The item was cast in bronze in two pieces: the handle and the disk, the latter held the mirror. The item has been broken apart. (As if the subject of the reflection and the hand that held it are now separate.) Presumably there had been a rivet holding the two pieces, but it has eroded to a small nub. The disk is more oval than circular; there are imperfections in the shape which indicate the artifact was hand-formed. The mirror itself has been abraded to no longer reflect. It is simply something that is held up in front of one’s face. (As if to hide.) On the back of the disk, hieroglyphics are too worn down and is indecipherable. (Perhaps once a name.) The handle is in the form of a stylized papyrus plant. Research has found this represents creative female power in Egyptian mythology.
It was found in a small coffin, as if for a child.
She closes down the museum’s website, pushes her laptop away, stands. She wants to see it. But the catalog says it is not on view. She goes to the mirror in the hallway. Tucks an errant hair behind her ear, smiles the way she would to a child, to her child. She will be the only one to see this smile, the way she tilts her head and her eyes scrunch along the edges. Wonders if she can do it again, handle it again, wonders where and how she can pack away this mirror that has caught a mother in its reflection.
Jennifer Fliss is a Seattle-based writer whose writing has appeared in PANK, The Rumpus, The Washington Post, and elsewhere. She is the 2018/2019 Pen Parentis Fellow and a 2019 recipient of a Grant for Artist Project award from Artist’s Trust. Recently, her story, Hineni, was selected for inclusion in the Best Small Fictions 2019 anthology. She can be found on Twitter at @writesforlife or via her website, www.jenniferflisscreative.com.