When I entered the New Years Eves party I scanned the room to look for my husband Frank. He wasn’t hard to find. He was eagerly pushing his way through the guests towards a guest.
She was prettier, younger, and more stylish than me. I pulled my sweater sleeves up, trying to look less frumpy. I should have worn a dress, but it’s cold, and when you get to my age practicality rules your choice of clothes. Comfortable shoes, thermal vests, and a woolly hat are my stable garments of choice. My husband once was like that, but not now.
During the summer Frank joined the gym. When he told me, I laughed.
‘Gym at your age, it’s hill walking you need not a gym.’ He ignored me and pulled his new tight gym tee shirt down and walked out without saying another word. And sure enough over the coming months, the gym shirt started to fit him better. He bought a blender and every morning I woke to a whiz and found him drinking some green yuck in the kitchen before he left for the gym.
Tonight he was wearing the white tee-shirt he got at Tesco’s to emphasise his new lean tanned body. He must have started to use a sunbed because they hadn’t had a foreign holiday since the pension had been reduced.
I felt naked at the party. My bridge friends swapped their knitted sweaters for dresses and glittering makeup.
‘Pardon,’ I whirled around to the voice. In front of me was a spotty faced teenager who could hardly hold the tray of flutes with golden bubbles. I grabbed one and went off to look for my husband, or to spy on him.
He stood by the bar, whiskey tumbler in his hand, swirling the rocks of ice. His hair dye had run down the side of his face. His tan was smudged. I felt sorry for him. Why did he have to do all this? Was he that unhappy with me? Or, the reality maybe he was afraid of getting old. We’re all afraid of getting old, but no matter what we do on the outside, the inside ticks away and there is nothing we can do about it.
She does look interested.
She blushes as he lightly touches Petite Blondes arm.
She throws her head back, laughing.
How am I to compete with that. Her clothes are haut couture, she has no bumps on her hips and no grey bits of hair falling on her face.
I need to get out of here, I need air. The French doors are open in the living room. Frank and Petit Blonde are engrossed in a conversation. I pass the bridge club ladies apologising saying I’m not well. They know, they must-see. Never in my 40 years of marriage did I ever feel so mortified. I finally reach the garden and the cool night air glides over my face as I look upwards to the stars and wonder what is it all about.
‘Excuse me have you a light. Sorry I didn’t mean to startle you. I just need some air.’
Samatha looks at the old woman sitting alone in the dark. She wants to ask is she ok? The old ladies’ cheeks glisten in the moonlight. But Samantha thinks she might think her forward. She reminds Samantha of her best friends granny. Small and cute, with the same blue rinse hair.
‘No, dear I’m sorry I don’t smoke.’
Samatha laughs. ‘God, no need to apologise. I shouldn’t either I know its bad for you, and I don’t usually, but there’s a creepy old man that won’t leave me alone. Did you see him? You can’t miss him. He is has a streak of black hair dye down the side of his face.’