My name is Anna. I am forty six years old. Josh and I loved each other very much, but then we agreed to stick through it until Jamie goes away to college. This summer we were divorced. Since then I have been working out every morning and crying every night.
It's very hard, being forty six. I am not a slut. I have never been a slut. I am nevertheless a woman, yet it doesn't seem to make a difference, it doesn't seem to count somehow. In honest-to-God candor I tell you this, I do not see the difference. My breast hangs ? Not really. A little. I have had two children, I've breastfed both. My nipples are larger than when I was in highschool, my breasts a little smaller, it's true. A little softer, a little lower, it's all true. Does that make the difference ? Why should it! I have a line here and there. I love to laugh. I've read somewhere, can't even remember where, that you shouldn't laugh as a woman, because of the lines. For the love of Christ, really ? You shouldn't laugh, as a woman ? What should you do, as a woman, dear anyone, dear everyone ? What should I have done, Josh ? As a woman or anything else, for that matter. Does it even make a difference ?
I have no friends. Most everyone I met during highschool faded out of sight. We had one of those when we were in our late twenties, I was pregnant with Susie then, but I went anyway. About half the girls had a baby either in the oven or in tow. About half didn't. The half that didn't swarmed around the rest of us in a sort of jealous mania. We had fun though, we danced all evening and then stayed up chatting till daybreak. Ten years later about half showed up, we bored each other out of our skulls. They want to do another one next year. I'm not going.
Most everyone I've met in college is either married or gone. I understand now those that are gone. I didn't use to, back when I was married and taking care of the children, but I do now. Married people are insufferable. They never have anything interesting - or even worth following - to say and yet somehow they never seem to catch on. Maybe I should try and catch up with the ones that got lost through the years. What a trap, where does one find contacts for people they've not been in contact with for years and years ? Besides, they've probably married and had their own kids by now, to be part of the in crowd. What in crowd ?
Here I am, trying to cut it somehow, by myself. Preferably it not being my own throat one of these days.
But honestly, it's not really that bad. At least not during daytime. That's why I'm here actually, I've read that lack of sun causes depression in middleaged women. I guess that means me. So I'm going to spend the day at the beach and see. I can't stand the sand, but what can you do ? I don't even own a bathing suit, if you can believe this. I thought I had one somewhere, but who knows by now.
Here I am shopping for a bathing suit. Do they actually wear these things ? I had been sifting through the baskets for the better part of an hour trying to find something I could actually walk out the door in. I get it, it's a resort town, people go around in bathing suits all the time, it's no big deal. But it has to be a bathing suit, doesn't it ? You can't go around dressed in a walnut shell or beer bottle cap, can you ? And yet...
"That one looks fabulous", she said. It startled me. She couldn't have been older than twenty, if she was that old. Yet she was looking straight at me, with piercing eyes. "This is fabulous ?" I asked myself. "It's just blue..."
"Come, try it on". She was pulling me by the hand, firmly. I followed her, limply. "Is her ass really that firm ?", I wondered. It certainly looked that way. And yet, I work out too. Every morning. Maybe I don't work out hard enough. She smiled and drew the curtain, I started to unbutton my blouse, took off my bra, caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, ran a finger over the red bite marks in the flesh... they're really not that bad, are they ? Took off everything else, put the bathing suit on. A single piece thing, cleaved mercilessly. The fabric cut right by the areola, one milimeter over. This will never stay on, will it ?
I went out, to show her. What was I showing her ? How the bathing suit doesn't fit, was that it ? Maybe I just wanted to see what she thinks. Are they really that bad ? There she was. I didn't know what to say. I swallowed painfully. She chortled.
"There, there. It's not that bad, but you need something... something... come!" and she grabbed my hand again. She dragged me through a flurry of little bits of colored textile matter and before I knew it she was pushing me into the closest changing cabin. "But... my things..." I mumbled. "Don't worry, I'll see to your things", she said tartly. Then she left. I was sitting there, limp, exhausted, looking at the scraps she had picked. These ? How do you wear these ?
A moment later she was back. I looked up at her empty hands "My things ?"
"I've thrown everything out" she said, with a cute smile. "You don't need that junk anyway." I didn't need that junk anyway, she said. I guess I didn't.
"Here's the deal", she said convincedly, "you will put each and every one of the bathing suits on, then come see me. I will be in the shop somewhere. You look for me, come show me your bathing suit. Okay ?" I didn't answer anything. "Good, she continued. Make sure all the other customers see you, it can't hurt anything." Then she left.
I didn't know what to say. I felt like crying. I always feel like crying, these days, it's mostly an exercise in pushing back the tears. Sort of like heavy weight lifting. I sifted through the small pile of nothing, trying to find the most decent one of the lot. None were decent. I ended up caught in this two piece thing, it sort of covered, mostly. The panties had a thin string for the back, but that wasn't exceptional : absolutely all did. The top pushed my breasts together and had cuts in the sides. I went out of the cabin. People were looking at me, and men especially.
I was looking for her, for the tart teenager telling me what to do. The store was pretty huge, there were hundreds of people shopping, a dozen or more assistants and I didn't even know her name. What was her name ? How am I going to find her ?
"There you are!" I heard her behind me. I turned suddenly and my left breast nearly escaped through its side cut. "Not so bad." She made me turn, bend over, kneel, lift my hands up. She asked people what did they think, how do I look. She asked them "doesn't she have a great body" and "isn't she sexy" and things like that. It made me blush so deep I probably looked like I was bleeding.
This went on for the other seven pairs, and then she picked one. She didn't ask me what I thought or anything, she simply said, "go put that one on and bring all the others back". So I did. She took the others from my hand and started putting them back from where they had come. Apparently she actually knew which bins they all belong into ? I was following her sheepishly, like a scared little girl, wearing the most outrageous outfit I have ever seen, including the one time I sifted through Playboy magazine. I was scared, and I guess for all intents and purposes I was a little girl.
She grabbed my hand and took me to a counter. "The lady will be taking this one", she said to the other girl. They both chuckled, and then ran the red light reader over my hip. The device peeped.
"That will be 49.95, ma'am", the other girl said. 49.95 ? 49.95 whats ? Dollars ?! Oh my god, my card! My purse! I couldn't bring myself to speak. "Hello ?" the other girl prodded me.
"I... I don't... I..." I couldn't speak, I turned towards my mistress with imploring eyes. "My things ?"
"O, your old things. They're in one of the garbage bins outside, honey. Don't ask me which one. Horrible stuff." They chortled again.
"But... but I..."
"O, you can't pay ?" she asked with fake sternness. "Well... I guess you will have to return the bathing suit." I couldn't follow. She meant I should take the last scrap of cloth off my body ?
"Honey, are you taking that off or am I calling security ?"
I started peeling the lycra off. She elbowed the other girl, who picked up the mic and in the blink of an eye the entire store was resounding with "Attention, aisle eighteen". We were in aisle eighteen. I was topless, working to take off everything else, in aisle eighteen. I was standing, completely and quite abashedly naked, white as cottage chesse, handing over the bathing suit, in aisle eighteen. I wandered towards the exit, numb. I went outside. Barefoot, nude, in the glaring sun. It struck me like a coat of fur, warm and comfortable and at that moment I realised that I was no longer depressed. Standing just by myself in the sun, in a parking lot, about to turn around the building and go through the garbage, I was not depressed anymore, for the first time in years.
I was humiliated, yes. Deeply. Deeply, redly, purply humiliated. I have never been that humiliated in my entire life up to that point and, unfortunately, since. I was exhilirated, and I was, indisputably, indubitably, alive. I could feel every pore in my skin breathing, gasping for air like the drowning gasp for last breath. I stepped gingerly on the hot pavement and turned the corner. The cars on the road fifty yards away would ocasionally honk. Eventually I turned and waved at one. Smiling.
Their garbage cans were huge. I tried to bend over the edge and sift through, but it didn't work any. Eventually I had to climb inside. It was pretty much paper and plastic and paper and plastic and paper and plastic. A single stale sandwich with one bite taken out. I briefly considered taking one myself, but it didn't appeal. Eventually, a good while later I found my things. My old blouse, my old bra, my old stuff. I didn't bother with them, all I needed was the purse. I found that too, eventually, and I walked back, decidedly, firmly, naked with my purse under my arm. Into the store, through the throng of gaping customers, straight to my girl.
"Here you go", I said, extending the almighty bit of plastic. "Here you go". They looked at me sheepishly, heads cast down. "I'm sorry ma'am", one whispered. I cooly, calmly stuffed my card back in my purse, picked the purchase up in my hand and turned to my girl.
"Give me your shoes."
"My... why ?!" she asked wide eyed.
"Because they're beautiful and I want them." I told her firmly. They were indeed beautiful red heels, I don't know where they find them, kids today. She took them off one by one and handed them to me. I put them on. They fit perfectly! Ahh, I hadn't worn heels in twenty years. It is like riding a bicycle, I can tell you.
"Are these your gift to me ?" I asked her, like a teacher would ask a misbehaving child.
"I... Yes, ma'am". "Yes ma'am, they're my gift to you", she repeated after a pause.
"What's your name ?"
"Well Sarah, I have a gift of my own for you. Come." She followed me, one barefoot girl following one stark naked woman in the lavish sun of a parking lot. Moments later we were inside the adjacent shoe store, and even more moments later she was wearing a superb pair of Prada sandals, the most expensive shoes she ever wore as she told me in excitement. We left the shoe store together, and once outside I started towards the beach, bathing suit and purse in hand. I was going to skinny dip if it were the last thing I'd ever do. She didn't turn towards the store she worked in, but instead stood there and watched me walk away.
"What is your name ?" she asked eventually.
"Anna!", I screamed at the top of my lungs. "My name is Anna!"