A bra was on the floor. A necklace was still on a neck, but misplaced there by looking too fancy for the current state of affairs. Mascara was a little smeared down under the eyes as though in sympathy of the haphazardness of that bra on the floor. The mixture of the smell of salt and fading perfume still clung affectionately around her throat, slow to fade, always the last to go home. I watched.
I watched from start to close.
Naturally, Let’s Begin With the Start
Shit, I’m late. I heard this from the adjacent closet. As though one of Cinderella’s ugly stepsisters was within that closet, I observed the flash of flying fabric ejected out the door as dress after the next became discarded. Then she made her wobbly appearance, hopping about on one foot as the heels found their places onto feet. In a whirlwind of flying hair and skirt, the face appeared leaning forward over the sink.
I knew she was coming, because of the ritual. A night out always requires a ritual.
The ritual has slick blackness that elongates and stiffens, the sparkling dust that turns paleness into a passionate color, and the smear of red that makes things that talk look more like things that kiss. I looked on at that elaborate ritual—the animalistic nature of becoming attractive to the opposite sex—and like a relativist, I didn’t judge.
The start was over then as the brush ran through the hair, and then was tossed down onto the counter, clattering as it slid into the sink. If I stayed it would be just me and the brush then. A brush is not much company, so I slipped out. The grand finale would be soon enough, when a few hours chimed away on the grandfather clock.
And Like Clockwork, There She Was
She was standing before me once more, leaning over the sink. She cast a scornful look at the already disposed of bra on the floor, as though she said to herself that damn thing. Then I caught a glimpse of the mascara shadow beneath her eyes. A foreign hair was clinging to her shirt.
That vague smell of salt and faded perfume triggered sensory memories. They were the sound of shoes against bricks lining an old alleyway. A sheen was on those bricks in the distance, where the full moon had fallen down onto them. The full moon was many places, like keeping company with the sailboats, or peeking through the trees in silence as the church bells rang for ten o’clock.
A bigger hand was enveloping hers. The fingers were intertwining, forming a certain connectedness between her and him—something that a cold outsider such as myself would see as another animalistic action toward mating, but I’ll assume it was all very romantic. Then there were the soft sheets, the jagged body movements, the pillows twisted and mushed. It was all very animalistic, but humans are animals, after all.
I, However, Am Not
I belong to a bit of glass hanging above a sink. I know all the goings on, but from the safe distance of impartiality. I am nothing more than the image of a woman with smeared makeup and suspiciously disheveled hair. But my distance is lovely: I see all the beauty and the ugly, with a special focus on the last eight years.
But maybe, just maybe,I am actually a we. Maybe she and I are one, embracing each other's alternate perspectives. And maybe I, a weary reflection, could abandon the cold mirror for tonight and hitch a ride with her, so that we can curl up next to that man with the larger hands.
We locked eyes in the mirror as we spoke in unison.
“Eight years of marriage is certainly something worth putting on lipstick for.”