Annie stood in front of her mirror, looking. She looked like she normally did but today she wanted to see. Not just five foot six, light tan from a cheap winter break to Egypt and brown hair pulled back into a ponytail. Not just chewed finger nails, a cheap watch and a waistband beginning to strain. She had just been interviewed for promotion. What did they see that she no longer did?
She stood back and looked at herself as she would appear on a first impression walking into the interview room. Smart, colour coordinated, dressed as a woman in her position should be. The suit was just for today but maybe if she wore it every day they might think she was more committed to progressing into management. Her boss wore a suit everyday so what if she did too? It rather cut into her sides and she couldn’t wait to slip the skirt off and back on the hanger. She’d need a new suit, maybe a few. But then, without a pay rise she couldn’t afford more than low end High Street.
Stepping closer to the glass, she examined her hair. Annie had once heard girls with swingy ponytails don’t get depressed. She swung her hair like a shampoo advert but she still didn’t sleep well at nights and had stopped bowling with the girls. It just wasn’t fun anymore. Annie pulled the band from her hair, letting it fall to her shoulders and recalled her 6th Form chemistry teacher’s admonishment that you never know what you might swish your hair into a Bunsen burner. She tucked it behind her ears, as a compromise.
Annie stepped closer still until her nose was almost touching its reflection. She lifted her hands to her face and stroked her cheek. She pinched the skin on her eyelids up and pulled it taut so her eyes opened up more. Then she lifted her lips, top and bottom, exposing her teeth and gums. She wobbled the bit under her chin. There wasn’t too much movement but more than there used to be. Annie was quite pleased, were she asked and had answered honestly. If women of a certain age get to choose between being thin and having no wrinkles, she was balancing the line quite well. Her tan gave her healthy look she didn’t always feel was justified but it saved putting on quite as much make-up and she could use those few minutes to queue a little longer at traffic lights.
She heard the front door open and her husband called out to her. She fixed her smile in place.