A Break in Continuity
Lorraine Jobson entered her studio apartment.
As if she were a silly teenager, she tossed her clothing and parcels to the floor and
scampered into the shower.
She let the water wash away another day, using remarkably expensive products packaged with delightful lies.
Her short grey hair could be washed every day. Thinning, it would dry in less than an hour.
Lorraine didn’t look at her fifty eight year old body, who’d want to?
The flabby thighs and upper arms, the bulging belly, oh, she’d give anything to be
twenty, even thirty, Ha! Forty seemed so young.
Young. She had been young, she reminded herself. Young and wasted it.
Wasted it on education and career instead of sex.
That is the regret no one mentions.
Oh, how wonderful it would be to make love to a twenty five year old man. His skin so moist and smooth! His body so strong!
But Lorraine Jobson hadn’t made love with twenty five year old men, she got an
education. She engaged in pursuits which would enhance her life.
Enhance what life?
She didn’t ponder why men her age went after the youngest woman they could
find. What difference did it make if a girl was only in it for the money? To touch that young body, to feel that imitation of love, what’s money?
It was only in her bathroom, with the shower running, locking out the world,
Lorraine allowed such uncharacteristic thoughts to trickle through her mind.
In the world, she was marvelously businesslike, brilliant.
The men she worked with “loved” her in that totally platonic manner. No one would ever see the bone marrow loneliness in which she existed.
Her shower over, she dried her hair, it would fall into place, the three inches
of it. She slathered hideously costly ointments on her aged flesh, letting them
“hold the moisture” to her skin.
She emerged nude, to the percolator, pouring this morning’s left over coffee
into a cup and popped it into the microwave. She took up her clothing which
she’d strewn upon the floor in her daily act of rebellion, and carefully hung
each piece in her color coordinated closet.
She stowed her parcels, removed her mug from the oven, seated on her bed, lit a cigarette.
Lorraine Jobson would tell others, if they asked, that she had she “quit”. This means she quit smoking in public. This “welcome home” cigarette was the only greeting she would receive, so it was special.
As she smoked, tears began to trickle down her face. It was not that she designated these private minutes as a cry zone; it, like the cigarette, had become instinctual.
Sitting naked on her bed, in her tiny studio, her coffee and her cigarette, her only comforts, she cried for the life she never had.
Perhaps it was the tears which made her see that sliver of grey floating in the air. That or the smoke from her cigarette.
She stubbed out the smoker, approached the sliver which was uncomfortably near the mirror. She only looked in a mirror when fully dressed and then from a distance without her glasses so she could check if a seam was straight, a collar correct.
She was now a few inches from that hateful mirror, her fifty year old body
unmistakable, though she looked only at the sliver.
It hung in the air as reflection, but a reflection of what?
She went to touch it and saw her fingers disappear.
Oh this was impossible, ridiculous! It was a trick of light, she told herself.
Scientifically, she put her hand into the sliver and it disappeared. There was nothing from the wrist down. No matter from which angle she looked, even using the mirror, her hand had disappeared!
She leaned forward, putting her head into the sliver, seeing nothing. Nothing but grey mist. There was nothing anywhere but grey mist.
She moved into the mist, having to lift her foot over the ‘edge’ of it. Here she was, entirely in the slit, her room gone, deep in a dense fog.
“Oh there you are!” The voice was deep, male, coming from everywhere and
she was afraid. After all she wore nothing Her fifty year old body was something she didn’t wish to be found dead in.
At first she saw nothing, then an outline. The outline of a human body, grey as the
fog, but outlined in light. For a moment he was a ghostly form, then a handsome
dark haired man in a tuxedo stepped from the mist.
She stared at him and despite everything that had happened in the past minute,
the fact she was naked was the most terrible.
She thought, “I wish I was dressed”, as she went to hide the old body with equally old arms.
But she wasn’t naked!
Her hands felt cloth, velvet?
And she looked down at her slender perfect body, hidden by a forest green gown.
She knew the gown. Oh, how she had wanted that gown!
Thirty two years old, needing something for a function, trying on the gown. Trying it on, but feeling that it was “too much” for her, and leaving it in the store.
Thirty two year old Lorraine Jobson, with money enough to buy it, with no one to gainsay her choice, but leaving the gown in the store because it was too good for her.
It wasn’t in the store now, it was on her body, her body which was suddenly so
trim and tight. She looked up into the eyes of the man, a young man, and music
came from nowhere and everywhere.
Music; a waltz– the kind of music she had never danced to because there were
no waltzes in her life. But this was a waltz, and the man took her hand and led
her forward and suddenly she was amid many couples.
If she looked at them she could distinguish beautiful men and women, but if she
didn’t focus, they blurred into moving shadows, but who cared about them? She was in the arms of a wonderfully handsome man, wearing a beautiful dress,
swirling about the floor while music played.
On and on, for hours she danced in his arms, never tiring, then a shrill tone
disturbed the music. She tried to ignore it, but it kept pushing itself into the music. She realized it was her phone.
The music stopped. Dancers faded into the fog. The man kissed her hand,
“I will see you again,” he said, before stepping away, swallowed by the fog.
Lorraine stumbled backwards, fell, found herself sitting on the tiles of her studio apartment. Naked, of course.
The phone still rang, angrily she grabbed it as if a small animal she would throttle; “Yes?” She demanded.
“Oh Ms. Jobson, I hope I didn’t disturb you, but…”
It was that stupid Carol person who’d recently been shoved into a position as far beyond her as the moon. Whining and confused as usual, needing constant assistance to do the most mundane things.
Lorraine Jobson wanted to slam down the phone and jump back into her waltz but the sliver had gone. It had probably never been there.
Being disturbed by Carol while cleaning the oven would be unbearable much less the fantasy she had been enjoying.
“I’m in the midst of something, I’ll speak to you tomorrow.”
Delores hung up and shut the phone, knowing Carol would call back.
Delores sat fuming, reached for her coffee, which,surprisingly was still warm. The entire fantasy couldn’t have taken more than a minute.
It seemed to have been hours, wonderful hours.
She lit another cigarette and looked at where the sliver had been.
Oh, what a wonderful imagination she had. Pity she’d never used it before.
She sat back on her bed, thinking of that astonishingly graceful man, how ell they danced together, how lovely the ball…
she’d never been to a ball in her life.
To be at a Ball with a handsome attentive young man who seemed quite fond of
her, her? That was not her, or hadn’t been her for the last thirty years.
But the dress, how delicious it had felt on her body.
She ought have bought it, it should be hanging in that closet now, demanding it be taken to the Opera and to places where orchestras played waltzes.
She stared at where the rift of silver had been, wishing its return, but nothing happened.
She sat looking where the sliver was not, remembering the feel of a dress she had
never worn for a life she hadn’t lived.