She did not want this feeling to ever leave her. This feeling of possibility and hope. This feeling of being alive.
Carefully placing the hat on her head-slightly off to one side as she imagined the fashionable ladies in New York City might do, she looked at herself in the mirror. Her poor face. She had not had any face cream for a couple years now. Her skin was so dry and chaffed from the endless dusty wind. But she smiled anyway, and carefully applied, with a shaking and out of practice hand, some of the lipstick.
Her husband would be home soon, and there was supper to cook. Given the empty state of her larder, she could only wish for divine intervention. Still, she must come up with something. Standing in the small bedroom, she admired her reflection one last time before taking the hat off and wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. She opened her bottom bureau drawer, and carefully hid her hat and the tube of lipstick, at the very back.
She changed out of the one nice dress she owned, purchased on the occasion of her wedding eight years ago, and put on a simple frock, made from feed sacking. It did not escape her notice, that bit by bit she was reverting back to her old self. And as she descended the stairs to her living room, she felt herself descending back into the pit of despair that defined her life.
As she looked around her modestly furnished parlor, she was amazed once again at how good conversation and laughter and the presence of pleasant company could change the atmosphere of a room. For a few hours today, her whole house had seemed bright, and cheerful, and welcoming.
Once again, she blessed those dear sweet eggs- the need for which had necessitated her trip down town on Monday- the day they'd met. And she blessed the fates for deciding that she round the corner of First and Maple at precisely the same moment as Loretta, and there had been a collision of woolen overcoats and packages,..and eggs. The two women had laughed like school girls when they gazed upon those eggs- broken and scrambled all over the sidewalk. Yes it was a shame, but still, it struck them both as incredibly funny. Ida hadn’t laughed that hard in years.
Loretta, with her carefully made up face and smart tweed suit had taken Ida out for coffee and a slice of pie to make up for the loss of the eggs. Eggs that Loretta had insisted on replacing, but Ida had declined. Ida lamented her own shabby appearance, but her new friend had simply tossed back that for someone as pretty as Ida, clothes only came along for the ride. Flattering words- said with sincerity. Even if Ida didn’t think they were true.
As compatible as two peas in a pod, Loretta and Ida lingered at the pleasant little diner for more than an hour before Ida had to go. Not quite knowing what made her do it, save for the fact that she really enjoyed Loretta’s company, Ida invited Loretta over to her house.
“I have a friend!” she’d giddily told herself as she walked home. She didn’t go out much, and she was lonely. Her husband offered very little in the way of companionship. After working hard each day, earning less than the price of a loaf of bread, he had nothing left to give Ida when he got home. And so she had hungered for the kinship of a friend, more so than enough money to put adequate food on the table.
Later that week, on Friday afternoon, Loretta came for a visit, and Ida shyly invited her new friend inside. Seated on the threadbare velvet sofa, Loretta produced several gifts to show Ida that she too was smitten with this new friendship. Eggs-one whole dozen! And a hat. A silly, impractical, wonderfully, beautiful hat. There was lipstick too-in the softest rose color. Not knowing what to say, Ida simply whispered “Thank you.” But a new light shone in her eyes.
Still standing in her parlor, lost in the memories of the lovely afternoon, Ida smiled at her little secret, tucked safely in the back of her bureau drawer.