The Mirrors (part forty-one)
You hear breaking glass, taut, swallowed speech, a command as to an idiot, muffled against clanging bells that signal authority…and an idiot’s reply.
A wrench, wrench of metal, a cabinet pummeled and twisted. A clatter and clink. Clink a dozen times more, a host of little bottles striking.
Pounding of a nightstick at the clinic’s street entrance.
Brick clutched fierce in your fist. You have had it this while. Find him…
Someone has set a fire. You hesitate and the door flies, you fall. The men that thunder past are followed by a dark billow of smoke.
Charleton. A strangled voice whispers this. So it is, your cousin nearby, giving answer to a question. So in shock, so atremble, so mad. You smile at this one thing. Negligible Charleton wants to die for Carolee.
If he puts himself in the way, he will. For nothing.
Nothing but your pleasure. Flames crawl in a pool of something spilt. Your skin blisters, your eyes sting and weep…but the air is tolerable, not blistering of itself. The old man totters, keeps his feet.
Again, the door flies.
When she began to run, Charmante knew all this had come before. The dining room, the kitchen, the door to the garden. The pursuing figure. Both hands pulling at the knob, frantic, and remembering, thinking even to admonish herself for, the fixed bolt. The pursuer boomed, entering her flesh and out again, accompanied by a blinding light.
No. By the light of a mirror’s flash.
She stood wildly disheveled, mission-driven confidence in the set of her jaw, hanging with clenched fingers the mirror on the dining room wall. That lightspeed union had left Charmante with a trace of Godfrey’s sight…suffering for chemical burns, strength pumped by held breath. And bringing down the brick. Hands on the neck, choking the life out. But…
The devil lived. At Godfrey’s feet lay not his grandfather. In agony, he booted Joseph facedown.
Think, someone says. Picture yourself where you are. Charmante, reach out a hand…
The hand closes on a key. The key has never left her fingers.
From letting herself and William inside the house, she has fondled it, turned it forwards and back, telling Esta’s story.
“Why is William not here with us?”
“That I can’t say. At the moment I don’t know where poor Nat is.”
“And…” Charmante took a kitchen chair, saying the words anyway. “I need to sit down. Is Rothesay dead, do you think? We can’t waste time calling an ambulance.”
Veronica tamped her face with a cuff. “I like the way you put that. But I know what you mean. Will you help me take down one more mirror? If they don’t suck us back in, yes, we’ll look at Rothesay, and do what we can for him.”
(2020, Stephanie Foster)