That night I came down stairs after Mother retired. I slide the heavy doors open a tiny crack. Then I sat on the bottom step of the stairs waiting. Around ten o’clock by the parlor mantle clock I noticed the smell of cigar smoke. Then I heard the sounds of a piano playing very softly and distant, muffled voices. Then I very quietly crept up and peered through the crack in the heavy sliding doors. There seemed to be movement in the drawing room. There appeared to be a warm fire and music and movement. People. An on the carpet I could just barely make out the hands of a small child playing with her dollie. Then I threw the doors open as fast I could. The drawing room was cold and still and dark and utterly empty. But I could still smell the cigar smoke and the faint smell of jasmine. Mother rushed downstairs fearing the house was being broken into. She gasped when she saw the sliding doors open. I looked at her. “When did you start wearing Jasmine perfume and smoking cigars Mother?” She gasped in fear and fled up the stairs to her bedroom slamming the door behind her. Maeve came up from her tiny bedroom in the basement off the kitchen and gasped and crossed herself. Then she fled too.
I entered the room and lite a lamp and inspected it. It seemed perfectly still. “Come out! Come out! Wherever you are!” I sang as I ran a scale on the piano. There was a note missing from the missing piano wire — which was odd because when the ghostly music played the piano was intact and was not missing a note. I lifted the piano lid and noted the missing piano wire. Then behind me I hear the cooing sing song voice of a small child. “Mommy? Mommy? Where is Mommy?” I spun around. But the drawing room was empty.
Then I glanced at the mirror. It was large and the wire holding it caused it to hang at a slanted angle which created a distorted reflection. There was something written on the glass. I got up on a chair and held my lamp up. Someone has written with some sort of red substance, almost like blood, ‘I know what you are’. I touched it. It smell and tasted like blood. I pulled out a greasy pencil and wrote ‘fuck you’ on the mirror.
Then as I peered into the mirror I saw her. A small two year old child was sitting on the carpet in a lacy pinafore, her carefully curled hair tied with a big pink ribbon. She was playing with her dollie. She was quite oblivious to me. It was as if I was not there. I carefully turned around on the somewhat precarious chair but the drawing room was empty. She was not there.
I jumped off the chair and moved it back. At that moment I had a most strange feeling of having done this before. Except it was not me doing it. I looked up at the massive mirror. It was most odd. I felt almost frightened of it. I had this split second of amazingly intense fear. Fear of the mirror. I suddenly felt so intensely afraid of the mirror falling on me with the glass shattering about me and blood spattering. I stared fiercely until the fearsome feeling dissipated. Then I and went to bed. As I left I suddenly smelled as second woman’s perfume: rose water. It was much fainter.
As I climbed the stairs I felt the cold spot and it was intensely cold. Then I felt something or someone bumping or brushing against me or past me. Then I heard very faintly ‘Help me! Oh Help me!’ and the smell of Jasmine. I looked down the stairs but saw no one sprawled on the bottom landing. Why did I expect to see any woman sprawled on the bottom landing anyway? Then most oddly I heard a faint sound of something jiggling.
I entered the nursery and jumped into my small bed. It was a damp night. Willie and Charlie immediately jumped into my small bed and huddled with me. During the night I heard doors opening and slamming, pacing on the stairs, distant voices, and the distant sound of a music box playing or the piano playing, and an odd sound on the stairs as if a deep bumping thump followed by a very faint whimpering as if someone was crying out ‘Help me!’followed by a tiny sound of something jiggling. It was as if time was looping around and around and around like the music of a music box cylinder with it’s tiny pinprick cams playing the same music over and over and over. And most oddly of all, the sounds no longer came from some space above us but below — in the drawing room.