the short story project


The Plumeria

I closed my eyes so he could apply the shadow. It’d been so long since I’d worn any and I wanted to look like myself again. Feeling the light strokes of the brush, I remembered assessing my reflection years earlier.

It was my first trip to Hawaii. We were going to a luau for our 26th wedding anniversary. I’d just finished my makeup when my husband passed behind me.  “You take my breath away,” he said, staring into the mirror. Then he leaned in to kiss me on the shoulder.

“Stop that,” I teased, my smiling eyes never leaving his. “We’re going to be late.”

That tender moment four years ago reminded me just how much I was cherished. Countless others throughout our 30-year marriage, some simple some grand, were equal in their display of affection. The perfectly prepared cup of coffee he’d bring me Saturday mornings; the way he’d always blow into socks, warming them with his breath before putting them onto my feet on cold nights; the cello he surprised me with on my 50th birthday; how he’d always find my keys when I’d be running around frantically searching for them; the sapphire he bought me last Fourth of July, just because.

Now, propping me up gently, my husband shifted my body so he could sit closer. Then he held the mirror and asked, “How’s that?”

“Wow!” I exclaimed weakly.

My head was bald, my cheeks were sunken, and my skin was no longer vibrant. But my smiling eyes had sprung to life, complete with drawn on brows were mine had once been. He’d gotten the color and shading just right. I was seeing myself through his eyes and I was beautiful.

“You like it?”

 “I do,” I said. Then he tucked a plumeria behind my left ear.  





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