Austin’s voice came so clear from the basement it made Sam look up from her magazine spread over the kitchen counter and take a step toward the sound. Her pink bathrobe swished around her ankles.
“Yeah, what is it, honey?”
“Come down, I just found something…something cool.”
Sam paused for a second but descended the steps, cold through her slippers.
“Did you get into the old stuff yet? Is there some kind of heirloom?”
“Oh yeah,” Austin said. “For sure.”
He had his back to Sam, but as soon as she took the final step down, he spun fast to face her. A huge sheet of glass suspended in golden metal frame stood behind him on a table.
“I found something really special,” he said, “Look at this thing—isn’t it awesome?”
Sam frowned. A bout of coldness moved right through her robe, and her sheer fabric slip beneath that, and made gooseflesh dance up and down her body. “That’s weird. Where did you find that? I thought there would just be, like, plates and silverware.”
“It was in a box,” was Austin’s curt reply.
The woman glanced around, the pile of old boxes was as high as ever, and nothing else sat on the table to suggest he’d opened something. “What box? Was that all that was in it?”
Austin ignored both questions, and turned to the reflection, reaching out and placing his hand on the glass. “It’s so pretty, right? I love the way it looks.”
Sam, still skeptical, came up beside him and peered at their reflection. She did not like the slight yellowish tinge it put on everything— it made her appear ill.
“That’s…huh. It is something, certainly.”
“Is it not awesome?” he said, his voice pitching high. “Look at the awesome craftsmanship that went into such a piece. Come on, touch it? It’s so slick and awesome.”
“You keep saying awesome,” she muttered, but still did the command, and walked up to the glass, leaning closer. Peering deeply at its smudges and curvature.
“It has more than one meaning, you know,” Austin said, “One that not everyone uses.”
“And what is that?” she asked, chuckling.
She ran her finger over a spot of dust. And, as she did so, something caught her eye. It took a second to process, but as soon as she comprehended the sight, her face grew pale.
“That’s wrong,” she said, a touch of anxiety sparking in her voice. “The words on your shirt—why can I read them right? Where did you find this?”
She turned to see her husband almost normal, but with a crack going down the center of his face, splitting his nose and lips and chin into exposed fragments. She gasped, and he smiled. Austin’s teeth were glass, and the inside of his mouth—his tongue, uvula, gum line—was coated in shining powder.
“Awesome…means deserving awe.”
A kick to Sam’s chest knocked the breath from her body, sent her into the mirror, and then into the mirror. Sam tumbled down into the dark, unable to suck in air, and unable to observe anything but her own reflection fading into nothing but scattered light.