Jessica stood alone in the dim bedroom watching her indistinct reflection in a large mirror. Dusk of the late summer afternoon was slowly creeping in through the open windows and her feet felt cold, as she was posing barefoot on dark parquetry, dressed only in underwear.
She was looking right into the sparkling eyes of a nymph, watching astonished her pure skin shining through the darkness, thick and wavy hair bordering her graceful face and falling loose on the bare shoulders. She couldn’t resist spinning herself around to see the exquisite curves of a divine body from every angle. While painting her imaginary pictures in the dark, she thought about Josh. She couldn’t wait to run to his arms and let him admire her. Then, unfortunately, she turned on the light.
It was neither shock nor fear that appeared in Jessica’s eyes, when the nymph in front of her suddenly got sick, died, and was replaced by her own corpse covered in sweat and dirt; it was mere desperation brought on by sudden knowledge that she had to somehow create the nymph out of the corpse again, but this time with the lights remaining switched on.
Maybe she wouldn’t have spent whole weekend cleaning her house and working in the garden, had she known Josh would return earlier from his trip. Perhaps she would have at least avoided pulling out the weeds from a bed of daffodils, if she had known of the concert he wanted to take her to. Anyway, it was no use dwelling on the past; Jessica reminded herself and decided that having a shower would be the least unpleasant way to start her purgatory.
When she watched the silvery streams of hot water running down her body and making their way through the dirt and dust like rivers on a hillside, she suddenly remembered one trip to the mountains that she had gone to with Josh. They used to travel a lot, but that day was special – it was the first time he said he loved her.
Jessica let out a short burst of laughter and drops of chlorinated water got into her nose while she was washing her hair: the whole scene now seemed ridiculous to her, but back then she had been so bewildered and nervous! It had taken her several minutes before she could return the pledge to him.
She turned the shower off with a melancholy smile and wrapped herself into the rubber. Now it was usually her, who talked about her affections. What is more, Josh seemed to be bothered by it. She stepped out of the shower on the cold marble and a slight shiver ran through her body. When she thought about it, they didn’t even go on as many trips as they used to. Josh was rather accompanied by his friends than by her lately.
Jessica suddenly froze, her eyes widened with horror, when she stared at her legs. It was as if she was observing a small private jungle planted in her skin; but Josh wanted sunlit beach covered with smooth pebbles! She sighed and had no other option than to grasp that awful vibrating thing which immediately started chopping down everything that lay in front of it and with malicious buzzing it left only death and destruction. She often tried to sidestep this tiresome operation by wearing trousers, but sooner or later she always found Josh stripping them of her and then giving her a denouncing look by the sight of her grassy kingdom.
She doubted her actions for the first time, while she was putting after-shave cream on her legs to make an illusion of sunny beach perfect. What was she doing it for? Why does she have to suffer so and for whom?
Jessica reasoned that maybe these little sacrifices, and she let out a yell when pulling out a hair of her eyebrow, were some sort of gifts they have to bring to each other. For example, Jessica was reminded by the scent of her perfume she was just putting on, those flowers! Josh had dulcified many of her days by bringing her fresh flowers. It’s a pity he stopped doing that. Or holding the doors for her! Jessica opened her lipstick and gave her lips look of a fresh rosebud. He once shocked one of her girlfriends when he gallantly let her out of the shop, she recalled with a smile. He also used to pay for the lunch when they dined together; of course they split the bills now, he couldn’t afford spending so much.
Jessica was bothering her head, while putting rollers on it, and ruminating on what sacrifices does Josh make for her. She could not think of any, except taking her to a stupid concert of a rock band that she didn’t even like. Maybe all she really wanted from him was a protective hug, a thing which was such a problem for him to give her. She turned the hair dryer on and felt as if along with the water there were also being evaporated all the reasons why she should keep on dating him.
Usually she was rather quick with choosing what to wear, but this time she took her time. Jessica searched through the whole wardrobe to find pieces of clothing that would be sufficiently seductive to attract her boyfriend’s attention but at the same time they would send out rays of coolness and inaccessibility to make him reconsider his cruel approach.
When she was finally prepared to look cautiously into the mirror, it was not nymph whom she saw (neither dead, nor alive), it was a goddess, a picture of true perfection. She stared at herself with the same admiration as she stared at the nymph two hours earlier; she even did the same spin to see all the curves, only now there was light everywhere and suddenly no thoughts of Josh. Jessica laughed cheerfully and walked out of the house. She had the notion that unlike other times, now it would be her boyfriend who is going to wait at their meeting place.
“Julie, hi,” she said after dialing one number on her cell phone, “I have changed my mind; I will see you at the party!”