Susan Knox — “Mirror, Mirror”

When did I quit looking in my mirror? It was when Snow White was revived by the Prince’s kiss and my mirror told me I was no longer the fairest in the land. I never told my husband. I never told him Snow White lived. Somehow he found out, but Snow refused to come back to the castle. I wasn’t invited to the wedding and when my husband returned from the festivities he banished me from his kingdom.

I traveled west, across the Reflection Mountains and settled in a village in Amethyst Valley. I bought land and started growing herbs. I know herbs. I have a magic touch with them. I grew fields of hyssop and horehound, rosemary and rue, angelica and belladonna. Bundles of herbs hung from my workroom ceiling. The air shimmered with their fragrances.

I created elixirs, tinctures, and balms. My extracts cured psoriasis, eczema, herpes, and corns. I could ease aching limbs and creaky joints. Migraine headaches became extinct in Amethyst Valley. I tended to my beauty. I concocted creams and lotions infused with herbs to smooth the skin, soften wrinkles, tighten the jaw line. The village women clamored for my potions and I began selling my wares. I could have given them away, but there’s so much pleasure in making money.

Soon I was getting requests to mail my products far and wide. The business flourished, almost out of hand, until I hired two sisters who had a genius for organization and management. Lovely girls, Ruby and Pearl, identical twins, with skin as white as snow, hair as dark as ebony, and lips as red as blood. They soon had my business humming. The villagers were proud to be a part of my enterprise and vied for jobs in the business. Rose and Pearl created a web site, infomercials, and placed my products in department stores.

One day Ruby asked if her parents could visit. She said her father was anxious to meet me. I was flattered. From what I’d gathered from the girls’ conversation, the father was important royalty in a distant kingdom.

I was in my workroom when they arrived. The father entered first. A big man with white hair and sapphire eyes, he shook my hand, and stood aside to present his wife. She took one look at me, gasped, and collapsed. We didn’t know what to do at first. Pearl started artificial respiration. Ruby called for an ambulance. The king knelt by her side, chafing her wrists, calling, “Snow, Snow.” I had a remedy, but it was not without side effects. I grabbed the bottle and looked to the king for permission. He nodded. I sprinkled ten drops under her tongue and waited. She began to stir. As she breathed and coughed, her skin began to wrinkle and roughen. Her daughters helped her to a chair and stared at me, their beautiful mother now an old crone.

“It couldn’t be helped,” I told them. “She was dying. I’ll give her my most potent skin creams and rejuvenating tonics, but I can’t promise full restoration.”

Later that evening, I went to my leather trunk—the one I’d transported across the mountains when I left the Beryl Kingdom. I dug through silk gowns and jeweled headdresses. The mirror was near the bottom. I propped it against my bureau and I peered into the glass.

Mirror, mirror…

Susan Knox writes short stories and creative nonfictions and authored Financial Basics, A Money Management Guide for Students published by The Ohio State University Press, 2004, 2nd edition 2016. Her stories and essays have appeared in Blue Lyra Review, CALYX, Forge, The MacGuffin, Zone 3, and elsewhere. In 2014, her essay, “Autumn Life” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She and her husband live in Seattle, near the Pike Place Market where she shops most days for the evening meal.