by Violet Carson
It was Sunday afternoon and I need to get to getaway Holidays to complete my week’s work there. On arrival I was surprised to see Marj and of course she grabbed my arm and sat me down in her office demanding that I tell her all about my afternoon with Jack.
I told her how sweet he’d been and that he wanted to take me out again but I didn’t know how I could go along with it without hurting his feelings. We sipped our teas together whilst Marj explained quite firmly that I was to go out with him and be the doting partner that he so wanted and we would then see how things turned out and she was sure that the longer I stayed as Rose the more I’d start to think as her and find myself drawn even closer to Jack. After all she said how could someone who looked like me expect to attract a younger man and when I looked in the bathroom mirror after completing the indignity of cleaning the toilets I had to agree with her. There was no doubt that what stared back at me looked like a woman in her 60s. I just didn't know if that was what I wanted or not.
I was becoming such a pathetic disgusting creature and a real physical wreck. I just couldn’t believe that I was willingly doing this to myself but knew that for some inexplicable reason I had to carry one.
“Would I stay like this for ever?” I asked myself, or would I, like some alcoholic at some time reach an obvious rock bottom and then would I be able to pull myself around and if and when that time came would I be able to save myself or would it all be too late. I just couldn’t answer this even thinking as AJ and kept saying to myself I am Rose this is what I have to live through and pushed those thoughts of myself aside and resigned myself to whatever were the medical issues I was now dealing with they were just part of being the old lady that I was fast becoming.
After finally getting myself into some kind of a respectable state with a clean pants, I sat down in the kitchen with a cigarette and a cup of tea, telling myself I had to give these up!
With that the phone rang and it was Jack. I couldn’t believe how delighted I was to actually hear a friendly voice and he was so obviously pleased to speak to me and amazingly the feeling was reciprocal.
He could tell that I wasn’t feeling my best and did his best to cheer me up and I agreed that next Friday evening we wouldn’t go out with the others but I would visit him at his home. I didn’t know what to expect but didn’t feel I could say no and rather expected that this would be when as Rose I would lose my new found virginity!
I woke early for work at Imperial Foods on Monday morning feeling rather. I had slept in my incontinence pants just to be safe and thankfully there had been no further accidents. As I’d bathed yesterday afternoon I simply washed my face and added the heavy make-up as per Marj’s instructions and headed off to work with a scarf tied tightly over my curlers. I relished the looks of either pity or disgust that I got from anyone I passed under the age of 50. I got an extra special thrill whenever I received a look of revulsion from any girls in their 20s, especially those who considered themselves to be “bang on trend” with their chunky heeled ankle boots and fashionably ripped jeans. “If only they knew how I looked and the clothes I used to wear even a few months ago they’d die of envy” I convinced myself. I just couldn't envisage going back to that life at present!
I finally arrived at work to face another tiring and boring shift but at least I was fed and got through my shift ignored by all except for the occasional good morning from the other cleaners and the canteen staff.
Strangely, I found myself looking forward to my evening shift at the Holiday company and hoped that I’d be able to speak to Andrzej and that he would be as chatty as he was last week. It was incredible how the thought of being with him was so exciting. As nice as he was he probably hadn’t given our conversation any further thought and probably wouldn’t even remember my name but my heart pounded just at the thought of seeing him. I was in this complete quandary between wanting a man half my age and not responding as I should to Jack’s advances when he clearly worshipped me. I thought that when I started out as Rose my life would become more straightforward but if anything it was as complex as ever.
However, the one thing that dawned on me as I daydreamed my way into work on the bus was that my life with Mark seemed such a distant memory and I didn’t miss him or that life at all. I was beginning to realize that as poor, tired and plain as I was, I was coming to terms with this new life I’d chosen.
I finished cleaning the toilets and before entering the office area I touched up my make-up in one of the mirrors and made my way through the double doors. There were only two people there, one of whom was Andrzej and I felt myself getting excited at the merest sight of him! The other was a woman aged about 30 who was very smartly dressed as if she’d been at a client meeting, who I’d never seen before. She gave me a wonderfully dismissive look when she saw me pushing the vacuum cleaner around and told me to make sure all the bins were properly emptied. She managed to admonish me without looking at my face at all, but just looked down at my sagging stockings and cheap worn shoes.
I looked at her thinking to myself.
“Had I really been a stuck up self important bitch like her. I knew deep down that I probably had” and I shivered at the thought.
In the far corner of the room Andrzej was working away and he actually looked up and smiled as I approached. My heart literally skipped a beat.
“What was drawing me to him?” I just couldn’t make out why I found him so sexy!
As I got to his desk the other woman said
“See you Andrzej and make sure you get that design finished by tomorrow morning”
“Sure Janet it will be done on time” he replied in his slight Polish accent.
“Good evening Rose” he said “How are you”
“I’m fine thank you” I said blushing embarrassingly
“I can’t stand that woman” he told me quietly.
“She thinks she’s God’s gift!”
“She looks very important” I replied, trying to sound impressed by her style and attitude.
“Yes, she’s the Acting Head of the Department since our Director was sacked a couple of months ago and she’s sure the promotion is hers. Nobody likes her, but I won’t be doing this job forever so I don’t really care”
He then went on to tell me how he always struggled to get on with girls his age and seemed tongue tied and awkward with them but he found older women like me so easy to talk to.
I just hadn’t seen that coming at all and as Marj didn’t seem to be around, I felt like pushing my luck further and continuing the conversation whilst trying to remain in character as best I could.
For some reason he was comfortable confiding in me and told me that none of his relationships had lasted a terribly long time and so for the time being at least he was resigned to remaining single and working on his proposed business venture which would enable him to leave Getaway Holidays. He was apparently training in his spare time to be a tattoo artist, which I imagine explained the rather intricate avant-garde design running up most on his left arm. I noticed a similar design as the screensaver on his Mac and he said he had plans where he was developing an App to enable people to design their own tattoos and then they could take it to a studio to get themselves inked and it was almost ready to launch by which time he hoped to have completed his training so he could start his new career.
I obviously expressed my surprise and desperately tried to remain in character by saying something like
“People my age just didn’t understand the younger generation with their tattoo craze and hoped they wouldn’t all live to regret it”
“That’s always possible” he agreed but added
“You’re only young once so you might as well make the most of it, who wants to rush to get old! He then stopped himself and said oh Rose, I’m, sorry I do apologise I wasn’t thinking. I didn’t mean to be rude about older people.”
“That’s alright” I said, “I was young once” barely holding back from telling him the truth about myself.
However, with that comment I could feel myself breaking into a cold sweat and it really made me think about what I was doing to myself. However before I could give that any more thought Marj came striding through the office sarcastically saying.
“Rose do leave that young man alone. He’s practically young enough to be your grandson!”
“Sorry Marj” I replied and added
“Andrzej I do apologise for disturbing you when you’re working, I must get on”
“That’s ok, anytime; he replied as he turned to stare back at his screen.I returned to my repetitive cleaning, dusting the desks and emptying the bins with my mind going over his comments until it was time to leave.