Luck Both Ways
There are some days, you know the sort; everything seems to fall into place so that from morning till night it all flows effortlessly - perfect. And then there are days like this.
My day begins as each one does; I head to the bathroom to confront myself in the mirror. It's a daily ritual; a bit like marking off the days on a calendar, only I do it by tallying wrinkles and grey hairs then counting myself lucky when the score is the same as the day before.
Except this morning I don't even get that far because sitting there, bold as brass is a spot on the end of my nose. I'm 33 years old! A year ago, my marriage of 9 years dissolved; I hadn't seen that coming. Well I'd
been blissfully happy but also, as it turned out, blissfully ignorant. I had just discovered a new career and felt like a new woman; only problem was my husband decided he felt like a new woman too - and so, promptly found himself one and left. I was utterly lost without him; besides not knowing how to operate the multiple remotes for the TV - I'd never had to do anything on my own before. But being alone was something I quickly grew used to, even began to enjoy, until friends started to accuse me of becoming a hermit.
It's been a long 12 months but I've finally plucked up the courage to come out of my shell. It's not exactly one giant leap for mankind but it's definitely one humongous step for me. And so for the first time in 10 years I am actually going on a date tonight.
My friend Judy organized the whole thing, with a wonderful man in publishing who makes me blush like a school girl every time he walks past. I have been looking forward to it all week and even marked the occasion by splashing out on a new dress to wear; I feel incredibly nervous though and have a secret fear I've forgotten what to do. Some say it's like riding a bike - but that doesn't help me one bit. The last time I was on a bike I ran into a pole, flew over the handlebars, took chunks out of my knees and ended up with a badly bruised ego. I'm still not sure I'll be ready to jump back into the saddle as yet but if things work out well tonight that's certainly not the kind of ride I'll be hoping for.
So of course my body picks today of all days to decide to put me through puberty once again. It takes half an hour in front of the bathroom mirror and almost a whole tube of concealer before I dare leave the house.
I shouldn't have bothered. I eventually arrive at work where I am ceremoniously called into the boss's office and given my marching orders - you know how it is, the company is experiencing financial difficulties and have decided it would be appropriate to down size so last in, first out
... I just knew it was going to be one of those days the moment I laid eyes on that spot. I'm trying to remember who it was that said, 'If it wasn't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all.' I think I'd rather none.And as if that's not enough; as I'm taking my sad, sorry self back home, my mobile phone beeps the arrival of a new message.
It's my wonderful man from publishing, my date for tonight; he wants to cancel our arrangements. Apparently he has accepted a much better offer - my so called friend! Dumped twice in one day; I think I really am going through puberty again. Judy became Judas after being so keen to be the go-between; why hadn't I seen that
I make a pit stop at the milk bar as reality starts to sink in that the only date I'll be having today is going to be with the job section of the daily newspaper and a family size block of chocolate - what the heck; I'm already doing the time - that's as plain as the nose on my face; so I might as well do the crime too.
I'm suddenly painfully aware of how weepy I've began to feel as my emotions start to wash over me like a cold, wet, blanket. I only hope the rosy cheeked red-head behind the counter in the shop doesn't ask me how I am; it could very well be all that's needed to break the dam desperately trying to hold back the tears.She's busy chatting with her co-worker about the date she's going on tonight; she's wearing the grin of a woman having one of those perfect days and I'm overwhelmed with the desire to wipe that smile off her face but I manage to get out unscathed.
Turning the key in the ignition I realize I'm not going to make it home as the hot tears start to roll silently down my cheeks and it's either the misty vision or the self pity that stops me from seeing the car behind as I reverse up to pull out of the parking spot.
It's not a big impact but enough to pull me back to the here and now and I jump out of the car with a smorgasbord of apologies spilling from my mouth, seasoned with the salt of the tears; but there's no one to hear and my words are left hanging around like leftovers.
The car (silver, shiny, new and very
expensive looking) is empty and I scan the surrounding area waiting to see a furious owner charging towards me but I'm a ghost that sees nobody and nobody sees me. There's not a scratch on my car but the silver car is sporting a broken headlight and the physical reminder of my mistake makes my heart drop to my feet.
The child in me wants to run, to jump into my getaway car and vanish in a cloud of burning rubber and road grit; but the grown up needs me to take responsibility - to leave my details under the windscreen wipers and accept the punishment I deserve. This I do robotically and then, with even more reason to cry - I go home, back to my shell to hibernate from the world before the day gets any worse than it already is.
I'm not sure how much time has gone by. I don't want to measure this day anymore - not by minutes and hours anyway, maybe by wet tissues and the squares of chocolate I've eaten.
The doorbell chimes brightly and I flinch at its cheeriness. I drag myself to the window and spot the police car parked outside on the drive behind my car and my knees buckle with the guilt of a wanted criminal. How can it be that police cars can do that to a person? Honestly, I sweat and get palpitations when one follows me while I'm driving three kilometers under the speed limit.
The bell rings again as once more the child in me wants to run and hide behind the settee but Miss Responsibility is there opening the door to the uniformed man with the warm eyes and smiling mouth.
The air is filled with the heady smell of Rosemary lining the driveway and my Nana's words pop into my head; Rosemary is for remembering
. I know she's right because I'm never going to forget this moment. But I have forgotten how to speak until I see my piece of paper in his hand and the memory of my mistake breaks the spell.
"Kyle Jacobs - I believe our cars have already met!" I can't understand why he's still smiling and I'm even more astounded to realize that I'm smiling too. My grin is even wider once he tells me that the headlight was already broken before I bumped into his car. Apparently it was the result of a 'six' he hit in the back yard cricket match he had with friends the night before. They won the game but he lost his no claims bonus. The repair shop is next door to the milk bar, he spotted my note when he came to collect his things from the car before handing over the keys. He had no need to come and see me but was touched by my honesty and just a little curious. I'm awfully glad he was.
The chocolate's all gone and my face is wet with tears. My stomach hurts and I don't remember the last time I laughed so much. We've spent hours chatting, drinking coffee and eating chocolate. It took no time at all to find out just how much we share in common and Kyle has not only talked sense to me but allowed me to talk out all the non-sense I had been holding onto inside that shell of mine.
"Well Lisa, you've let me eat half your chocolate so can I at least repay you by taking you out to dinner tonight?"
So, here I am in front of the bathroom mirror once more - one last check before I leave to meet Kyle.
I smooth down my new dress, happy with the result. The only wrinkles I can see now are the smile lines around my eyes. As for the spot - I can't see any sign of it any more, it seems to have cleared up and I can't believe my luck.
© Jenny Beet
Check out Jenny Beet's eBook available through Amazon kindle, called "Coffee Break Fiction" a collection of her short storieshttp://www.amazon.com/dp/B005AQ44TC