She looked at the blue shirt in her cupboard. As it lay aside, kept purposely that way, she thought of all the things she wanted as much as she wanted to wear that right now. She missed everything she did not have and somehow, her mother’s oversize shirt was the one thing she missed and could have. Without another thought, she grabbed it out of the cupboard and lay it out to iron.
She ironed it, taking out as many creases as the eye could see. Once the steam settled into the lack of creases of the shirt, she took off her own and threw it into the pile of ever growing laundry. She’d do it the next day. She would, she thought out loud to herself. Her pajamas came off with the same slow urgency. It was like she wanted to get somewhere but she did not know where or how. Or why.
She stepped into the shower as the hot water created a cocoon of steam around her body. She was alone and she felt it. But, not as much as she did today. The steam and hot water felt like her only company, even if fleeting. She caught them as they passed her by. Drop by drop, wisp by wisp. The bath was not long, but it felt like forever. The music she habitually played seemed, on that day, to be reflecting what was on her mind.
“We’re chained, we’re chained, we’re chained…”
She stepped out and wiped the steam off the mirror where it had settled. She always thought there was some beauty, some sadness about that steam as it settled onto the mirror. She wiped it off with self-destructive glee and stared at herself. Today was going to be HER day. She was going to indulge in the only thing she loved and hated the most – herself.
She moved to her room wrapped in the bathrobe, holding herself together to keep herself from shivering. She dried her hair off with a towel and looked at herself. She leaned on the dressing table and reached for the light above it. The spotlight was on her and she was going to soak it in. Without bothering about anything else, she put on the ironed shirt, a little too large for her. She felt the fabric, held it close. She watched herself in the mirror as she hugged the shirt and herself and took a deep breath. She smelt clean. A clean shirt and a clean body was what she smelt like. The music was still playing around her and she decided to get into the act.
This was her moment.
She picked up the lipstick and put it on. She was suddenly alive. She messed up her hair a little and swayed a little, mouthing the words of the song. She giggled as she realised how ridiculous this could seem to someone on the outside. But, she got her straight face back on and kept swaying, more noticeably than the last time. Her hips were more pronounced in the orange light, under that shirt and she knew it. She twirled around and faced the mirror again and looked at it like it was the man she wished to love. Her eyes bore into her own as she pretended they were the same brown ones she missed so much that day. Her focus shifted again and she leaned away from the mirror. There was no time for this today. Not today, at all.
Over the next hour, she swayed more to the music. The lilting tunes that did not (she repeats, did not) remind her of anything she missed. This was her and her, alone. Alone. She turned again to seduce the mirror. This time, though, when the focus shifted from her eyes – she saw her face. Her face pleaded. She wasn’t seducing the mirror at all. She was pleading it to love her back. The mirror, however, does not love. It merely reflects what it sees. That old lesson hit her harder than before as she took in her pleading look. She leaned away from the mirror again and decided it was not the way she wanted this to go.
She climbed on to the bed this time and took small cat-like steps across the mattress with as much grace as the springs could allow her. She flipped her hair, and let the music sink in. Her hips led her down and on to the bed till she was on all fours, almost feline. Fierce. Unafraid, she approached the headboard. She stared at it as if she wanted it to take her over. She knew there was nothing there. But, she looked at it hard. Then, she laughed. She simply laughed a hollow laugh as if it would help that tightness in her bare chest go away and lay down on her back. She stretched as if making a snow angel and then brought her legs closer. With one knee bent and the other stretched, her head bobbed left and right to the music and she smiled because she loved the tune. She hummed along with it because she loved it. She loved it because… because… she avoided that thought. But, her conscience knew what she lingered on.
She stared at her silhouette in the orange light and saw how much she wanted to be touched. She saw how much she wanted to be loved. She looked at herself and felt that rush all over again. She didn’t cry. She would not dare to. She was probably, even unable to.