pretty ugly.

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one.

She stepped lightly out of bed and slipped through the door, in to the hall; tip-toed up the steps to the kitchen and unlocked the front door, cracking it just enough to wiggle out: secret cigarettes that weren’t a secret anymore. Not only thankful for the curbed appetite, but an activity for her idle hands.

She sat on the steps and wished for hot coffee and company; anyone to talk to about the upcoming day or just take in the crisp morning with. Those days of bliss were long gone…a road that seems miles away from where she was sitting now.

She dressed alone for work again, an activity that had become comforting in her quiet life. Coffee first, then the radio, which was probably too loud for her neighbors, but they were nice folks and never mentioned it at the mailbox. Some days were full-fledged doll up days and others she felt lucky to smear on cover up and smile.

On this particular day, she stared at her reflection and sighed loudly, so much so that she felt it’s release from the crown of her head and the tips of her toes. Dark circles under her eyes were now more noticeable than her once rose-colored cheeks; color positively drained from her face. “Nothing a little makeup won’t fix,” she thought, ever the eternal optimist. After an hour of primping, she still wasn’t satisfied. “You’re just a reflection of a reflection I don’t even recognize.”

It was in that moment, in her own recognition of how little she remembered of her former self that she knew what had to be done.

two. 

It’s hard to find your voice sometimes. We get lost, trampled underfoot of those who claim to love us. It’s interesting to watch yourself fade in and out of certain lights, different shades of the same color. More often than not, we rarely notice; but when we catch a glimpse of someone we used to know, it can be trans-formative.

She was alone in a marriage, a binding contract, though that’s merely a piece of paper with signatures – that’s what it amounts to anyway. Marriage, in her mind, was a complete expression of love, gratitude and trust. A selfless act of commitment to another soul; the greatest sacrifice one can ever make for another. She gave her life to another; her world, her heart and soul – precious items that were taken for granted over a short span of a few quiet years.

She marveled at how long she’d been blind to this as she wiped the days makeup off, silently in the guest bathroom, trying not to disturb the house. It was just the way she left it; dishes in the sink from two days ago, laundry – clean and dirty – littered about. It was late but she was hungry. She took out her contacts and slipped on her new frames – an effort to feel new – and tiptoed in to the kitchen. “Mmm nothing,” she whispered as she grabbed the jug of orange juice,”this ought to do it.” Nutrition and decent rest weren’t on the menu for this girl lately. She was lucky to scarf down an old, burnt piece of pizza between doubles. God forbid she ever ingest an actual meal – would her hunger ever go away?

three.

she’s living in a ghost town. everything is familiar and she knows it all well but it’s a miserable, empty place. Tables are still set and there’s left-over brunch molding from the humidity. Someone left their radio and the same sad song is looping, for effect. She wanders around the streets of this town looking for any trace or resemblance of things she once knew.

her homes have been so temporary, shifting shapes and faces; endless unfamiliar places. and there’s no one she can trust.

watch her bones rust – and then turn to dust.

four.

she took the lasagna out of the oven and took the foil off to let the top breathe. “now for the cookies,” she said, sliding the tray in. chocolate chip cookies were just about the only sweets she knew he really enjoyed, so she made some from scratch this night.

thirteen minutes was all the time the cookies needed, which gave her plenty of time to slip in to some lingerie that she’d never worn and smooth out her hair; touch up her makeup from the short work day. it was seven o’clock.

“i’ll be home as soon as i can,” a text received at 7:45 read. “okay,” she thought, “that gives me more time to spruce up.”

she folded all of the blankets on the couch and lit every candle she could find. made the bed so it looked inviting and checked her face once more; still pale but happier. this was the first night in a long time that they were going to be alone and she was thrilled. supper, dessert and dessert; that was the plan.

another text came through at 8:15, “i’m sorry, I’m running late. you can eat without me. I’m not sure what time I’ll be home.”

of course she didn’t eat alone; “I’ll just wait,” she said to herself.

and she waited.

and waited a bit longer.

finally, she could take no more. she made a small bowl of salad and ate it standing in the kitchen, alone. she wrapped up the lasagna and put the cookies in a zip-lock. she blew out all of the candles, locked the door and turned out all of the lights in the front of her apartment, except for one. she washed her face and exchanged the lingerie for pajamas that swallowed her thinning figure. she curled up on the couch with a book and waited for his return.

“i’m going to stay with the guys since it’s so late, sorry babe for making you wait.”

she let out a big sigh and turned out the last light and went to bed. alone.

five.

there’s something about her sadness now; it seems a bit more pure, like she’s really letting it all go and actually feeling the loss. reeling from it, perhaps. watching her deal, taking apart her coping mechanisms and putting them back together again has been a semi-joyful sight. I think there’s a truth to her light now, something she never noticed about herself before. perhaps the pretty ugly phase has passed, and now she’s happy focusing on the pretty parts, still dealing with the ugly. they seem separate now, and this is a relieving sight to see.

even if this girl is me.

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