What if?

“Now I’ll be late and how Harry hates it when I am late,” Shaira’s angst was cresting. “Stupid gym, stupid yoga class. I hate all of this; I think I hate Harry too. Why am I worried about the face I see staring back at me in this steam-streaked mirror? So my eyes are too round; I don’t have a thyroid problem, do I, for God’s sake? It’s just the way they are. Yes, they are close together, and I do look a little like a startled lemur if I think about it. Really it’s a bit of a joke. The lips are full, pretty when pouty I think. Yes, I’m fine with my face. I’m fine with my body too; shorter than most, but it’s nicely proportioned—almost an hourglass—maybe a little heavy on the top but not grotesquely globular silicon heavy—more the image of ripening fruit than miniature bowling balls.

Why do I put up with Harry and his old-world ideas of beauty? I’m sick of hearing “Shaira, your hair, a plait, it should be a plait, not a horse’s tail.” “Please, Shaira, the little mookkutthi that glimmers when you come to me. Will you wear it for me tonight?” Always this husband of mine, he pulls me backward, toward the darkening edges of my fears. What if this time I don’t go home; what if I just drive around in his big, black Beemer until I am not only late but declared missing or something.

Now, what could have put that thought into my head? Not rosy-cheeked Pam, standing there, guarding the check-in counter by the front door, sweet as that all-American apple pie, sugar and spice and everything nice. No, not her.

“Bye Pam, see you Tuesday,” I think, or not, but I smile sweetly back to her as I hoist my gym bag over my shoulder for the last time and head for the car.

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