We pass in a shop doorway. Our eyes meet, and we hit ‘pause’, while our brain cells go rummaging through long forgotten files, as we struggle to remember. And then we do. We know one another.
We used to work together. I remember comparing divorce scars and exasperating children wounds, but I can’t remember her name. Haven’t seen her since that awful night when I… No, my brain shrieks, let’s not remember that. It throws the file out of reach.
“How are you?”
I am still the same old weathered me; lived-in, worn-out and decidedly rough, frayed around the edges, but she looks fantastic. She’s lost weight. Sculpted cheekbones give elegance to her tired face. Her hair is styled and sprayed. She is wearing artful make-up. Her clothes look new, and, unlike mine, they match. Her legs are lithe in skinny jeans and knee-high, high-heeled boots. There is little sign of the put-upon woman with whom I used to work.
“You look amazing,” I say, turning green inside my dog-walking coat, trying to think if I remembered to wash my face or comb my hair today, and hoping she won’t notice if I haven’t .
“You do too,” she says. We both know she’s lying.
But her makeover is not the only thing that divides us. Her eyes are puffy from the exertion of recently shed, bitter tears. It’s been a while since I cried those sorts of tears. And as I turn and walk away, I wonder which of us is the luckier.