Behind These Eyes - Part The Last!

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Belle started at the beginning, telling how the worries out lived the dolls, and finished at the place where they had been when they were talking in the kitchen. “Basically,” she said, “Well, at least as far as I can tell, anyway, the worries sort of build up behind the mirror. They need to recycle the emotional energy, they can't store it, so they distill it down. That way it's not so ... potent, I guess. Gradually, the emotional energy builds up and the host – that's you, Mum, as far as I can tell – starts to feel a bit, well, I'm not sure. I would guess that stuff would start to happen to you that was a bit odd, and you would start to feel like you would want to move the mirror. Ideally, the mirror would be moved out of the house – given to someone else, or maybe even turned into some other kind of furniture, I don't know. But whatever it is that keeps the worries in – for us it's a mirror, but I guess it changes over the years – eventually ends up with someone else, and that person becomes the host instead. So to fix the problem, we need to give the dressing table away. I think.”
There was silence. The sudden quiet spun out like a thread of gossamer ... stretching and stretching until Belle became convinced that if someone didn't break it soon, she was going to have to break it herself, just to get rid of the tension out of the room.
Finally, words dropping like stones in the thick atmosphere of the room, Mandy stated "So you are both trying to tell me that I am a ... some kind of a conduit for emotional energy?"
Her eyebrow was arched, and her voice doubting.
Belle nodded earnestly. Alyssa took a sudden interest in her fingernails, thinking that the next thing out of her mother's mouth would be an hysterical laugh.

The gossamer thread of silence started to spin out again, until Belle took a deep breath and said softly, "How much time do we have left?"

Mandy checked the clock, "About fifteen minutes." she said archly, implying that there was no way that the girls could achieve this. Alyssa was thinking the same thing.

"Okay." Belle said suddenly, assertively, "Come with me."


By unspoken agreement, this time Alyssa waited out in the dining room, and Belle took their mother by the hand, and led her in to the nedroom. She called for Rudolph as they went, and in less than a minute he trotted into the room, and went straight to Belle's side. In the bedroom, Jamie who was reading in bed, looked up at the sudden intrusion. He shot an unspoken question at Mandy and she returned it with a loaded look.

"Sorry Jamie," Belle said, "But I'm going to have to ask you to leave the room for a little while. There's something I need to show Mum." She paused, and when Jamie didn't move in the bed, she added, "If you go out and wait in the dining room, Alyssa will let you know when you can come back in."

Jamie gave Mandy another glance, this one resigned, and moved to get out of bed. He slipped his feet into the slippers on the floor and, his finger still marking his place in the paperback he held, he padded reluctantly out to the dining room.

Belle turned around so that she was facing the mirror, and held out her left hand for her mother's. When she held it firmly in her own, she used her right hand to give a gentle low on her right leg, and Rudolph moved in closer. His breathing was calm, her mother's was not.

She started slowly, softly. Gently murmering the words under her breath. She was surprised when her mother suddenly joined in,

"Then it went red

And now they're all dead

I'm so terribly sorry

I had a little dolly

I told it my ..."

And then they were in. Alyssa and Jamie slipped into the room behind them, and Alyssa demonstrated how to join the group. Once Alyssa was in, Jamie joined them like a filament, and shortly afterwards there was a bright flash of light. Belle's sight doubled, tripled, quadrupled, before she could bring it under her own control, before she could focus on the one. Yet again she saw the faces of the worries int he mirror, grinning and crying, laughing and screaming. Yet again those faces gradually coalesced into one big face. The one. They were back behind the mirror.


Belle, Rudolph. Alyssa, Jamie. By what name does the host go by?

Uh. Um. I'm Mandy.

Mandy, then. Hello Host.

Ah ... hello. Who ... who is this?

Well, I should think you already know, Host - Mandy.

I ... I am afraid I don't. Why do you call me Host?

Because that is who you are. You are the host. We have been trying to reach you for a long time now. You are stubborn. And difficult. And blind.

I am not blind.

Oh, but you are.

No, it's Belle who is ...

Hush! Belle has more vision than the rest of you put together. She sees more, and she understands more. You, host, are the blind one.

I don't understand, what do you mean?

Stop asking questions. It is not your place to ask questions. If you listened more, and watched more, then you wouldn't need to ask questions. I no longer answer questions. I have answered enough. Now is the time for action, not words. Host - Mandy - I shall put this simply so that you understand it. You are to move the mirror to a new host. Immediately. Do you understand?

I ... no, I don't understand, what do you mean by move the mirror?

We need to move on. You must ... who is this?

Ahh ... it's Luke. Remember me?

Who invited you here?

I, uh, I wanted to come back, to apologise. I ran off before, but I wanted to come back. To help.

The help of people who run away is not wanted. Now leave!


When Belle woke up, she felt as though she had ben punched in the face - her head throbbed and her eyes felt like they were too large for their sockets. When she tried to sit up, a bolt of pain shot from both her temples into a spot just behind the centre of her forhead. She dropped back onto the bed and pulled the blankets over her head. Before long she was asleep again.


Alyssa spent most of the week trying to call Luke. His car was in their driveway, with the keys in the ignition, and after a few days she and Jamie took it back around to Luke's little flat. No one answered the door, and so they left it in the empty carport. They slipped the ignition key under the locked front door.


Mandy went to bed, and stayed there. Every so often, she got up long enough to go to the bottle shop and smuggle a litre bottle of vodka back into the house. She stashed it in the dressing table drawer, and tried not to notice the worry dolls, still pristine in their little snap lock bag, and looking like nothing more menacing than what they were - some little bits of twig with scraps of cloth wrapped around them. Depending on how much of the vodka she had sneaked direct from the bottle before she got it into the drawer, they sometimes spoke to her.


Jamie went back to work, and tried to bury himself in his job. He had always loved his profession, and he started to recapture some of the joys of general practise again. He found himself working longer and longer hours, to avoid having to face Mandy, and after a few months, he began to contemplate moving out of the house they shared. There was a block of duplexes across the street from the surgery, and one had just come up for rent. He told himself - and the two girls - that it was so he didn't have to travel so far on the nights he worked late.


Belle woke for only minutes at a time, and in agony, for the best part of two weeks. Alyssa and Jamie brought her meals, and eventually she managed, with help, to get out of bed and start moving around again. She went back to school, but started spending more time with her sister in her flat. When she went for an annual checkup, the opthamologist found that she had gained about five percent sight, after living fifteen years with none at all. He called it a medical miracle, and he wrote a paper that was published in the Lancet medical journal. A reporter from the local newspaper came out and took Belle's photograph, but few people outside of the medical establishment recognised the significance of the event. Five percent sight, after all, is still very much blind.


It was about a month later when Belle found herself in the house alone. Her mother had disappeared on some errand, of what variety Belle didn't want to know, although she could guess. Her mother was more or less a non entity in her life now. Belle sneaked into her mother's bedroom and, wrinkling her nose against the smell of the unwashed bed linen and stale alcohol, she stared into the mirror - seeing now a hazy outline instead of the blackness she saw last time she was here. She called Rudolph to her side, and started to mumble the little rhyme under her breath, but discovered that she couldn't quite remember the words. There was no energy in here any more. The worries, the dolls, and the one - if they had ever existed - were gone now.


Alyssa eventually stopped trying to call Luke, and when months later she had a phone call from the police, she told them the truth. She had last heard from him on the night when Mandy and Jamie had returned from their weekend away. He had seemed nervous, and had made an excuse and left. She decided to leave out the part where he had shown up in a collective hallucination about worry dolls living in a mirror. She definitely didn't mention the scorched bit of carpet that now existed in her mother's bedroom, right in front of the dressing table.


When Belle found her mother lying unconsious in bed one afternoon after school, she didn't immediately think much of it. It was only when she tried to wake her up a bit to have something to eat, as she did once a week or so, that she realised that she seemed even more unconscious than normal. She didn't respond at all, even to vigorous shaking, and Belle started to panic. She grabbed the cordless phone from the bedside table, and had begun to dial emergency services before she realised it was flat. She ran out to the kitchen, to the wall phone, and called triple zero. She had to put the phone down every so often to check on her mother as the emergency services operator asked her to do different things. At one point she left the operator waiting while she dashed outside to find Alyssa. Rudolph spent the whole time beside Mandy's bed, ocassionaly licking the hand that had drifted out from under the cupboards. Once Alyssa was inside, she took over in the bedroom, and the two commenced a shouted conversation, as the emergency services operator suggested different things to do. By the time the ambulance arrived, Mandy's heartbeat had dropped to dangerously low levels. By the time they got her to the emergency room she was dead. Some time later that night, sitting at the dining table with Belle, both of them in shock but not really shocked, Alyssa realised that she should have called Jamie hours ago.


The funeral was a dismal affair. Belle and Alyssa both cried in the front row, although a distant aunt later mentioned that she didn't think they had cried quite enough for her liking. The two girls distanced themselves from the relatives as much as possible. They knew that Mandy had never been close to her family, and they were beginning to understand why. The wake was held at the funeral, and they both agreed after five minutes to leave the others to their moaning. They escaped to a nearby McDonald's, and spent the rest of the afternoon discussing the complicated relationship they had developed with their mother in the past year. They did not mention the mirror, or what had happened beyond it.


Alyssa became Belle's legal guardian, to avoid Family Services having to track down their long absent father, and the two of them settled back into a semblance of normal life. They both missed a lot of school for a while, and Alyssa eventually took a year's leave of absence so she could work to support them both. She started work as a chemist's assistant, and shortly after she got her first paycheck, the two of them met up with Jamie to discuss a settlement. He was surprisingly generous, given that he had no financial obloigation to his girlfriend's children, and offered to give them the house they lived in. Not long after that they heard that he was going out with someone he had met at the surgery.


Belle took on a part time job after school, but was determined to make it through to the end of year twelve. She did, and then found a job as a teacher's assistant at a local preschool. She found the children incredibly stimulating, and enjoyed watching them learn and grow. In her spare time, she started writing picture books, and eventually was offered a publishing contract. The advance was enough to enable her to go to university, and she studied part time for her teacher's certifcate. She continued to write, and continued to help out at the school when her timetable allowed it.


Alyssa and Belle, over the years, gradually changed the house to reflect their own personalities. Alyssa moved back into the house proper, and converted the granny flat into a dual purpose room. One half contained a basic lab for her, and she resumed her studies. The other half was a writer's den for Belle, where she laid out the pages of her books, and met her illustrator. In the house, Alyssa claimed the spare bedroom for herself, and the main bedroom, despite having the ensuite, was made into a spare room. They gave the dressing table away to a second hand furniture store.



Richard and Deanne had just moved in together. They had been going out for just over a year and, after an anniversary dinner at a fancy restaurant, Deanne had nearly choked on an engagement ring hidden in her glass of champagne. They had held a backyard engagement party at Deanne's parents place and asked for money in lieu of gifts. The money had then been used with their individual savings to out down a deposit on a two bedroom unit in a nice suburb. It wasn't fancy, but it would suit them for now. Richard was a real estate agent, and he had decided that the area would only improve in value. After a couple of years, he told Deanne, we'll sell the unit and be able to upgrade to something bigger and a bit nicer. Maybe something with a backyard, because maybe by then they would be considering a child or two.

The unit was partly furnished, which suited them well. They moved in and had a big house warming party with all of their friends a few weeks later. The party was a big success, although Deanne drank a little too much punch, and ended up passing out on the loungeroom floor shortly after the last of the guests had gone home. They had both laughed about it afterwards, and Richard teased her about it for a few weeks until the incident was forgotten.

Life continued on for some time, and Deanne found herself wrapped up in wedding plans. It consumed most of her spare time, and Richard was working as hard as could to earn the extra commission. The comission money got put into a wedding fund, and their parents both contributed to the fund to ensure they had a good honeymoon that they would never forget.

It was when they returned from a week in the Maldives, that things started to go a little strange. They dropped three wine glasses in two days, and not long after that the toaster died. Shortly after that, the toilet backed up. Then one day Richard went to the washing machine to hang the clean clothes out, and water had flooded the laundry.

Richard burned himself quite badly retrieving a lamb roast from the oven. It required a visit to the emergency room for a dressing, and it left a scar on his left arm, but the burn wasn't as bad as they had at first feared, and they were told that the scarring would fade well, and be almost unnoticeable in less than five years.

Not long after that, they were both involved in a car accident when another can a red light in front of them, and barrelled into the passenger side. If they had been a mere metre further back, the car would have plowed into the place where Deanne had been sitting, and she would have been badly injured, or more likely killed. They considered themselves lucky, and Richard jokingly bought a lottery ticket to see if the adage held true. They didn't win the jackpot, but did manage to win back the price of the ticket. They laughed about it with their friends at a dinner party the following week.

Around about the same time, Richard was vacuuming in the bedroom when the vacuum cleaner sudndenly clogged up. He switched it off, and pulled apart the wand and hose to find the blockage. After some shaking, and the production of a lot of dust that, he realised grimly, would need to be vacuumed up yet again, he discovered a clutch of little dolls in the vacuum head. He tipped them out, wondering where they had come from, and sat them on the nearest piece of furniture. He put the vacuum cleaner back together and continued vacuuming, managing to whack his shins on the dressing table as he did so. It bruised quite badly, and he called himself a klutz for having done it.

Deanne unexpectedly fell pregnant, and all of a sudden the dressing table seemed to be jumping out at her all the time. She was constantly running into it, just like Richard had earlier, and her shins were a colection of colourful marks from her encounters with it. She put it down to the awkwardness that came with her expanding belly - the pregnancy books never seem to mention these things - and Richard and a friend were eventually convinved to move the offending piece of furniture. They had very little space in the tiny flat, so instead of re arranging everything, the dressing table was moved out into the garage.

The impending arrival was enough to spur Richard to start keeping an eye out for new a place to live. They put the little flat on the market, and spent the next three months in a flurry of manic house cleaning, open homes and strangers tramping through their house. Because of the conflict of interest, a colleague of Richard's represented them and it wasn't too long before he had found a buyer. With the flat sold, they began the whirlwind process of house inspections and open homes. They scoured the real estate pages of the paper, and Richard's colleagues kept their noses to the ground, trying to find something suitable for them. It was the week before the contract on the flat was going to settle, and they finally found a new, bigger house that was much closer to the beach. They made an offer, the offer was accepted, and it was only three weeks before they moved in.

Moving day was a disaster. The removalists showed up late, got lost on the way to the new house, and then dropped a box on the way in between the old kitchen and the removal truck. It was the box containing the crockery that Deanne's mother had given her for their wedding. It had been her grandmother's, and now about a third of the pieces was smashed. When Richard came into the kitchen in the new house to check on the progress of the unpacking, he found Deanne - now eight months pregnant - sitting on the floor surrounded by crumpled newspaper and broken pieces of vintage china, crying like a child. He sat on the floor and comforted her, and shortly afterwards went outside to argue with the removalists.

With all the problems they faced with the removalists, it was nearly a month before Deanne remembered the dressing table that had been languishing out in the garage at the flat. She wondered briefly what had become of that, and then thought that it was no great loss. Hopefully the new owners would find some use for it.


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