The Magic Ring – Part 2 of 2

12 years later

Seventeen-year-old Madison sat at her desk, sitting on one foot with her other leg swinging beneath her. She flipped through college brochures trying to decide where she was going to apply. Her dream had always been to study abroad in the UK, but her boyfriend Jack, who was a year older than her, was attending a local college this year. She knew he assumed she was going to do the same thing.

“Wouldn’t it be amazing to live in Europe,” she said to her reflection in the tiny mirror she kept on her desk. She didn’t know why she did it. She’d always taken a weird comfort in talking to herself in the mirror. After Madelyn disappeared she’d felt so alone. As a kid, she would sit next to the big mirror on her closet door. Her reflection made it feel like there was another person in the room.

As she got older, she just kind of got in the habit and didn’t even realize she did it anymore. It just felt so natural. Her mom thought it was because Madison liked to pretend her reflection was Madelyn, but that wasn’t it. Everyone else had trouble telling them apart, but Madison and Madelyn didn’t think they looked that much alike all. Even looking at old photos, she didn’t need to use the faded scar above Madelyn’s eyebrow to tell them apart.

But Madelyn was why she dreamed of going abroad. She could go somewhere where she wasn’t the twin who’d lost her sister. Everywhere she went, people asked her about Madelyn’s disappearance. She just wanted to be normal for a bit.

She looked out the window and saw Mrs. Stone jogging down the street, her long brown hair pulled into a pony tail and swinging behind her. It look looked like her limp had healed.

Madison gave a shudder. There was something about Mrs. Stone that gave her chills.

* * *

A couple of weeks later, she told Jack that she had applied to a school in England. She tried to tell him that there was a slim chance she’d even get in. But he’d been upset anyway. Then he’d found out about all of the other schools she’d applied to. He said they should take a break. When she got home, she sat in her old spot in front of her closet door, crying in front of her mirror.

Suddenly, she saw it. The scar above the right eyebrow. She leaned closer to the mirror, staring at her reflection, running a finger over her brow. But as she looked closer, it cleared. That was weird. She sat back and tried to get in the same position as before, but the scar was gone. Probably just a figment of her imagination or a weird refraction of light from one of the tears in her eyes.

At dinner, she was distracted and couldn’t get the image of that faint, white scar above her eyebrow out of her head. And the thing was, it wasn’t just the scar. For a split second, the image staring back at her, hadn’t been hers.

Later that evening, she grabbed a bottle of eye drops from the bedroom and sat in front of the closet mirror and dripped 3 drops into each eye, careful not to blink too much. With water-filled lids she looked again. At first, she didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary, but just as she was about to turn away, a glint of gold caught her eye. There, on her reflection’s ring finger was the black ring.

The eyedrops leaked down her cheeks. What did it mean? Soon her eyes were dry and the ring was gone. She quickly grabbed the bottle again and dripped more drops into her eyes. A few moments later, a faint image flickered on her ring finger again.

This time, she moved her fingers to take off the imaginary ring. As she slide it from her finger, the ring in the reflection moved slowly down her finger. And then it was off. Her reflection flickered for a moment.

She’d been expecting something bigger to happen, but what, she wasn’t sure.

“It’s about time you figured it out,” a voice said from behind her.

She whirled around and there was Madelyn. At least, she thought it was Madelyn.

“Is that really you?” she asked, tentatively.

Madelyn nodded, her eyes filling with tears. They flew into each other’s arms crying and laughing. She was seventeen now and looked much older than the last time she’d seen her.

“What happened?” Madison asked. “Where have you been?”

“It was that stupid ring!” she said, crossing her arms in front of her chest. “It was a trap! Mrs. Stone knew that I’d be jealous and would try to steal the ring. As soon as I put it on, it locked me on the other side of the mirror. I’ve been trying to get your attention all this time, but the spell forced me do copy you’re every move. I thought I was going to be stuck forever!”

* * *

Everyone celebrated Madelyn’s return. Well, almost everyone.

“Who’s that?” Madison, asked a couple of weeks later, starting out the window.

Creeping along down the sidewalk in front of their house was an old woman hunched over a walker. She had long gray hair that swept past her waist. She glanced up at their window and glared. Large, circular glasses sat halfway down her nose. She snarled at them as she pushed her walker forward and limped down the street.

The Magic Ring – Part 1 of 2

Five-year-olds Madison and Madelyn Stewart trailed after their mother up the front walk of Mrs. Stone’s house. Usually their babysitter Natalie took care of them on Saturdays while their mom was at work, but today, Natalie had called to say she was sick.

“Thank you so much for a taking care of my girls,” Julie said, quickly kissing each girl on top of their head before rushing off. The girls watched from the open doorway as she rushed back to her car, her high heels clicking along the cement walk.

Mrs. Stone was over six feet tall with long, straight, gray hair that hung down to her waist. She had giant, round, black-rimed glasses that sat halfway down her nose and, along with her pursed lips, gave the illusion that she was part fish.

She ushered the girls inside and the door gave a resounding thud as it closed behind them. Sunlight shone through the windows, it’s beams catching the multitude of dust particles hanging in the air like glitter.

They dragged their feet as the followed her into the kitchen. On the table, laid out on a pale pink towel, was what looked like the entire contents of her jewelry box. They scrambled onto chairs and stood on tiptoe to have a closer look.

Most of it was cheap costume jewelry, but the girls didn’t know any better. They quickly snatched up strings of fake pearls, beads, and bangle bracelets. Soon each girl had multiple lengths of necklaces hung from their necks, bracelets up to their elbows, and a broach pinned beneath each of their shoulders. They were both grinning from ear to ear.

Then, Mrs. Stone brought out the gloves and helped each girl pull on the silky material. Madison in blue, and Madelyn in yellow.

“Can we keep these?” Madelyn asked, her eyes wide looking eager and hopeful.

Mrs. Stone laughed. “No sweetheart, not these. But, I do have something you can have.” She gave them a quick wink before turning to the jewelry box the girls thought was empty.

They exchanged a grin as Mrs. Stone opened a tiny, hidden drawer in the box and pulled out a ring. It was gold with a giant black stone set in the middle. She held it up between her thumb and forefinger. It was tiny. The perfect size for a child.

Mrs. Stone leaned forward and gave them a sly grin. “Whoever is the best behaved today can have the ring when you go home today.”

The girls’ smiles flickered. “Only one of us gets the ring?” Madison asked. Madelyn frowned.

Mrs. Stone just nodded and smiled. Then, she tucked the ring back into the box. “How about a tea party?”

* * *

That evening, when the Julie came to pick up the girls, they jumped up and down excitedly asking to see who would get the ring.

“What’s this?” Julie asked, a nervous smile on her face as Mrs. Stone left to get the ring.

“Mrs. Stone promised to give the best-behaved girl a ring.” Madison said.

“It’s so pretty,” Madelyn said, clasping her hands together.

Julie’s smile turned to a grimace.

Mrs. Stone came back into the room holding the ring triumphantly in her hand. “The winner is” she gave a long pause. The girls practically vibrated with excitement.

“Madison.” She finished making a sweeping gesture as she presented the ring to Madison. Maddison slowly reached up and tentatively took the ring grinning from ear to ear. “Look Mom!”

As she slid the ring on her finger, Madelyn dissolved into tears and sobbed as they walked back to the car. Once the front door shut behind them, Julie started muttering under her breath about the stupidity of giving a gift to only one of the girls.

* * *

That night, Madison carefully placed the ring on her nightstand while Madelyn glared at her. They both climbed into bed, but while Madison was able to fall asleep right away, Madelyn tossed and turned thinking about how unfair it was that she didn’t get that ring.

Finally, unable to take it any longer, she quietly crept out of bed and tiptoed to her sister’s nightstand guided by the pale blue light of the nightlight. She picked up the ring, feeling the weight of it in her palm.

Just as she was about to slip it on her finger, Madison woke up. “What are you doing?” she demanded.

Without saying a word, she slipped the pilfered ring on her finger and vanished.