I stood in the bathroom and stared at the drawing on the mirror. My husband, Robbie, drew it, when he was alive.
The crude lines depicted a house with a family inside: a woman on the left, a child in the middle, and a man on the right. He always thought of me first.
The sink ran endlessly in the kitchen, accompanied by the clanking of dishes and my mother’s voice, like a persistent bell clanging in my skull. Her words were lost in the noise.
It had been six months since I washed that mirror. It used to be that you could only see the drawing when you tilted your head a certain way, or after a hot shower.
Now, the mirror is coated with dust and you can always see it. I created little valleys in the dust, tracing the marks Robbie’s finger made over and over.
“Teresa!” Mother is looking for me. I can feel her approaching the open door behind me.
Robbie began drawing on the mirror when we first moved in to this house. Sometimes, it was a smiley face or a heart. Sometimes, my name.
“Teresa, I’ve never seen so many bottles in my…”
The first time I saw his writing on the mirror, I assumed he’d done it to annoy me. It didn’t. It made me feel as if he were here with me somehow, when we were apart.
I cleaned the mirror once a week or so, and a few days later, I’d notice another message. I grew fond of our tacit ritual.
“Oh. That’s just weird,” mother said, entering the bathroom.
“I’d like to be alone.”
“No. You’ve had enough alone time. Get ready. We’ll get lunch.”
We stared each other down and I could see that I wasn’t getting away easily, this time. I shuffled reluctantly from the room to get my things.
As I pulled on a sock, I heard a squeaking noise from the bathroom. I realized what it was with mounting horror.
I shrieked like an underdisciplined child when I saw my mother holding a dusty rag and a bottle of Windex. The mirror was clean.
I could have killed her, but I only shoved her. I cried. She cried. We didn’t get lunch, after all.
I sobbed into a pillow, for a while. I had a drink. I got a headache. I decided to take a shower.
I thought of Robbie as the scalding water poured over me.
We were trying to have a baby, and then he died.
I ran my hand over my flat stomach. I ached. The water began to run cold.
I exited the shower, wrapping myself in a towel. I froze when I saw the fresh writing on the mirror.
“I’m still here,” it read.
Tears welled in my eyes, “Robbie, is that you?”
I recoiled as new lines began to appear in the condensation before my eyes. My heart thudded violently as I read them.
“Never was,” they read.