I look in the mirror more than you. Note, I’m not a vain person. It’s habitual. An occupation. I encourage analysis. Encourage microscopic scrutiny. Question every line, blotch and blemish. Look at yourself, I say. What are your priorities? Main concerns? Age? Over twenty five? You should really start investing in anti-ageing skincare. What’s your current regime?

The questions reveal more than simple habits. Appear innocuous enough. Designed carefully to help you identify your three step programme. Improve your appearance. Confidence. I know better. An innocent question. You reveal more about your relationship with your husband that you’d care to admit.

Looking to inject some dewiness into that pallor? New baby. You’re worried your husband isn’t interested. Afraid of being a mother. Agree to part with the best part of a week’s wages. Head upright. Chemicals holding the answer. You return the next month, pleased with the results. You dislike your face so much, you’re terrified of what you might look like without it. You prod your skin. Dismayed. You used to have such good skin. But the baby. Good boy. But not sleeping. Sometimes, just to get a reaction, I ask after your husband. He tired too? Sharing the duties? I’m an expert. I cajole. Gain your trust. Wait until I’m sick of you.

Sometimes I’ll allow you to prattle on for months. Sometimes, minutes. Depends on my mood. Or your attractiveness. How much I loathe you. Some days, the unattractive annoy me. Walking around, with a veneer of vulnerability. Last week, an especially beautiful woman irked. Her confidence. Her voice. Secure. How easy everything was for her. It didn’t take much to crack. An offhand comment. Offered the under eye cream. Here’s our bestseller. The chink was there. Immediate. I lived off that one for days.


Siobhan Denton is a teacher and writer living in Newport, Wales. She is especially interested in depictions of female desire and transitions from youth to adulthood. She tweets at @siobhan_denton and writes at The Blue and the Dim.

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