The sweet, heady aroma of a vanilla scented candle permeated through the air. The soft breeze gently swayed the light curtains, opening them up for just a fraction of a second. Just enough to catch a glimpse of the pale sunlight. Just enough for her to get a taste of an inviting world.
She wasn’t going anywhere. The crisp white sheets of her bed would not let her leave. The warm embrace of a bed was much more comforting than a world of indifference and impersonal human contact. No, today was her day. A day away from the pressures of checking her email, updating her status, tweeting about nothing in particular, or trying to photograph her face in ten thousand different angles for some Instagram likes. Today was different. Today was a day of silent rejuvenation.
She watched the kettle boil furiously, welcoming the hot steam into her cold kitchen. Gathering her long, dark hair into an untidy bun, she turned to face a mirror and scrutinised the dark circles under her eyes. Too many wasted late nights with people who didn’t matter. Too many worrisome thoughts about her imagined inferiority. Too much of everything. She sighed and turned her attention back to her breakfast. The toasted chocolate croissant was pure bliss on a plate. The guilt free green tea gave her a false sense of healthy living. She was okay with that. Admitting the truth to herself was not something she was good at. As she stepped into the shower, her thoughts turned to Him. He said He was coming over today. She let the water run over her head, engulfing her face, consuming all her senses.
Givenchy perfume filled the air. Her body was hot in anticipation. Not for what was to come, but because of how she felt about herself. It’s amazing what a hot shower and the right lingerie can do for a woman’s mood. She cast an appraising look over her body and ran her fingers through her hair. Her phone rang just then and her heart sank. It was not Him. It was someone else. She hated herself for answering, but she couldn’t stop herself. She could feel dread wash over her, as he invited her to his hotel room. Said to pack a bag and stay the night, because he was flying back out tomorrow. Before she could refuse, he said her name, dripping with lust. He told her she had the most beautiful face he’d ever seen. She said yes…
Tears rolling down her face, she banged the door shut behind her. She was disgusted with herself. How could she have done something so vile? Went to someone else, let them touch her, let them breathe in the perfume He had bought her, let them unhook the bra He liked her to wear so much. She stepped out of her black suede heels unsteadily and sank to the floor, wrapping her arms tightly around herself. Her leather jacket was flecked with raindrops and tears. She couldn’t tell the difference, neither did she care.
Summoning the inner strength to get up off the floor seemed impossible. Slowly, her tears dried, mascara streaking her face, all the blush gone from her cheeks. She lifted her hands to her face, letting her long nails drag across her lips. Lips that had been kissed by someone who spoke delicious, empty words. She suddenly felt very thirsty. She needed something cold going down and hot when it went in. Getting to her feet motivated by the promise of chilled vodka in the fridge, she walked to the kitchen, carefully avoiding glancing at herself in the many mirrors that graced her walls.
Swinging open the fridge door, she welcomed the blast of cool air that hit her face, but made her bare legs shiver. Her bloodshot eyes searched for the bottle of numbness. There it was. Greedily, desperately, she unscrewed the metal cap and closed the fridge with her foot. Placing a sparkling, crystal glass on the equally shiny marble counter top, she poured out her drink until it spilled over. Satisfied with the offending smell of pure vodka in the air and the way it felt as she put her hand on the wet surface and rubbed it across the exposed skin on her decolletage, she closed her eyes and took a sip.
Her phone was ringing incessantly. Non stop. She could only ignore it for so long. It was Him. Asking if He could come over and bring dinner with Him. She knew she should make some excuse, but she didn’t. The truth is, she wanted to see Him. Wanted to feel real love. He could make her feel like a perfect person. He made everything alright. She couldn’t let Him see her like this. He’d know something was wrong.
The vodka bottle went back into the fridge. She lit her row of exotic scented candles on top of the mantelpiece, to disguise the smell of the pack of cigarettes she had smoked an hour ago. She took off her clothes as she walked to the bathroom and began filling the tub with steaming hot water. As she lowered herself into the bubbles, her head started spinning. Not from the alcohol, not from the smoke, not from all the crying, but from the self realisation of what she had become. A liar. A conflicted soul. A woman of contradictions, not of worth. And He still loved the idea of her.
The doorbell rang. She had just finished moisturising her entire body. She slipped on her silk dressing gown and it stuck to her skin for a fleeting moment. She padded to the door, as nonchalantly as possible, trying her best to smile and not let the tears spill from her eyes once more. She could already smell the pizza from this side of the door. Her stomach rumbled. She hadn’t realised how hungry she was until now. She opened the door and said a silent prayer for her indiscretions to be kept in the dark.
He stood there. Pizza box in one hand, car keys in the other. He smiled at her. She felt her heart burst with regret. He started talking as He stepped inside and laid the pizza box down on the table. Then He picked her up in His arms and kissed her. Her brain was screaming at her, her body was screaming for him. He looked in her eyes and asked her if she was okay. She nodded and flashed him her biggest smile. There was one thing she could do better than anyone, one thing that hurt her more than it helped her. She could pretend.