By Ashley McCurry
I stare at the door of my walk-in closet and peer inside, scanning rows of practical staple pieces and the latest seasonal trends. Jeans: skinny, wide leg, high-waisted, distressed, and acid wash. I haven’t yet decided who I am.
Battle armor. This one decision, which in all actuality is one hundred smaller decisions, defies me to set the tone for the day ahead. Pairs of flats and heels, in every possible obscure color and pattern, line the perimeter of the closet. I recall reading that women under 5’4 should never wear flats, in an issue of Seventeen Magazine from the 90s. In five days, I will be forty.
(Last night, I dreamed that ninjas were climbing up the side of my house. I lay on my back, eyes wide and pleading, unable to move even the tiniest muscles. The window frame creaked as the glass slid open. Three shadows loomed over my body, speaking an unintelligible language comprised of groans, pops, and intermittent screeching. I awoke, alone, to the sound of my Roomba following an invisible labyrinth across the floor.)
My phone alerts me to the fact that I have ten minutes left to get dressed. Each morning, I set six alarms to keep me on track, or else I might fall into an abyss from which I can’t escape (and that’s not really an acceptable reason to call out from work).
I grab a black sweater, skinny dark grey trousers, and red flats and sit on the edge of the bed, sipping tepid coffee that I promptly splash onto my carefully selected pants. I once purchased Audrey Hepburn’s favorite lipstick shade from Revlon; I thought that “Pink in the Afternoon” might change my life.
I sit down at my computer and take my first call of the morning. By lunchtime, I’ll be in leggings and a sweatshirt, dreaming of another life far removed from this one.
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Ashley is a speech-language pathologist with an M.A. in Social Foundations of Education and an M.S. in Communication Disorders. She is the recipient of the University of Iowa’s Obermann Graduate Fellowship and the FIPSE Graduate Fellowship from East Tennessee State University. More importantly, she is a rescue dog mom, cosplayer, and lover of short stories and musical theater. During the evenings and weekends, you can find her tucked away in a corner of an upstairs office, endeavoring to write stories that both unnerve and inspire.