Determination and panic gripped Morgan’s throat as she slammed on the brakes. She had never killed anything and she was not ready to start now.
Her new Mercedes skidded on the driveway, coming to rest with a sudden violent jerk. The black cat, whose life she had just saved by not crushing under two tons of automobile, stared back at her with mild disregard.
“Oh, you little piece of…” Morgan glowered at the feline through her windshield. She tapped the horn, and the cat scurried across the lawn and up a tree in the front yard.
Ms. Morgan Devlin, real-estate agent in the Dallas area for nearly twenty-three years, chuckled slightly as she grasped the amusing side of the situation. She had just about skidded into her new client’s fence to avoid a stupid cat. She didn’t even like cats.
“Jeez girl,” she said, checking her eyeliner in the rearview mirror, “get a grip.” She wished it were bigger so she could see her hair. She would’ve taken a minute to check her hair in one of the three compact mirrors in her purse, but she was in a hurry and knew there were plenty of mirrors in the house.
Morgan was meeting her boss at this two-story Victorian in the elegant Highland Park district. They were scheduled to do a walk-through and together come up with a plan to market the property. She had hoped to arrive ahead of him and get a feel for the empty house without his flirtatious prattle.
His Jag wasn’t in sight, so she got out of her car and started digging for the house key in her purse. She pulled out a ring of keys all with different colored labels. Holding them up in the sunlight, she searched for the one with the purple tag. As she found the key, something seized her attention. A dark movement in her peripheral vision.
A silhouette had suddenly framed itself in one of the upstairs windows. Then as suddenly as Morgan turned her head to get a good look, it was gone. It hadn’t walked away, but rather fell from view, as if the floor had been removed from the spot in which it stood. Through squinted eyes, she took a harder look at the window, noticing odd shapes of reflected sunlight glimmering along its edge. She shrugged, dismissing the image as a warped reflection in the hot Texas sun.
Seizing the right key, she took a quick glance at herself in the mini-mirror on the key chain. “Looking good today, sugar.”
Entering the house, she did a quick walk-through of the downstairs. When she moved through the kitchen, she snarled a playful growl at her reflection in the microwave door—something she had done a million times as a child.
Before heading upstairs, she stopped to take a good long look at herself in the full-length mirror in the entryway. Since childhood, staring at herself always seemed to give her a sense of calm. The relationship she had developed with her reflection was all about control. As a teenager, she would stare for hours at herself. When she smiled, her reflection smiled. When she stuck out her tongue, her reflection stuck out her tongue. No matter how far out of control life got, she would always be the master of her reflection. She was in control.
As an adult, that warming sense of control embodied by her reflection became a check and balance system. When her reflection looked a bit heavy, she could force herself to throw up. Back in control. When her reflection showed too many age lines, she could have an operation. Back in control.
“You’re looking fine today, sister.”
As she stepped onto the second floor, she heard a car horn. Her boss usually liked to make an entrance in his silver Jaguar, even if it was just onto a driveway.
Walking over to a front-facing window, she planned to throw him a wave. But when she looked down, she didn’t see her boss’s car. Only her Mercedes occupied the driveway.
A stem of confusion wound through her mind, then suddenly blossomed into shock as she saw herself get out of her own car. She felt faint watching herself on the driveway, digging through her purse, holding up keys in the sunlight, and looking for the one with the purple label.
Control left her. And so did consciousness.
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