Portraits from a town: The nose

‘Your nose looks big in that picture. In fact its massive. I mean your nose is quite big anyway.’

I look at the picture. It looks like me. With my nose. Which is obviously not good enough anymore. It was of course a perfectly good nose when we got married. Now after child birth it is suddenly elephantine.

Later on, I google all the ways men have come up with to fix women’s noses, and some that women have devised as well. Rhinoplasty-too expensive. My nose will be fine if I revamp my makeup and contour properly, although I need to be careful not to make my eyes beady by making my nose smaller. Oh the pitfalls of makeup. And the cost. All because my nose -has what-changed? The perception of my nose has changed? Its just a bad photograph.

Later in the week he has friends over, he stops in front of the picture and points out my enormous nose. They laugh together. My son can hear them. I don’t cry, not yet. I feel my nose. I like it. It is functional. Made for breathing, not cuteness.

His friend comes into the kitchen. He tries not to, but I know. I saw it. He looked at my nose. Just to see if it’s like it is in the picture. He smiles at me. I look for traces of sympathy but see only humour there. He does not care about anything else. His friend is married to someone with a big nose. They will joke about it later.

I know now my nose will never be good enough again. Nor will I. I have wrote my imperfections large across the wall for everyone to see. I deserve what I get. There is a photograph where my nose looks big. I have dared to leave it hanging there for the world to see. Is there a greater crime for any woman?

Later on he is giving me advice on how to load the dishwasher. He is clueless. It’s a dishwasher, you can load it however you want. There is no right way, there is just my way and his way. I google how to tell a man he is more stupid than he thinks he is. There is no answer there. Google does not know everything.

Two weeks later, he is still talking about the picture. He wants it removed, it is offending him. I like the picture. I like my nose. I have started wishing for an even bigger nose, just to spite him. I google prosthetic noses. I google false nose warts. I am thinking of vandalising the picture so a trail of snot is hanging out of my nose. It’s a picture. I have a face. It is a nose. I use it to breathe. It is of no consequence to anyone else what it looks like. Still he goes on about it. He tells the neighbours and some of my friends. I want to tell him his trousers don’t match his shirt. I think better of it.

It is then that I understand the world will rend us apart. It is only a matter of time.

I will cry a thousand tears. He will have been right all along. My nose was too big for someone like him. It is astonishing we stayed married so long. He will not cry any tears.

One day he will know the tears he did not cry for what they are. They are the contents of the bottle. It is not a new bottle. Men have bottled things up forever. It is a glass bottle. One day it will shatter and break and the tears will fall out into the world. They will fall in one great big puddle onto the floor mixed with fragments of glass. He won’t remember my nose. He will wonder why, search for answers that he did not keep. He will call. I will hang up. Our son will ferry between us.

I will sit and look at my nose in the mirror. I will not think about how it looks. I will suck in the air and know the sweet smell of freedom.

Portrait of a town: Her, she him.

 It will be like this forever now. He sees. She is on the train platform. She sees him on the platform. With her.

She stares straight ahead.

He is attentive to her.

Deciding where to stand is up to her, he knows that. Like so much now, it is all up to her. He pretends he is listening.

She does not see the pretence. She stares straight ahead as if she is not there.  

He mumbles agreement to her. This is the right place to stand. This is the spot. This is where they should stand. She is standing somewhere else. But not too far away. Maybe not far enough away he thinks.

Her. Flicks some unseen thing from her coat. Her beautiful expensive coat.  Snuggles herself into it, wraps herself in it. Wonders why he has not noticed? Now would be the perfect moment to drape his arm around her.

She can see her, just about.  She knows that she is the other woman. In a maroon coat, might as well be scarlet red she thinks. Her in camel, is anyone wearing camel this season?

She stares straight ahead, hoping the train will come around the bend before she cries.

They both have the same short blond hair. She didn’t know that. Although perhaps one of them is more recent than the other. She tries not to think about her. Her is messing with her coat again. She tries more valiantly not to think of him. Of hands, hair, of bodies intertwined in darkness.

He is attentive, listening, but he is also comparing their legs. She has thinner legs. He wonders if he made the right decision. He looks at the expensive watch on his hand. Of course it was the right decision, splitting the assets would have been financially disastrous. He tries to look interested in her conversation but he isn’t sure.

He still isn’t sure.

Her conversation is just noise in the background. What would she say, he wonders in the pale morning light.  He is trying hard to focus on her, on the words coming out of her mouth. There is something else on her coat now. He wants the train to come.

What is on her coat? Feigning a dirty coat, for attention, why doesn’t he notice. Is he listening? Every fibre of her body is willing the train to come. He is leaning in, but he is not focussed on her. Did she just turn her head? Is that what happened. There is an explosion in her head. Where is that train?

 He has to lean in because he must not be able to see where she is standing from here. This is a train station. Everyone must retain some semblance of dignity.

The wedding ring is hers. That is what counts. Her coat is better.  But that woman’s legs?

Dear god, where is the train.