Body Image

Body Image

Lily stood in front of the full length mirror and untied her robe.  The robe opened and silhouetted the image in the mirror, an image that she didn’t recognize.  This body was rounder, softer than the one she remembered. There were lines like those in a map, blue and white ones that traversed her breasts and her belly and brown ones that ran vertically across the center of her body, surgically separating her left from her right.  She lifted her arms and as the robe fell away she saw that the skin no longer held fast to her arms, as if the glue that had once held it in place had dried up and the skin had come lose.

She stepped closer and lifted her hand to her head.  Slowly she pushed her fingers through hair and revealed the graying roots.  Her fingers left her hair and traced her face.  Tiny lines reached out from each eye and the corners of her mouth. She frowned.  Even her hand didn’t seem to be hers.  There were blue veins that were barely covered by her brown spotted thin skin.  She turned her face from the image in the mirror.

Her husband came into the room and saw his wife standing naked in front of the mirror.  He walked up behind her and put his hands on her shoulders.  He saw that she was crying.  She said, “I am old.  Don’t look at me.”  He looked at the image in the mirror.  He lifted his hand and he traced the blue lines on her breasts and her belly and said, “These are the children that you gave me.”  His hand moved and played along the brown line at the center of her body, “This saved your life.”  He brought his hand up to her hair and ran his fingers through the strands revealing the gray roots, “This is the worry we shared for our children as they grew.”  He traced the lines on her face, “This is your smile.”  He covered her hands with their veins and brown spots, “This is the hand that has held mine through good times and bad, through joy and pain, through my successes and my failures.”  He lifted her face to look up at his image in the mirror standing behind hers, surrounding hers.  “You are the most beautiful woman in my world.  You are the reason I am thankful for each day of my life and I couldn’t bear to see my image in this mirror without you.”

Lily reached for his arms and he cradled them around her.  His body silhouetted hers. She looked into the reflection and into his eyes.  She saw the love there, the same as it had been on their wedding day so many years ago.  She smiled and the crinkles in her face deepened, just a little bit more.   Author of The Tin Box Trilogy

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