Sitting in her kitchen with her head  hanging down,  Fran was trying to compose the scene of that troubling puzzle that was her life; too many missing pieces.  In that precise moment she was thinking that if she paid electricity she wouldn’t have been able to buy a new pair of shoes for her daughter. There was a hole in her daughter’s  left shoe.  “If I don’t pay electricity  we could use candles, but I couldn’t make laundry, use the fridge,  have hot water. I’ll try to repair that shoe one way or another.”

She had asked  for help to her husband but the answer she had got was:

“You always piss me off with such shitty matters. Find a job with a better pay or make blowjobs , you’re quite clever you could raise good money. What do you want from me?”

As it always was, she had to carry all the heaviness of this situation on her shoulders. She was used to it. She stood up and made coffee. Coffee was a pleasure she couldn’t get rid of. She really loved the aroma of coffee spreading around the kitchen.

She had just touched the cup with her lips when the doorbell  rang. Reluctantly she went to open the door not before having asked “Who is it?”

A  voice outside answered “It’s me!”

She recognized the voice.

“Holy shit! Gwen! I’d prefer to be stabbed to death.”  She hesitated a while then opened the door.  She hadn’t the time to say “Come in” that her sister- in-law intruded into her sitting room. A mist of perfume surrounded Fran leaving her breathless.

Fran was used to count money till  the last penny, with a quick glance she evaluated that Gwen was wearing the average  amount of a whole year of her pays.

Gwen’s eyes were wandering around the room to see if there was dust on the furniture or if the floor had been properly washed then she threw her precious bag on the sofa and nonchalantly  she did the same with her expensive coat. She rolled the sleeves of her sweater  and puffing she flopped on the sofa.

“I’m so tired! This weather sucks.  One day is cold, one day is hot. Mad weather !  I’ve been to the hairdresser. Do you like?”  She made this question turning her head to show the new haircut.

Fran forced herself to have a friendly behaviour  “You look fine! Would you like some coffee? I’ve just made it.”

Gwen run her hand over her forehead “No, thanks. I’m so nervous!”

Fran understood that Gwen was starting to talk about her troubles. So she decided to ignore Gwen’s last sentence.

“Well if you don’t mind I’m going to have my cup of coffee”

“No, no” retorted Gwen.

She looked afflicted and upset.  Fran knew that she had only delayed the time of Gwen’s whine. As Fran was expecting  as soon as she sat on the sofa, Gwen began her lamentation.

“I’m really under pressure!  At work shifts have been changed. Next Friday I’ll work till 8 in the evening

Friday there’s  Carly’s  birthday party. Can you imagine? I’ve not even decided how to dress. I could wear the black dress with a stitched rose on the left shoulder, but I wore it at the inauguration party  of that new disco in town. Most of the people invited at Carly’s party were at the inauguration. Yesterday I’ve bought a new dress but I haven’t got shoes that can match up with the new dress. So I should buy shoes too.”

After these words  she bit her lower lip. “I’ve seen a wonderful pair of shoes……I fancy them a lot”

Gwen looked thoughtfully outside the window. Fran kept on sipping her coffee with an expression of fake politeness stuck on her face. It seemed like she was concerning about  Gewn’s troubles, but a voice inside her was shouting “I can’t remember the last time I went to the hairdresser……Your niece has a hole in her left shoe”

Gwen started speaking again. “Carly has chosen a new gym.  She says it’s closer to her home. But it’s farther from mine. I think I’ll choose the same gym as Steph. But you know,  Carly has so many friends!”

Fran placed the cup on the table. She could hear herself saying “Yes, yes” “Oh, really?” “Sure” and all that sort of things that polite people say when they really don’t care about what the jerk sitting in front of them is speaking of.

Gwen went on “One of my son’s teacher has called me. He states that Daniel has got problems at school. So annoying!  A working mother  hasn’t got enough time to follow her child’s studies”

Fran’s inner voice “And what does a mother have to do?”

Gwen was staring at her hands. “I’ve got a brand new nail polish. Do you like?”

Fran forced herself again and pronounced a quick “Nice!”  Gwen threw a glance at Fran “Oh Fran, you look so shabby. Do something, you’re young!” Fran just bowed her head.

Gewn was looking outside the window again.  Her face was lighted by the sun.  Fran noticed a countless number of wrinkles around Gewn’s eyes and mouth.

Fran’s inner voice again “ So God exists, after all”

Gewn  shook her head as she was waking up in that moment. “How’s my brother?” then without waiting for an answer she added  “He’s a little grumpy outside, but inside he’s a lump of sugar”

Fran’s inner voice “Remind me this the next time he’ll hurl a frying pan on my head”  Fran nodded silently, but in her heart she was blaming her parents for having taught her such good manners.

Gwen  stood up. “I’m so busy! It’s time to go! See you!” Gwen went away. Fran closed the door. The mirror near the sofa reflected the image of a worn out woman in her worn out dresses. Fran felt completely empty.

/——————————————-/

Later in the night, when her children were already sleeping, Fran was standing by the window watching people joking and  laughing in the street. They were elegant, there were smiling.

Fran shook her head “It doesn’t matter, it really doesn’t matter” She wiped away a tear that was rolling down her cheek.

“For me a normal life would be enough”. A normal life meant not trembling every time that the postman rang, fearing another bill to pay.  A normal life meant to speak freely without having her face crushed on the kitchen table.

Fran raised her eyes to look at the sky. “Full moon tonight” she thought.

Sometimes staring at the stars she had some dreams of a quiet life, of a little of happiness. During the last months she had even dared to have some dreams of a sweet love…..

Fran smiled bitterly. “When you’re a creep you’re not allowed to dream. “

Walking in the dark she reached her bedroom . “Tomorrow I’ll pay electricity” then hugging her pillow she whispered “Good night world”

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