, because I am sure you know the shop.

        October 17, 2011
      • Bull Street Hobbies I think it is. Have heard of it, but never been there. Unfortunately Charleston no longer has a really good train or hobby shop. Just lame chain stores.

        October 17, 2011
      • It was tempting to go in there, but I figured you would send me a long message with requests…….

        October 17, 2011
      • But you could have gotten MTM started on a model train hobby….

        October 17, 2011
      • Nonononononononononono.

        October 17, 2011
      • But it would be cool! He could build his own little cities laid out exactly the way he wants them. I would love to see a true architect design a model railroad.

        October 17, 2011
      • That would be a nightmare, Carnell.

        October 17, 2011
      • I think it would be fascinating. Especially combined with city planning. He could design out the traffic flow with bicycle routes, trams, pedestrian only areas, the full bit. I can see it now….

        October 17, 2011
      • He barely has time to do that at his JOB, let alone come home and do it for ‘fun.’

        October 17, 2011
      • Well, then it could either become an official work thing, or we could drag you into it. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. (And if my wife has her way, I will be making out my will!)

        October 17, 2011
      • I’m sure he would let you put a toy train in the middle of his Marion Square model. πŸ˜‰

        October 17, 2011
  6. Very much looking forward to this series! This was just great. In the mirror, I see my paternal grandmother warring with my maternal great-grandmother for possession of my features, with startling results. Ah, the vicissitudes of genetic inheritance!

    October 17, 2011
    • It is so weird, isn’t it? I have an uneven bottom lip that I can see clearly in pictures of my maternal grandmother. One of the next generation in my family has it, too.

      October 17, 2011
  7. Poor soul. Hung up by a nose on a faded picture in a box…wonderful writing; that head blooming out of the outfit: it said it all. A little nightmarish, even.

    October 17, 2011
    • I thought I had a photo of this ancestor and was going to include it with the post. I am glad in the end I had to describe it from memory in the end. πŸ™‚ His blooming head is how I remember it, Kate.

      October 17, 2011
  8. Your writing is simply amazing. I am loving the direction your blog has taken lately. I was standing next to my mother in her bedroom the other day and we were both in front of the mirrored closet doors. I looked at her body and mine and took another close look – was I becoming my mother? Hard to say, but I suppose the answer was yes, in some ways.

    October 17, 2011
    • For me, my body is becoming my Dad’s. Which is horrifying……!!!!!!

      Glad you like some of the newer posts. It has allowed me to take more abstract subjects and build stories that vary. I spend more time writing posts, though, because the writing is harder. But better, I hope.

      October 17, 2011
  9. earlybird #

    Excellent start. Although, as Kate says, a little nightmarish. I’m still in denial about looking like either of my parents! πŸ™‚

    October 18, 2011
    • I really did have nightmares about this man. He must’ve been cool, though. Any man who smoked a pipe with a naked lady carved in the front like a ship had to be cool. Right?? πŸ™‚

      October 18, 2011

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