Daphne zipped up her anorak. Every day it got easier to catch the creases in her neck on the sharp metal teeth, harder to get a decent grip on the tiny tag she could barely see, even with her glasses. She had been a beauty once; tight alabaster skin stretched smooth as a portrait across a frame of flawless bone structure. Daphne mourned her chiselled chin, peach cheeks, dewy décolletage. She had been ravaged by age, pinched and gathered and wrinkled – she barely recognised herself in what was left.
Years ago she had considered surgery, she could have afforded it then, but pulling up her eyelids and tightening that turkey skin wouldn’t build the bridges from the past to the present, wouldn’t shore up the constantly shifting sands of time. As her looks slid from her face, so did her inspiration. The blank piece of paper on the typewriter stared at the welcome mat that had once been thick with royalty cheques. The true tragedy of ageing, Daphne knew, was the quiet, the unending hours of loneliness where even her imagination was silent.
Daphne picked up her wicker shopping basket. The list was pegged to the clipboard, a groaning dad-joke – bereft of comedy, that her son had posted from Thailand last mothers’ day: Chopin Liszt. The pun annoyed her every day, but it was all she had of him now that he had built a new life on the other side of the world.
The two blocks to the market were an easy walk. Her ankles poked out between her slacks and her shoes and the spring sunshine glinted on the nylon of her tights. The tights were dark tan, Olive Mystery it said on the packet – they kept her legs warm.
Clive was on the fruit stall. He bellowed out into the packed street, a melon in each hand. ‘Alright, Daphne?’
Daphne would rather he called her Mrs Dawson but standards were slipping everywhere. She nodded at him, her lips tight.
‘What can I get you on this beautiful day, Daffers?’
Daphne shuddered. She stretched out one elegant hand to touch the fruit. ‘Just this lovely pear, please Clive.’
One pear, one banana, and the tiniest bag of cherries – a forlorn fruit bowl for one sat at the bottom of Daphne’s basket.
A young couple by the butcher’s stall held each other in a passionate embrace. The butcher boomed through his microphone. ‘Better cook ‘im something beefy, mother. Looks like ‘e’ll need more than a couple of sausages.’
Daphne thought of her son, marooned in Koh Samoi, of the pictures of his small slim wife, their sunlit future. The shouts and chatter of the market suddenly seemed so prosaic, so mundane.
She bought sausages, two small ones. She squeezed them through the paper wrapping, the closest sensation to touching another human that she had had in a long time.
At home, Daphne unpacked the shopping. The cherries had been crushed under a jar of peanut butter and the paper bag had dissolved into pink smears, stray lipstick kisses. She peeled the banana and ate it, for want of any more culinary effort.
Daphne chewed once or twice and the sweet yellow fruit slipped down her throat.
She sat down, fingers damp from the juice of the squashed cherries and began to type.
‘The handcuffs chafed slightly, but Aurelia knew the angle she’d been bent over into made the most of her sweet peach buttocks, left her nipples brushing the satin sheets like cherries on a summer day. Aurelia loved this game: Alex was a satyr, a lusty Greek god, and she was his prey, trapped against the headboard. As he approached her with his huge…’
This would pay well enough for a ticket to Thailand.
This is my entry for the https://thanetcreativewriters.wordpress.com/2017/03/21/why-i-write-in-my-genre/