The Disappearing Woman

Contributor: Marian Brooks

- -
Joyce watched her mother disappear, slowly.

Now she’s doing the same thing. She is certain of it.

When she walks down the street, no one even notices her or nods Sometimes people bump into her without so much as an “excuse me.” At one time her appearance was dramatic. Joyce loved exotic hats, expensive shoes and colorful, tailored clothing, always in good taste. Now she feels invisible. Men stare right through her, eyes like lasers, scanning the field for young, healthy women. Her reproductive equipment is thirty years past providing a viable home for anyone.

When she looks in the mirror, she sees someone who “cannot possibly” be her. She sees a woman with jowls and frown lines. Joyce notices age spots and gray hair and wrinkles at the corners of her blue eyes. Her skin is dry; it flakes and floats in the air when she brushes against it.

Sometimes she thinks her own children forget who she is. In their defense, she’s not the mother they once knew who could jump out of a chair in a fraction of a second to catch them before they fell. She’s perplexed when it comes to electronic correspondence. Joyce neither tweets nor twerps nor texts. She does have a Facebook account to keep track of the children’s comings and goings and to see photos of her grandchildren, Ben and Sally, along with their menagerie of dogs, cats and birds. She doesn’t think her cellular phone has any “aps” at all.

Sometimes Joyce and her husband, Bradley, don’t exchange more than four hundred words in a day. They lead parallel lives, reading, walking and sleeping. She does the laundry. He vacuums. She wonders if they really see each other after all of this time. She asks Brad about this. He’s half asleep in the recliner and waves his hand dismissively. “You worry too much, Joyce. We love each other, the kids are fine and we’re healthy. Isn’t that enough?” He drops his bifocals from the top of his head, grabs a pencil and turns his attention to the daily crossword puzzle.

They watch the talking heads on CNN and disagree about politics. On those days, their total word count might be five hundred, some of those words, heated for a change.

Her friends are disappearing too. Some have died. Others have too many doctors’ appointments to schedule lunch or husbands with broken hips and heart attacks to care for. When they do meet, their discussions revolve around diabetes, cholesterol and back surgeries. It’s been some time since they talked about men and sex and career aspirations. They’re not even sure what the “glass ceiling” is all about. It sounds like something that might be striking but difficult to clean.

Joyce is disappearing, melting like an ice sculpture, but slowly. It’s OK because no one’s watching.

- - -
Marian Brooks lives in Pennsylvania with her husband. Her work has appeared in Curly Red Stories, Short Humour, Linnet's Wings and elsewhere.
Read more »
These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • Furl
  • Reddit
  • Spurl
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati

Help keep Linguistic Erosion alive! Visit our sponsors! :)- - -