Sitting, facing the mirror, she watched him in its reflection.
Jet black, the short spike receded his hairline like a halo – he, also short, but broad of shoulder like her grandfather and with the same, thick hands, a complete opposite of the tall, long boned, pony-tailed basso who had proposed to her earlier that winter. His upper lip, soft and reaching, moved asymmetrically across wide, hidden teeth as he chattered away in low, private tones, multi-tasking easily through the cut, the set, the perm application, twinkling eyes darting from the window to the clock and back into the mirror. Unlike most hairdressers, he worked alone, and asked no questions.
She sat and he proceeded, both parlaying whatever the other disclosed into the predicted personalizations of their shared generation. These were the waning days of brass and glass and Cala lilies, of disco dreams and hair bigger than the faces framed by it, when nobody could hear anybody and posture was the performance of the day.
Pulling the processing cap over her rolled up head, he stepped back, disappearing from the mirror.
She’d forgotten all about having asked if there were a restroom in the salon. Rather, turning in the chair she was quietly startled to see him, standing at the back of the room by a small, opened door. Bending in response to her gaze and presenting a courtly bow, he gestured toward the opening as if to offer her invitation.
Thirty years passed.
During the interim, he’d made a few, vivid reappearances. A handful of vignettes, crystallizing over time, first at the credit union with a pixied platinum blonde, looking remote and sad and somehow adorable, the two of them waiting to meet a loan officer neither speaking nor meeting each other’s glance. She was sure he saw her and the Mona Lisa smile likely marking her recognition, but he’d registered none. His mouth had slowed to still, his eyes had softened, and he had stopped talking.
Even now, thirty years apart and ten months in, she would not be able to say what drew her. Perhaps the gesture by the door, and its thousand and one nights of wonder never actualized; perhaps their two ships, having long passed in the night, each sounding its mourning horn like the mating call of the post-menopausal. His hair grey, his eyes tired and their twinkle, refusing the camera, now only alight in the fleeting glance at another woman he, and her characterization of him, had at last collided in the space between reality and imagination. Only during the occasional nights reflecting alone would she find it increasingly hard to choose between them.
© 1/24/18 Ruth Ann Scanzillo All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. Thank you for staying in your own corner.