The Sidelined Wife(12)

By: Jennifer Peel

Had I even mattered to myself?

I stood in front of the bathroom counter, hands firmly gripping the marble. I looked to the left of me, at the desolate half of the double sink countertop. I hadn’t even bothered to wipe out Neil’s sink in months. A layer of dust lined the vessel sink, which looked like a free-standing bowl on top of the counter. They were exactly what I wanted when we built the house. I remembered the argument Neil and I had about them. He thought they were too trendy. That stinging feeling was back in my eyes. I took some deep breaths to stave off the tears. No more. I had promised myself last week when I walked out of the courthouse with my lawyer after the divorce hearing. It was the final time I would cry over him.

Before I could look in the mirror, I reached for Neil’s unused hand towel and wiped out the layer of dust from his sink. I was done pretending that side didn’t exist anymore. All of this was mine. I threw the dirty towel in the hamper inside the walk-in closet. I ignored how empty the closet felt now. Maybe I should go on a wild shopping spree. But that would require looking in a mirror when I tried on clothes.

Back at the counter, I gripped the marble tighter and painstakingly lifted my chin. At first I admired the dark wood that framed the oval mirror above my sink. I should probably dust that too. I was stalling. My eyes shifted to that reflective material they called a mirror. Maybe I should have showered first, or at least run a comb through my hair. I did run my fingers through my medium-length, brown hair with some of those, um, highlights, the fake kind that were masking the shiny gray kind that kept popping out in new places. My hair was soft and thick, with a natural curl. That was good. Right?

I pressed my lips together and leaned in closer to examine my creamy skin. Okay, it was pale. Normally this time of year it would have had a nice glow, but I had been holed up inside for months. My gray eyes were looking more on the blue side today. I still had long, thick eyelashes that hadn’t seen mascara in months. What was the point when it would only be cried off? My skin wasn’t hideous, I mean, at least I didn’t look like a hag yet. So maybe there were the beginnings of crow’s feet. And my skin wasn’t as bright as it used to be. But no double chin. I was counting that as a win.

I ran my fingers down my neck and across my chest. I felt thinner than normal, if that made sense. I had recently gotten my appetite back. Watch out chocolate pie, I was coming for more of you later.

In a brave move, I removed all my clothing. Maybe it wasn’t some courageous feat—I showered naked every day—but today I forced myself to look. Really look. I touched my arms and shoulders. I even ran my hands down my mostly toned legs and my gluteus maximus region that was never going to be firm again. At least no dimples yet. I would work on those later. I wasn’t twenty-five, but I wasn’t all that bad. Tears fell. Not for Neil, but for all the months I had been loathing myself. For the lingering effects I still felt.

I met my reflection one more time in all my natural glory. I would be okay. I repeated it over and over and over again. Maybe tomorrow I would believe it.

Chapter Six

With one last swipe of the pink sheer lip gloss that was probably expired, I answered my phone. Cody’s name appeared, making me anxious. He’d only been gone an hour. Barely enough time for me to shower, shave my legs, and put on some makeup. Every minute I was looking less and less haggish.

“Hey, kiddo, what’s up?” I tried to sound cool and collected. Inside I was imagining a concussion and someone using his phone to give me the terrible news.

“I forgot my extra water bottle and towel.”

“Uh-huh. And I suppose you want me to bring these items to you.”

“You’re the best.” He hung up.

It was a good thing I worked for my dad. My hours were flexible, and it’s not like I had ever really needed to work except for when Neil was still in medical school. I supposed working was more important now. Not that I couldn’t live off the alimony and child support, but I couldn’t depend on that forever. Honestly, I should probably be looking for another job to support myself. My part time job doing the books was a nice supplement, but I would be in trouble if I had to live off it. Something to think about in the very near future. Kid first.