We all have a cousin who collects stuff, baseball cards or bottle caps. Della’s collections were a bit more exciting. She had normal collections, like rare books and art and coins, but also a few more eclectic ones like china teacups with rare patterns or medieval swords, not to mention the clocks all over the house, her jewels, and my favorite, her collection of mirrors. I once looked through our records to see what the contents of the house were appraised at when we took it over – there were more zeros than I could count.
I stopped in the Mirror Room last on every rotation I did of the house to triple check my appearance. The room had dark aubergine walls and spaced throughout were different historical mirrors. Some were so old they were cracked and warped, distorting your reflection grotesquely. Each had a unique frame and shape and, as they reflected off each other, the room felt like an endless glittering cavern. I would head straight into the mirror that stood freely by the sole window of the room. The floor length mirror was framed by an ornately carved scene of woodland creatures. Squirrels and acorns raced along the sides, flowers bloomed spontaneously throughout, vines held the birds and mice and insects in a single harmonic wreath around the polished surface, and all of it was immortalized in dusty gilt. She purchased it in Germany from a master metalworker.
It was a generous mirror. Whenever I looked at myself captured within the idyllic frame, I smiled. I smiled at my perfectly tied back mane of golden hair. There were never any flyways. I smiled at the wrinkles that didn’t appear in my mid-length white skirt and blue tucked-in blouse. I smiled at the waist that didn’t seem too big or too pinched in by the wide belt that tied the outfit together. I seemed taller and slimmer. My skin seemed less pale and more golden and the zit on my forehead was blurred away. I pulled a grimace and checked my teeth for lipstick stains one last time before I headed downstairs to start the day. That mirror could’ve put Sephora out of business.