Tantalus

Ellen sipped at her coffee, flicking toast crumbs off her dressing gown as she re-read the engagement notices in the morning paper.  It was not hard to believe he had a fiancée.  “Pity,” she sighed to herself before moving on to the arts review.

The idea of an affair with him had taken root long before she noticed it: a little seed drifting on an autumn breeze that ruffled her serenity.  She had done nothing to encourage it, but neither did she uproot it; she liked the way it teased her from the corner of her vision as she tended her life. It wasn’t a weed, just something wild and unexpected, even quite pretty: a tiny bit of chaos in the ordered rows.  There was nothing profound about it; it was just an idea: she had never even met him.

A year before she would have ripped it out with a violence borne of self-loathing.  A year before she wouldn’t have even considered it possible.  But that was before ‘Weight-Watchers’: she was turning heads again.  Later, looking at herself in the mirror to see the new earrings she pretended he had bought her, she thought “Still, not bad for fifty-one.”

 

© Andrew Gold 2009

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