She is used to waiting. She fumbles in her shopping bag, and produces her knitting. Other customers smirk, but she is making socks: tri-coloured, patterned socks for soldiers. She knows the pattern off by heart.
“Mrs. Lewis?” They raise their voices when they speak to her. They speak slowly. They speak as though to a small, deaf child.
“Shazney’s going to wash your hair now.”
Shazney appears. She is plump and painted pretty with her ironed hair artfully arranged. She is younger than Mrs Lewis’s great-granddaughter.
The old lady stashes her knitting. She pulls her walking frame into position, but it takes minutes to haul herself upright onto her slippered feet, and minutes more to cross the salon floor. Shazney sighs. No one helps.
She struggles into the raised chair beside the sink.
“Aren’t the girls in here lovely,” she says to another customer sitting nearby. And she heaps praise upon Shazney, who pulls her head over the sink, lathers her hair, and makes no attempt to talk.
“Thank you, dear,” Mrs Lewis says when she is done. She struggles to sit up. She has soap in her eyes, and her lipstick is smudged where Shazney slopped water over her face, but she says nothing. There is no point complaining. She takes a towel, and dries her face, and she sighs as she remembers back to when it wasn’t like this, when she wasn’t hidden behind the veil of old age.