Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 186) Lost You

“Are you okay, Viktor?” Nadja questions as she touches the side of his face with her hand.

“What?” He asks almost as if he is dazed.

“I think I lost you there for a minute, you looked a million miles away from here.” She says softly.

“I was just thinking.” He pauses because he knows he cannot tell her what it was that popped into his mind.”

“About anything in particular?” She asks as she sits on the arm of the sofa.

“I’m just surprised at how quickly it became dark here. It seems like only a few minutes ago it was bright and beautiful.” Viktor sits down on the seat of the sofa. “It makes you realize how time flies, doesn’t it?” He grins trying to lighten the mood but all he can think about is how the footprints came to be.

“Well I say we watch a movie and forget about how dark and cold it is outside.” Nadja says as she reaches for her laptop that is sitting on the end table. “What are you in the mood for?”

“Something funny, a good comedy.” Viktor says as he looks over at the fireplace and decides he needs to add another log to the flames. “Well, only if that is okay with you. I would just rather laugh than be serious.”

“A comedy it is.” Nadja says quickly.

As she begins searching for options on the movie site, Viktor takes the bucket back to the kitchen and places it on the floor. Immediately, a drop of water falls into it. Reaching to his left, he grabs a hand towel from the drawer to mop up what had fallen on the floor while the bucket was in use. Quickly he joins Nadja in the living room and after several minutes of searching, neither of them can decide on what to watch. Giving up on their quest, Nadja closes her laptop and they sit quietly on the floor near the fire.

“So tell me, where does the tunnel go? What direction are you walking when you leave here?” Viktor quizzes.

“That tunnel is odd, I never knew it was there and I spent my summers here with Aunt Josephine.” Nadja grins. “It takes you halfway to the train station. Well actually, it opens up right behind the forest rangers hut. You probably saw it on your walk here.”

“Yes, it was one of the landmarks I was watching for as I made my way here to find you. I know the exact spot on the trail you are referring to.”

Viktor recalls seeing this tiny structure in one of his dreams as well as passing by it before stopping to take a picture of the lake. Shortly after, he found himself slipping off the trail.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 185) Observer

Viktor does not want to alarm Nadja, but he cannot explain where those footprints in the snow came from. In his mind, he once again quickly retraces his steps for the day and knows without a doubt that he did not venture in that direction at all. Still avoiding answering Nadja’s question, he stacks the logs next to the others and unloads the bucket. It then comes to him. It was Carl. Being that he is so caring and helpful, he must have walked around the cottage to look for any issues the snow may have created.

“So?” Nadja laughs.

“So what?” Viktor replies, as if puzzled by her question as he stands up with the empty bucket in his hand.

“So why did you want to know if I was out in the back yard today?” She questions.

“Oh yeah, that. It’s no big deal, I saw footprints in the snow and knew I did not walk out there but I just realized it must have been Carl.” Viktor replies a little out of breath. “He probably walked around before coming inside.”

“But, he came here through the tunnel.” Nadja says as she glances at the front window with a concerned look. “He never stepped outside.”

“Are you sure?” Viktor questions.

He can see the worry on Nadja’s face and even though he is positive he did not create the tracks, he wants to make sure she feels safe.

“You know, I think I do remember walking that way, to look at the brook to see if it was frozen.” Viktor hopes this lie will ease the stress he just created.

“Oh good.” Nadja says as she places her hand across her chest as if her heart was fluttering with nervousness. “I was beginning to worry that. . . well you know.”

He does know exactly what she was going to say for he is worried about it too. If Aaron has come back, after escorts forcefully took him out of the city and all the way to the airport, he must be beyond angry at this point. He can imagine the embarrassment this would cause for anyone to feel and to mix that with the mind of an enraged lunatic cannot be good.

If Aaron is indeed here, Viktor worries the images from his dreams may be played out in true life and the end result from a few of his night wanderings were not at all positive. He vividly remembers the dream, where he watched Nadja leave her room, only to begin screaming in terror when the front door is broken down. Or, at least that is what he believes happened, for he could not see into the room. To think something like this was happening to Nadja, even though it was a dream, causes his heart rate to elevate. He wonders why he was trapped as an observer only. Why was he not able to jump out from behind the mirror and help her?


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 184) Following

Stepping outside the small dwelling, Viktor carries the bucket that has been collecting water, drip by drip, from the ceiling of the kitchen. The air is much colder tonight and the melting snow has turned hard and crunchy. His steps are loud to him against the silence of the woods. The wind is still and there is a cautious feeling growing inside him.

As he steps to the right of the woodpile, and tosses the bucket up causing the water inside to splash out onto the ground, he notices an odd pattern in the snow. With the sky darkening, he has to squint to determine exactly what it is he is looking at. Upon closer inspection, he realizes there is a trail of footprints in the snow. They appear to step to the corner of the cottage and then lead back to the edge of the woods.

Carefully, he tries to be as quiet as possible as he places his feet in each print as to not disturb the snow around them. He is also trying to avoid the crunching sound the once soft snow has now turned in to. His mind is racing. He does not remember walking around the cottage, he knows he only shoveled a path to the woodpile, which he turns and looks at and it is now several feet away.

“I did not walk out here.” He mumbles to himself. “Did Nadja?” He wonders.

Once he makes it to the corner of the cottage, it is hard for him to tell where the prints originated and with the biting cold air nipping fiercely at his nose and fingertips, he quickly returns to the stack of wood. Grabbing several pieces, he sets them into the bucket gently and loads his left arm with six more logs. Carrying the bucket and the logs, he quickly heads to the backdoor of the cottage. Just as he steps up onto the wooden deck, Nadja opens the door.

“I thought you got lost. You didn’t bundle up in your jacket and I was worried.” She says as she opens the door all the way so he can easily step inside the warm room.

“Did you go out back for any reason today?” He questions as he makes his way to the living room, Nadja is following closely behind him.

“No, the only time I walk out was when you threw a snowball at me.” She laughs but Viktor remains serious and this catches her attention. “Why do you ask?”


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 183) Rare

“Well you are easy to please.” Nadja smiles as she prepares a slice of the warm bread for herself.

“Honestly, I really am. I do not see the point in getting bogged down with things. If there is a problem, you fix it. If bored, find something interesting to do.” Viktor begins to grin as he speaks. “If hungry, grab a slice of bread.”

“You are a philosopher.” Nadja laughs as she looks out at the melting snow but a sound inside the cottage catches her attention.

To her right, due to the rapid melting of the snow, the roof has begun leaking once again as water starts dripping into the bucket on the floor.

“Oh no, we are leaking again.” Nadja says as she looks up at the ceiling.

“It was coming in much faster last night.” Viktor says as he walks over to adjust where the bucket is sitting. “That heavy pack of snow has to go somewhere. If it all melts off before the time I have to leave, I will climb up there and fix it.”

“So you know a few things about roofing?” Nadja asks with concern.

“Nope, not a thing.” Viktor replies in a serious way. “But I’m sure we can figure it out.”

“For some odd reason, I believe you.” Nadja says jokingly.

“Hey!” Viktor teases as if offended as he steps back over to the loaf of bread and begins to butter another slice.

The afternoon is pleasant and they spend their time talking about childhood moments, first loves and where they find themselves now in this current stage of life. The mutual respect they have for one another makes for a very calm and easy conversation as they relax near the fire.

By early evening, as the sun passes to the west and the mountain blocks the golden rays, the melting of the snow begins to slow. Even with the fireplace full of dancing flames, the air inside the little cottage feels damp. Sitting in the living room, sipping soup and dipping bread, Nadja and Viktor continue with their lively conversation.

“I have learned so much about you today.” Nadja says as she holds her empty bowl in her hands.

“We have definitely covered a lot of ground for sure.” Viktor replies. “We actually have many common interests and I have to admit, it is rare for people to have much in common with me.” He laughs. “I’ve always had an odd sense of humor.”

“You? No way!” Nadja says playfully. “I like you humor and your serious side, the one you try to hide.”

“Did you mean for that to rhyme?” He grins.

“Not at all.” Nadja breaks into a giggle. “See, its stuff like that, you picked up on it so fast!” She smiles up at him.

“I should probably empty the drip bucket in the kitchen and while I’m out there, I will bring in more wood.” Viktor says as he stands up from his sitting position on the sofa.

“That would be great.” Nadja says with a smile as she sits on the floor with her arm resting on the stone hearth near the fire. “I’ll grab our bowls and wash things up.”

“We make a good team.” Viktor says as he extends his hand to help her stand up.

“I agree. . .  and thank you.” She replies softly.

In the light of the flickering flames, they stand in place for several seconds looking into one another’s eyes. Slowly Nadja leans forward and kisses Viktor on the cheek.

“I’m glad you are here.” She says softly before stepping to the side as she walks toward the kitchen.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 182) Heaven

Nadja’s smile is genuine and she again thinks of how positive she feels as well as relaxed with Viktor here. It truly is as if they have known one another for many years. Aside from her aunt, Nadja has never connected so well or quickly with anyone, not even her closest friends. Aaron’s face crosses her thoughts for just a split second, but then she forces him out to avoid ruining her current state of mind. As she turns to enter the cottage, over her right shoulder, a snowball blasts onto the door frame pelting her with soft wet snow.

“Oh!” She yells as she turns and scrapes up a handful of snow from the shrubs near the door and packs it into a ball with her hands.

She quickly throws the snowball at Viktor who bats it away with the shovel. With both of them laughing loudly, he dips the shovel into a pile of snow and holds it up, ready to toss the load in her direction.

“No no no!” Nadja yells as she laughs and runs inside slamming the door shut behind her causing sections of snow to slip from the roof.

“What?” Viktor laughs innocently as he tips the shovel up dropping the snow off to the side of the newly cleared path.

Once inside the cottage, with his shoes and jacket setting near the fire to dry out, Viktor follows the scent of the bread to the counter next to the oven. Nadja is slicing off thick pieces and then she gently turns handing him a butter knife.

“So you like homemade bread?” She grins in a teasing manner.

“Who doesn’t?” He questions as he takes the knife from her hand and dips it into the tub of butter. “Care if I do a taste test?”

“Be my guest. . . because you are.” Nadja laughs.

“Yeah, that is kind of rude of me isn’t it?” He replies as he spreads the butter on the warm slice and Nadja looks at him in a questioning manner. “I did just barge into your life, didn’t I?”

“I have no complaints.” She says softly.

“Good, because I don’t either.” Viktor says just before he takes a large bite of warm bread. “Ummm, now this. . . this is what heaven is made of.”

“Bread?” Nadja giggles.

“Not just bread, warm bread and melted butter with a friend.” He says right after he swallows the tasty combination.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 181) Symphony

Carl starts stomping his feet on a towel he left near the door. Once the snow has fallen from his boots, he pulls his stocking cap from his head, folds it neatly in half and places it on the shelf near the door. The fire in the wood stove is burning low which is how he likes it if he is away for more than an hour or two. Carefully he opens the little door to the stove and places two large logs inside.

“Ah that’s better, you’ll be heating up nicely in a minute or two.” He says with a laugh as if talking to a person but then he pauses and quietly whispers, “I miss you Josie.”

The little cabin, with its red and brown decor, is quiet until the whistle from the train blows loudly from the station. This is a welcomed sound for it means the trains may be running on schedule in no time.

“Glad to hear that sound.” Carl says as he walks over to the window and then glances at the clock to his left. “Right on schedule and up the mountain you go old girl!”

As the cheerful words leave his lips, there is a muffled step close by, as if someone has come up behind him in the room. Holding still, he listens intently and slowly begins to turn around, but in a swift and unexpected blow, darkness shields his eyes from sight as he falls to the floor.

A thick stream of smoke is swirling up through the chimney of Nadja’s cottage as icicles gently break away from the eves of the dwelling and fall into the snow with a heavy thump. This sound is duplicated by falling clumps of snow in the woods as birds land on small branches dropping the white fluffy puffs onto the undergrowth below. A slight wind begins to blow and with the movement of the trees, Viktor hears various sounds all around the area. Branches hanging low are rubbing against each other making slight groaning sounds and there is a constant dripping of snow from all around. Alongside the cottage, he hears the gurgling sounds from the brook and songs from the birds, which all seem to create a symphony in the woods.

“This place is amazing. I forgot what nature really sounds like.” Viktor says to himself as he sees the front door of the cottage open.

“Have you had enough?” Nadja says as she steps out onto the small concrete slab near the door.

Within seconds of her opening the door, the smell of fresh-baked bread tickles at Viktor’s cold red nose. He hopes his senses are not playing tricks on him for it has been at least fifteen years since he melted butter on bread fresh from the oven.

“Tell me you did!” He yells as he walks in Nadja’s direction.

“Oh I did for sure!” She says back as she grins.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 180) Replication

“No, not really anything.” Viktor replies to Carl’s question, but he can tell by the older man’s expression that he is suspicious of this answer.

“Okay, well. . . I suppose that is not a bad thing then.” Carl replies without much emotion but an awkward silence fills the room.

Nadja walks over to the small table and sets the plates of pancakes and bacon in the center.

“Are you sure you won’t stay?” She quizzes to Carl.

“Do you need me to stay?” Carl mumbles to her in case she feels uncomfortable being alone with Viktor another night.

“No, everything is great.” She says softly as she grins up at this tall yet gentle man.

“Nah, I better get on my way. Damn Sam and Martha will be after me for lunch by the time I get back.” Carl laughs. “Those two get bored pretty quick when there aren’t any passengers jumping off the train.” He laughs. “By the way, it appears the trains are running on limited schedules, so no need to try to get to the shop. I’ll slip down there this afternoon to make sure all is well, after all, almost everyone closed due to the weather so it should be nice and quiet in town.” He says but then pauses. “So, have you heard from anyone?” He looks intently at Nadja.

“No, not a word.” She says as she makes eye contact with Carl.

In her thoughts, she hopes this conversation is not offensive or causing Viktor to be uncomfortable.

“That is what I was hoping for.” Carl mumbles back. “You kids behave yourselves and let me know if you need anything.” Carl waves his hand in the air as he walks through the living room toward Josephine’s bedroom. “I’ll shut everything up tight Nadja, enjoy your day!”

“Bye Carl!” Both Nadja and Viktor say at the say time.

“I’m starving.” Nadja says with a grin as she and Viktor slide pancakes onto their plates and divide the slices of bacon between them.

After devouring their meal and cleaning up the kitchen, Viktor bundles up and heads out the front door with the snow shovel. The sun is bright and the melting process is moving along at a tremendous rate. The snow is easy to handle, as he scrapes along the ground careful not to disturb the pebble walkway that leads out to the garden gate. From there he pushes snow away along the trail for quite some distance and then returns to the beautiful little cottage. Its dark color against the white blanket of snow looks more like a photograph than a real place.

It is at this time that Carl arrives home to his cabin. He is still wearing a grin due to his visit with Nadja and Viktor for the resemblance of their actions remind him of Josephine.

“It’s like a replication of us.” He mumbles in reference to he and Josephine as he steps inside the cozy dwelling.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 179) Predicting

“You are always taking care of things aren’t you?” Nadja smiles at Carl. “Join us for breakfast.”

“Oh no, I already tackled a huge pile of food with Sam and Martha about two hours ago, won’t need to eat for days!” He laughs with a happy bellow. “Looks like you brought in enough wood for the day so now I can rest easy that all is well.”

“Well don’t leave, you just got here.” Nadja says as she stacks pancakes onto a plate.

“I like the walk, gives me time to think and since half of it is out of the weather, I can just head back the way I came. I will try the phones again when I get back to the cabin, hopefully they will be working by then.” Carl says in a calm tone. “Crazy weather, I’m glad it did not snow as much as predicted, we would be out of commission for days.”

“I think I should be a weatherman.” Viktor states happily.

“You good at predicting things?” Carl questions in a serious tone.

“No, not at all, that’s why I would be a great weatherman. You make up stuff as you go along, the grocery stores and shops love you because you cause panic for food supplies, and then it doesn’t happen like you predicted and everyone is thankful for it.” Viktor grins. “You get paid to be wrong, I could seriously do that!”

“And very well!” Nadja adds as laughter breaks out between all three.

“You’ve got that right, son! Ha ha!” Carl shakes his head as he looks down and laughs again. “I like your wit young man. Don’t ever let that leave you.” Carl says in a calm manner. “Okay, you seem to be in good shape here so I will be leaving. . . oh, I meant to ask.” Carl pauses as he quickly glances at Nadja but directs his question at Viktor. “Have you, well, have you had anymore dreams about my Josie? You know, since you’ve been here?”

Viktor does not want to answer this question for the last time he shared a dream with Nadja’s aunt, he was in the burned-out shell of a building. He believes it to be the soap factory and if this were to be a premonition, then it could mean the end of their longtime business. Not to mention, the odd shadow person he saw near a wood stove and his own reflection in the glass of the window that shattered. This was a far darker image than his most recent dreams and he is unsure of the true message.


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 178) Remind Me

Viktor has a way with telling stories. Not only does he share the details he also has the gift of imitation. He can mimic voices of others. At this point in their preparation of cooking breakfast, Nadja has nearly doubled over with laughter several times. To Viktor, this is merely an indication to continue his assault on the odd and irritating people in his life.

“No seriously, you have to stop.” Nadja laughs as she listens to Viktor speaking as his arrogant boss. “My stomach hurts from laughing.” She grins.

“Okay, I’ll give you a break.” He smiles. “But don’t forget to remind me to tell you about the time an old roommate of mine tried to get to his car by climbing off the balcony.”

“Alright, I won’t forget.” She laughs for she knows from his past stories that this will be quite interesting.

“By the way, at the time, we lived on the third floor.” Viktor says in a serious manner.

This causes Nadja, who is trying desperately to compose herself, to blow air out between her lips and they both laugh at the rude sound it creates.

“I have a story about that stuff too.” Viktor grins for he simply cannot stop once he is on a comedic roll.

Suddenly, they hear three loud knocks on the door frame behind them causing them to turn around quickly.

“Well you two are having a great time, it’s nice to see.” States Carl as he walks into the kitchen from the living room.

“Oh Carl!” Nadja grins as she wipes pancake batter from her fingers and runs to give him a hug.

Carl glances at Viktor who is smiling and the old man gives him a wink.

“I tried to call earlier and never got connected, so naturally I was a bit worried.” He says as he and Nadja release their hug.

“Yes, the call came in but was silent.” Nadja replies. “We would have been down to check on you if you had not reached out again.”

“Well that tunnel sure is handy for days like this. It’s a bit rough right now though. The snow is beginning to melt already, it is warming up faster than the news predicted, so water is seeping in through a few cracks. It might be time to have someone check it for structure damage, just to be safe.” Carl states firmly. “I’ll get a hold of someone in the next week or two.”


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Doors To Mirrors (Excerpt 177) Laughter

“I cannot let things go like I should. For instance, I know all about Aaron, his demeanor, his anger issues, his ability to lie and control people and. . .” Nadja pauses slightly, “I just can’t help but feel sorry for him.”

“Now you’re just being nuts.” Viktor says as he tries to keep the conversation lighthearted.

“I know. . . see that is the problem, I do know this!” She says in a raised voice. “But I have this stupid place in my heart that pushes me to help him, to save him from himself, why the hell would I want to do that?”

“Because he broke you.” Viktor replies quickly without needing to think about the statement first. “You loved him with everything you had and he pushed you down by using the strength you gave him.” Viktor looks at the floor. “You need to retain your own power and not let him control you anymore, he has tricked you into feeling sorry for him.” Viktor looks Nadja in the eye. “You can’t save people from themselves, no matter how hard you try.”

“Do you feel like you are trying to save me?” She asks softly.

“No, you my dear friend have already done that for yourself.” Viktor smiles. “I am here to support and help if needed, but you are well on your way to a better way of life and you’re not looking back.” He pats his stomach as a growl erupts from it and they both laugh.

“Maybe we should both save ourselves from starvation.” Nadja laughs as she stands up.

“Now that would be awesome!” Viktor smiles as he immediately steps up behind Nadja and follows her to the kitchen.

The warmth from inside the small cottage radiates through the roof as the thick buildup of snow begins to melt. Delicate icicles start to develop along the edge of the roofline as water droplets drip from them, making a perfect line in the snow below. With the midmorning sun peaking through the dissipating layers of cloud cover, the birds have awakened and their gentle songs fill the air. Clumps of snow begin to drop from the tree branches they are clinging to making sporadic thumping sounds throughout the woods.

Inside, the fire is strong and snapping wildly as if excited by its own fury. Nadja and Viktor share the duties in the kitchen, along with teasing and fun conversations, as they prepare a late breakfast of pancakes and bacon. Viktor has shared his distaste for his current position at work, and because of his smart wit and imaginative narrative, Nadja has been struggling with tears of laughter.


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