In the fall of 2012, a homeless woman slipped through the open window of a stranger’s house and made herself at home for six months. The owner did not hear, smell, sense, or see anything out of the ordinary, except for the mysterious disappearance of food, which eventually led her to install surveillance cameras. Soon after, one of the cameras broadcasted the image of her uninvited guest. The police were dispatched. They searched the home from top to bottom and eventually discovered the woman curled up inside a closet.
After hearing this bizarre story, 40-year-old, physical therapist Jasmine Falls concocts a similar scheme, convinced that if that woman could get away with living in a stranger’s house undetected for one hundred and eighty-some days then she can get away with living in her boyfriend’s house for five days, even if he, his wife and two children are there.
A Reginald F. Lewis Museum Book-of-the-Monght, In the Mirror is a provocative, suspenseful, compassionate, and oftentimes humorous tale that takes you on an unforgettable journey into the heart and mind of the other woman as she invades her lover’s home and becomes that proverbial fly on the wall of his life to bear witness to the fact that he is in love with her, not the woman he’s been married to for the past thirteen years. But as the days and nights go by, will Jasmine see what is meant to be or what never should have been?
Jasmine listened as Daniel locked up the house for the night. When he came upstairs, he carried Danielle and Brandon back to their rooms. He closed the door to the master bedroom just enough to give them some privacy then got into bed himself. Jasmine stared down the dark hallway. Soon she would be able to go down there and get the crucial piece of evidence she had been waiting for all day.
She gave Daniel time to fall asleep and around two-thirty in the morning, she eased open the door and quietly moved down the hall. The living room clock went tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock. She felt like she needed three pairs of eyes for this. One to keep on the master bedroom, one to keep on Danielle’s bedroom and one to keep on Brandon’s room.
You’re pushin your luck.
No, I’m covering all my bases, she said.
Jasmine reached Brandon’s room first. Leaning against the wall, she listened for a sound, any sound that would tell her he was asleep or awake. She heard faint breathing. Quickly, Jasmine peeked into the room, scanned it then retreated. After her head was resting against the wall again, she recalled what the glance in the room revealed. Brandon was asleep with his head under the covers. Still, knowing how a child could be asleep one minute and awake the next, Jasmine looked in again, saw that Brandon was still sleeping then she darted past his door in one step.
Safely on the other side, Jasmine peeked back into Brandon’s room to make sure her light footsteps didn’t disturb him. They hadn’t. Okay. Jasmine looked down at the master bedroom. No one was standing in the door staring wide-eyed at her. She moved on down the hall to Danielle’s room. Her heart was beating in time with the tick-tock of the living room clock.
Pressed against the wall, Jasmine peeked in. Danielle was sleeping at the foot of her bed, with her left arm and leg hanging off. If she rolled over, she would surely fall onto the floor. Then what would happen? They would hear a loud thud and her cries then they would come running. Running while Jasmine was standing in the hallway. Busted!
Okay. Jasmine had two options. One, go on to the master bedroom and pray that Danielle didn’t fall out of the bed before she could beat it back into the closet. Two, go in the room, ease her back up on the bed and pray she didn’t wake up and look at her like, you’re not mommy, you’re not daddy. Who the hell are you?
Twelve in one hand, half a dozen in the other.
No, it ain’t. You touch that girl and the only thing you’re gonna have on your hands are some cuffs.
You’re right, Jasmine thought. I’ll take my chances that she won’t fall.
So, Jasmine creepy-crawled past Danielle’s room, looked back at her dangling arm and foot, said a quick prayer and headed to the master bedroom. As she moved down the hall, the tick-tock of the clock got louder. In her mind Jasmine saw Danielle’s arm hanging off the bed, swinging like a pendulum. She was going to have to hurry the hell up. Jasmine stood at the doorway for at least five minutes asking terrifying questions. What if Daniel isn’t asleep? What if she isn’t asleep? What if both of them are sitting up staring at the door waiting for her? What if they are having sex?
What if you just look in already?
Okay, Jasmine thought. Okay. She breathed quietly. She looked back up the hall to make sure Danielle and Brandon were still in bed. The hallway was dark and empty. Jasmine squeezed her eyes closed and got up her nerve. Moving an inch at a time, she leaned . . . leaned . . . leaned . . . leaned . . . leaned until her eyes were almost in the room. She paused.
You better come on before that kid falls outta the bed.
Jasmine sucked in her breath, whipped her head inside the room, one second, two seconds, three seconds, pull back!
Jasmine’s heart raced as she listened for a scream or the squeak of the bed as he, she, both of them jumped up to investigate the strange face that broke into their room, their dreams. Feet and legs ready to jump over the banister and bust out of the house, Jasmine waited . . . Jasmine listened . . . Jasmine got ready to book. But there was no scream, no squeak, no nothing. Jasmine breathed a sigh of relief and let her head fall back against the wall hard, too hard! It thumped.
Damn it! Jasmine thought, yanking her head off the wall. Then she went through the waiting and listening and getting ready to haul ass all over again. But again, nothing. So, before it would fade from her memory, Jasmine let her mind show her what she saw. She on her side, facing the door, eyes closed. Daniel on his side, facing the window, eyes closed? Didn’t know. Hopefully so because Jasmine needed another look.
Another look? What for? They’re asleep with their backs to each other, no less. What more are you lookin for?
Jasmine shook her head. I don’t know. Something.
She cautiously peeked in again and it was just as she remembered. There was a space that lay between them, a space wide enough for both Danielle and Brandon to lie down in at the same time, a space that seemed to place them on different sides of an island. The stiffness in their backs and the soundness of their sleep said that space was getting wider by the night.
Jasmine stood there in the dark, smiling at the space, happy to see them in bed together, her in that seductive teddy and Daniel in nothing but his boxers with their backs to each other.
I rest my case.
The joy inside Jasmine almost tipped her over as she scurried up the hall and climbed back into the closet. Once inside, she gathered her evidence and laid it all out on a table in her mind.
Exhibit A: No real kissing.
Exhibit B: No talking.
Exhibit C: They don’t spoon in bed. Rather, they placed a big, sharp butcher knife between them.
Exhibit D: Daniel and I kiss. Tongue kiss!
Exhibit E: Daniel and I hugged.
Exhibits F, G, H, I, J: We talk, we laugh, joke with each other. We hold each other when we’re sleeping. And we make love no less than four times a week!
Jasmine couldn’t stop grinning. She had her big house with all her gourmet pots, her fancy silverware, her cozy dining room table, her family portraits, her comfy couch, her king size bed, her mirror . . . her children, her sexy teddy and it didn’t mean nothin’.
Shining the flashlight on the miniature keepsake box, she said, “It might take another two or three years, but he’s going to leave her. Leave her and marry me. Lord, when that day comes . . . .”
Jasmine got ready for bed. She opened the box of nasal strips and placed one over her nose. As an extra precaution, she decided to sleep sitting up. She switched off the light, nestled in her little space, closed her eyes, held the keepsake box against her chest and smiled.
“I knew it wouldn’t take more than a day,” she said. And as if to bring down the gavel on the whole business, Jasmine added, “Hell, I didn’t even have to come at all.”
Excerpt from In The Mirror by Odessa Rose. Copyright© 2014 by Odessa Rose.
In the Mirror
By Odessa Rose
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