Stella didn’t remember if she’d washed her face. It was wet, but was it clean? She closed her eyes and tried to visualize soaping her hands, the feel of her palms on the bones of her face, her fingers along the dent beside her nose, the hard plate of her forehead, the slide over the cheekbones, those high chiseled cheekbones she’d been so proud of—to her chin. She couldn’t remember doing it, so she soaped her hands and washed her face.
Minor points. It didn’t matter if she washed her face twice in one ten-minute period. Didn’t really matter if she didn’t wash her face at all that day—or the next. Who would care or notice?
Stella depended on the dictates of routine. She didn’t remember brushing her teeth, but she was sure she had. Her mouth tasted fresh; her skin had the tight, antiseptic feel of just washed skin. So she had washed it. Good. And hadn’t put on face cream yet.
She dipped her finger in the Ponds cold cream jar—her mother’s favorite. That she remembered: her mother rubbing thick white cream onto her face and chanting—that was the only thing to call it—chanting—go, wrinkle, go—dis-a-pear-a-pear. When Stella first heard the word, the new word, dis—she had thought of her mother’s incantation to her own face—dis-a-pear and had thought that is what dis meant: the beginning of disappearance, a fading away, an erosion of what is not wanted. Which, in a way, it was.
Her mother had been beautiful. She remembered that quite clearly. Truly beautiful, with bright blue eyes, high cheekbones, full lips and all that hair. Stella had inherited the cheekbones and not much else.
So long ago and about the only thing she remembered with any accuracy these days. It was clear she was losing her mind—well, not the entire mind, just the memory. She knew that. The actions of the closest days, the most recent events disappeared before she came close to grasping them; they slipped through her fingers onto the floor and under the rug. Whatever happened five minutes ago was gone for good.
She opened her eyes and shook herself. Enough of that negative thinking. She was fine. She’d get by.
© 2012 Kathleen Coskran