“Behind the glittering plate-glass windows of the present lies the mystic, stained glass past. Like the silver in an old mirror, it gleams fitfully when the light strikes it right.”

William Manchester

Old mirrors; one can barely use the things. Why does Momma keep the one in the hall, the one kept out of the way where no one will notice the shoddy thing? I suppose once it had been pretty; maybe too ornate for our taste today, but pretty in its way.
The young man bestirred himself from his bed to go into the hall and examine his mother’s keepsake mirror. The glass was streaked and some of the wood veneer had long since fallen off, Some other bits were just hanging on, more by inertia than by the cracked glue. Some of the silvering was entirely missing at the mirror’s beveled edges.
The old thing was long and narrow, intended to hang over some other long-gone piece of furniture. Tom knew how it had been acquired. Some friend of his Dad had given it to them when he’d moved to California. He knew that in those days his parents had little to furnish their first apartment with. The mirror had been old even then but still serviceable. Twenty years in their present dry and overheated house had finished off the work of decay that had no doubt been eating under bits of veneer for decades before. It might have been pretty in the apartment; Tom couldn’t know. He’d been just a baby and had no recollection of the apartment.
His mother had been pretty then too. For a moment Tom imagined her reflection in a corner of the mirror; not her as she was now — still nice looking in a mature way but hardly cute – but as the pretty girl in the short-shorts that Dad kept on his desk. Then the figure was gone. It had just been a rainbow aberration where the afternoon sun struck the bevel. Still, he’d keep it for awhile more.