Second Place Winner!

The Vanity

Written by: Tara Clark

Mary sat on the edge of her grandmothers’ bed, sadly looking around the newly emptied room. She was happy to finally get her own space but losing her favorite person to get it didn’t seem fair. As her eyes fell upon the worn, cracked, wooden vanity in the bedroom corner, she noticed something white sticking out from the top drawer.

Mary walked over and curiously pulled it out, noticing it had her name scrawled across its front. Confused, she opened the envelope to find a letter adorned with her grandmother’s small, neat handwriting. ‘Mary, turning thirteen is a special but tough time in a young lady’s life. This vanity has helped me, along with generations of other women in our family, get through many rough times in the past by helping us to stay true to ourselves. As my most prized possession, I pass it down to you. I love you and am always with you.

Grandma.’ Mary hugged the note to herself and slowly sat on the rickety old chair. She wasn’t sure what Grandma meant, but she was glad to have it.
Later that evening, after yet another argument with her mother, Mary stomped into her room, slamming the door shut behind her. She felt like her mother never listened to her, will never understand her, and it made her so mad sometimes she could scream! As Mary paced around her room, fuming, something caught the corner of her eye. She glanced up and saw a horrible green face with a giant nose, hairy warts, crooked, yellowed teeth, stringy black hair, and a huge, pointed chin staring back at her from the vanity mirror! Mary froze in her tracks, terrified of the image of what looked like a wicked witch in the place where her reflection should be.

“MOM!!” Mary screamed, covering her face.

Her mother ran into the room, as Mary’s shriek had scared her. “What happened?”

Shaking, Mary pointed to the vanity. “There’s something wrong with the mirror!”

“What? I don’t see anything.”

Mary slowly peeked at the mirror from between her fingers. The witch’s face was gone, and the reflections were normal again. Mary put her hands down. “I could swear I saw….” She trailed off, wondering if she was seeing things.

“Are you feeling, ok?” asked Mom.

“Um, yea. I’m fine. I think I’m just tired.”

“Well, if, you’re sure. Dinner will be done in a few minutes,” her Mom said as she walked out the door.

“Thanks, Mom,” Mary mumbled as she looked over the mirror to see if there was a button or wire that triggered some sort of a false face. Finding nothing, Mary shook her head and went out to the kitchen to see if she could help her mom finish dinner.

The next day, her friend Amy called and talked for over an hour about how amazing the new phone and laptop she got for her birthday were. While Mary was glad for her, she was getting frustrated and annoyed at how Amy constantly threw her wealth in her face. She was even jealous that Amy always got new, expensive, and exciting things while she got hand-me-downs from her cousins. Mary couldn’t help that her little family didn’t have a lot of money or material things, and she knew her widowed mother was doing her best to raise her and her little brother, but sometimes she wished she could have some of the things her classmates had so she wouldn’t be embarrassed by being poor anymore. Amy claimed that money and material things are the foundations of importance and popularity. Mary knew that Amy was wrong, but peer pressure and not wanting to be bullied made her stay friends with Amy, even when her attitude and snobbishness made Mary want to tell her off sometimes.

As Mary was finally hanging up the phone, she glanced in the vanity mirror and saw a horrible monster with enormous yellow-green eyes that seemed to glow, a huge and bald lumpy head, large hairy ears, and a bulbous nose staring at her. Before she could scream, her little brother burst into her room without knocking. Seemingly against her will, selfishness completely overtook Mary. How DARE he just come in! This was HER room, HER space; the ONLY thing she had in the entire world she could call her own, and he was NOT going to take it from her!

“GET OUT!” Mary yelled.

“But Sis,” whimpered David.


David’s eyes welled up with tears as he backed out of the room.

“NEVER COME IN WITHOUT KNOCKING AGAIN!” Mary slammed the door in his face as David took off crying down the hallway. Breathing heavily, she turned and glanced in the mirror. What she saw made her breath catch in her throat. This time, the image in the mirror was completely different. She saw what looked like a small hunched over goblin, surrounded by gold coins and petting what looked to be a golden cup. It was mostly naked and dirty, bald with long whisps of stray hairs coming out the sides, small narrow eyes, green teeth, a long-hooked nose, distorted fingers and toes, and was very, very pale. Mary blinked several times, wondering if she was actually seeing the image in the mirror, or if she was going crazy. It wasn’t until her mother came running into the room that she realized that she had been screaming.

“What is it? What’s wrong?” her mother asked frantically.

“I saw…I saw…” Mary pointed to the vanity with a shaking finger.

“What? What did you see?” Her mother rushed to the vanity and started searching it for whatever it was that scared Mary. As her mother pulled the note from the top drawer, her back suddenly became very rigid. She stood there for several seconds, then slowly turned toward Mary, with a sad look on her face.

“This vanity has been around for a long time and has an interesting story attached to it,” said Mom. “Legend has it, the mirror is enchanted and supposed to help whoever owns the vanity stay true to themselves by showing them how the world perceives them. That’s the story my mother told me, anyway. I never saw anything, but I never owned it, either. What did you see?”

“Something that looked like a goblin hoarding gold.”
“So, you were feeling selfish. Anything else?”

“I saw an ugly green-eyed monster earlier.”

“You were feeling jealous, weren’t you?”

“Yes, I was. I also saw an evil witch yesterday.”

“I take it you were very angry and thinking hurtful and mean thoughts?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Ah. I see. When you act in that manner, everyone around you sees you as an evil, jealous or selfish person, or however else you may be acting. Your grandmother’s gift will help you become the selfless, loving, giving, and caring person that I know you are and that you and the world will love. I hope you use it daily and never forget, no matter how bad things get, how blessed you truly are.

Mary rushed to her mothers’ arms, her heart swelling so big with love and pride for her family she thought it would burst. As she hugged Mom extra hard, she glanced in the mirror and saw the most beautiful girl she had ever seen practically glowing. Mary knew she would always work extra hard to make that beautiful reflection a permanent reality.

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