Mary Ann read the words allowed as she and her three friends stood on the sidewalk outside the abandoned, dilapidated Cape Cod.
“So, the old witch finally died,” Sammy said. At thirteen, he was the oldest of the group.
Sarah crossed her arms. “Oh posh, Sammy. She was just an old lady. Weirdly reclusive and totally mean to anyone who walked by, but still just an old lady.”
“Yeah, but she’s been around forever. I mean, at least as long as we’ve all been alive.” Thomas scratched a hand through his shaggy brown hair.
“We’ve only been alive for twelve years, Tommy. That’s not forever.” Mary Ann pushed her glasses up her nose.
“Well, I’m going in.” Sammy walked around the side of the house as the rest of the group sprinted to catch up.
“But—” Sarah whisper-yelled as she glanced around for nosy neighbors.
“You can’t just—” Mary Ann pled in a high-pitched voice.
Thomas just laughed. At five feet ten inches, he was the thinnest and tallest in their class, always ready for an adventure.
“Sam!” Mary Ann begged. “Would you just—”
“Too late,” Sammy sing-songed.
He jiggled the latch on the backdoor and it swung open. Amid protests from the girls, the four slipped inside the dark house.
“Whoa,” Sammy said. “This place hasn’t been dusted in a while. Gross.” He dragged a finger along a tabletop and cringed.
Sarah huffed. “Be nice, Sam. She was super old. Like, a hundred or something.”
“Yeah, and she was also a witch, remember?” Thomas gave her wink and laughed.
“Doesn’t look like a witch lived here,” Mary Ann said. “This place looks normal.”
“Normal?” Sammy held up a bowl filled with animal bones. “Does this look like something in your house?”
“Maybe they’re leftover chicken bones from supper?” Sarah grimaced but clearly doubted her own words.
“Well, this definitely qualifies as not-normal.” Thomas held up an odd-looking doll.
“So she likes dolls. What’s the big deal?” Sarah rolled her eyes.
“Or it could be a talisman,” Mary Ann said.
“Mary Ann!” Sarah was indignant.
Mary Ann shrugged. “What? A talisman is a good luck charm for a witch. Just sayin’…”
“What’s this?” Sammy said as he picked up a hand-held mirror. “It’s heavy. And it looks ancient.”
“Don’t break it,” Thomas teased. “I’ve got a feeling you’ll have more than just seven years bad luck.”
“Yeah, yeah. In seven years I’ll be twenty.” Sammy froze. “Whoa! Look at this!”
The group gathered behind the boy to see his reflection.
“Weird,” Thomas said. “That looks like you, but like in five years or so.”
“Or seven?” Sammy said.
“Wow. You’re actually kind of handsome,” Mary Ann said. She went red when everyone turned toward her. “In a completely platonic sort of way. Jeez.”
“Wonder what I’ll look like at thirty,” Sammy said.
The face in the mirror changed to show an older version of the boy. The group of kids broke into squeals of excitement.
“Sammy! How did you do that?” Mary Ann said.
He shook his head. “No clue! It just happened!”
“Well, ask it what you’ll look like when you’re fifty!” Thomas was hunched low.
Sammy asked. Once again, the picture changed to a mature adult-version of Sam.
“You age well, Sammy,” Mary Ann said. The group gawked again. She rolled her eyes. “What? I’m just sayin’…”
“Show me how I’ll look at eighty,” Sammy said.
The picture changed and they Ooo’ed in unison.
“Show me one hundred.”
The mirror went blank.
Thomas clapped his friend on the shoulder. “Tough luck, friend. You don’t make it. I’ll write an epilogue for you,” he said with a laugh.
“You mean eulogy, dummy,” Sarah corrected.
“Me next,” Mary Ann said as she grabbed the mirror. “Show me now.” Her face appeared normal. “Okay, show me at twenty-five.” Her faced morphed into an attractive woman with no glasses.
Sammy’s eyes went wide and he gulped.
“Show me at fifty.” Again the picture changed to show an older, but still very attractive Mary Ann. She smiled with pride. “Show me seventy-five.” Her face was much older but remained stunning. “Show me one hundred.” Once more her face appeared, wrinkled but with a glint in her eyes that reflected beauty.
The girl squealed with delight. The jaws of the others fell to the floor.
“Show me one hundred ten!” she said. The mirror went dark. Her shoulders fell. “Oh well. At least I know I’ll live a long and happy life.”
“Who says it’s happy?” Sammy said.
“I’m beautiful. Of course I’ll be happy.” She stuck her tongue out playfully but he waved her away.
“Okay, my turn,” Thomas said. He lifted the mirror. “Show me now.” His face appeared. “Show me twenty.” His face aged slightly. He repeated this for every decade of his life, each reflection growing a little older, until he hit eighty, where the mirror went blank.
“Sorry bud.” Sammy sucker-punched his friend. “Looks like you clock out earlier than me. Ha!”
“Yeah, yeah.” Thomas handed the mirror to Sarah.
“Erm, I’m not so sure…” She bit her lip.
“What’s wrong?” Mary Ann said. “Don’t you want to know how long you’ll live?”
“Yeah but…well, isn’t it better not to know? Like, what if it changes the way I live or something?”
“Oh come on, Sar. Play along,” Thomas said.
She licked her lips. “Okay. Show me one hundred.” The mirror remained blank. She sighed. “Show me eighty.” It stayed dark.
“Ooo, sorry.” Sammy winced.
Sarah took a deep breath. “Show me sixty.” Still nothing. “Forty?” Nothing.
The group went still. Sarah swallowed hard.
“Show me twenty.”
The mirror didn’t change.
No one in the group budged.
Sarah blinked. “Well, my birthday’s next month so…. Show me thirteen.”
The mirror was motionless. Mary Ann gasped.
“Show me tomorrow,” Sarah said, desperation in her voice.
For the final time, the mirror remained blank.
©Laura L. Zimmerman 2017