The picture reminded Gloria Nelson that she used to be softer, both inside and out. A simple, square snapshot, so harmless and so forgotten. Like the smile she wore in it.
When I did become so ugly?
An eleventh hour thought that slid its hands across her face. Hands that wanted to smother and choke out whatever sort of life she had left for a seventy-one year old.
It was indeed after eleven on that Sunday. Sleep didn’t mean much to her these days. It hadn’t for some time. Eventually she’d slip under the covers and hear Jim’s slight breathing. Gloria should’ve been glad that she wasn’t married to someone who snored. Jim, on the other hand, slept like a corpse. She knew that one night if he did pass away in his sleep, it would take a while before she knew it.
Gloria looked at the picture again. Jim with his arm around her, laughing while she gave a shy grin that she knew used to be noticed by all the guys. Sure, they liked the shapes underneath that smile, but they still liked that smile too.
Am I that different? Am I still that smiling young woman in this photo?
She could feel some kind of change coming, and it wasn’t a good sort. It was the same sort of feeling that had come when her brother Alan died. This unescapable sea change of sorts.
Again, she focused on the picture. Their wedding song had been “We Have All The Time In the World” by Louis Armstrong. A song used in a James Bond film.
This couple had believed it, too. And these days, sometimes it felt like maybe they’d had a little bit too much time. Because time wasn’t a friend. Time wasn’t some wonderful soulmate. Time was a taxman coming to collect a debt.
The wall of the cabin shook like her chest sometimes did. A nervous sort of rumbling.
Something’s coming and you know what it’s going to be don’t you, Gloria?
She could imagine lines carved in wood, chipped out and shaped like the moon, hanging underneath her eyes. Those same beautiful and bold eyes in this picture. Now they looked like hollow sockets, a dead woman walking. Wrinkles, bags, puffy and fleshy and ugly and more ugly.
Blinking made it worse. Gloria pictured herself and she knew the picture didn’t do her justice. But life wasn’t fair and imagination only cemented the pain.
The wind felt more violent outside.
Something angry and untamed is coming.
Then again, she wondered if that something hadn’t already come and set up house deep inside her soul.