Betsy sat down, with pen and paper, to the serious business of changing her life. Indeed, that very evening she had stood in front of the body-length bedroom mirror, naked – one thing she was sure never to do again – and she had thought, well, she had not thought much at all. It was more of a sustained look, one of vacancy thinly masking mild incredulity, over-top a deeper and barely visible disgust. She had briskly turned her robe around her shoulders, whisking away all the bulges and folds. She now sat at the kitchen table, the pen tapping the empty page, as though summoning the words to appear.
Two cups of coffee passed, and between them, moments where her head drooped until it pressed against the page, and her arms hung limply at each side. She was a willow tree, her emotional branches having given up at birth – before that, destined to wallow and droop. She sat upright, what pitiable rubbish. She hated pity, and all its ill-mannered cousins of loathing; she would diet from that, and with a surge of energy, she wrote three things down, giving each one a permissive and congratulatory nod.
Item one, and Betsy stood in an island of clothes, everything from her closet like so many corpses strewn around her. She had a coin in hand, and for each item, a flip of the fates: heads, and a return to safety and the closet; tails, and it was the ominous black garbage bags of donation. She had boxes prepared too, for every bauble and trinket. She was reckless – indecisive by nature, but orchestrating a spectacle of ruthless and detached decision-making. She flipped and sorted. The fates were inexplicable and pitiless as runs of tails turned, and yet whimsical and merciful as a favorite sweater or pair of socks were spared.
Hours later, her apartment resembled a habitable space, a semblance of order and sanity, while part of her soul felt bagged and boxed by the door. Item two, and she was examining herself in the bathroom mirror. Her hair was a complex disarray of strands, and it was true, that she did not have a vision or goal, but with scissors in hand, it was hardly the time for creeping – or looming – self-doubt. She cut, shaped, tussled, cut and re-shaped. Frequently, randomly, she stepped back and gave the mirror flirtatious, coy, and by heavens, even seductive looks – she hated herself immensely. She stopped, not when she was happy with the effect, but when she believed there was a real risk of the mirror being broken to pieces.
The coffee pot had finished brewing as she sidled into the room. Edward looked up and smiled, nodding once.
“Allow me,” she said, graciously, and swooped in for the pot, at the same time that Edward did. They jostled, and for a horrifying moment, she thought she had knocked him over. He steadied himself, and she offered a silent pray for deliverance – or to be immediately smited from above. Coffee pot in hand, she refilled his mug, and then realized she had forgot her own at her desk. Thrusting the pot back into the machine, and unable to think what to do with her hands, she clasped them behind her back, but then considering this far too priestly or contemplative a posture, she quickly rested one hand casually on the counter.
“Coffee?” she asked.
He looked at her, mildly befuddled.
“Not here, Saturday,” she clarified.
The confusion had not softened from his brow, “You and me?” he asked, the slowly moving gears beginning to turn. She nodded.
“Okay,” he said.
“Well, okay then.”
She conducted a hurried escape to her desk, and there, like a puppet with its strings cut, collapsed gracelessly into her chair. Less than twenty-four hours into her new life, and she was sufficiently exhausted.
Perhaps, she decided, the rest of the year ought to be a well-earned break.