Better Late – 23

In the luxurious bathroom, Shaynah performed her routine ablutions, cleansing herself for the day ahead. In front of the broad closet, she sorted through the array of varied garments. Tentatively, she tried on a pair of long, loose pyjamas of pale ivory satin. She slipped into the long button-up top and tied the satin tie around her waist. She looked at herself in the full-length mirror and was startled at the elegant woman she saw there. Shaynah was reminded of a poster she had seen on a movie theatre marquee. On it, a man in a tailcoat was dancing with a woman in a flowing garment similar to which Shaynah now wore. She realised that she longed for the freedom to go to movies, junk food and read fashion magazines.

Shaynah fluffed her short hair and checked her appearance in the large mirror. She was looking for the confidence to leave the bedroom for the inevitable encounter David Goodman. She had never before, in all her forty-four years, tried to look attractive in a secular way. Finally she put her hand on the door handle, took a deep breath and stepped out into the living room. David was sipping black coffee at the counter in the kitchen alcove that was open to the large main room.

“I didn’t know if you would want something to eat,” he said when he heard her door open. “Obviously, I don’t have a kosher… .” David stopped in mid-word when he looked up and saw her standing there in the flowing, cream-coloured satin pyjamas. He looked her up and down, slack-jawed. Shaynah thought he’d been stricken by something and instinctively hurried to him to grasp his arm.

“What’s wrong? What happened?” Shaynah gasped and clutched David’s tanned biceps to steady him. David looked down into her face, which glowed with the untainted beauty of her alabaster complexion and smoothly defined features. When he spoke, his voice was thick with unexpected emotion.

“The way you look in that outfit. I hope it doesn’t offend you, but I have to say that you look wonderful. Like a movie star, in that outfit.” David said.

A thrilling gush of emotion exploded in Shaynah’s body as the first words of admiration from outside her immediate family fell upon her starved psyche. She looked down at her hands, like delicate white doves on David’s bulging, browned biceps. She gasped and pulled her hands from his arm, and a rush of passion weakened Shaynah’s knees. New feelings and new thoughts were bouncing about in her small, round head and she sat on a tall stool by the kitchen counter and gathered her stampeding emotions together.

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