Water still dripping from her fringe, she steps out of the shower, the hot water having done its best to wash the fatigue of last night from her weary body.
A fogged mirror greets her, a pleasantly blurred world that’s often preferable to the truth. It doesn’t rudely declare the raging whitehead on her chin from an age that she expected to have outgrown, the new wrinkle under her eye of the age that she’s dolefully growing into, or the myriad of complexion faults that her many exorbitant face creams catalogue alongside their empty promises.
She dresses hurriedly, before any unannounced visitors arrive in the bathroom. Too many pudgy curves below her waist, but not enough curves above. And far too many unwittingly pointed comments, delivered naively by her young children about the unclad body that they rarely glimpse these days. They will always cut deep.
With her corrective undergarments in place, and a top layer that she hopes still suggests a small nod towards the current fashions, she clears a view through the fog to reveal the mirror’s unapologetic clarity.
A tired woman stares back at her. She’s no stranger to this woman; this greying hair, these dull eyes, this pallid skin and these stained teeth. Old. A word she would have once used without hesitation to describe the woman she is now looking at. But old doesn’t fit with young children. Old doesn’t fit with her expectations. And old doesn’t fit with her ambitions or dreams.
She sifts through her cosmetics, only vaguely aware of her habitual routine. Her face is always done first. Blemish correction stick, then foundation, or maybe just powder and blush. Eye liner today, and definitely mascara. The tinted gloss she’ll leave until after breakfast.
Taming and styling her unwieldy hair will be the final task. Soon enough she’ll look presentable. Then her day can begin.
Her daughter pads into the bathroom trailing her tatty comforter, blissfully refreshed despite her invariable nocturnal wakings.
Big eyes stare up at her in adoring wonder. “I have makeup on my face too, Mummy?”
“Oh no, sweetheart,” she re-caps her blackest black mascara and lovingly tousles her little girl’s already ruffled hair, “you’re perfect just the way you are.”
“What’s perfect, Mummy?”
She sighs as she turns back to her transformed reflection. “Your innocence, my darling.”
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