Word about Mademoiselle Blonde’s marriage arrived late on Tuesday.
It was an unseasonably warm November afternoon. Playful gusts of wind picked up dry leaves and whipped them between people’s feet, eventually covering the neighborhood sidewalks with a ragged layer of yellow and orange.
Big Mouth stood in front of his house all afternoon, passing the news to every person passing by. Mademoiselle Blonde is married, he told everyone, even though nobody knew who Mademoiselle Blonde was because he was the only one who called her that. Daniela, he explained, the blond girl from the big house in the middle of the street.
People didn’t seem to care about Blonde’s marriage, even though Big Mouth told the news with a flourish, making it sound like a major event. He wanted to discuss it at length, but only Quiet Smoker seemed interested enough.
Big Mouth told Quiet Smoker that Blonde’s husband was older than Blonde, taller, and better dressed. She was lucky, he said, to catch such a catch at her age.
Big Mouth told Quiet Smoker that Blonde and the husband appeared at noon. They came by car, not Blonde’s usual car, but a newer model with a logo on both sides. Probably from the husband’s company, Big Mouth reasoned.
Big Mouth pulled Quiet Smoker into his story, inhaling her cigarette smoke and exhaling a heavy breath with a whiff of garlic.
Blonde, said Big Mouth, seemed delirious with happiness. She had a giant smile on her skinny pale face, and her hands were all over the husband. Big Mouth saw the husband’s hands under Blonde’s blouse as they kissed on the front steps. Big Mouth licked his big mouth as he said that.
Quiet Smoker didn’t care, but she nodded and retold the story to her kids and the old man next door.
By the next morning, Blonde’s husband was a millionaire who arrived in a stretch limousine with Ontario license plates. Ontario license plates in Serbia could only mean that the owner (or passenger) of said limo was a millionaire.
Mademoiselle Blonde sits alone in her house, unaware of the stories swirling around the neighborhood.
Blonde is 38, but with her pale face and skinny body, she thinks she could easily pass for 24. Or even 23. That may be pushing it a bit, but she does her best to smooth out the curving lines at the corners of her mouth. She doesn’t laugh to discourage the lines from appearing there, but they show up nevertheless.
Yesterday, while Big Mouth spread the news of her marriage, she found her first gray hair. A weird, plasticy thing that seemed so out of place, yet not out of place at all.
Blonde has loved only once in her life. She loved with her heart, but the man she loved with her heart loved her with everything except his heart.
The man was the only person she loved more than herself. She loved him beyond herself, as if herself was a defined space she could actually go beyond while loving him.
The man loved himself through Blonde. He loved the perfect being she believed him to be, a faultless creature projecting strength and stability. With her, he was a superhero. Away from her, he doubted and feared everything.
It’s was easy to love the man she imaged and desired, and so he easily loved himself.
In the end, his doubts and fears overcame her ability to create a perfect being using nothing but her imagination.
Ten years of solitude in the big house left her by her adoptive parents. They were old when they adopted her and very unhappy, and she grew up hoping her life would exceed theirs in every imaginable way. She often daydreamed, creating stories out of the hopes she had for her future life–kids, pets, friends, great job, lots of money, new house bought after this one is sold, laughter, kisses, hugs, passion, love, love, love, and just love.
Now she hopes someone will confuse her for 22. Or 34. Or just someone worth looking at.
On rainy Tuesdays she walks to the neighborhood newsstand to pick up the newest romance novel.
On warm days like last Tuesday, she visits her parents at the cemetery and catches a taxi to get back home.