The taxi pulls up at the kerb and its passenger climbs out, struggling with her umbrella in a vain attempt to keep the squally rain from drenching her. Quickly trying to dodge the downpour, she hurries into the lobby of her apartment building and shakes the rain from her umbrella as she punches the call button for the elevator. It’s late and the building is quiet making her more aware of the noise from the sliding elevator doors as she arrives at her floor.
She fumbles in her purse for a key and unlocks her apartment, enters and closes the door quietly behind her and switches on the light. Kicking off her shoes, she pads across the carpeted floor and into the bedroom. A small lamp on the dressing table is the only light she will allow in her room right now, not wanting to be confronted by the ravages of time on the tired face that is reflected in the mirror. Not that time has been unkind. At forty-eight she could still pass for late thirties, even younger when the light was right, like now.
Unclipping the ruby earrings, she places them gently into a crystal bowl and leans forward, inspecting every furrow and line. Her mascara has smudged, making her look like she’s been crying, not a lot but enough to make her curse under her breath. No wonder the taxi driver had kept checking her out in his rear vision mirror. He probably thought she’d had a row with her lover or something.
“None of his goddamn business anyway”, she thinks, moving even closer to the mirror.
“Jesus, I look a mess. Even the lippy is bleeding.”
She tries to disguise the offending red stain at the corners of her mouth with the tip of her little finger then realises she’s wasting her time.
“It’s two o’clock in the bloody morning and nobody’s here to see or care!” she says out loud, addressing the face reflected in her mirror.
Anyway, the party had been ok. She’d met a few people, had a few drinks and filled in a few hours. The main thing had been to get out and mingle, be who she was among people with whom she could relax, just to have a few hours of fun and feel ok with herself and the world. It had been a once-a-year do and she had spent weeks planning for this, her special night out, deciding on what to wear and how to accessorise. She’d been happy with the hairstyle too. This time it had been a pageboy – black and dramatic to contrast with the pale, almost white, makeup and vermillion lips, a la Liza Minnelli, an actress she adores.
A vague feeling of sadness starts to well up as she studies her face in the mirror and so many thoughts begin to filter through her drowsy mind. “Is this really me? What sort of future can I look forward to? Will I ever find true happiness? Is it all worthwhile, even?”
She stands up from the dressing table and slips the black silk dress from her shoulders, letting it drop to the floor in a sensual rustle. Half turning in the dim light, she gazes at the slim, almost boyish figure in the mirror. “Nothing wrong with that, old girl,” she thinks with a smile, pleased that she looks sexy without looking too feminine – no big boobs and curvy ass - just straight up and down but classy, just like Liza.
“Ok, that’s it for another year,” she thinks with a deep sigh and plucks the pageboy wig from her head, plopping it onto the polystyrene dummy. She slides several rings from her fingers before stepping out of her slip then removes her bra and panties and moves towards the bathroom, dreading the next stage of what she always calls the ‘deconstruction’. Under the harsh light of the vanity, she leans forward and peels off her false eyelashes and begins applying makeup remover to her face and neck, wiping it off with wads of tissues.
She runs the shower and steps under the warm soothing stream of water as she begins to hum, “The party’s over, It’s time to call it a day…” and her mind wanders back to the time a few years ago when there was someone who would have been there to soap her back, kiss her neck and caress her shoulders and make it all seem alright. Someone who knew her inner secrets and understood her needs, the needs she hardly understood herself. But that was back then and now she is alone with only herself to answer to. She is aware of the thick soapy suds sliding over her naked body and revels in the sensation.
“Divinely decadent,” she laughs, recalling one of her favourite Minnelli lines from the movie Cabaret.
Now, towelled dry and cocooned in a fluffy dressing gown, she wanders into the kitchen and, as if not wanting the night to end, she pours herself a double scotch, returns to the lounge and slides onto the couch. She presses the remote and a dreamy jazz number begins playing from the sound system. The scotch soon begins to take effect and she drifts in and out of slumber, floating on the strains of the music seeping through the air.
Faces begin to float in front of her, the one who knew all her inner secrets, the kids she hasn’t seen for ages, teachers, army mates, and many more.
She awakes with a start and is alarmed to see the time is 3:25. After downing the dregs of her drink, she heads towards the bed and stops by the closet from where she removes the uniform that she’s already pressed ready for duty the next day.
“Thank god it’s a late shift tomorrow,” she murmurs to herself and hangs the blue uniform on the back of the door, more from habit than anything else.
Tomorrow she’ll report for duty at City Police Headquarters as she’s done almost every Monday for the past eighteen years for Sergeant Jack Perkins is a respected and highly valued member of the Force where no one knows or would even dream of his inner secrets.
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This was interesting to read. The perspective you wrote from is believable and is easy to understand. I like how you saved the character's backstory until the end, it really would not have had the same impact at the beginning.
Hi Alex. Thanks for taking time to comment. I’m glad you enjoyed my story.