Mirror, Mirror

Blue eyes, bluest of all blue eyes, caught her attention as she stared at the woman ahead of her. The windows to the soul were shuttered by long, dark lashes and little lines fanned out from the corners. Wasn’t hard to imagine them twinkling with laughter or tearing up in rage and sadness. Kind eyes, usually, but they had superpowers too – the power to see through lies and walls erected in self defense.

At first glance, her hair was brown. Second and third glances showed streaks of honey, copper, and grey. Thinner than the full-bodied bob suggested, not as glossy as many other fancy ‘do’s. The bangs over her eyes were a shade too long, but they did a decent job of hiding the lines and creases on the forehead.

She continued to study the woman ahead of her, her gaze travelling over the slightly upturned nose, the thin lips, the hint of the start of sagging skin. The woman imagined what a surgeon could do to erase those tell-tale signs of age, would she be happier?

She frowned at the other woman’s black dress. Black was supposed to slim, hide flaws, but this black dress wasn’t hiding a multitude of sins well. As she stared, her attention went to the breasts, envisioned the industrial bra that tried to make her breasts look perky instead of gravity plagued. At the risk of being rude, she narrowed her eyes and confirmed what she’d suspected. The tummy the woman had attempted to hide beneath expensive tummy-taming underwear and control top pantyhose was still visible, still highlighted by the loose dress.

The skirt ended at the knees, hiding what the woman knew would be flabby thighs. The low-heeled pumps she wore did little to hide the slightly thick ankles. As her gaze traveled back to the other woman’s face, a sound startled her.

“I wish you could see yourself as I do.”

She turned her gaze from the other woman and peered at the man behind her. “I did. For a long time, I did. But now, I have to see with my eyes.”

They stared at one another for long seconds, her heart squeezing, her eyes filling with tears. With the saddest of smiles, the tiniest of nods, he closed his eyes when she did. When she opened her eyes again, he was gone. She turned back to the other woman staring back at her. The other woman’s eyes were wet, too.

There was a rustle behind her, and she whirled from the mirror, her hand shaking over her pounding heart. Disappointment flickered when she saw her mother and father standing in the door.

“It’s almost time, honey.” Her father cleared his throat, his blue eyes full of emotion.

She nodded. “I’ll be right there.”

She heard her parents shuffling down the hall to the stairs. She waited until she heard them reach the bottom before turning back to the mirror she’d used every day of her life until she’d married, left home. Peering at her reflection, she saw herself again, this time with the handsome man she’d loved with all she was. She was young, vibrant, alive. Happy. She watched him squeeze her shoulder and she put her hand on her own, wishing, hoping, dreaming. She willed her mind to take a photograph.

She turned her back on the couple behind her. How she wished he were here, or she was there. How she wished she was dressed up for a party, not to say the final good-bye. Every step she took weighed her down until she felt a hundred years older and as many pounds heavier.

“Love never dies,” his voice whispered into the silence as she felt her way from the room, unable to see because of the tears. A sudden light breeze, the faintest whiff of cologne, and when she turned back, the mirror reflected an empty room.

Dreaming of Living the Dream

Plotting and planning, planning the plot – I’m at my least favourite spot in the writing journey. The book is written, the editing means a lot of changes, and this is where I look for shiny things. I’m sure (hopefully) I’m not alone in dreaming of winning the lottery. So, I wrote a book about it – but not the dreamers dream of buying a castle in Scotland, or even of hiring a maid (seriously, I’ve got kids for that). I guess because if I won the lottery, I could buy my dream car – then park it because I can’t see to drive – I wrote about all the pitfalls of winning.

Pitfalls, you say? What pitfalls?

Let me introduce Zoey. Zoey recently won like $21 (.7) million dollars. Unlike the dreaming me, Zoey is freaking out. Like big-time. Her Gran has pretty much raised her and passed on her depression-era upbringing. Don’t buy if you don’t have the cash, don’t rent if you can own (that’s the only borrowing allowed, mortgage) Now Zoey has more money than she knows what to do with – or even fantasize about doing anything with. Her best friend, Jordan (he might become a knight by a different name, but I digress) is a financial planner. He’s like the money guy, the money bags, the brains behind Gran’s “Save, save, save”. Zoey’s scared to even think of buying a new outfit, so ingrained is the ‘fool and their money shall soon part’ mentality.

I know, I know – why worry?

Zoey has a secret – that crush she had on Jordan? Yeah, she never really outgrew it. Only problem is? Jordan’s with Karen. The night she decides to ask Jordan for help with her finances? He lets her know that he ‘might’ be engaged. Long story short, somehow his girlfriend thinks their getting married and Jordan’s a typical nice-guy and doesn’t know quite how to correct her of this notion. Zoey can’t get past the whole ‘you’re getting married’ thing, and Jordan doesn’t want to talk about that – he’s much more interested in helping Zoey set up trusts and interest free savings accounts – you know, boring stuff.

Couldn’t Zoey just hire someone to tell Karen to scrap the save the date cards?

That’s touchy – Zoey hasn’t admitted even to herself how she feels about Jordan. Sure, she admires his butt now and then, but don’t we all admire our friend’s bums? And like Jordan said, Karen’s nice and all, he just doesn’t know yet if he wants (or ever will) to marry her. Before Zoey fully grasps this new development, she’s visited by the past – in the form of Scott, her ex-boyfriend. To be fair, they’d never quite specified that whole sticky exclusive/not exclusive thing. Zoey loved Scott, Scott wasn’t ready for marriage, Zoey ate a lot of ice cream and cried many tears. When his great behind shows up on her doorstep, she can’t help but wonder if he’s ready now.

Money and men? What’s Zoey’s problem?

Zoey’s ho-hum life is suddenly buzzing. People she’d forgotten she’d ever known are knocking on her door. She flees her house in a panic the day the papers released the Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG) press release. A car follows her as she runs to Jordan, then she gets a frantic call from Gran – they’re at her house, too. Gran won’t leave her cats, so Jordan must save them all. Scott won’t give up; Karen won’t be left behind. So begins a long and fast journey. Hiding out at a flighty mother’s is only in the works because the flighty mom is bankrupt and needs Zoey’s help. Then there’s her failing RV business, Jerry, and a 1996 Winnebago that needs a run. Introduce the eccentric father – who also happens to be a shrewd and talented estate lawyer (when he’s not up in Huntsville with his hippy friends smoking pot).

Sound like fun? So far, the highlight of the trip is when her mother accidentally sets herself on fire.

While myself, I’d have spent at least a couple of million by now, Zoey’s only spent what other people have forced her to spend. Jordan’s almost apoplectic with worry and anger. While Zoey admires the rear ends, Jordan can’t help but think Scott’s an ass. Jordan, being a financial guru genius, has also figured out that more than their current gang are helping themselves to Zoey’s money. Poor Zoey.

I could tell you more, and someday I will, but I need a favour first. What do you think?

Comment thoughts – good, bad, ugly – please. Advice welcome. Did you want to know more? Did you think Zoey should just quit her worrying and not give a damn about her problems? I’d like to hear your thoughts, pretty please. If I had Zoey’s money, I’d pay you, but I’m broke so all I can offer is eternal gratitude. Thank you, times 21 (.7) million times!