The Woman

Posted 1/19/2011 by Amy Kristen in Labels: , ,

Some said she had chosen this way of life, that it was a mark of a deceitful and hardened heart worn away by the toils of time, and that she simply no longer cared to associate with them. Some said she was a lost soul to be pitied, and they prayed for her in their churches and their Bible studies and brought her a casserole every now and then, feeling quite good about themselves as they did so. Not once did her front door open; all of their donations of charity were left sitting outside on the porch, growing cold and obtaining an unsavory jelly-like form until the aluminum lids were pried off by savvy scavenging creatures in the blistery winter night. No one had spoken to her for ages, yet her presence loomed over them still, a ghost relentlessly prying its way into their obtuse brains, reminding them of something they had forgotten, like a beloved object once accidentally left behind.

She certainly had been something, back then. She had delighted and entertained, swirling with vibrancy and color as she danced through the monotonous motions of living, making the simple fact of existence appear a cause for joyous celebration. Her beauty was of the natural variety; she never wore makeup nor fancy clothes, but still she shone in the center of a crowd. Her eyes were alight with an irresistibly alluring fire and her long, dark hair hung in waves down her slender back. But her most admirable feature was her smile: strong, passionate, and infectious, it was indeed unique.

The woman did not possess any remarkable skills or talents; she preferred to dabble in various recreations for a short period of time, persisting only until she grew bored and restless and felt the urge to move on to something different. Over the years she had tried becoming a painter, a writer, a pastry chef, a woodworker, a singer, and, during one of her more mysterious stages of life, an exotic dancer. She performed adequately in every task she attempted, but none of them inspired her enough to continue longer than a year or so. She complained openly about her ennui, but only in a laughing, dismissive manner, with a wave of the hand and a shake of her head. “I’ll find it eventually,” she would say, with that broad smile of hers. “I’ll find what I’m meant to do.”

She had gotten married to a successful and handsome entrepreneur from Iowa. She had received declarations of affection from countless potential suitors, but all of their compliments had seemed to float stagnant in the air between them, never reaching the woman’s ears. On the rare occasions that she would speak with others about her love life, she expressed resignation; she insisted she had grown comfortable with the notion that no one was ever to be interested in her (despite all evidence to the contrary). Her would-be suitors took her as arrogant, a rather cruel tease to the hearts of men, but her indifference did little to calm the warmth of desire induced by the very mention of her name.

The Man from Iowa was chosen simply because he had been the most persistent of her admirers, and while she was sure she didn’t love him, she agreed to marry him. Like her round-table of jobs, the role of Wife was simply another hat she felt she obligated to try on. The night he left her was the first night that she did not cry herself to sleep. Instead, she lay in her opulent king-sized bed and studied the patterns in the ceiling, blinking her eyes and wondering why they were so dry.

The next day she ripped apart an old bookshelf and used the wood to board up the windows on her small home. The darkness pleased her, seemed to be a comforting assurance that the world outside did not really exist. After walking through the halls, reviewing her short life’s collection of possessions, she lay down on her couch, clutching a pillow to her chest, and there she remained.

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