Who Else?

 Angie pulled the cap from the lipstick and stared at the virgin stick. The edges of the tapered end were still clearly demarcated. The surface was perfectly smooth and glossy. She felt a thrill of puritanical guilt as she placed it on her lips, the first kiss of a blushing teenager. Ha. Her teenage years seemed a lifetime away now. She pressed harder, moving the lipstick around her lips, hiding the cracks of age, accentuating the sheer sexuality of her mouth. It was expensive, three times the price of her normal one. Was it worth it? She pursed her lips in the mirror. Oh yes. She added another coat, then sucked her lips in to seal it. She blew herself another kiss into the mirror. Oh she felt so dirty, so unclean.

And so sexy.

What was it someone had said once? Was sex dirty? Only if you were doing it right. But somehow, over the years, the more she practiced, the less she must have been doing it right. It became a habit. Sometimes, it was even a chore. That wasn’t right. Surely the more you did something, the better you got at it. Why didn’t that work with sex then? That was the worst. Not the lack of thrill. Not that the country was no longer unexplored. Not even that sometimes it only lasted for ten minutes. No, the worst was that it had become something on a par with doing the washing up. She had a machine for washing dishes now. She was damned if she was going to get a machine for that as well.

She tore the wrapping from the Rive Gauche. He’d bought her a bottle, the first birthday they spent when they were dating, and every birthday after that until they married. The occasional wedding anniversary and Christmas produced another bottle, but gradually they disappeared as the opportunities to wear them faded away. When was the last time he’d bought her a bottle? She couldn’t remember now. Well, technically, he’d bought her this bottle. He just didn’t know it yet.

She opened the box. The cardboard lid tore under her shaky fingers. She pulled out the bottle and twisted the cap. The perfume filled her nostrils, and instantly she was transported back to her parents house, the night they’d left her alone to go to a dance. That night was the first time he’d seen her naked, clothed only in Rive Gauche and a smile. Afterwards they’d cried, not in shame or guilt, but in the sheer beauty of it. She felt the tears well now, surprising her with the intensity of the emotion. She blinked them back. The mascara was meant to be waterproof, but they always said that.

She upturned the bottle on her finger and dabbed the perfume behind her ear. She repeated it for the other ear, then splashed some on her wrist, rubbing her wrists together to spread it. Then with a thrill she dabbed a little on her cleavage. She loosened her bathrobe, and for a moment she considered a dab even lower down. No, that was a step too far. Besides, it might sting.

A hint of red peaked out from her bosom. When was the last time she’d bought underwear that wasn’t strictly functional? Scarlet lips, scarlet underwear, scarlet woman. The last few years had seen them fall into a rut. Each episode of lovemaking unremarkable, blurring into the next. What else could you expect after thirty years of marriage? But not for the thirty year anniversary. Not this one, oh no.

She looked past her image in the mirror to the dress hanging over the wardrobe door behind her. It was too young for her. Far too young. It belonged to a young woman who had fallen into a deep sleep decades ago, and only now was stirring, anticipating the rescue by her prince. He’d better give her more than just a kiss, though. She giggled at the uncharacteristically lewd thought.

The keys n the front door made her jump. Her eyes flew to the clock. What was he doing home at this time? She had another hour and a half to get ready yet. She pulled her bathrobe tighter round her and hurried to the top of the stairs. Frank stood there, a bunch of flowers in his hand.

“Hi Pet. I thought I’d bunk off work early, seeing as it’s Friday. Oh, and our anniversary, of course.” He held up the flowers for show, then frowned. “Why are you in your bathrobe?”

“I’ve just had a bath, silly,” she said, her voice hesitant and cracking. She was hopeless at lying. Oh, if only he hadn’t caught her before she was ready. “Why don’t you find a vase to put those in, make us a cup of tea and I’ll be down in a couple of minutes.”

“What’s going on?”

“What? Nothing.”

He threw the flowers onto the carpet and raced up the stairs.

“Frank? What?”

He ignored her, pushing roughly past her and into the bedroom. He glanced around, spun on his heel and threw open the bathroom door.

“Frank. What is it?”

He ignored her, returning to the bedroom and flinging open the wardrobe, then slamming it shut, causing the young, young dress to flutter like a flag on a windy day.

“Where is he?” he said.

“Who?”

“Your lover. Where is he?” This time it was a shout.

“My lover? What are you talking about?”

“You know. You think I’m blind? You’re undressed in the middle of the afternoon, made up like a floozy.” He grabbed her robe and flung it open, exposing the newly-bought lingerie. “Ha! You think I’m stupid? Where’s the coward hiding?”

“There isn’t anyone else. Frank, there’s only you. I thought I’d surprise you, you know, like when we were first married.”

“Yeah, right.”

“Yes, Frank. Right.” Her eyes flicked to her dress on the wardrobe door. His eyes followed hers, taking in the cellophane wrapping still on the young, young dress.

“Me?”

“Yes, you idiot. You. Who else would want me?”

The full-length mirror on the wall showed the piece of mutton dressed as lamb. Who else?

“Me?” he said, and suddenly the anger was gone, replaced by guilty wonder. “You were doing this for me?”

She looked into his eyes, and saw a reflection there far truer than the mirror could give.

“Yes, you idiot,” she said softly. “Now go downstairs, rescue those poor flowers, and I’ll be down in a minute, when I’ve changed.”

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About snodlander
Snodlander is the nom de plume of Bob Simms. He is an IT trainer, but it's not as glamourous as it sounds. When he's not enthralling classes with adventures through SQL Server, he writes, draws and drinks his own home-brew. Buy his novel on Amazon Kindle at The Young Demon Keeper, It's 74p, for crying out loud!

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