Once upon a time there was the Once Upon A Time Writing Contest hosted by magnificent Fairy Queens Anna Meade and Suzi Holliday.
There were 88 fantastic entries altogether which were made into a beautiful book still available on Amazon.co.uk.
My story "A Moment Before Moving" is in there.
Anna has now set another challenge to write a darker tale under the banner of Behind the Curtain. There is a pinterest pinboard of haunting pictures for inspiration.
Here's my tale...do you dare follow me...?
Behind the Mirror
Red and yellow bunting was strung across the antiques stall at the end of the market.
A wizened old man with a long grey beard peered out from behind the array of wares. Most items were tatty, pulled out of a skip probably, someone else’s junk.
Classic books with broken spines that smelled like damp dog. Jewelry that sparkled but on closer inspection gems were missing and fastenings were broken. What appeared to be broken cobwebs was actually dusty fragile lace.
There was nothing terribly appealing but something kept me there, perhaps the hint of pink roses in the air?
Phoebe deserved a beautiful gift for passing her audition, something classic that would last for years to come. Time to look somewhere else.
As I started to turn away the man, held up a finger urging me to wait. He rummaged in a crate behind him and emerged lifting a heavy looking mirror with a gilt frame. Wiping it with his twisted fingers made it shine in the sunlight.
“For you or for a loved one?” The man asked in a rasping voice.
“For my daughter,” the words seemed to tumble out as I told him all about Phoebe, the audition at the prestigous dance academy, her dreams of being a ballerina.
Suddenly the town hall clock struck midday, time had flown, I had to dash.
“Here, take the mirror.” He presented it to me already wrapped and tied with string.
After lunch I gave Phoebe her gift.
“Mum it's gorgeous.” She threw her arms around me. I would miss her so much when she was gone.
“I thought for now we’d hang it from that nail on your bedroom door. You can check your reflection everytime you go out!”
Her carefree laughter filled the air, it lingered while I tidied up wraping round me like her hug.
At four I made up a tea tray, an old fashioned tradition we loved sharing. She must be studying hard there’d been barely a sound from upstairs all afternoon.
When I opened the bedroom door Pheobe was nowhere to be seen. She wasn’t in the bathroom and hadn’t sneaked back downstairs either.
On impulse I turned the mirror over, I heard the sound of familiar laughter, an overwhelming sickly smell of pink roses filled the air.
Balancing on the wire was a ballerina en pointe who looked suspiciously like my daughter.