I should have just passed the shop by, but I didn’t. I’ve always had a passion for antiques. My house, all three floors of it, are filled with treasures from the past. Most of them were obtained by dubious means. I had no qualms about procuring an object I wanted, even to the point of dispatching its owner by changing them into something harmless, such as a frog, bat, or newt.
I know what you’re thinking, ah she’s a witch! Well you’d be wrong, I’m a sorceress – far more powerful than a mere chanter of spells. Hmph! That’s not quite correct. More accurate to state I was a sorceress. Age has caused my powers to wane.
Anyway, I was hobbling along the high street, when I came across this shop I’d never seen before. Its windows were dusty, and the display somewhat ramshackle. I was about to continue on, when a ray of sunshine glinted off something. The sparkle, that’s the only way I can describe it, caught my eye. I leaned closer, peering past the dirt and grime, into the crystal depths of the most beautiful mirror I’d ever seen. The breath caught in my throat when I realised what it was – what I hoped it was.
It stood out from the rest of the rubbish surrounding it, pristine, with a gilt frame carved into graceful curves. Despite the clarity of its glass, I was unable to see my reflection. Good thing too, my once fabulous face had become a wasteland of wrinkles and age spots. I even had a hairy wart on my chin, and no that still doesn’t make me a witch.
A movement within the gloomy interior of the shop caused me to straighten up, and scowl at the man standing there. He grinned, then winked – impertinence! But there was something about him, something that called to me. Could he be a fellow practitioner?
And so, when he beckoned, I found myself drawn to the shop’s doorway, almost against my will. I entered the dark, musty place and peered around. Things seemed to move on the overloaded shelves, but in the semi-gloom I was unable to make out what they were. Tinkling laughter, and sly whispers made me suspect the shop had an infestation of imps. I was proved right when the shop’s owner stepped forward, the grin still on his face.
‘Welcome.’ he said. ‘Ignore the little devils, they’re harmless.’ His overlarge eyes twinkled at me from behind round glasses. ‘What can I do for you today?’
My mouth suddenly felt dry, and my hands and feet were cold – very cold. I chided myself. I was a sorceress, there was nothing to be afraid of.
‘The mirror,’ I said, as haughtily as I could, ‘the one in the window, how much is it?
‘Ah well now,’ the shopkeeper said, ‘that depends.’
Instead of replying, he reached behind him to pick something up from the counter. When he brought his hand forward again, my eyes widened at the sight of a red apple sitting in his palm. He took a bite, crunching the fruit’s flesh between large white teeth.
He swallowed, wiped the back of his hand across his mouth, and then at last deigned to answer. ‘Would you give, say, your old age for it?’
I gaped at him. I hadn’t expected that! Did he mean what I thought he meant?
‘What’re you saying.’
The man shrugged. ‘I would’ve thought it was perfectly clear. Would you exchange your old age for the mirror?’
Thoughts flickered through my head at the speed of light. He did mean what I thought. He would take my dotage as payment for the mirror, which meant I would become younger. My heart raced at the thought.
‘How many years?’ I asked, and try as I might I couldn’t keep the hope from my voice.
I held out a hand. ‘Done.’
As he gripped my hand, a slow, sly smile spread his lips…
To be continued.
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