As she turned to get into the shower, she heard what appeared to be conversation from the apartment next door. To be more accurate, she sensed the conversation, or rather the disjointed monologue, inside her head. Words and images about work, power, fear and a breakfast cereal incongruously raced through her mind like some deranged medley of a half dozen Fellini movie trailers streaming simultaneously on fast-forward. Then the mental cacophony began to clear and she recognized Harry, her next door neighbor, his lathered face reflecting off an unfamiliar medicine cabinet mirror, startling her in its unexpected clarity. “He must be shaving, ” she thought with an exhilarating smile parting her lips. “Must have been thinking of his new advertising campaign. It really works; I’ve got to learn to use it, but it definitely works,” she added. She then quickly showered quickly and got out of the shower stall radiating confidence, aching to take her new powers out for a spin.
As she toweled herself dry in front of the full length mirror, she smiled again appreciatively at the lithe, firm body reflected there. She was thirty-five years old, just past the peak of what she knew had been unusual beauty. Her shoulder length auburn hair would have shown numerous streaks of gray, had she not meticulously hidden these for the past five years. A firm tummy and buttocks reflected back to her, as she assayed her body in the mirror, not a hint of cellulite visible on her dancer’s legs. “Not bad, earth mother,” she thought, finally getting into her clothes with unusual speed. She then added as an afterthought, “Gotta start thinking about a breast job soon.” Her appearance had been of great importance to her most of her life, not merely out of vanity, although she was not exempt from that particular character flaw, but because she knew her looks and presentation had helped her career. She was one of the lucky beautiful people whom others always strive to please. Though competent and self-assured, she was not above using any means available to her to ensure her success. Madison Avenue ground up fresh talent into hamburger meat daily, and she had no intention of ever being on anyone’s menu. Looks were important in advertising agencies, especially for upwardly mobile female executives on the fast track to a meeting with the glass ceiling. She always figured that if she were traveling fast enough, that ceiling would not bear the force of her inertia. Now, she was certain it would not. Who could compete with a bright, energetic advertising executive who could read clients’ and competitors’ minds? She could barely contain her excitement. This would be almost too easy, like taking the proverbial candy from unsuspecting babies.
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Excerpted from “Earth Mother” (C) 2011 Victor D. Lopez. All rights reserved.