… feel… good,
… make it right
Snippets of the Michael Jackson lyrics drift towards her from the bedroom and nestle in her ears when Milah steps out of the bathroom onto the landing. She has a towel tightly wrapped around her and softly hums along with the music. When she closes the door quietly behind her, she catches a glimpse of herself in the mirrored closet. Normally she would ignore her reflection, but now she stops.
The mirrors have been there for some months now. It had been his suggestion: a wall to wall closet with mirrored sliding doors. The idea had scared her. Milah has never liked looking at her body.
Okay, that’s not really true.
There was a time when she, just like other teenage girls and young women, had seen a flat, unscarred tummy, strong legs and arms, firm breasts and bottom. But that belongs to another lifetime. Now, in the autumn of her life, Milah has a functional relationship with mirrors. They aid her in fixing her hair, applying her make-up, checking her hemline or shoes. She never takes in the full picture.
Now she does.
… the mirror
Mirror, mirror on the wall…
She locks eyes with the mirrored version of her.
Hazel eyes. When was been the last time she noticed that? There’s a sparkle in her eyes, something she has almost forgotten about. Her long lashes frame the shape of her eyes, and the dark eyebrows follow a natural line. Milah allows those eyes to briefly take in the bright pink towel covering her hair before they follow the line down to the tip of her nose and down to her thin lips. How many times has she wished she had fuller lips? Silly, now flashes through here mind, they are perfect just the way they are.
The thought surprises Milah. Where has that come from?
… a better place
… look at yourself…
Is that it? Are the words in the song making her think of this. That’s not even what the song is about. Is the song really where this is coming from, this looking at herself? Or is it time; time she takes a good look at herself again.
She shoves the question to the back of her mind as her eyes take in the line of her shoulders. Lower your shoulders, Milah, says a voice in her head. She knows she has to. Stress of life has settled right there, and the only way she can carry the weight is to pull her shoulders up. Mila pushes them down, stretching the muscles in her neck, lightening the invisible load she has carried for too long. She slowly circles her head, her shoulders. Her mind and body seem to awaken from a long sleep. It’s as if space opens up in her brain — space to think. Just realizing that she could lighten her load by not worrying about things she can’t change has already made her shoulders softer.
You know… stop it,
Milah looks down the length of her body. Everything, except her feet, is covered in a big towel, matching the pink of the one on her head. Her feet. The feet that have been carrying her to this age. Feet that have stood firm on the face of this earth, despite all life has dealt her. Feet that anchor her; ground her. Feet that cannot wear the high heels she did in her youth, but that still look damn fine in lower, more sensible heels.
For a moment Milah hesitates.
Mirror, mirror on the wall…
… who is the fairest of them all?
Looking only at the pink towel on her head, her left hand loosens the towel around her body. Her eyes dart to the towel around her feet — the one in the mirror. They don’t stay there long. Her lower legs draw her attention. She turns sideways and a slight smile forms around her lips. Her calves — one of her good features. Milah points the toes on her right foot, her leg forward and lifted off the ground. She repeats it on the left. She remembers the days, many, many years ago, when she was a gymnast, when these legs did wonderful things. Turning back to the mirror, she pushes herself up on her tiptoes and almost laughs when she instantly looses her balance.
Milah’s eyes briefly rest on her knees, then follow the line of her thighs. There are bumps and dimples and stretch marks, all part of having had children, gaining weight, losing it and gaining it again. And, not to forget, because of getting older. Other parts show stretch marks too, but Milah doesn’t want to look at those just yet. Instead she turns sideways, first to the left, then to the right. Even though she sometimes says it’s far too big, she actually likes her round, shapely bottom. Why hasn’t she noticed it lately?
You haven’t noticed anything of yourself lately, the voice in her head reminds her.
Milah runs her hands over her bottom; squeezes. It’s still firm, something she’s quite happy with. She realizes she hasn’t admitted this to herself for years. She has neglected her body. Yes, she took care of it, but because of the bit of extra weight she’s carrying and getting older, she has ignored its good parts, and what her body can do for her, for far too long.
Stand up… now!
Now that Milah has started her journey of rediscovering here body, she wants to continue. The song on the radio has finished, but she still hears it in her mind, spurring her on.
Still, despite this urge, this need, she can’t continue where she has just stopped. Her gaze jumps to her shoulders, there where it has been before. She rolls her shoulders back and forth several times to ease the renewed tension between her shoulder blades.
You need to relax, Milah. This is not as bad as you thought it would be, the voice in her head reminds her.
To be continued… Milah’s Discovery (2)
Note: This story first appeared on Medium.