Crisp walls and lavender fresh linen. It was her mother who insisted on such drastic perfection and, until now, it had never occurred to Geraldine that life had the option to be anything other than perfect. She would be forty in a month, and although her Mother would not approve, Geraldine craved something more. Something wild. Something actually really quite bad.
She flung a leg out of the bath and breathed into her belly: hold one, two three…a cool, soothing wind on the out-breath. What if she did allow herself a regression to the grotty child that once she was? An ignorant small human, who far too often muddied the guest couch—and her mother’s delightfully manicured day. A child who, one day, would find the courage to tell her mother that the couch had been, in fact, the hills coming alive with the romping, stomping wonderful sound of music.
‘Darling,‘ her mother would say, through a smiling mouth and chainsaw eyes. ‘You must always be good.‘ Eventually, the words and the eyes had the desired effect, and Geraldine did, indeed, grow into the neatly folded girl her Mother had groomed her to be. Perfection in a girl, life under strict lock and key. Geraldine was the fly in the web of her mother’s high standards. Alive but not living. Rotting away under the critical eye of the long-legged other in her life.
Her bathrobe waited to give her a warm hug after the bath was over. What if she didn’t use it? What if she stood, dried, and walked about the house. Naked. She lived alone, but even so, free range nudity was a luxury afforded only to men, and those unfortunate women requiring external stimulation for the treatment of low self-esteem. Nudity— even solo nudity—was not for good girls.
Until, of course, it was.
Geraldine rose from the tub and reached for the gracefully folded towel that lay atop the sparkling white sink. Perfection died tonight. Her mother’s hold on her life died, all limbs bared, tonight.
The soft leather couch was like warm paint to her naked skin. Although the liberation of nudity felt wonderful, it was…still not enough. Geraldine needed more. And so it was, that more arose.
As if by some miraculous order of the universe, some equally trapped eternal wind searching for life, the doorbell rang.
She rose from the couch, without a beat, without a care.
Darling, indeed, she thought.