I saw her first in the mirror. The same old mirror my mother gave me as a child to count the hundred brush strokes of my hair. She was washing, her skin ivory against the sun, her spine a perfect score down her back as she bent to rub soap in to her knees. A dirty kneed girl. A thrill in the watery glass.
You are beautiful, my love. He crept behind me, sneaked his arms around my waist and kissed the curve of my neck. I tilted with him, holding the mirror above my head, craning to see.
Who's in the bathroom? I asked.
He was not my husband, then. Just a man I spent too much time with, a man who had brought me to his home and let me settle in. I had not known he had a daughter. He was afraid, he said, of the word widower and stepmother, of making me a fable. Later, I stroked his hair and told him I did not mind his daughter, or being a fairy tale.