I stand in the bathroom for a few indecisive moments, then I decide to take full advantage of the moment. It’s either that or driving myself crazy, crazier about all the ways this could go terribly wrong.
I find Marlene and ask her for a glass of bubbles, a little cocktail before dinner which she promptly provides. My next request is a little more delicate even though I don’t intend to go into details. Oh well. She’s a woman. She’ll know, but then again, she probably is aware of Carter’s intentions anyway.
“I’m so sorry, Ms. Elliot, I can’t do that,” she says, her eyes wide, expression a bit shocked that I would even ask for something like that. I sigh. Maybe I’ll have to go into specifics after all.
“I know Carter doesn’t want me to have sharp objects, but I swear, I’m not going to destroy anything with it, and I’m not going to try to kill myself. I just want to shave my legs.” …and trim in other areas, maybe, but that is definitely something I won’t spell out for Marlene. I’m blushing as it is.
“Can’t that wait for a few more hours?”
That’s the point, though, I don’t want Carter to be around. This is where I’m having trouble with playing the role that’s expected of me. I’ve been taking care of these things forever—having them taken out of my hands, even if those are small, inconsequential things, bothers me. I have a closet full of amazing dresses, skirts, and bathing suits. I want smooth legs, damn it, is that too much to ask for?
“I promise, I won’t tell. Please.” All of a sudden, this small piece of independence has become very important, more than the bubble bath in the giant tub, with a glass of champagne on the side. I want to do this, badly—and then I think, whatever. It’s not like Marlene can tell anyone.
“Listen, when Carter comes back, I’m sure she’d like something to take her mind off business…so I want everything to be ready. I want to be ready.” I break the eye contact, because I’m not able to do this otherwise. “You know what I mean. I’m sure you also know exactly how I got here, so I’d think you could help me with one little thing that would make me more comfortable. I am not going to hurt myself.”
When I look up, Marlene’s demeanor tells me she’s still uneasy, but she nods. “I’ll get you what you need. I’ll be right back, and I want you to give it back to me when you’re done. Just this once.”
“I can do that. Thank you.”
True to her word, she is back with one of the pink razors you love to hate, but use anyway. I’ll make do.
When she’s gone, I sink into the warm water, laughing at myself. What do I need a relaxing bath for? I did nothing all day except read and walk around for a bit. Frankly, I’m not a fan of exercise, but I should find something to do. It would help if I could go to the pool by myself. I have to talk it over with Carter. What is she afraid of? Where would I go?
I put on a short red dress and flat sandals, and for the first time, I add some jewelry to the outfit. This is all mine. I shouldn’t feel like a thief, or a gold digger.
I don’t put on evening make-up. I’ve never been a make-up person, and so my skills are sketchy, not that I ever thought they matter. A bit of lipstick and perfume will do. As much as I was creeped out, scared even in the beginning, I find as much fascination in exploring the possibilities of my new self.
This is all between me and Carter, and to some extent, Marlene…and the person who broke into my apartment, drugged and brought me here, but I don’t want to think about this now. Even taking into consideration that concepts of beauty vary, that many of them are ridiculous standards enforced by patriarchy, which I don’t give a damn about...I have to admit I like what I see in the mirror. I’m not exactly a model photoshopped for a magazine cover, just a woman in clothes that fit her well. I’m excited.
I find Marlene and give her the razor back as promised. The dinner table is set for one.
All of a sudden, I want to cry, but instead, I force a smile.
Carter will be back.
* * *
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