Erica stared hard at her reflection in the bathroom mirror.
The morning light beaming in the window was not her friend today but she could fix that. She leaned in close to the mirror and smoothed her foundation over her face. Standing back to examine her work she decided to apply some more concealer here and there to even out the colour, then puffed on the powder to fix everything in place.
Gary had bought her one of those fancy make up mirrors for the cabinet with the different levels of lighting to adjust to varying environments. Day, evening and office. She would be heading out into daylight upon completion of her makeup so picked the appropriate setting on the mirror.
Turning her face left and then right to see if there were any less than perfect spots she started on her eyes.
She thought about the evening before and then back to the day she first saw Gary. She worked in the cosmetic department of a high end department store catering to only the cities most affluent.
Erica was a makeup artist. She had studied for a year and a half at one of the best schools in Hollywood and was very good at what she did. She had applied for this job hoping that by working at this counter selling product and being able to demonstrate her skills to Hollywood’s elite that she might be able to achieve her dream and one day get a position as an artist on movie sets. Only the most beautiful of people were employed here. And Erica was striking. Hollywood’s famous shopped here and she had waited on many of them. She figured it was only a matter of time before she was “discovered.’
She first noticed Gary walking arm and arm with a gorgeous blond. He was your classic tall dark and handsome and Erica wondered if he was possibly a model or an actor. Later as they strolled past on their way out he happened to glance in her direction and then again.
“Ohhh a double take” Erica thought to herself and gave him her most charming smile. He smiled broadly back at her. She felt herself flush and her heart skipped a beat.
Although she kept a lookout for him it was sometime before she saw him again.
Then early one morning she caught sight of him carrying a large bouquet as he confidently strolled past the other counters flanking both sides of the isle. She watched as the girls at other counters would fan themselves and giggle after he passed. He was the most handsome man she had ever seen and her pulse began to race as he got closer. His eyes met hers and she quickly looked down. Embarrassed to have been caught staring. Her breath stuck in her throat. And she waited until she was sure he had passed. When she looked up it was straight into his deep blue eyes. He was smiling at her as he held out the bouquet.
“For you my beauty” his velvety voice announced. “I have done nothing but think of you since our eyes first met. “ What time do you get off of work? Will you do me the honor of sharing a meal?”
“Oh my god he is so charming” Erica thought to herself and she could see him in another time swirling off his coat ‘Sir Raleigh’ style and taking her hand to escort her over a puddle in the road.
“ Um.. ah” she stammered, now at a loss for words and very aware of the look of shock and envy from the other girls at the counters he had passed.
“Six” she blurted, then blushed because her voice was far louder than she had intended.
“Six it is then” he replied and taking her hand in his he bowed slightly saying, “I will pick you up here” and turned to go.
Erica’s legs turned to Jelly and she put her hands on the counter to steady herself.
That was just short of 6 years ago. Gary picked her up that evening and swept her off her feet. He courted her in a way she had only dreamed of. It was every girls dream. A whirlwind romance full of flowers, and gifts followed by a fairy tale wedding.
“There is no one for me but you” he whispered in her ear as he held her tight last night, “and no one for you but me”
The flowers arrived this morning as they always did after an evening like last night.
“You know how much I love you” scrawled in Gary’s hand across the card.
Erica looked at the ticket on the counter. Her bus left in an hour. She had to get moving.
She looked again at the skillful application of makeup that did a great job of hiding her black eye. One of the many she had acquired over the last 4 years since they had married. The long sleeves of her blouse covered the ugly bruises on her arms.
Walking through the house, suitcase in hand, Erica opened the front door and squinted in the bright light. She turned and took one final look at what had been her home, then closed and locked the door.