The next morning, Evelyn got up. She realized the mirror was on the bed the whole night. She picked it up and almost threw it against the wall, but she stopped herself. She threw some clothes on and slammed her door on the way out. Evelyn had her change purse in her coat pocket and she headed for the back alley. She needed something, anything to get rid of those memories. Just as she turned down the lane, she saw someone convulsing from a hit.
“Shit,” she said and turned back. She decided instead to get on the bus and head for the seawall.

Walking along the seawall, muttering to herself, Evelyn realized she was jealous of Evie. Evie no longer had an abusive father; Evie had a devoted mother; Evie was smart and studied hard and was going to college. Evelyn didn’t have that option. She just had to survive.

When she left home, she stayed with different friends for a few months, but their parents objected to Evelyn staying long term. She thought about getting a job, but her anxiety was too much. Her mother didn’t try to find her, which she was glad about. If she did, she may have gone back and would’ve probably killed her father or he her. It never occurred to her that she could’ve reported him for his abuse. That would mean her mom and her would be running for their lives, but in the end, Evelyn ran anyway, just not from her father.

Evelyn never got her knee seen to and it healed, but awkwardly; that’s why she had a limp.

Evelyn eventually started living on the streets. She got a sleeping bag off someone and got rid of most of her belongings, which she fit into a backpack. She couldn’t part with her figurines, though.

Evelyn tried living in a “tent city,” but it was more stressful than living on the streets. There were a lot of fights, usually over drugs; people stealing your stuff and some sexual assaults. Evelyn was constantly looking over her shoulder. Her anxiety went to an all-time high.

It was at that time that she started using heroin. The drugs weren’t clean, though, and there was always the threat of a bad reaction or overdose. The drugs were extremely addicting and it became a vicious circle for Evelyn of using and trying to stop.

Evelyn would never prostitute herself; that was one good thing.  She did steal, however, to get the cash to buy the drugs. Luckily or unluckily, she never got caught, but stealing only added to her stress level.

It was in the soup kitchen that Evelyn had a mental breakdown. She had used some bad “shit” and it was giving her hallucinations. She imagined herself being swarmed by insects and she was trying to get them off her; swatting at imaginary bugs; covering her head and cowering in a corner. The soup kitchens were very strict about no drug use in their facility or coming in “high.” Almost immediately, one of the volunteers escorted Evelyn out. She began screaming and banging against the window. Eventually, the police were called. Evelyn was put into a psychiatric ward for her own protection and for those around her. Evelyn expressed remorse and begged for help to stay clean. A kind social worker got her some free therapy consisting of methadone injections. After a month of not using, Evelyn was put on a waiting list for a room in one of the downtown eastside hotels. She eventually got her room after three months. This at least gave her some stability and the social worker was hoping to get Evelyn in some kind of training program to get her a job. Evelyn’s anxiety was still overwhelming, so she was given time to adjust.

At least walking the seawall reduced the urge for Evelyn to use.

Instead, she went back to her room and, tired from her walking, fell asleep. By the time she woke up, it was late afternoon. Evelyn realized she was hungry and made her way to the soup kitchen.

After eating, Evelyn helped to clean up the plates and swept the floor. She even chatted with some of the volunteers. By the time she arrived back at her room, it was dark out. Evelyn took her Snow White book and read it to herself. She knew it by heart, but she took her time looking at the pictures and immersing herself in the story.

She must have fallen asleep as she woke to the sounds of the mirror speaking and light illuminating from it. Evelyn wasn’t sure she wanted to see any more images, so she tried to ignore it, but it got louder and louder. Someone banged the wall from next door. “Shuddup with the noise.” Evelyn put the pillow over her head, trying to shut out the mirror and the banging.

“Hey, shut the fuck up…I’ll come over and shut you up.”

It was no good, Evelyn got up and grabbed the mirror. The volume went down to a reasonable level; the banging and shouting stopped.

When the vision on the mirror came into focus, Evelyn could see Evie at the side of a bed; a hospital bed. She looked closely and realized it was her mom, Lyn, in the bed.

Evie was holding her mom’s hand. She had been crying as her cheeks were wet. Evie looked older, maybe in her twenties. Lyn looked very gaunt and gray.

“Evie,” her mom whispered, “Evie…don’t stop your education…keep it going…”

“Shush, Mom, it’s okay; don’t worry about me. Just get better.”

Lyn continued, “I’m sorry.”

“What’ve you got to be sorry about?”

“Your father…It wasn’t easy with him, I’m sorry…”

Evie was crying now. “Never be sorry for that son of a bitch. It wasn’t your fault. You’ve always been there for me.”

Lyn smiled but didn’t try to speak anymore.

The next image was Evie at a gravesite. She was placing flowers on a gravesite. There was a small headstone which had Lyn’s name inscribed and her birthdate and death date. Below, it read, “Always loved and in our hearts.” Evie was with someone. After looking closer, Evelyn recognized her mom’s sister, Bev. They hugged each other and the mirror went dark again.

Evelyn clutched the mirror to her chest. Her mom was dead.

Evelyn used alcohol and drugs to blot out her bad memories but also to forget about her mom. She loved her mom and missed her enormously, so much so that it hurt at times. She couldn’t see her, not risking seeing her father as well.

Evelyn didn’t care anymore; she wanted to see her mother or to know for sure if she was dead.

Evelyn had to wait until the following week to afford the bus fare for her trip. She made an effort to dress conservatively and she even bought some respectable shoes at the market. She washed her hair the night before and asked one of the volunteers at the soup kitchen for some makeup. Instead of lending Evelyn some, they went and bought her some face powder, blush, and lip gloss. Evelyn promised to work it off with some extra cleaning in the soup kitchen.

The day was dry at least, but still cold. She had some fingerless gloves and a toque which she wore.

After the hour journey on the bus, Evelyn got off at the main bus terminal. She had to walk three or more kilometers to the address and by the time she got there, she was hungry. She took out the granola bar she had brought with her. The street where she used to live looked different; there were newer condos. Munching the bar, she looked up and down her street. The apartment where she used to live was no longer there. “Crap,” she said aloud. Now what was she going to do?

She sat on a bench outside a new condo, finishing her lunch. She was still hungry and now she was thirsty. Evelyn felt defeated.

She suddenly remembered her aunt in the mirror. She would have to try there.

It was another long walk to her aunt’s house. Evelyn was feeling a bit faint when she finally arrived. She could see a car in the driveway, but she had no way of knowing if this was her aunt’s and uncle’s car. She had to ask and maybe get a glass of water if it wasn’t…

Evelyn knocked on the door. She could hear some footsteps coming down some stairs.

The door opened and her aunt Bev, older, but definitely her aunt stood inside the hall.

“Auntie Bev,” Evelyn puffed out. Sweat was beaded on her forehead despite the cold.

“Who are you? Evelyn?”

“Yes, it’s me. Please can I come in?”

“I haven’t got any money; there are no drugs in the house.” Bev was about to shut the door.

“Please Auntie Bev, if I can have a glass of water.”

Bev reluctantly let Evelyn come in. Obediently, Evelyn took her shoes off and her toque. Bev led the way to the living room. Evelyn unzipped her coat but didn’t take it off. She ran her hand through her hair.

“Sit down, before you fall down,” Bev said to Evelyn.

Evelyn sat down on the flowered couch, leaning into the back of it and closing her eyes. She opened them when she heard her aunt come back. Bev handed Evelyn a tepid glass of water. Evelyn drank it quickly gasping at the end of it. “Thank you.”

“What do you want, Evelyn?”

This wasn’t the warm welcome she had hoped but it was to be expected.

“Just so you know, I’m clean. I, I haven’t taken any drugs or anything for a year.” Evelyn fibbed on the timeline and she didn’t mention the methadone injections either.

“Glad to hear it,” Bev said but crossed her arms defensively.

“I need, I want to know where Mom is?” There; she said it.

Bev’s face softened and she looked down at her hands.

Evelyn had her answer, but she needed to hear it from her aunt.

“When you left, Evelyn, we, well your uncle and I wanted to find you, but your mom was adamant. She knew there’d be, well, problems with your dad. Lyn thought you’d be better offl well, I think she just, I don’t know, whatever, she thought, she was determined to let you be.

Your dad, well he got into a fight in a bar and killed a man. He was done for manslaughter and went to prison. He was stabbed two years into his sentence and died. Your mom was going to look for you then, she really was but, but she got cancer, breast cancer. She had a double mastectomy and all the chemo; God that was tough; that alone nearly killed her, but it spread and she died a year after your father…”

Bev started crying. Evelyn was stone-faced, bracing herself so as not to break down. After Bev’s crying subsided, she continued, “Uncle Ray and I were going to look for you; I don’t know, we talked about it but I was angry, angry at you; angry at your dad and probably most of all angry at your mom. I know that sounds stupid, but we begged her to leave him so many times and then she went and got cancer and died.”

Bev started crying again.

Evelyn’s anxiety was kicking in, she felt she needed to leave. She got up and zipped her coat.

“Wait, Evelyn, wait, I’m sorry. This is not how I had hoped to tell you. Please sit down, I’ll make some tea.” Evelyn’s heart was pounding so loud it was hard to hear her aunt. She took deep breaths and slumped back down on the couch.

Taking deep breaths, Evelyn calmed herself a bit and while her aunt made tea, Evelyn found her way to the bathroom and splashed cold water on her face.

Bev brought a tray out with the tea and some cookies.

Evelyn was ravenous and couldn’t help herself from eating most of the cookies on the plate. Despite the situation, Bev chuckled.

“Be careful not to eat your fingers.”

Evelyn wiped the crumbs from her face with a napkin and took a long drink of tea. When have I ever drank from a tea and saucer? Evelyn thought to herself. It reminded her of the ones in the shop where she bought the mirror.

They sat in silence for a bit, each in their own thoughts. Evelyn could hear the ticking of an old-fashioned clock. She felt oddly at home here.

Bev broke the silence first. “Can you tell me where you live?”

Evelyn sighed.

“Only if you want to,” her aunt said.

“No, it’s okay, I just, well, I’m ashamed.” Evelyn’s eyes welled up and she sniffed to stop her nose from running.

Bev pulled a tissue from a Kleenex box on the coffee table and handed it to Evelyn.

Reluctantly at first, Evelyn began telling her aunt of where she lived now and how she got there. It was a difficult story to tell and also difficult for her aunt to hear. Bev took her own tissue during the reciting and dabbed at her eyes. Evelyn didn’t leave too many things out; she was honest with her aunt and maybe for the first time, honest with herself. She did, however, omit the visions from the mirror. They were special to her and her aunt might think she had a mental illness.

Afterwards, Evelyn was exhausted. She closed her eyes and leaned back on the couch.  Bev came around to sit next to her.  She took Evelyn’s hands and squeezed them.

“I’m so, so sorry…I feel so bad for you and I feel ashamed. Your uncle and I should’ve intervened.” Bev took the crumpled tissue from her hand and blew her nose. “We, your uncle and I, we couldn’t have children, but we always loved you, Evelyn, we didn’t look after you, and that’s unforgiveable.” Bev started to cry and Evelyn’s heart swelled with love for her aunt’s compassion. She put her arms around her and they both cried together.

The light outside was getting dimmer and it would soon be dark. Evelyn didn’t want to be going home at this time but she had no choice.

“Look, I need to go,” she spoke.

“You can stay the night if you want, Evelyn.”

As tempted as she was, Evelyn knew this was not a good idea. She didn’t want her aunt or uncle to think she came here with the intention of moving in.

“No, I, I have an appointment with the social worker early tomorrow and I can’t miss that.” Her appointment wasn’t until late afternoon tomorrow, but her aunt didn’t need to know that.

“Well, let me drive you home at least.”

There was no way Evelyn wanted her aunt to see where she lived.

“Not all the way home, but to the bus depot. That would be great.”

Bev agreed and Evelyn asked to use the bathroom before they left. When she came out, her aunt was holding a plastic bag. She gave her a card with a cell number on it. “This is my cell. Please call me whenever you want and this is for you.” Bev handed the bag to Evelyn.

Evelyn looked inside. There was a gold urn inside.

“You should have it.”

All Evelyn could do was nod.

They drove in silence to the bus depot.

Evelyn didn’t want to leave the car or her aunt. Her aunt made the first move, by getting out of the car and opening up the passenger door.

She gave Evelyn a hug. “Please come back and see us. Uncle Ray would love to see you.”

Evelyn couldn’t speak but gave her aunt another hug. Her aunt put some money into the palm of her hand. Evelyn went to give it back, but her aunt moved away quickly and went into the car.

Evelyn watched her drive away. Evelyn didn’t look at the money until she was on the bus. She had given her $100. That was quite a risk, giving an addict money. Evelyn opened the top of the urn and shoved it in there. She ran her hand over the urn and whispered softly, “Hi, Mom.”


For all installments of “Mirror, Mirror…,” click here.

Previous installments:

  1. Part 1
  2. Part 2