She raised her eyes to view her reflection in the mirror and studied the face before her. Still young and clean of line, but knowledge now marked her eyes. Experience, effort, putting on a brave face: they were present too. A face of someone who knew more than they wished . The presumptions of her youth, like crumbling memorials had become curios, made notable by their naiveté. Doggedly she now realised that life was a walk uphill. Sometimes if you got lost, no one called you back. Resting was a pleasure saved for death.
In music or through words she sometimes heard the tremors of adventure but not here. Not in her life.Back then her image of men was of some hero, face like rock, challenging the elements. Fearless brave and short of speech. Kind in that discrete way, centered, certain , in control. She glanced over at her husband, still lying in the bed. Not a captain on the ship of life. Not a member of the crew. More a passenger: carried by events. A polite and blameless disappointment. She raised her eyes to herself again. They spoke of endurances, smiling despite the facts: a soul marooned in parody.
Her heart was pounding, memory filled with images and surprise. That day when she became engaged. Showing off her ring, laughing with her colleagues. And Bill, locked in his chair and anchored at his desk. Always kindly but impersonal, The first she’d asked for help and least demanding. That look in his eyes when he saw her ring. The sadness. the pride and loss. The closing of a door. Only for a moment. Possibly not there. It passed so fast it left some room for doubt. The look which lingered in her sleep. Her one engagement with the elements. Powerful and undefined.
And here he was, miraculously walking after some operation and, it said., a brand new millionaire. He’d made some site, ‘Candid Corner” . sold it on for millions and he was off to see the world. “Life” he said,” is an adventure and I will live it till I die.”