The almost hairless face in the mirror was disconcerting. Okay, not completely hairless; there were a few hardy stragglers along the eyebrow line. Tweezers came out and they disappeared. The black, battered makeup case was open on the counter, harsh fluorescent light on. All set. Let’s do this.
No one know, no one suspects.
Avon mineral foundation was applied with care, and the chore of drawing in believable eyebrows began. Gripping the brown brow stick tightly, feathery strokes were applied. Bobby took time out to gnaw on a fingernail while gazing in the mirror. Brown-black eyelashes were glued on next and the face in the mirror batted the long lashes like a coy little girl. Blush, lipstick, the face is complete.
“Looks good, looks okay,” Bobby thought.
The wig reflected in the mirror was of fairly good quality. It was a golden brown with subtle red highlights and sparkled a bit in the light. It was synthetic, not real hair though. The synthetic wigs always looked good after a shake, not like the real hair wigs that needed to be washed, curled and sprayed like real women’s hair. Putting the wig on, Bobby gently adjusted the new bangs on it. The bangs semi hid the eyebrows and made the green eyes stand out. A smile at the face in the mirror-now complete.
Walking into the loft bedroom, Bobby paused a moment to listen to the birds outside the window and sighed at the next task-putting on the artificial breasts. Getting them on straight always took so much time. Unzipping the spring green cases, each breast was inspected for tears and cleanliness. These kind were nice. You could wear them with regular bras and didn’t have to wear those bras with the sewn in pockets. The manufacturers tried real hard to make them attractive but they still resembled brassieres from the 50’s in many ways. It was probably the extra wide straps. Lacy or not, two inch wide straps showing were very telling and people would know right away.
“I certainly don’t want anyone to find out about this.” Bobby contemplated.
“Crap! Damn!” Fifteen minutes and three tries later, Bobby finally got them positioned evenly-sort of. Ah well, the new pink chemise would correct any unevenness. It was a color called “Shag Pink” and had thin spaghetti straps and a fitted, lacey bodice. Bobby pulled the chemise on carefully and shimmied it down over the breasts slowly so as not to dislodge them. Another glance in the mirror and a small twitch straightened the wig. Bobby’s shaky hands smoothed the chemise over bony, thin hips.
The dress laid out was a deep sea green color and had an almost medieval style to it. The sleeves were long and flared at the end and the cut was somewhat form fitting. Well, should have been form fitting. The big oval mirror in the corner of the loft told the story. “They say you can never be too thin or too rich,” Bobby said to the mirror. “Well, I still have the too rich part to hope for.” Dr. Levine was not going to be happy about this at all. “Listen, Bobby” he had earnestly said, “you have to eat more protein; this is tough on your body. I know you’re strong but you aren’t that strong.”
Bobby picked through the jewelry box on the old dresser to find the turquoise nugget necklace and slipped it on. Turquoise was the healing gem and it simply made Bobby feel better to wear it.
Bobby knew it was vitally important to keep up the image people needed to see. The façade was working well too. Bobby smiled at the memory of the wink from the guy at the Kwik Fill yesterday. Maybe all this time and effort to “keep up appearances” was really worth it. It’s nice to be desired even if you couldn’t follow through with it.
“I wonder how that guy’d feel if he knew the real me?” Bobby mused. “Probably break his neck backing away.”
Bobby stood in front of the mirror and took inventory from head to toe. Bright pink polish peeped out of the open toed high heels. “Not bad at all,” Bobby said to the mirror, “considering what I have to work with.”
Clip-clopping down the loft stairs, Bobby rubbed noses with the cat on the way out the door. Ebenezer sneezed in indignation and stalked off into the kitchen to see what the dogs had left in their bowls. Not that he’d deign to eat dog food, he just seemed to like sitting in front of their bowls to freak them out. Bobby imagined the scene being played out behind the closed door. Two Golden Retrievers laying side by side staring at the black cat staring at them, not daring to go any closer. Eb would keep this up until he got bored and moved on to other cat duties, like sleeping in the hamper or laying in the sun that streamed through the skylight at mid day.
Bobby carefully climbed into the battered black pickup truck, perusing the seat for stray dog hairs and backed out the driveway.
The doctor’s office wasn’t busy that morning so Bobby got right in. Gazing up at the water stained ceiling, Bobby wondered why all these places looked so much alike. Pale green walls, tiny windows and claustrophobic. Shifting nervously on the paper covered bench, Bobby waited for Dr. Levine to come in.
Bobby liked Dr. Levine because he was different from the rest of the doctors. He understood the need to try to appear as normal as possible during the entire process. Levine didn’t make Bobby feel freakish or strange like so many others did.
No one did it on purpose, that was the sad part. How could Sandra know that all that cleavage she showed made Bobby feel so jealous? Alicia couldn’t know how her pretty real hair and eyelashes made Bobby cringe and cry inside. Rose couldn’t understand that the normalcy of her life was like a dagger in the heart. They couldn’t know, and no one knew how angry at life Bobby felt at times. The anger was always a surprise because it was so irrational. Dr. Levine said it was the hormones making Bobby act so crazy and say and do stupid, hurtful things to people, but Bobby knew that the hormone therapy wasn’t the real reason.
No one knew what it felt like to have everything change, literally over night. Seeing other people so happy and well, normal was so very difficult when you feel like your life has been taken away. It wasn’t something one could prepare for mentally either. This had brought out the nasty side we all have but can most of the time hide. Bobby’s head dropped in shame remembering how horribly people had been treated through this. Would it ever be the same again?
The door opened.
Dr. Levine came quickly in the door, long gray pony tail bouncing on his back. He smiled a bright smile and said “All of it went very well, Bobby. It all came together this time. We’re done!”
He walked over to the bench and bent down to say teasingly, “Miss Roberta, we can schedule your breast reconstruction in about 6 weeks! The eight rounds of chemotherapy, the radiation and the surgery did it! The cancer is gone! You can have, as you call it, your real life back.”
Yes, but is there anything left?, she wondered.