It wasn’t until I got home after emptying my car and leaving it at the garage, that I finally looked at what I’d brought from the antique shop. Sitting on the sofa in the living room, the blinds down, I opened the paper bag and took out a pink tissue wrapped thing.
Unwrapped, a black plastic circle sat in my hand. There was a small dint to slide a nail in and open it by. The lid flipped up and I realised it was a woman’s compact. The bottom disc was empty and wiped clean of the powered it had once held. The top part was a mirror.
I slapped the compact shut. Mirrors were banned! A generation ago they were all smashed because it was claimed they had started to show peoples’ true characters. The New Age Government had passed a law declaring it so. Of course, there had been people denying that and claiming it was another front to suppress us.
I don’t really remember it. Though in one of the memories I have of my grandma there’s a big mirror. She use to sit and brush her hair before it. From time to time, I’ve seen people with small ones and on the screen when old TV shows and movies that weren’t banned were being shown. I had never owed a mirror.
Thinking was beyond me, so I re-wrapped and put it back in the paper bag then I went to my wardrobe. Moving clothes aside, I unlocked the small safe and placed the forbidden item in there. I closed the safe door and sat there for a few minutes. I would have to get rid of it tomorrow. Find some place to smash and dump it. The longer the mirror stayed in my house the more chance it would get discovered during a random police search gang.
A shiver ran through me at that thought. It had been awhile since the banging had come at my door in the early hours of the morning. I hadn’t reached it in time and the police had broken the door down. They had searched my whole apartment, moving furniture, breaking things, making holes in the walls. They had left empty handed and gone to join the other policemen who’d been through my neighbours’ places.
The search gangs were a fact of life but you never got use to them. If they found anything banned you were arrested and taken to jail. So, if they came tonight….
‘No!’ I cried and lunged for the safe.
I scrambled with the lock and put the numbers wrong in twice. Pulling away, I took a few deep breaths then tried again. The safe clicked and I grabbed the paper bag from inside. Clutching it to my chest, I felt a sensation of fire. I had to get rid of this now. Closing the safe and the wardrobe. I went into the kitchen and found a rolling pin. Placing the compact mirror on the floor, I repeatedly hit it.
I didn’t hear any breaking but I was too scared to check. Putting the rolling pin back, I stuffed the now ripped paper bag in my handbag and left. I wasn’t sure where I was going and the weather was so bad. I went to get into my car then remembered it was at the garage being fixed.
I looked back at the apartment building, the wind whipping around me and the rain soaking through my skirt. I couldn’t go back. Walking on, I thought about a location I could take the mirror too. There were some alleyways, a small children’s park, a few bushes pushing out of people’s front gardens….A sign rose above me directing cars on the one way road.
Ahead, the town centre and business distract and to the left the cemetery. That’s where I could bury the compact! I hurried on, huddling in my coat and hoping no one stopped me. The pavement weaved around and around, small house lining either side, many had lights on in their windows. I felt numb with the cold and weighed down with the rain. Turning a corner the houses started to drop away and the further I walked the less there were.
A sign, rattling in the wind, pointed onward and also declared this was a dead end. A few moments later, I could see the open gates of the cemetery. I broke into a slow run, desperate to complete my task. I went through the gates and almost stopped at the first row of headstones. It would have been too simple though. I headed in deeper. The rain dripping of the weeping willows and bending the tall grass. I passed statues of angels and saints who seemed to be crying.
Somehow, in my fogged mind, I remembered a curved wall of names that might have been from a war or from a religious group. It was at the bottom of this pathway and fenced off from the other graves. There was an arc doorway in the centre that might once had opened and led into a tomb. Reaching the fence, I saw a large gap and just squeezed in.
At the side of the stairs leading up, I dug up the grass and soil with my bare hands. I dug as deep as I could then pressed the compact into the earth. I refilled the hole and hoped the rain and wind would cover my tracks. Back through the fence, I located a tap and washed my hands.
Home felt a long way off but I made it back. I didn’t think anyone had seen but it was so hard to tell. There were secret cameras and spies everywhere. I showered, got warm and then dry. I couldn’t eat so I went to bed and just lay there in the dim light, thinking.
I knew the feeling of being found out would never go away. I’d always be looking and wondering for the rest of my life. One other thing was clear to me now though and that was that I couldn’t report the antique shop. If I did, they’d investigate me and I wouldn’t be able to lie.