A Bad Habit

She was very attractive, but her nails were bitten to the quick. This meant that her hands were usually balled into fists on her lap or tucked away into her pockets, belying a cool easy elegance rather than what it actually was. Embarrassment.

Strange, this one flaw, when all the rest of her was so well put together.

Lovely as she was, it was her essence, her intelligent wit and her movements that held your attention. Even her voice was wonderfully melodious and steady. If she quavered inside (and the nail stubs certainly pointed to that possibility) her voice revealed nothing other than a confident, happy individual.

And yet…since childhood, boredom, loneliness and stress had been dealt with head on in public and by attacking her fingers in private.

Through her twenties and thirties she had pretty much stopped the nasty habit. She had been too busy living and being in the limelight. Surrounded by quasi adoration both professionally and personally there had rarely been occasion for a degrading chew and spit session.

Things started to change though, as she entered her forties. She found herself less sought after and less courted both personally and professionally. The realization that younger girls had begun to regularly overtake her, thus usurping her place in the sun, had left her uncomfortably reeling.

Time had been quietly and unforgivingly marching on until enough time had accumulated so as to contrast the divide between then and now, them and her.

The nagging feeling of not being good enough resurfaced. This, coupled with a new sense of obsolescence reintroduced sleepless, anxiety riddled, nail biting nights into her repertoire. And she was thirteen, flat chested and insecure all over again at the ripe “old” age of forty-seven.

Not yet ready (nor willing!) to be listed in the Historical Preservation Society as a beloved albeit “antique construction” or be considered burdensome, she would, of course, battle it head on as always. But this “demolition of an old building” was nightmarish.

Obviously she knew how it all worked, having been part and parcel of the system for the past two decades. With each passing year more and more people were lined up behind her, pushing to charge ahead and shove her out of the way. Still…she hadn’t expected it to be so soon and so cut throat.

If you happen to see her, walking down the street, you will probably do a double take of the tall graceful straight backed figure moving with the natural elegance of a ballerina. If you walk behind her you will catch a whiff of her perfume and observe the sway of her coat and trousers, the bounce of her hair. You might think WOW!

And you would never know about the chewed nails and clenched fists in her pockets that told a contrasting story to the one you have made up about her as you watch her cutting a stylish figure through the city.

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