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Going Grey

Going Grey

– Nonfiction by Karen McGoldrick –

The pigment cells are slowly dying, and so am I. And you too, by the way my darling, although you haven’t yet seen your first grey hair. I, on the other hand, have crossed the Rubicon.

I love dining al fresco, don’t you? Don’t worry about the dishes, sweetheart. Have another glass of wine with me and listen to the frog song. My pond life performs a concert every night. Your daddy and I used to love sitting out here by candlelight to listen.

I’m sorry to tell you that one day you will look in the mirror and see grey threads, and from there, the tide turns, and soon you will see my face reflected instead of your own. You can color the strands. I did too for a time. But with our dark hair, it never looks right, because it’s not just the hair that fades. You fade. Your complexion changes, the skin thins. You slowly become transparent. In time you will be like me, invisible to all but children, a sort of ghost. Once menopause is over, nature has no use for you. You can no longer save the species; you can only try to save yourself. It’s not fair, but life never was and never will be. But being a ghost has its own charms and powers. At a certain point you stop all artifice. There is no time left for that nonsense.

Another pour of that white please. Don’t be stingy.

I am not drunk. I’m just relaxed, and in the mood to impart wisdom.

Isn’t it lovely out here? The bugs aren’t bad yet.

Hear the owl? He’s saying, “Who cooks for you, who cooks for you, y’all?”

Even the owls are looking for good help these days.

That party the other night at the club, you know, the fundraiser? Jim Porter was holding forth surrounded by women young enough to be his daughters. The man had a spray tan. I swear it’s true.

I swanned right over. Asked the old fool if he was fully recovered from his “procedure.” I was sure to stage whisper. Hard to say if he turned pale or not under that fake tan. Then I told him how much I still missed Nellie, and didn’t we have the most fun back in those wild times, you know, the ‘70’s and 80’s.

Don’t look at me like that. Every word I said was true. Jim had prostate surgery and I do miss Nellie something fierce. And we had some kind of wild fun, we did. I sure hope you have too. But don’t tell me any details, please. Each generation gets to pretend they invented fun.

Poor Jim. His pretty little birdies flew away leaving just the two of us. The thing about being a ghost is that I get to scare the shit out of people. Those young ladies looked stricken. I’m sure they went off to gossip about me. Well, I’ve got nothing at stake. I feel the path ahead is short. It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks of me. It’s a naughty sort of fun to be invisible until you wish to be seen, then it’s like “Boo!”

I asked Jim if he was lonely without Nellie and the old boy teared right up. Nellie was fun. Girl could swear like a sailor. I don’t mind if she’s bossing your daddy around in heaven ’til I get there.

I told Jim this old house is a fucking museum. He laughed. And when he laughed, he looked at me and saw me. Grey hair and all.

I asked him to come to dinner. And yeah, I advised him not to get another spray tan. So fake.

I didn’t stay too long. Couldn’t wait to get home and into my yoga pants. Got those at Costco at least a decade ago and they still look good. Indestructible, like that Christmas Cactus your Daddy got me twelve years ago. It still blooms its head off every winter. You know what I read? They can live up to 100 years.

Is Jim coming to dinner? Well of course he is. Wouldn’t have asked him if I wasn’t sure he’d say yes.

Darling, we are not Christmas Cacti. We are not as indestructible as Costco yoga pants. And your Momma is not going grey, she is grey.

But she is not afraid.

And don’t you be either.

About the Author – Karen McGoldrick
Karen McGoldrick

Karen McGoldrick lives in Canton, Georgia with her husband Lawrence, two dogs and her horse. She is the author of an equestrian centric four-book series titled The Dressage Chronicles. Karen is obsessed with horses and rides daily. She also devours books, both fiction and non-fiction, especially any book on American History. A very long time ago, she earned a degree in English/Creative Writing from Sweet Briar College. Long enough ago to forget both how difficult it was to craft a good tale, and how satisfying it was to create one.

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