Bright, Linger, Suave.
She turned a year older today. Older. She stands sideways to the mirror, half in and half out of the frame, and looks back, seeing herself at twenty. She turns and looks at herself full-on, always critiquing. Too many wrinkles. Too much grey. Too much padding here, there. She will stuff herself into a shiny dress and entertain a bunch of drunk people and then exhausted, she’ll hit the bed when she falls if she times it right tonight. Get up and start again tomorrow. A year older. But tonight, the party. Oh well, it’s better than lying in bed watching yourself wrinkle.
She studies herself, really studies herself as she brushes her hair. What happened to the things I wanted to do? Where is the woman I wanted to be? Consumed by this loss she dons her mask and fixes her hair. There, gees. Done. Well, that… it actually looks pretty good. Surprised, she likes the way her hair falls, softening the lines and framing her face. She always did have a good complexion and figure. Years of exercise and healthy eating have mattered after all, as her mother (and her heart doctor) said they would.
Her makeup is applied with an expert hand and the results are flawless. Never one to overdo, she puts on just enough. That’s what we do with our lives, she thinks. We apply just enough effort to get through the day. Make just enough supper for two so there aren’t any leftovers. Just. Enough. She always thought there would be more.
She rises and slips her gown off the hanger. Hear the rustle of satin and tulle as she steps into it and pulls it on. Reaching behind to pull the zipper, she realizes that it really is the nice shade of blue. It sets off the makeup over her eyes, and mirrors the sapphires in her ears. It is new, as are her shoes and earrings. A bit showy for her taste, but her husband had liked it. What he likes she usually does, and then she wonders why. Just easier, I suppose. That word again, just.
Well, it’s her birthday, not his. She makes her decision and off goes the blue dress to lie in a puddle on the bed. Into her closet she goes, looking…looking…there it is. She draws this dress out and holds it up to the bright light. Oh yes, this will definitely do. Strapless, it is gold, and plain, and it fits. She wore it on their fifth wedding anniversary when they went on that cruise to the Bahamas. It’s been 20 years, will he remember? Surely he will recall how he couldn’t keep his hands from me and couldn’t wait to get the dress off. Will he remember how we made love in the sand at midnight, with the moon shining above us and the surf crashing into the shore all around us? Glorious, stunning, breath-stealing love? Will he remember that woman?
She pulls up the side zipper, and grabs a tasteful pair of brown heels. Need to move now, she will have to change her make-up before she goes downstairs. A few minutes later she has finished and is ready. She touches the mirror glass, and runs a finger across her face. Perhaps this sexy, vibrant woman is the ‘more.’ Maybe she never went anywhere at all. Her husband appears from behind. Handsome and suave, in the good sense of the word. He touches her hair and his hand lingers on her shoulder.
“Sand. Surf.” He says, low and husky. Looking down, he kisses her bare shoulder. He breathes in deeply and produces a single red rose. Eyes full of knowing, she accepts his gift and her smile returns his promise. A few minutes later as she descends the stairs on her husband’s arm, she realizes that this day is just as much about cherishing who she will become as it is about cherishing who she already is. So yes, she is having a birthday. But she won’t be a year older, she will be a year more.