Her lover would have lived, her pigeon pair known a father. Her finances would have been secure but she'd be 'normal'. Middle class and clawing for the unnecessary. Gold shoes and dripping in Pandora. A manicure once a fortnight, tennis on Tuesdays - a life of leisure and lunch. Parent meetings and school involvement, canteen duty and warm banana bread on the bench when they came home. A nice house with quality fittings, splayed with 'things' that one day someone would have to throw away when she died. Pretty possessions with no meaning, just for show.
She would have had warmth in her bed beyond a large, lolling dog. A good and kind man to spoon, face buried in his fragrant hair, lips tantalising his neck, knees curled into the puzzle of his beautiful body. Pillow talk, with someone other than the imagined. She misses pillow talk. Security and comfort. Love and lust. A man, a complete family, a life.
He left her. Not for another woman. He died. Just did. Heaving in her arms at 35 years of age. She in a poorly chosen dress, he, butt-naked and quivering. He left her with nothing but a debt, toddlers, a cat and blood money. They cut up their joint cards, right in front of her eyes as she discharged their mortgage. Gave her a cheque for the insurance and sent her on her way. "We hope your banking experience with us was exceptional" (asshole).
He was not unfaithful. He didn't trade her in. He wasn't unhappy or unfulfilled. Perhaps if he was, she'd have got back on that horse, jumped back in the saddle, been chagrined enough to chase. But love's like nuclear waste with a lengthy half-life. It lasts for years, decades. Once the air clears, it is too late. No iodine to prevent the sickness. No-one could replace him, and so she never tried.
If she'd had a hand in her future, how would she have drawn it? Not as the static existence it is now. Perhaps in vibrant colours or soft romantic pastels. Perhaps the stark dramatic shades of black and white graphic novels splashed with the passion of red or a frustrated and silent Munzian scream. Will she fall in love again? Probably not, in lust perhaps. Her worn, well-mapped body is not lascivious viewing. Even though that 32 year old RSVP 'friend' seeks a woman 45-60. She can't bring herself to email him and strike up a conversation. A silly drunken whim took her online and the emails do not stop even though she is intermittently 'invisible'. So self-conscious is she, the prospect has no more substance than the froth on her cappuccino. These days it's dim light, between the sheets to hide her imperfections which are less obvious when felt, but glaring if seen. What woman fears her own body? She does.
Her soul and skin bare scars. Those of bittersweet joy in the stretch marks across her belly, stubborn and irremovable despite efforts to make them fade, they are reminders of a blissful time. Those of neglect where weight was gained and lost in a repetitive cycle of diet and degustation. Scars of pain from surgery and falls. The cut on her knee sustained in childhood. The white strips on her arms, remnants of burns from a teenage part-time job, the gape of a hysterectomy almost invisible but she knows it's there. The removal of her womanhood affects her more than she admits. The raised eyebrow stitched imperfectly after a drunken fall. And the creases of age, which no rejuvenating unction will remove despite the investment made.
The scars of sunlight, freckles across otherwise seductive shoulders and decolletage, mark a once smooth and olive tone. A complexion so perfect it was admired. Now flawed and unremarkable. Hands are gnarled and veins protrude where sleek softness should prevail. She wishes she'd used moisturiser more often. Knees groan with wear, and try as she might to disguise discomfort, it's ever present. Voltarin is her friend.
She gazes into the mirror, light too bright, impurities exposed. Breasts once the playthings of lovers less than perfect. She moves her eyes upwards and preens and plucks that errant hair persisting beneath her chin. Where did she go? The nymph? All that remains is libido and the need for affection betrayed in the mirror by soulful eyes. The vixen within just bursting to escape. So busy was she, with life and work. The banality of it all punctuated infrequently with spurious moments of joy and passion, moments so far and few between since he died.
Instead she is 'different', some call her 'unique'. Careless as she ages. She's become eccentric on the exterior. Accepting of affection but suspicious of love. She's quirky and 'connected' but deeply sad and hollow. One hand clapping and a tiny violin rubs between her fingers. She hopes for a life of unrealised dreams to be realised, yet dreads that they may never come to fruition.
If she has a hand in her future, he will come. He'll caress her face and hair. He'll be comfortable in her presence. Wrap her in his arms and breathe upon her neck. Hold her firm and make her feel small and delicate, vulnerable. He'll talk and laugh and know what lies beneath. He'll like her more than love her. Embrace her creativity and scold her aged beliefs. He'll play and taunt and tell her she is beautiful, sensual, still a woman, still worthy of affection and admiration. He'll desire her in the dark and understand her imperfections are what makes her who she is. He'll treat her as a new adventure, something different yet worthy. He'll be unafraid to be seen with her amid the smirks and whispers. He'll love her, deeply, sincerely but briefly, because she will let him go. He will make her happy. Just for a moment. Her future will no longer be important - fulfilled, not by her hand, but by his.
She just has to find him first.