She tightened the robe around her waist, wrapped her hair into a clean white towel, and slipped her feet into terry cloth slippers. From head to toe she was clothed in the comfort of terry cloth, surrounded by the steamy air and foggy mirror she could almost feel her body beginning to relax. She wiped off the glass and cringed, and inhaled a deep breath. As she left the bathroom she could not deny the truth revealed in the mirror. Relaxed, but not revived.
Elaine sat down on the edge of the beautiful bed, complete with a white feather down comforter and pillows and mindlessly rubbed the surface next to her. She dreamt of a dreamless night of sleep, or even just an hour of sleep. Dreamt of comfort that ran deeper than the surface. Comfort as complete as the terry cloth ensemble she was wearing, but instead of the warmth and softness stopping at her skin she longed for it to sink into the deepest places of her heart, mind, and bones. The way it used to. Before.
Glancing at the clock, she saw that nearly 30 minutes had already ticked by since she'd been sitting there thinking. Or rather not thinking, as the case may have been. The clock changed again, 4:18 PM, she had a choice to make and she had to do it soon.
The room was beautiful, the bed was beautiful and seemed to have her name written all over it. With the white linens, curtains, and simple decorations the room almost looked like a slice of heaven itself, and oh how she wished it was. She was desperate to lay down and continue that wish, but she was here for change and laying her head on that pillow, or sitting on the edge of the bed for another minute, well, it would have to wait.
Elaine stood and walked over to the dresser and began inserting her small hoop earrings. His favorite earrings. One at a time she slowly went through the familiar motions. She slipped open the top drawer and pulled out a pair of nylons, walked to the closet and grabbed the outfit that had been picked out for her. She placed her things on the bed and noticed a small pile of change on the nightstand.
Change. Nothing significant, a quarter, a few nickels, two dimes, and a handful of pennies. The metaphor before her was obvious. Getting out of bed, taking a shower, inserting earrings, putting on a clean change of clothes. Individually each item, each ounce of effort may go unnoticed, but together they held value, the hope of greater value as they were added to additional changes, choices that she would have to make as each day passed.
Fully dressed and applying the last touches of her makeup Elaine glanced at the change again in the mirror wondering how she had gotten to this place. Not this room, but this place in her life where choices were not made instinctively, but purposefully. So many changes in life happen gradually, like the small collection of coins on the table. One choice pilling onto another, and another slowly adding up to something more than it was before. Like the innocent dinner which gradually became a budding romance, or her slow decline first into obesity then anorexia.
Elaine popped her lips to smooth out her lipstick. This was different though. This change in her life, in their life, was not the result of one penny or quarter, one choice, that led to another. She brushed the bangs out of her eyes and turned to walk towards the door. This new life had descended on her abruptly whether she liked it or not.
Elaine walked out of the room, but before the door closed she darted back in and went to the night stand. She reached out and grabbed a quarter. A reminder of all that she had lost when this load was dropped on her shoulders, like that old savings jar her and Jim had kept that held thousands of coins for trips and rainy day splurges shattered into a million pieces. Elaine kissed the quarter, placed it into a zippered pocket of her purse, tucked it nicely beneath her elbow and walked elegantly out of the room.
A reminder of what she had lost, but also of what she stood to gain with each change, choice, that she made now. What she stood to gain, as slowly each ounce of effort would be put together until once again her life held value.