This is a work of fiction, a short story of 1192 words.
Sharon phoned in sick. She knew Elizabeth didn’t believe her excuse about belly ache caused by early menopause, but so what. Try proving otherwise, posh Lizzie. Two bottles of Chardonnay was the real cause. As soon as she had cracked the second bottle before nine last night, she knew then that work the next day was never going to happen.
The slump had started slowly, but she had felt it building into a bigger one. Small things, like not bothering to shave her armpits, had gone as far as wearing trousers to work every day, when she couldn’t be bothered to shave her legs either. Then the peak was reached when she had to buy some new knickers, after realising she hadn’t done any washing for two weeks, and had no clean underwear. Living alone tends to alter your perspective on a lot of things. Once you stop trying to impress someone else, then it’s all too easy to give up on impressing yourself.
Tine for coffee.
She did her best to ignore the pile of cups and glasses in the sink. At least there were no plates or pans to wash up. Eating your dinner from the plastic container of the microwave meal or takeaway box saved a lot of effort. No clean cups left in the cupboard, so she used the thermal mug once bought for days out. Like they ever happened. The best she ever managed with Clive was sitting in the pub drinking from midday, until he could no longer utter a coherent sentence, and she had trouble standing up long enough to make it to the toilet to pee.
Sharon tried to drink the coffee black, but the cheap instant tasted bloody awful without milk. And she hadn’t been to the shops since last Wednesday. She poured it away, and had a Red Bull instead. That might give her the caffeine kick she needed. Then she might tidy up, and have a bath.
The doorbell made her jump, and she wrapped the dressing gown around tightly, before answering the door. It was an Amazon delivery. She opened the parcel wondering what the hell it might be, and was surprised to find it contained a shower curtain, with colourful fish printed on it. She had zero recollection of ordering that, but the name and address were correct. Dropping it on the floor, she spoke out loud. “Note to self. Don’t shop online when you’ve had most of two bottles”.
The delivery bloke had clocked her, she noticed that. The thin gown didn’t do much to conceal her curves, and her bra-less boobs were like a pair of car headlamps. Either that, or he had seen she was still wearing what remained of Saturday’s make-up, and her hair looked like she was in training to be a werewolf.
Time to get dressed.
No need to have a wash, not if you don’t intend going out. Might as well wear something out of the laundry basket too. No point dirtying clean clothes for no reason.
The black leggings would cover up the inch-long leg hair, though what was left around her ankles would still show of course. It was like one of those little paper collars they put around lamb chops in restaurants. But hairy. The old favourite super-size sweatshirt would serve to conceal the rest of her, from neck to wrists. As she arranged the clothes, she made sure to face the wardrobe mirror head on. Never sideways, not any more. Forty-four and divorced, even with never having had kids, it was all going south. Too many curries, too much wine, and suddenly it crept up on you overnight. The bulge over the knicker waistband started to actually cover the elastic, and nobody should ever see her without a bra, unless she issued a warning in advance. She hadn’t looked at her bum cheeks for over a year. Once she could feel them curled against the top of her thighs, she was too scared to see what they looked like.
Not much point combing her hair. She wasn’t going out, and not expecting any callers. Leave it until later, maybe give it a wash.
The can of deodorant was empty. Shaking it like crazy made no difference, and she had to admit there was nothing in it. Dropping it onto the bedroom floor, she pulled on the clothes, and went back to the sofa. Might as well see what’s happening on Facebook, she thought as she picked up the Tablet. But the bloody thing was flat as a pancake, she had forgot to turn it off last night. Never mind, plug it in, and use it as it charges. Melanie had checked in at work, and posted a photo of a Panini she had bought for breakfast. Yuk! Avocados before nine in the morning wasn’t Sharon’s idea of how to start the day.
Time for toast.
One slice of curly bread and the two crusts was all that was left in the plastic wrapper. She popped the crusts into the toaster, and rummaged around in the fridge. No jam left, no butter either. Aha! Good old chocolate spread. That would moisten the toast, and taste good too. She spread it on much too thick, but so what. Nobody to tell her not to. Taking the toast back to the sofa, she checked her online contacts site. Gerald was still liking everything she put up. But then he would. He was nearly sixty, and close to being a stalker. Just as well he lived hundreds of miles away. There was a new bloke showing interest. ‘James, 23. Lives: London. Likes: Curvy older women. Hobbies: Cinema. Favourite food: Chinese. She opened the photo he had attached. Geeky, floppy hair, thin as a rake, and still a bit spotty. Why would he be interested in an overweight divorced woman, almost twice his age?
Sharon knew the answer to that question.
She flipped the screen, talking out loud with a mouthful of chocolate-covered toast. “Sorry, James, you’re not getting to have me. Get something for those spots”. David was still trying too. The same age, also divorced, and not bad looking. But he had three bloody kids. Three! Who needs that grief, thought Sharon. No thank you. But he kept trying, even though it had dropped to the occasional ‘How ya doing?’ With three smileys after. Nothing else on there worth looking at, just the usual bunch of weirdos asking for ‘private’ photos. Like that’s ever going to happen. Time to watch TV instead. One of the benefits of an impromptu day off, rubbish telly that you normally never get to see.
After three rounds of watching poor white trash couples screaming at each other about who had affairs, and whether or not she is pregnant with someone else’s kid, enough was enough. Brushing the crumbs off her sweatshirt onto the floor, she checked the time, to see if it was too early to open that bottle of Chablis she had been saving. It was only half-ten, but what the hell.
Somewhere in the world, it was time for wine.