Iowa Writes

SUE DAY-SCALES WALLACE
It All Comes Full-Circle


Slowly, methodically, she smoothed the moist, supple cream under her lined eyes. Her short, veined fingers stroked the skin wantonly, begging it to tighten and firm up. As she reached for another dollop of salvation, she stared at her hands, once clear and free of color, now mottled with a mass of devious freckles. She sighed audibly.

Staring at her hand now forced her to look into the mirror instead of beyond it, as she usually did. What looked back at her both mesmerized and disgusted her. Her hair, though nicely cut, screamed for repentance from the years of hair coloring. Errant gray hairs crept stealthily from behind her ears, poking and prodding their way to the front of her face, forcing everyone around her to consider that she was no longer youthful. But that wasn't all.

If she didn't smile, the lines around her eyes were captive. They couldn't belie her age. She would stare warmly at others, but the smile was hidden, stabilizing the lines, the jowls, the jagged crevices around her mouth. Her neck seemed to swarm with tunnels of flesh, as the neck sunk into her shoulders.

She winced knowing what was under her pale green, flowing gown. Her breasts settled nicely on her rounded, protruding stomach, once flat and unscathed. Her hips had spread like a Sunday afternoon picnic blanket and now covered more and more of the chair as she sat. In fact, generous portions had made their way onto the sides of the chair and hung there, aching to be pulled to safety, but to no avail. Legs once tight and firm now swung into each other at the thigh line, sticking in the heat and jiggling with secret merriment like so many cubes of Jell-O in a cup.

Her feet still looked pretty good. You should show off your best assets, they say—which explained the sixty pairs of shoes.

Where had the years gone? When had the weight become a battle every day, with the number on the scales now higher than the price of a Starbucks Frappuccino? When did the person in the mirror begin looking like a caricature? It was a revelation. A fact that was true and cyclical and expected. But, somehow, the aging process had been a surprise. An unwanted surprise. A surprise of defeat.

Slowly, methodically, she smoothed the moist, supple cream under her lined eyes. Her short, veined fingers stroked the skin wantonly, begging it to tighten and firm up. As she reached for another dollop of salvation, she stared at her hands, once clear and free of color, now mottled with a mass of devious freckles. She sighed audibly.

Staring at her hand now forced her to look into the mirror instead of beyond it, as she usually did. What looked back at her both mesmerized and disgusted her. Her hair, though nicely cut, screamed for repentance from the years of hair coloring. Errant gray hairs crept stealthily from behind her ears, poking and prodding their way to the front of her face, forcing everyone around her to consider that she was no longer youthful. But that wasn't all.

If she didn't smile, the lines around her eyes were captive. They couldn't belie her age. She would stare warmly at others, but the smile was hidden, stabilizing the lines, the jowls, the jagged crevices around her mouth. Her neck seemed to swarm with tunnels of flesh, as the neck sunk into her shoulders.

She winced knowing what was under her pale green, flowing gown. Her breasts settled nicely on her rounded, protruding stomach, once flat and unscathed. Her hips had spread like a Sunday afternoon picnic blanket and now covered more and more of the chair as she sat. In fact, generous portions had made their way onto the sides of the chair and hung there, aching to be pulled to safety, but to no avail. Legs once tight and firm now swung into each other at the thigh line, sticking in the heat and jiggling with secret merriment like so many cubes of Jell-O in a cup.

Her feet still looked pretty good. You should show off your best assets, they say—which explained the sixty pairs of shoes.

Where had the years gone? When had the weight become a battle every day, with the number on the scales now higher than the price of a Starbucks Frappuccino? When did the person in the mirror begin looking like a caricature? It was a revelation. A fact that was true and cyclical and expected. But, somehow, the aging process had been a surprise. An unwanted surprise. A surprise of defeat.

As she rose to leave the bathroom area, light streamed from the opening door, as the nurse stepped into the quiet room. "Mrs. Smith, your daughter-in-law is out of the recovery room."

She stepped through the door and into the cold, barren waiting room, feeling the ache in her legs and back as she moved. Nothing serious, just a cramping from sitting too long. Another surprise come to call. Again, unwelcome.

She sat down next to her husband of 25 years, who was kind and loving, and really didn't care that the woman he had married then was now trapped somewhere inside a body that was screaming to be 24 again. Middle age was a cruel joke.

As she sat there, wondering at the dancing bears and colorful balloons on the faded walls, the door to the operating room opened, and a large, green-masked man strode purposely out.

"Mom, Dad, it's a girl!" exclaimed her 25-year-old son, holding forth a pink bundle of tiny hands and feet. From deep within the folds came a soft mewling sound.

As she took the bundle from him, and touched the soft, silken fingers that clutched her own freckled ones, nothing mattered but the word "Grandma" and the knowing that this was the reason for the Cycle of Life.

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


SUE DAY-SCALES WALLACE

Sue Day-Scales Wallace graduated from the University of Iowa in 1990 with a B.A. in Communications. She has held positions in marketing, public relations, sales, and most recently she became the Assistant Director of Development for Fontbonne University in St. Louis. Sue wrote a short story, "Envy—Not a Pretty Sight," that was published in Original Sins—The Seven Deadlies Come Home to Roost in 2004. She is married to Michael, and has three children, Jordan and Halsey Scales and Mikaela Wallace, and a granddaughter, Rayleigh.

This page was first displayed
on June 19, 2007

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