Unremarkable! I suppose if you were suddenly put on a spot and had to choose a single word to describe Deborah Patterson, that would be it. You would not have chosen the word in a cruel way, it merely meant that she didn’t stand out in a crowd.
Now in her early fifties, for anybody that bothered to look there were telltale lines etched around the eyes on a face, pretty rather than beautiful, that foretold a life that had had its fair share of pain and sorrow. However, you could see pride and achievement there as well. It showed in her very bearing; the blue eyes were clear and sharp, the head held high above a petite body well cared for but well hidden under her every day clothes, which, it had to be said, were equally unremarkable.
It was as if she deliberately went out of her way not to draw any unnecessary attention to herself. That said, for the most part she was exactly like the rest of us, merely placing one foot in front of the other from one end of life to the other in the vain hope that we may achieve something of meaning or at the very least have some fun along the way.
She led an unremarkable life; long since divorced, she had created her own snug little world. She had her independence, her little house, a little car, and she had Buddy, her ginger tomcat. She had a wonderful daughter, whom she adored, now sadly away at a university and rapidly developing a life of her own; but to fill the loneliness, she had her little job at a local supermarket that helped pay the bills.
Now thanks to an online dating website, she had met the first decent man she had had in a long time. Before signing up to the site, a friend had remarked, “Be warned my dear; you’ll have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince.” The friend had been right, but things were definitely looking up… that was until today!
Today was distinctly different. Today, the inner confidence was replaced with confusion tinged with more than a little fear. She found herself sitting naked on the edge of a strange bed looking at a strange image in the big mirror on the opposite wall. The face and the body were hers, but what the hell had she done to her hair? It had been cut short, badly, as if she had done it herself with a pair of blunt scissors. The colour was different too, it was much darker than it should be. But even more to the point; where the hell was she?
In a hotel room, that much was obvious, a nervous glance in the mirror at the state of the bed told her that she had slept alone. This came as a great relief, losing your mind or your memory is one thing; but she hadn’t lost her memory, or at least not all of it.
She knew her name and could think of a hundred related things about her life, her daughter, her job. “Oh Hell! My job, what time is it”, she looked for her watch and couldn’t find it. Her eyes tore round the room until settling on a battered old alarm clock on the far side of the bed. It said quarter to ten, but was that morning or night? She rose and wandered to the window, and pulled the curtain back a crack. The daylight hit her eyes, making her shut the curtains quickly as she staggered back into the darkened room.
Well, that was that, nearly ten o’clock in the morning, late for work and the assured argument with that bitch of a supervisor to look forward to later.
She wandered into the tiny bathroom and ran some water into the basin, but as she put her hands into the warm water the blood froze in her veins. The water was turning pink as she rubbed her hands together. Quickly, she pulled her hands out of the water and looked at them more closely. There was no cut or old wound, but there was a distinct dark red staining over much of her right hand and lower forearm. She tore at the wrapping covering the ridiculously tiny bar of soap in the wash hand basin and plunged her hands back into the water scrubbing at the dark stains. She started to feel sick as the water turned a deeper shade of pink and headed towards red.
Suddenly, washing her hands was not enough, she looked at the shower unit in the corner and turned the water full on. Testing the temperature, she stepped under the hot flow of water and let it hit her full in the face. As she eased forward stooping below the showerhead, a new sensation hit her and she nearly screamed as this water too changed colour. Not, red, thank God, but brown as it streamed over her body. Some form of cheap theatrical hair dye flooded out of her hair, over her body and down the drain. Twisting and turning this way and that, she scrubbed every inch of herself with that stupid little bar of soap until the stains disappeared and the water ran clear.
Drained emotionally, she towelled herself dry and went in search of her clothes; only these weren’t her clothes. These were the clothes of an old woman, they were rough country clothes and they were not too clean; they smelled of… well, she didn’t want to dwell on what they smelled like.
She found a bag of sorts pushed slightly under the bed, and was somewhat relieved to at least find her car keys and a small purse that she recognized as hers. In the purse there were a few pounds in cash and her credit cards. No problem when checking out then.
She checked the room thoroughly looking in every drawer, nook and cranny for what? Well, anything, but she came up empty-handed. That rough bag and these clothes was it, all she had in the world; well this world anyway.
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