Live Encounters Poetry & Writing, Volume One, December 2020.
Susan Condon, a native of Dublin, Ireland has started working on a new novel set in her home town. She was awarded a Certificate in Creative Writing from the National University of Ireland Maynooth. Her short stories have won numerous awards including first prize in the Jonathan Swift Creative Writing Award while others have been long-listed, on four occasions, in the RTÉ Guide/Penguin Short Story Competition. Publications include Ireland’s Own Anthology, My Weekly, Boyne Berries 22, Live Encounters, Flash Flood Journal, Spelk, Flash Fiction Magazine and The Flash Fiction Press. Susan blogs at: www.susancondon.wordpress.com. You can find her on Twitter: @SusanCondon or check out her crime fiction reviews and interviews on www.writing.ie
Angie wakes, for the first time in months, without a feeling of dread in the pit of her stomach.
The room is bright and warm. Keeping her eyes closed, she stretches, pushing her arms and legs out as far as possible. Her lips turn upward as she holds the pose.
‘My little starfish.’ She hears Joe’s voice as if he’s still right beside her.
Rays of light fall across her skin. Her lashes flutter. Not wanting to break the spell, she fights against the urge to open her eyes by focusing on her breathing. One deep inhale. Hold. Count to five. Release slowly. Repeat.
As the house comes alive she burrows under the duvet to drown out the noise of banging doors, feet on the stairs and the incessant hum of the shower. So much for doing our bit to save the planet, she thinks, jumping up and shoving her feet into purple slippers.
The day beckons and she responds.
Much later, when the children have settled for the night, she takes time to pamper herself; shaving her legs, painting her nails and styling her long hair until it hangs in a gleaming mane of chestnut curls.
‘Alexa, play Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton,’ she whispers.
As the first chords sound, a lone tear breaks free, rolling down her powdered cheek. Using the side of her finger, she carefully wipes it away, dabbing on more powder to repair the damage. Rummaging in her make-up bag, she locates a lipstick and twists it until a chiselled block of Ruby Red, peeps through. Leaning closer to the mirror, she pouts, gliding colour across her lips until they shine seductively.
Removing a blue silk dress from her wardrobe, she steps inside, contorting like a gymnast to fasten the zipper. Delicate silver sandals push her skyward by a couple of inches. A spritz of jasmine behind each ear and and at her wrists and she’s ready.
Standing in front of the full length mirror, she barely recognises the stranger staring back. Joe was right, the azure blue dress really does accentuate her eyes.
‘It’s been a long time,’ she says, her smile lighting up her beautiful face.
Angie twirls around slowly, watching as the folds of the fabric dance around her long legs.
She walks to the other side of the wardrobe and carefully removes a clothed wooden hanger. She lays it on the bed, adjusting the charcoal grey suit so that it sits perfectly over the crisp white shirt beneath. Taking a silk tie from a drawer, she knots it expertly around her neck before removing it and adding it to the hanger. Spraying Joe’s favourite musk after shave onto a handkerchief, she then places it into his breast pocket before returning the hanger to the empty wardrobe.
The anticipation is, almost, as much of an intoxication as their first date all those years ago.
Stepping inside the wardrobe, she closes the door, wraps her arms around his suit and breathes him in.
‘Joe,’ she whispers.
© Susan Condon