20 Minutes

I have twenty minutes to get ready. I stare at myself in the mirror and wonder, will anyone notice today? My heart beats like a rusty champion. My nerves crawl with a chill like I am leaving a wake behind each movement. I am sensitive. I touch my skin, naked and steamed. For a second I consider that I am a mammal and think myself savage, baring my teeth in the mirror, holding onto the sink. Then I rest. I am rational.


I reach for my tooth brush and paste and squeeze some onto the bristles. The water runs over the paste which then touches my teeth with a splash of cold mint over my tongue. I brush. The process takes two minutes. Each tooth gets an equal scrub and the sound between my ears makes a hollow scratching. I spit and reach for the floss. Dipping into each gum as gently as possible and taking the time to weave between each tooth. I take a swig of mouthwash and it freezes my mouth with alcohol. Three more minutes.

I spit. Sighing with the satisfaction of a clean mouth I turned to my clothes. They hung up neatly and were formal. I crawled into my pants, slipped the button up over my shoulders and wrapped my fingers over and under every button. Flipping up the collar, I grabbed my bow tie and held the ends out over my breasts. I began to tie it. Fold and wrap and tuck and pull. I straightened it, and cocked my head. Seven minutes.

My hair was not as short as it once had been so I put it up into a ponytail. Each strand pulled at my scalp as I twisted the band into place. My eyes never left my reflection until the door opened and she appeared. In a dress the opposite the color wheel of my suit, we looked like we fit together. We had fallen around each other like orbiting stars and I was scared my heart could not keep up with her love. She touched my skin, her fingers latching onto my wrist and then to the other. Three minutes more.

She pulled me closer to her to where our bellies touched, and then she kissed me. It was a soft kiss, welcome and magnetic. I inhaled her hot scent and tasted her spirit and my heart was greased and gooey. “They will notice. You grew overnight, I know!” She placed a hand on my belly and mine came over hers. Our child, growing inside of me. She was newly conceived, and no one knew, until today. She drug me from the bathroom. Had it been twenty minutes already?


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