Drew was already naked when he took his place on her husband’s side of the bed. The room was dim as the drawn blinds allowed only a halo of the morning light. He moved his hand along her arm, and then her thigh. “You smell good,” he whispered to her, grasping her hair in his fist and gently pulling her on top of him so that her bare breasts pressed into his chest. Miranda breathed deeply, he pushed two of his fingers into her mouth, and she closed her lips around them, her eyes locked on his as the tip of her tongue tasted his salty skin. It was satisfying to know this young, handsome man wanted her so much, that he chose her, thought about her, that he yearned for her to touch him, her mouth to find his.
Miranda had waited, as she always did, in the master bathroom upstairs, dressed only in her sage robe. The scene was set; anything that might diminish her appeal was hidden. Pajamas tucked into the hamper, last night’s mug and magazine taken to the kitchen. She saw the bottle green portfolio Stephen had brought home outlining a proposed relocation to Fort Worth. “It’s a huge leap for my career, Miranda,” he said. Did he care about her at all? Texas? Never. She shoved the portfolio into a drawer in the bathroom vanity.
Miranda opened the window so she would hear Drew’s delivery truck pull up on her driveway directly below, and stood at an angle so she would remain unseen. Surprised by the chill in the fall air, she peeked out and noticed Sadie, the teenage girl from next door. A black cropped top revealed Sadie’s taut stomach and the upper contents of her push up bra. Her hair was a tangled mess, the kind of mess that is gorgeous on the young. There was a ripeness about Sadie, she was bathing in the moment when awareness bisects readiness. Miranda shook her head, almost imperceptibly. Sadie didn’t yet understand the underside of possessing that allure. That she would do as she pleased through life, fuck whomever she wanted, but there was never going to be a time more delicious than right now. The wanting, the deciding, the anticipation. Wasn’t Christmas Eve more exciting than the big day itself? Sadie would spend the rest of her life chasing these feelings while right now thinking they are just a taste of what is to come.
Suddenly melancholic, Miranda felt sorry for her. She wanted to call out, to caution her, Enjoy yourself, and when the exciting moments happen, appreciate their value… you will never have this power again. You will marry a dull man who wants dull, screaming babies and you’ll end up like me, forty-two, looking to bang any hot guy who falls for you and makes you feel for five minutes like you do all the time right now…
Sadie turned and moved away, disappearing from Miranda’s line of vision. Soon after, the muffled roar of the delivery truck signaled Drew’s arrival. Miranda removed her robe, draping it over the wicker hamper, and took a moment to look in the full length mirror on the back of the bathroom door. Hands on hips, sucking in the slight round of her stomach, she tossed her head, shaking out her light brown hair. Her blue eyes were her best feature when she was clothed, but naked, she couldn’t choose. She had a slim figure, small breasts, and delicate shoulders. Men have always loved my body.
Drew dressed, and left Miranda with a kiss on her forehead. Miranda wandered back to the bathroom to watch him go. Framed by the window, she saw Sadie leaning on the truck, and Drew approaching her. Sadie held her sexuality out to him as a gift, a prize he had won. Miranda’s face prickled as she watched. Drew took a cigarette packet out of his pocket.
“Can I have one, please?” asked Sadie, looking directly at him. Fuck her. Fuck her and her smooth-skinned body pouring into the eyes of the man who just left my bed.
“Smoking’s bad for you,” Drew replied. Miranda’s grip on the window edge held firm.
“Oh, maybe I’ll ask the husband, he’d be happy to chat…”
Miranda couldn’t see Drew’s face, but she knew he was smiling.
“Oh, you’re good,” he said.
Drew staring at this beautiful girl dug like fingers kneading into Miranda. She watched as he took a cigarette from his packet and raised it towards Sadie’s mouth.
“Nah, save it,” he said, and slid the cigarette into the breast pocket of Sadie’s cropped top, his fingertips lingering at the seam momentarily. Sadie’s rib cage expanded as he did so, her gaze didn’t leave his face.
“How many other women do you make non-deliveries to?” Miranda’s bones felt tight. Other women?
“Depends on the week, sometimes a few…”
Sadie was amused. “Aren’t you the naughty boy?”
“Nope, I have no ties.” He turned the cigarette packet in his hand. “Ladies looking for a distraction. As long as they’re not too weird…” Sadie grinned.
“Or too old?” she offered. Drew laughed.
“They’re all old.”
Turning into the room, Miranda let herself slide down the wall, folding her arms as she did. She welcomed the sensation of the cool tile on her thighs, and raised her head to look in the mirror. She surveyed the decay in the cruel sunlight, smeared make up over loosening skin, crinkles between her breasts, sun spots. A tidy, quiet pile of despair.
Miranda sat there until she felt cold. She put on her robe, tied it tightly, bent over the sink and washed her face. As she turned, the robe belt caught on the vanity drawer handle, opening it. The portfolio. Texas. Miranda picked it up and ran her fingers over its gold embossed lettering.
Jo Varnish moved from her native England to America at the age of 24. She spends her time raising her three children and two dogs, writing and traveling. Currently cowriting a screenplay, Jo also writes memoir and fiction, eats Cadbury’s chocolate and drinks tea in Maplewood, New Jersey.