You would not believe the trouble I went through for this. Well, I didn’t like, fight my way through an army of undead minions to slay their vampire overlord. I didn’t even fight a care bear…
Actually, it was more along the lines of, I knew the story I had been thinking of recently. But I didn’t know the name of the writer and I had no clue the title of the story. I also knew that it was in a Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine I had collected over the past couple years. So it was a fairly recent story.
The trouble comes in when you are sifting through tables of contents both in ebook and physical books, searching for something that you have no way of describing it that will show up on the formats you are sifting through. Yeah… I had a couple things working for me. I remembered that it had been an Asian writer and the setting was in Japan. That really narrows it down, right?
So after I had gone through the magazines twice before I did it one last time. Turned out it was two years ago, the May/June issue of 2016, that contained the story in question. The Secret Mirror of Moriyama House is one of the handful of stories written in English by Yukimi Ogawa. I am ever so thankful that I found this one. Oddly, it is actually a fitting story for the day I sit down to write this, Mother’s day.
For me it is a mixture of sadness and loss with a variation of a horror story that connects through universal emotions. I know, right? That just sounds like a bunch of bullshit. Let me give you an idea of what is going on here.
The main thrust of the story is Yui-Chan delivering a package to Moriyama-san and becoming entwined in her life as well as her profession. Mrs. Moriyama has been entrusted with the task of doing patch work for the dead as they transition from life to the afterlife. In other words she does stitching of flesh and fabric to adjust broken skin on the ghosts that visit her home through the mirror in her work room. Of course there is quite a bit more going on than just that but this is just an overview moment.
I would rather focus on something else in there that is a bit of a thought I have of it. As the story plays out you can feel the honor and dignity of the characters, the way they interact with each other and the world around them, and then as it translates into how they interact with the dead. This atmosphere allows us to focus in on tragedy within the story without wallowing in pity. Tragedy is a part of life. Even through a curse that brings it upon us, there can be reward for doing the honorable thing.
I remember the first time I had read the story. The weight of it had settled on me and found a place in my memories to inhabit. Thoughts of it had haunted me ever since that first reading and they continue into the subsequent reading. The perspective given to us as we delve into its depths even as we fear our own time that we may step into the mirror that takes us to our afterlife.
If you enjoy these stories, consider leaving some coffee money in the jar or you could buy a book or two. Either way helps keep the stories flowing.