Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Fame (05/10/12)
TITLE: Mirror Image
By Sarah Heywood
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Pretty and perky Alex Dejune smiles at me from the anchor seat before the camera pans to Weatherman Jim. Pretty and Perky Alex, who covers everything from city council meetings to downtown murders... Pretty and Perky Alex who has sailed through life, turning everything into gold with every touch of her perfectly manicured hand... Pretty and Perky Alex, who happens to be my twin sister…
“Woof!” Goliath expresses his approval as he does every night at news time. I think it probably has more to do with the fact that Pretty and Perky Alex brings him treats every time she sees him. But I still feel a bit betrayed.
“Down, Goliath!” I command. The dog gives me a baleful look and slowly unfolds his gargantuan body off the couch. I take another spoonful of ice-cream into my mouth. Drat – I dripped on my robe again. I dab at the pink terrycloth covering my too-ample mid-section. I can’t help but sigh.
I love Alex. She’s my sister and despite our differences, there’s a bond there. But – I still struggle with feeling inadequate around her. She’s so polished and accomplished, especially at ten o’clock at night. I’m chubby and non-accomplished. She’s famous and I’m definitely not. She’s married to the perfect man and has two perfect children. I have Goliath.
I sigh again.
The next day is Tuesday, my favorite day of the week. I cut people’s hair for a living – cut it, perm it, color it – whatever they want. But on Tuesday afternoons I wash and set gray heads in the memory care unit at our local nursing home.
A familiar face greets me as I walk in, lugging my tote of hair supplies. “Well, hello, Dear! Have we met? My name is Audrey!” I smile at Audrey, one of my favorites, and return her greeting as though we were perfect strangers. Never mind that I have been taking care of her hair every Tuesday for the last three years!
“Has anyone ever told you you have the most beautiful eyes?” Audrey asks me the same question she asks every week. I smile in reply.
I lather up Audrey’s head while she regales me with a long-ago memory. This week it’s the story of the night she met her husband, back in 1937. Audrey can’t remember what she had for breakfast, her children’s names, or how to get back to her room, but she remembers that night as if it had just happened. Audrey’s voice trails off as I rinse.
Suddenly, she asks me, “Has anyone ever told you have the most beautiful eyes?” I smile and soon Audrey’s memory steps back in time to a story I’ve heard many times before.
My mind begins to wander and finds its way back to Pretty and Perky Alex. I wonder what she’s doing today. Exposing a high-level corporate cover-up? Reporting live from a hostage situation? More than likely, she’s probably killing herself running from her home, to the preschool, to work, where’s she got a mound of paperwork to complete before the next broadcast. Alex is always telling me that her job involves a lot more grunt work than glamour, but somehow I don’t quite believe her. I’d like to try on her fame for size – for awhile anyway.
The dryer makes a high-pitched whining noise as I blow out Audrey’s hair. She continues to chatter away, oblivious to the fact that I can’t hear her over the dryer.
“…and it was in the barn all along!” Audrey exclaims as I turn off the dryer and hold a mirror in front of her face so she can admire my work.
“Oh, that’s so nice, Dear!” Audrey smiles at her reflection, patting her hair with one hand. My heart fills. Taking care of her hair is such a small thing, but it means everything to Audrey and the other women in her unit. I know I wouldn’t give up these volunteer hours for anything – not even for Pretty and Perky Alex’s fame.
I help Audrey out of the chair. A nurse’s aid materializes beside her to help her back to her room.
“Good-bye, Dear!” Audrey calls as the aide wraps her arm around her back and steers her to the door. My friend pauses and turns back to me.
“Has anyone ever told you you have the most beautiful eyes?”
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