The mirror speaks in strange syntax; subjects and verbs scattered like Scrabble tiles after an Epileptic seizure. The rosé tinting her brain, hazy like a vintage Insta filter as she slurs something incomprehensible at her reflection.
Too tipsy for a bathroom this pretty.
Glossy azure tiles, gold-leaf fixtures on a dreamy onyx countertop. The kind of bathroom where you don’t feel compelled to put down a layer of toiler paper around the seat. The kind with soap you smell on your hands the whole way back to your table.
Beyond the door an indecipherable white noise of small talk, getting increasingly rambunctious as everyone gets increasingly drunk on their boss’s dime. Some she still recalls – people with names like Wayne and Fayaz and Ming-Lee and Raymond. New ones she forgets as soon as her husband makes introductions – her mind constantly wiping itself clean like it’s browsing on incognito mode. As for the rest, those she’d allegedly met over the years of getting dragged along to his work functions, she does her best to feign recognition.
So comfortingly dull. So delightfully unremarkable.
She studies her reflection like it’s a deadly, alluring animal inside a glass cage. Tasteful smokey mascara, impeccable contouring. Freshly coloured ombre hair, eyebrows threaded into perfect arches. Cheeks flushed from alcohol and desire. Her inhibitions chiseled down to a sliver.
In one swift motion she lets her dress straps fall from her shoulders. Unclasps her bra, her fingers fumbling drunkenly like a teenage boy in his girlfriend’s basement.
And then a flash – a supernova inside the chic, dimly lit bathroom – blinding her momentarily. Her taut, pale breasts, never camera shy, materialize on her phone screen.
Hope you recognize the backdrop, babe.
She grasps handfuls of supple fabric from the bottom of her dress and hoists it up to her waist, pulls the lace of her black thong to the side as a second flash blooms in the mirror. Ready to burrow into his head like a fucking tapeworm.
I wanna see you liquify when you get these. I want to see you shatter into bits.
Her heart jumps when someone pounds on the door.
Sorry. Just be a minute, she says as she straightens out her dress and slides open the latch.
Back at the company table, her husband’s well-done steak has finally made its way in front of him and he’s busy butchering it into annoying little squares, exactly like a parent might do for a child.
Get lost in there? he says when she sits down, so loud she can’t tell which of them should be more embarrassed.
Ha-ha, she replies, as he turns away to continue spouting his typical, derivative bullshit to some unsuspecting co-worker.
She takes another sip of sickly-sweet rosé, the tipsiness wrapping itself around her entire body in a warm embrace. Then concealing her hands within the folds of the tablecloth, she pulls up a hidden thread of text messages on her phone, attaching the photos she took just moments ago. A name she’d never forgotten. Not even when she tried.
And next to his glass of wine, at the other end of the company table, Sayed’s phone buzzes once, twice. His coarse, flitting hands. His chaos-coloured eyes.
She stares like a jaguar as he unlocks his screen. Ready to flash a lethal, knowing smile.
George Oleksandrovych lives in Vancouver, Canada, and has previously been published in East of the Web and The Lyre magazine. He does his best writing after everyone else has gone to sleep.
image: MM Kaufman