She debated. She watched out the window as he took his shirt off outside. He climbed up the ladder with a hammer. Should she take him a glass of ice water?
It would be the third time today that she went out there. First to say hello. Second to unlock the garage because she had forgotten, maybe a bit on purpose. Too obvious?
This would be it, she promised herself.
She took another peek out the window.
He was young, she thought, staring at his tanned arms. Maybe late 20s. Young but maybe not too young. He was a worker, wearing low slung jeans. He was nice to her, friendly and kind.
She checked the mirror quickly. Hair looking good today, artfully tousled, tastefully dyed. She was still pretty, if she kept her chin up slightly to disguise the sag. Contouring helped. So did the eyeliner and shadow.
Not too bad, she thought. Her eyes were large and bright. Her lips swabbed with a soft rose, not too dark, since they were thinning. Losing collagen, said the magazines.
But still, not too bad.
She walked to the kitchen, got out the ice tray, and a glass. She heard him hammering. He told her he was driving nails in the side of her house. For what, she did not know, having lost the thread of his explanation while watching his eyes and mouth. His teeth were even and he smiled frequently.
She dropped cubes into the glass and turned on the faucet. She let the water run for a few seconds to cool it, then tucked the glass beneath.
She turned the faucet off and set the glass on the counter. She caught a glimpse of her reflection in the sliding glass door.
She turned slightly and smoothed her shirt. She had dressed to hide her apple shape. Where it had come from was a mystery. One day, the clothes she usually wore didn’t fit. Her body thickened, grew outward. Matronly, one friend said. We look middle-aged.
The magazines had advice for hiding a larger tummy and boobs. She took it to heart, bought new clothes, and tried to drink more water.
The beauty struggle felt different these days. She used to worry about pimples and oily skin. She dropped bad habits and her body responded well. She ate better or worked out more and she fit into that cute dress.
Not now. Nothing changed.
No more appreciative looks from random men in stores, on the street, at the pool.
But he was friendly and open from the start. He called her nice. He smiled and his jeweled eyes lit up green. He laughed a lot and joked around. Maybe he saw that she was once pretty and maybe he thought she still had it.
The jeans she slipped on today had an elastic waist. Other pants hurt her soft belly. She just couldn’t wear them.
She hid the elastic with a long, flowing top. It was Boho, she thought. It hung from her shoulders. If she didn’t turn sideways, she looked thinner and her boobs didn’t poke out like a shelf.
For a moment, the shape reflected in the patio door looked alien to her. It was not her, not the body she always knew. The pretty hourglass shape with round melon breasts that all the boys liked, the sexy legs and small feet that fit nicely in a pair of kitten heels.
She turned quickly, snatched the water glass off the counter and slopped some on the floor.
She ignored it.
She pressed her lips together and headed for the front door. She didn’t want to think about herself or what she might look like to him with her larger bosom and thin legs. She was beautiful. She would do what she always did. She would have him. She would see the signs and know that his lips would find hers. His body would be hard against her. He would enjoy her soft curves. She would feel him inside. She had done this many times before.
Her body was dry and scaly. She had developed rashes and skin tags. Her emerging double chin became triple when lying down. Her vagina had no juice and she couldn’t come like before. The usual strong spasms were gone. Just gone. What desire she did have rarely ended in strong release. It was hardly worth it, unsatisfactory, minimal, disappointing.
The glass sweated beads in her hand. She had waited long enough. She stood on the precipice of her age and looked down. One more time, she thought. Just give me one more time. I won’t ask for anything more.
She carefully opened the door and stepped outside.
Her hand felt cold in the heated summer air. She clicked across the porch in her kitten heels.
He had come down from the ladder and glanced her way with his wide smile.
Hey, hey, hey, he began to say, heading toward the porch, shirt in hand.
He stopped when he heard the music. The loud open jeep pulled into her driveway. Its occupants laughing and calling his name.
The driver was another young dude with a bandana and tattoos. Another shirtless guy sat in back.
And there were girls.
The kind she used to be—with real wind-swept beachy waves in soft fawn and baby blonde.
These girls wore short shorts and tiny Boho tops with no bras. Their eyelashes were long and their lips moist pink. They had perfect, smooth tanned skin. They shone.
He laughed when he saw them. A genuine laugh, richer, deeper, real. He dropped his shirt onto his shoulder and went to greet his friends with secret handshakes and a language she would never know.
She stood, watching their casual nonsense.
He pulled one glowing girl close and kissed her. She slid a hand into the matted hair on his chest and up around his sweaty shoulder. He used his shirt to bind her to him for a moment. He let her go reluctantly.
Then he told them he had to get back to work.
Boss-lady watching, he said, winking at the friends. She’s real nice.
They drove off. He watched them, one hand raised, still chuckling.
Then he saw the water glass she was holding.
Ah, he said, thanks. Can you leave it right here on the porch? I appreciate it, but it’s too cold for me.
He walked back to the ladder, whistling.
Yes, she thought, yes, it is.
She stood still, completely frozen.
The hammering started again.
She tipped the glass upside down and watched the ice cubes slide off the porch onto the concrete stoop.
She opened the front door, walked into the kitchen, and set the glass down on the counter.
Then she threw her kitten heels, one at a time, at the sliding glass door.