It was six AM. The sunlight was peeking through the curtains as he slept beside me. His breath was heavy, melding with the birdsong outside to create my morning melody, and reluctantly, I rose from the soft sheets.
Past the paintings on his walls and the rulers on his dresser, I reached the door, crossing over and closing it quietly, so he wouldn’t wake, before I was ready for him to see me. I had decided, long ago that it was my duty to impress him as dawn broke, and it was the beginning of my daily joy.
My days were joyful. I always thought about that as I sat at his desk every morning, by the window, writing poetry about the plants on his windowsill and smoking the cigarette he had left for me the night before. And then, breakfast. I’d make breakfast for myself, something light, maybe some toast, maybe some strawberries. Today, it was four caramel digestives, because I had a feeling I’d be good for the rest of the day, so a harmless bit of morning misbehaviour couldn’t hurt.
Back to his desk, and back to the routine. Medication. Every day, around 7AM. I would count out one of each tablet. Contraceptive. Vitamin D. Vitamin C. Zinc. That fancy pink one that keeps my hair soft and shiny. Vitamin B. Vitamin E. The multivitamin jelly that comes in a little jelly sweet and reminds me of my childhood. All down in one, like a good girl, with the exception of the jelly, which I always save until last, as a treat.
Jojoba, vanilla and almond oil shower gel was all across my skin as the water wept down from the shower head. I wanted to be a clean confection, dazzling and delicious for when he woke up. The shower gel came in a little pink bottle. Pink was my favourite colour, and I’ve always liked to think he bought it for that reason, and not just because it was Valentine’s Day, and everything available to purchase for your lover was pink. All the same, it had become my favourite. Sweet, with just the right amount of sensuality, it settled into my skin and left me clean and confident.
I moisturised, making faces in the mirror, trying to see myself through his eyes. “Gorgeous.” He called me, every day, sometimes multiple times a day, and as I gazed into the glass, I wondered if I would ever agree. Mint toothpaste and coconut lip scrub, before I dressed, and then, back I went to the mirror, the same old halter neck dress, with a petticoat and a bow around my waist. Today’s dress was black and white, because it was a Sunday, and though he was the one I worshiped, I always tried to keep the other powerful man in my life happy, on his special day, so Sunday meant a modest dress. White ribbon in my hair, like I used to wear for church. Sometimes, as I placed it diligently atop my ponytail, I wondered if my devotion to God had been the dawn of my devotion to him. After all, I’d never known another way to love.
I could hear him stirring next door, in the bedroom, as I tried my best to put on mascara without making a mess. A soft clear gloss on my lips, and perfume on my wrists and I was ready for him.
The soft nylon of my stockings crept quietly down the wooden floors of the hall, and I returned to his room, sitting at the edge of the bed, hoping and yearning that I would be enough, as he awoke.