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35 (1)

An unnerving calm settled over Walmer Estate, neighbours having cleared out of the residential area fast and the shrieking wind having died down just as the blush of dawn caressed the peaks of Cape Town.

Daphne had woken up with a massive migraine.
She had also woken up thinking it was Friday.
"Arghh, Thursday, you tease!"
The week had been particularly troublesome. It was the kind of week that kicked ass and left scars, scrapes, bumps and bruises. Daphne was in no mood, swearing as she stumbled out of bed tripping over Uggs and empty water bottles, making a beeline for the loo.
Getting old sucked; there was nothing pretty about menopause:
Hot & cold.
Thirsty & dry...
Daph sat on the loo in the dark, barely making it there, her bladder full and heavy.
"My days are stolen!"
This irrational thought popped into her head as the warmth of sleep left her body. She scratched her head, snagged fingers in knots; tearing through it with unforgiving fingers.
Her head was visible in the mirror as a shaft of morning light stole through the tiny bathroom window.
"Lord!" she thought at the sight of it floating suspiciously around as if without a body, topped off by a mess of hair: black peppered with grey!
Why was it that men look distinguished with grey and women ...?
She hated that it sometimes still bothered her, that she was tempted to pull out the stubborn,squigly ones.
She grabbed at one yanking out a clump in her haste.

Rattling around the bathroom, banging cupboards, she grunted loudly for a second contemplating giving the whole day a miss and spending it under the covers. She didn't feel like taking a shower. She sniff sniffed in the general vicinity of her arms and came away with a scent befitting a pubescent girl more than a 50 year old woman.
"Dammit!" she cursed, mentally ticking off another symptom from a list 35 symptoms long;  making a note to add deoderant to her shopping list. Standing under the giant shower nozzle, Daphne dove-d her body leaving creamy rivulets snaking down the length of her.
"Cream on caramel, maybe she could still get her groove back?"
"Not too bad for an old broad," she thought, allowing her hands to run along the curves of breasts, hips, ass and thighs.
A wave of sadness passed over her... her longing to be seen like this; to be touched like this, remaining just that. She stepped out of the shower glad for the steamy bathroom mirrors (knowing that her eyes would betray her) and made her way back to her bedroom.

The big queen-sized bed hardly looked slept in; the crisp white cotton bedding showed a lonely crease in the middle. She roughly pulled it straight, smoothed the crease and fluffed the mountain of pillows. A gilded mirror stood upright on the floor in the corner of the room. Oh, the stories it could tell! Memories surfaced, unwanted thoughts of reflections she revelled in: reflections of love made and passion promised; of simple pleasures shared and possibilities explored...
"Shut it down, Daph!" she chided herself in front of the tarnished frame.
Happy memories hurt the most when love was lost.

Daphne dabbed white powder on dark circles.
Dabbed harder, dabbed more, but the dark remained circling eyes like black pools that had never seen the light.
Daphne ripped comb though knots.
Ripped harder, ripped more, but the knots remained in strands entangled like black vines that had withered in the abscence of sunlight.
"Will they see the ugliness?"
"Will in show through make up and forced smiles?"
She pondered this as she grabbed a wily strand. tucking it behind ears that had heard too much of late. She wished that she never heard the knock, wished that she never heard the shouting; or the lies that turned her life to a sham.
With each breath, the pain of betrayal swept through her whole being like a hot flash, leaving her cold.

Daphne wandered barefoot to her closet, stepping out of her towel halfway across the room; her nakedness feeling strange, goosebumps dotting her as the morning cold reached fevered skin.
"Effing menopause!" she cursed flinging open closet doors and grabbing at clothes.
Getting dressed would be the easiest part of her morning; everything she owned was black:
Black chiffon dress.
Black stockings.
Black stilettos.
The shoes fell to the wooden floor with a thud that echoed through the empty hallways.
It gave her a fright - she was skittish lately. She sat down at the foot of the unmade made bed and yanked on nylons one leg at the time cursing as she stretched fabric and legs. She stood up jumping; it was a struggle getting the ridiculously sheer and delicate garment on.
"Argh...." she knew it probably would have to come off in the middle of a hot flash.
The clock flashed 9 at her and she was officially late.
"Thank God Mary was coming in to clean the apartment!"
Mary was a lifesaver.
Daphne grabbed her  handbag, slinging it over her shoulders and grabbed her keys. It jingled as she made her way to the fridge grabbing yogurt and berries with her free hand.
The iciness blasted at her and she leaned in wishing she could stay there a bit longer.

"Knock, knock!" Mary poked her head in at the front door left ajar for her.
"Morning, Ma'am!"
Mary was old-school, refused to call Daph by her first name.
"No, Ma'am," she laughed at Daph's suggestion to call her by her first name, "not right, ma'am."
Daph didn't insist.
"There's eggs and viennas in the fridge," Daph said, then went straight into her TO DO List stuck on the fridge with a magnet instructing her to "LIVE":
"And don't forget the skirting boards in the bedrooms!" she instructed.
Mary nodded.
"My ma'am's OCD- one crazy dame," she joked with her friends, "everything must be straight or she gets cross and says, "No man, Mary, you then know how I like the furniture arranged."
Mary's whole body shook as she laughed. She sometimes deliberately pushed the couches skew to vererg her.
"I'll try to be back at 4, otherwise let yourself out!"
Daph was off the keys signally her departure with a festive jingle.

Thursday was fully loaded.

 Daph swept through the office passageways  keeping her head down; but a smile in place, nodding "hello" to all the early birds as she moved past.
Making her way unchecked, Daphne scratched in the black hole that was her handbag for her office keys wishing it would swallow her whole.

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