The pillow’s kind of in the way, but I doze off for half an hour. My face feels squashed somehow. I wake to find I’m prodding some padding beneath my cheekbones, and have ditched the pillow. In the mirror is a harvest moon, where once was my face.
Ten years younger, lines plumped out. People pay a fortune to look like this. I peer into the speckled glass.
Mirror mirror on the wall, whose is the fairest face of all?
I prod and note the bulges beneath my eyes and the pads filling what was once the gap between cheekbones and jaw. Ah, the jaw. There’s a chin there, but on either side hang rococo swags. A further, more generous arc of whatever this is curves and wobbles like an oedematous granny in a hammock slung between the angles of my jaw.
The whole is coloured in a spectacularly healthy-looking windburn shade of the type sported by mountaineers striding over crags. No fading Victorian maid for me then, no romantic drape of wan helplessness across a velvet chaise longue (Mum actually has one of these which I had been planning to put to good use later on).
J and A arrive; “Don’t you look well!”
We head off for a walk down the Walkham, me wobbling slightly but feeling quite good, were it not for the nausea that keeps returning today and the Hunt headache. I wonder whether it’s related to biscuit consumption, which has, in the past couple of days, been high. I decide to avoid sugar for a bit, it’s certainly not a good idea to OD on it with steroids. But it’s so comforting.
Bun fossicks in the woodland and swims with J & A in a gorgeous, green-tinged river pool. This one features a chalybeate spring, where iron colours the otherwise palest blue-grey rocks a dramatic rusty red. I examine the spring, and the tumorous galls on a sapling rooted next to it, feeling a connection. I’d love to leap into those lush bubbles, but the chill of winter river temperatures (perhaps between 5 and 7 degrees) is hard to counter when you can’t forge through in a strong and warming way. Plus, I’d most likely have emerged looking like Adam Walker.