“Be careful of the woodwork!” Kathryn directed the moving men who lugged the heavily carved dresser up the stairs of her honeymooning daughter Allison and son-in-law Derrick’s house in San Francisco. Once in place, across from the entry of the newlywed’s bedroom, they fastened the ornate mirror to the top of the dresser. Kathryn looked at her reflection in the diamond dust and brought her hand up to her mouth. “I wonder who sent this. What an usual wedding gift.” She looked at the stains on either side of the top drawer and made a mental note to try to have it repaired. She reached down to graze a manicured finger over the teeth of one of the carved heads which flanked the drawer and yelled, “Ouch! Why, I think it bit me!” Kathryn looked back at the mirrored dresser with a shiver.
The moving men laughed. “Yah, right!”
Two weeks later, Allison and Derrick arrived home in San Francisco. “I am going to check around the house and make sure everything is okay. Why don’t you lie down and I will order Chinese.” The three week honeymoon cruise left Allison empty inside. What had she done? She wished she could wake up from this nightmare. She kept going over it in her head and felt too terrified to share the memory with anyone.
Her engagement to Derrick had been logical. He was handsome in a very Nordic way and a successful lawyer. He fit all the criteria she had made for the perfect mate except for one thing. He had hardly touched her. Allison thought of his old-fashioned sensibilities as cute, but as time went on, it had become frustrating.
A month before the wedding, Allison’s girlfriends called wanting her to get together with them to catch up. What started out as a simple girl’s night out soon escalated in a full out binge. After several rounds of cosmopolitans, she began to dance. She caught the eye of a dark dangerous looking man. She boldly grabbed him by the hand and the two of them danced. She had never felt this deep sexual attraction before and the dancing soon spiraled into an erotic grind and she could hardly control herself.
It was as if a different person emerged that night and took hold of Allison’s body. At that moment, she wanted and needed him more than anyone and the alcohol removed all inhibitions. Derrick was lost in the dark shadows of her mind, as she ditched her girlfriends and pulled him out of the bar. They barely made it into her nearby apartment before they stripped off their clothes, never making it to the bed.
She awoke on the floor, squinting against the blaring sun that streaked across her clothes scattered about the room. “What did I do?” The impact of regret hit her at the same time as the pounding headache that threatened to split her head in two. She reached over to her blouse and slipped it back on.
“Here. Drink this lovely lady.”
She gasped as she looked at the bare feet of the gorgeous man she had met last night working her way up slowly. In this light he looked older.
“Oh my God! What did I do?”
Tony reached out to help her off the floor and on to the couch.
The horror of what she had done slowly made its way to the cognitive part of her banging head and she began to shake.
He set down the coffee cup and began stoking her hair. “We had a great time. Nothing to be ashamed of.”
“I am engaged to be married next month!”
“Last night was a mistake. You need to go. Now!” She stormed over to the door.
“Hey! You couldn’t keep your hands off me,” Tony said knitting his brow and stepped towards her.
Allison stepped back not sure of what to do if he got violent. Her cell phone was in her purse across the room.
Then his eyes softened and he tried to embrace her.
She pushed him away. “Just go. Please.”
“You’ll change your mind.”
Tony reached over to kiss her and she turned her head. “I’ll call you.” He walked out the door and she locked it behind him.
Allison fell on the couch and sobbed until her girlfriends began calling wanting all the details about the night. She told them she got sick and Tony had walked her home.
This began a nightmare that went on until the wedding. Tony called her non-stop. She felt stalked, but because of the infidelity, she couldn’t tell a soul. She began staying at Derrick’s house in his spare bedroom. She would be moving in with him after the wedding anyway.
Finally, they were married and Allison took the first deep breath in weeks.
It was the first night on the cruise and Allison and Derrick had just finished their lobster dinner in the main dining room. Derrick didn’t feel well so they walked up to the ship’s deck.
“I think I’ll go back to the room. Do you mind?” Derrick asked. They had planned to go dancing afterward.
“No. Go right ahead. I think I might stay out here and enjoy the fresh air.”
As she stared at the moon’s reflection on the water, she heard a familiar voice behind her.
“Did you miss me?”
Allison gasped and whipped her head around and saw Tony dressed in a black tuxedo. “What are you doing here?”
“You don’t love him. You love me.” Tony pulled her close and she could smell alcohol on his breath.
“You’re hurting me!” Allison tried to rush past him but he staggered towards her and grabbed her arm.
“Stop!” They struggled and Allison used her leg for leverage. With all her strength she pushed him away. He tripped over her, wheeling around just as the ship hit a swell, lost his balance, and fell over the railing into the black ocean below.
She saw his head bob twice and then disappear with a rolling wave.
“Help! Help me!” Allison screamed, but no one responded. She seemed to turn to stone as she stared out into the ocean. It seemed like hours before Allison staggered back to the room.
For the rest of the honeymoon, Allison’s secrets weighed her down as if Tony still held her tightly in his grip.
After a quiet trip back to San Francisco, Allison felt relieved to be home.
When she reached the top of the stairs, she was struck by her own reflection in the mirrored dresser. Her mother had told her of its mysterious arrival. Unblinking, it drew her into the room. Something about it attracted and repelled her. She stepped into the bedroom and the diamond dust luster began to glow from an unknown source. A cold sweat broke out all over her body and she shuddered with dread.
Allison stared into the mirror and it began replaying the events of the last month in its refection. As the images progressed, they became projected in front of her. She stepped back appalled at what she saw. She gazed at the image of Tony and her dancing at the bar and later having sex at the apartment. “No!” she murmured, shaking her head. Then she saw herself struggle with him, sending him over the edge into the sea. She did nothing to save him. Allison screamed, “No! No! No!” She continued backing up towards the stairway and her heel caught the top step. She tumbled down, breaking her neck in the fall.
“That should do it!”
The moving men tied off the last rope in the van and slammed the door. Under the packing blankets the mirror began to glow. It sifted through all the reflections it had collected over the last 150 years held within the diamonds. The carvings began to writhe. Blood trickled down the front of the bureau out of the mouths of the carved gargoyles.
All photos by S. Lindau