The excitement surrounding today was based on the fact that Anne was finally getting a moment’s break from her life, from those in her life. For one blissful day, Anne had the house to herself while Louise and her family (all five of them), went to Sydney. To get them to travel the 3 hour journey to Sydney had taken a solid effort on Anne’s behalf and for a moment she felt guilty for her relief in their absence.
“It’s not that I’m a bad person,” Annette reassured her reflection, who was brushing the long, silver hair that cascaded down her shoulders, “it’s just...I hardly ever get to be around only me anymore.” And is that really so hard to believe? In a split level house with one bathroom, she was never alone. Although it sounds like a reasonable space for six people, when you accounted that three of those individuals were between seven and seventeen years of age, it made the area dreadfully small. The air was constantly filled with laughter, screams and yells. Not to mention Louise and her husband Derek were constantly hassling Anne about her health, appetite and corns, because “You’re not as young as you used to be Mum.” It’s not that Anne wasn’t grateful, but it was exhausting, being cared for.
Her grandchildren weren’t proving to be great company either, they were extremely talented at avoiding Anne and on the few occasions they had held up a conversation it had ended with them asking for a laptop. In fact, the only company Anne really enjoyed was the cats, Marco and Benji, who spent their time curled up in the sun or meowing at dead cockroaches. “Oh, and of course, my darling sister, Marie” Annette nodded her head, completely understanding the fond note of sarcasm in her reflection’s voice. Marie had always been the perfect daughter, reasonably bright, desperate to please and completely void of any innovative thoughts or challenging ideas. Unfortunately, she had never grown out of this faze and made a pathetically clichéd grandmother, who (naturally) was adored by all her grandchildren. In fact, her sister was so set in her modest ways that the only way Anne had been able to escape her treacherous persistence’s for Church was to feign terrible pain from the corns on her feet and ignore her when she stood at the door for ten minutes, knocking.
Finally, Annette had managed to be alone in peace, in this modern house that they called a home. And, naturally, the first thing Anne had done was open the windows, put on a fresh pot of coffee and shortly after, undress herself and stare at her exposed body in the mirror. After a short time of scrutinizing her reflection, one of the cats walked in through the open bathroom door and stopped, staring at Anne. I’m not sure if you’ve ever been observed by a cat as you stood naked but Anne found it rather off-putting. “Excuse me Benji; I’m just having my mid-life crisis. I’ve been meaning to do it for a while now and I don’t want to put it off any longer so if you would just leave me to it...” Benji stayed in the doorway, watching her with bright eyes. Anne wasn’t sure exactly what it was, but something about the intelligence in those piercing eyes made her feel a bit perverted, and she felt the need to explain herself.
“Have you ever looked at yourself, really looked Benji, and not recognised what you saw?” Benji didn’t reply. “I’ve been feeling like that lately, when I glance at myself, ‘who are you?’ I want to ask, ‘because I remember distinctly wanting to be someone else’. You can’t choose your body though Benji and I suppose you don’t have much choice in the rest of your life either. You just kind of get caught up in it, but on days like today, I just can’t see a single aspect of myself in it, in the mirror that is.” And as Anne stood there assessing her body, she decided that was how her life felt sometimes, like it wasn’t meant to turn out like this. She turned towards the cat, “Funny, isn’t it?” but the doorway was empty, sometime during her monologue the cat had walked away out of pure disinterest, she had always preferred Marco, Benji was a bit self-centred. Undeterred, Anne rallied on in her musings.
The longer she stood there, the more flaws had become apparent: the rivets shadowing her eyes, the harsh angles of her face, the dappled skin that folded in ripples across her body gathering at the thighs, bottom, stomach. The silver hair flecked with grey that curtained her face then suddenly reappeared, unexpectedly almost, between her legs. Something about the flecks of light in the hairs surprised Anne; she had always overlooked that area, never before having scrutinized herself so scrupulously. It shocked her; it was beautiful, in a vulnerable way, modest and shy. And as Anne stood there in front of the mirror that seemed to hold all her problems and very few solutions she decided that maybe she had been too judgemental of her body, of course it was different than how she had planned but that’s what makes life so amazing. Maybe she had been too critical.
Anne felt her heart warm. Silently, she dressed and walked through her home to the kitchen, where she started to prepare dinner for seven. Marco and Benji sauntered into the kitchen as she cooked and she couldn’t help from reassuring Benji, “Just so you know Benji, I’ve decided that maybe I like my body after all. It’s not perfect, but it’s mine.” Anne wondered if he understood and thought he probably didn’t, he was only a cat after all.