She watched herself in the mirror. Traced the lines that were beginning to appear around her once so voluptous mouth. Marionette lines – like a sad clown that made a last desperate attempt to look happy. She smiled at the thought. When was the last time she had been happy? A year ago? More? Memory Lane was rather narrow, and intimate knowledge if its every nook and cranny had long been forgotten. On purpose. It was survival instinct. Remembering the moments that somehow could be deemed in a light of bliss. She picked up a photo that graced the piano and held it out next to her face. It was taken four years ago but seemed more like a lifetime. Even the face was different. Looking back was a girl, not a woman. It was taken in Antibes, after a lunch which had been interrupted by an improvised shopping spree in a local bookstore. She had bought a novel by Paulo Coelho and finished it in two days.
Like most pictures taken in the advent of a budding relationship it held the promise of love. She’d been once told that Love is a state of psychosis. It is also why we let our guard down, see what we want to see and reject the rest. Rather beautiful notion, she thought. Or perhaps innocent, naive maybe, but beautiful nevertheless.
She smiled to her reflection. It smiled back. She looked better like that. It was perhaps why she was so liked at work. Where she put on a mask of happiness which at once obliterated her dull circumstances if not her appearance. She was the jovial type. The one that made the jokes and made people feel good. Until she stepped out of the office and for five minutes longer until she got onto bus 53. No one else from her team took the same bus, and thus she was free to let down her guard and become one with misery once more.
It was to be so until exactly 21 hours later when fate intervened.