By Sandra Paul
“I have a great idea!” I told my husband enthusiastically. “Why don’t we put mirrored closet doors in our bedroom? It will not only give the room more depth, it will bring in more light!”
“Why don’t we just buy another lamp?” he replied dryly. “It would be easier.”
Obviously, he didn’t share my enthusiasm. Possibly because I’d been coming up with “great” ideas to improve our fixer-upper ever since we’d bought it two years earlier. Since then, my husband had spent nearly every weekend replacing windows, repairing walls, re-roofing, hanging siding, ripping out carpets, nailing down floors, fixing plumbing, laying bricks, cementing, yanking out tree stumps, laying a lawn, drywalling, plastering, and painting.
All of which he now reminded me of in unnecessarily specific detail.
“But the bedroom is a special project,” I reminded him in turn. “I envision it as our personal, private haven where we can relax. A getaway from the kids, pets—and endless chores.”
I think it was the chore bit that got him. At any rate, he didn’t argue further but put in the mirrored doors for me the following Saturday. When he finished, I stood in the doorway of our newly redecorated room, admiring how the lamplight bounced from the softly glowing burgundy walls to the gleaming mirrored doors and back again. I was totally thrilled with the result of my latest great idea. . . until the next morning.
While lying on my side, I opened my eyes—and stared in horror at the image before me. Less than four feet away was my own reflection, revealed in unforgiving detail in the harsh morning light. My once blonde hair looked dull and lifeless. My eyes were red and swollen almost shut. My skin was puffy and blotchy.
Involuntarily, I made a sound between a horrified gasp and a moan that caused my husband to sit bolt upright next to me.
“What is it? Are you hurt?” he demanded, leaning over me. He tugged down the sheet I’d lifted to cover my face.
“No, it’s those mirrors!” I blurted without thinking. “I look so awful. And now I’m going to have to face that fact, every single morning when I wake up!”
His green eyes widened with surprise, and then narrowed on my face. He stared at me as if he’d never seen me before.
Which was so not true. I’d first met those green eyes when we were in high school. We’d now been married over 20 years, and during those years, we’d spent less than twenty nights apart. I’d studied his expression countless times during countless days, hours and seconds. There was no face on earth including my children’s, I suddenly realized, who I gazed at more often than his. And if that was true for me, then it had to be true for him as well.
Shuddering at the thought, I jumped out of bed as he started to say something, wishing I hadn’t called my looks—or lack thereof—to his attention. I kept busy all day, avoiding mirrors, avoiding my husband’s gaze. And I went to bed that night, determined to forget the whole thing.
But when I awoke the next morning, I was lying on my side again. And I knew, without even opening my eyes, that I was facing those darn mirrored doors. It doesn’t matter; just don’t look, I told myself. I took a deep breath, and resolutely opened my eyes.
My gaze locked; I stared at the doors in amazement. Then my eyes grew misty. But that didn’t matter, because what I saw is forever imprinted on my mind and heart.
Sheets of notebook paper covered the glass. On them my husband had written, “You are beautiful. And I love you.”
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