Di Beddow

Writer, Academic & Education Consultant

The Mirror

“Getting Me Back”
Tip No. 3 Break Things

He had made the mirror for my birthday and when he gave it to me he said, “In one of the shells is a note about how much I love you, so that when or if, one day, you do not believe it, you can break the mirror frame and discover the note in the shell and you will believe again.”

I looked at the mirror – it was so beautiful with the driftwood and shells and plastic seaside toys we had gleaned from French and Cornish beaches over the years. Immediately, I wanted to know which shell bore the note. It was not the orange fish sandcastle mould, no, so was it pushed inside the wrapped winkle shell in the bottom right hand corner? That was my guess, but I would never know, because I would never disbelieve Chris’ love, nor would I ever break the beautiful mirror with its frame made up of our family memories of the sea.

Ten years on, my husband has left and I am in another house, single again. My son has, for some fateful reason, left the hot tap in the bathroom, running; he has then gone out. Coming in from gardening, I go to wash my hands and stand transfixed by the steam melting the glue; this then releases the stones and shells, which slide gracefully off the frame and into the basin.

I seize the moment and break apart each piece of the frame. I do this knowingly, determined to discover that my husband still loves me, in spite of his exit.

I was right; there in the curled ear of the shell I had suspected, is a piece of paper, folded assiduously. I pull it out and take it out to the garden. There in the sunshine, I sit on the bench and uncurl its contents:

To my dearest wife on her birthday; to borrow seafaring terms…

You were my first mate,
My true mate,
My love.
I could not love you more. Like the sea, I could not tame you, Nor would I try.

Your loving husband always.

He is right; I am wild and untameable. He is wrong; he did try to tame me. He is right; I was his love. He is wrong; he could have loved me more. He is right; I was his first mate. He is wrong; he is not my loving husband always.

He is wrong.

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