FLU SEASON - a pandemic novel, part 4
Then you'll need a new plan, one which takes you into even more dangerous territory....
|(There do not seem to be any memes for "book girlfriend" FYI.)|
Then I got the reality check for real: the mirror.
Remember the mirror, Stefan? We used to stand naked in front of that wide mirror in my bathroom, side by side, staring at ourselves. One woman, one man. You were slender, a geek. Me with no boobs. We were a couple. Those were good days. But you know mirrors can lie. You told me that more than a few times. Especially when you started poking at those dry patches on your face. You cursed the mirror. Then you turned them down or covered them, you said. You refused to look at yourself. But I saw you. I looked at you, Stefan. I was your mirror, and I saw you falling apart. Every single day. I still went ahead and put my eyes on you, no matter how bad you looked.
March 15, 2020. The next worst day of my life. I stared at myself in the mirror. I saw the patch on my cheek. Brown. Scaly. Itchy. Mottled edges, sort of diamond-shaped. If I had never met you I wouldn’t have a clue what it was or how I might have gotten it. I would try what you did, what I first suggested: apply some lotion. Dry skin needs lotion. And hydration. I can’t laugh anymore at how many times I told you to hydrate. Your skin was too dry, so hydrate. Remember?
You know me: I hydrate like a fish. So that was not my problem. I tried lotions, which softened the patch—patches, eventually, on my face, shoulders, back, also my chest. There didn’t seem enough lotion in all the stores of the mall to cover my needs.
But I did know you, so I had a clue. A creeping feeling started to run up my spine.
I know what you’re thinking: Why does she have this problem? She is not Hungarian. She doesn’t have those genes. And she eats a ton of garlic in that Korean food. I wondered that, too. It made no sense. But there I was, naked in front of the mirror in the bathroom, examining myself, staring at my brown-patchy skin, wondering what to do.
And my mother walked in!
“What are you doing?” she asked, half in shock to see me naked.
“I was about to take a shower,” I told her. “I was checking these . . . a few spots of bad skin.”
She stepped closer and took a look at them. She doesn’t have any medical training, but she is a mother. That must count for something, right? But she had no idea. Then it was déjà-vu all over again: “You better see dermatologist.”
“Shhhh,” Eléna whispered. She pulled him back onto the bed. “Let me enjoy you.”
He thought then that he was about to go sailing on a wild, stormy ocean. No telling what would happen! He expelled a big breath, freeing his anxiety, and the woman knew it was time to raise the anchor.
He continued collecting souvenirs as she directed him southward, showing him a lush garden of delicious, juicy fruit to sample, even daring him to taste the puckered kumquat. The festive banquet of Eden spread before him! She sighed in pleasure, like the wind in the sails, and encouraged him to gather all the treasures that he could. He responded by lapping furiously at the fountain of youth, growing not younger but older, gaining maturity. And when he feared he might finally be satiated, she called for him to return to port, to push hard into the harbor until his vessel was fully docked and his wares completely unloaded.
In the end, she was satisfied far more than she had expected to be, and much more than she had been for many years of married life. He listened to her confession as though it were a siren’s song. She had nearly forgotten how wonderful such a vacation trip could possibly be. She lovingly kissed her captain for what seemed endless days and weeks, and thanked him sincerely for the voyage. And he, spiritually exhausted and morally bankrupt beyond reason, reluctantly surrendered into her gentle hands his last ounce of gold.