Divisions — A Dream

Comfortless hotel suite. Dank light, dull decor, three narrow beds ill-suited to rest of any kind. I long to put the infant down — just for a moment — but where? The beds arranged at the room’s edges are like benches, pressed up hard against the walls and barely wide enough to accommodate a small adult. Each is a hard and unforgiving cot in one of three lengths — stubby, near-average, or absurdly exaggerated. No place to leave a child, which would certainly roll off, fall to the floor. We’ll find no sleep here. And though placid, the child grows heavier by the minute, wrenching at my wrists and shoulder sockets.

Warm light blooms from just beyond the door, spilling over the brown walls and browner carpet. Moving toward the light, I pass a full-length mirror, hoist the child up to see its reflection. A perfect infant, cherubic and sweet. Until it smiles. Its grin rivals that of the Cheshire Cat, stretching across the child’s face, splitting it from ear to ear. A full set of adult teeth reside in that alarming mouth.

Hurrying out of the room, I enter a kitchenette. A counter divides this area from the living area in which a dozen or more young women are dancing and laughing. Hip and fashionable, they glow with youth and vibrancy, silky hair swinging as they move. I understand that they are completely oblivious to my presence. No surprise. We could not be more different — my short and sturdy stature, printed house dress, and sensible shoes fairly shout my virtual invisibility. The short tips of my no-fuss hair confirm a generational divide. Impassively, I watch them. Exuberant youth, in its natural habitat — even if this is my hotel suite. It’s not envy I feel, but difference. My own otherness. My exclusion — by fate or fortune, nurture or nature. Maybe even by purposeful intent.

Resting on the separating counter is an enormous gift basket, wrapped in bright pink cellophane. It crinkles as I pull it apart, layer by layer. Nestled within are an array of beauty products. Competing scents rise and drift — sweet perfumes, flowery soaps. Candy-colored cosmetics in jeweled acrylic cases. Pushing things aside, lifting them up for inspection and laying them out over the counter, I find nothing appealing. But maybe those girls might…

When, finally, I get their attention, they flock like prismatic birds. Such excitement! They pick through the basket’s contents, comparing notes with each other regarding product benefits, techniques, matching colors to skin tones. They are so happy and grateful, and suddenly, I am interesting enough to invite beyond the dividing counter, to listen to music, to dance, to share a drink…

Big Teeth 3.jpg

“Big Teeth” — C.Birde, 2/16

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