She married young, most would say too young, but Katherine had always been the sort to do things her way. She thought that James had the world in the palm of his hand, and youth had nothing to do with the passion of love. But a few years, a mortage payment, two car loans, three kids, and a trip to the doctor's office for JJ's broken arm when he fell off his bike later, life lost some of that possiblity that it had when she was young.
Katherine had never felt age creeping up on her. It happened all at once. She hadn't let herself go, as the saying went. Rather she'd strived to achieve the final key to unlocking the fountain of youth. It was yoga in the afternoon while the kids were at school, and carrots instead of twinkies for snacks while she did the laundary. She dyed her hair to fight back the gray hairs that snuck in there once in a while. She put expensive skin creams from the department store on her face every night. She was determined to never look her age. And for the most part she had achieved that goal, she was still trim, and her hair was still mostely naturally blonde. But age still caught up with her around her eyes, where subtle creases formed, and along her mouth where the skin began to lose tension and the lines showed up despite her regiment of beauty creams.
She told herself over and over when she noticed the lines becoming more frequent, and the creases deeper in her skin, that age was only a state of mind. And it managed to help with the days, and at night she could almost believe they weren't as obvious as they had been that morning. She had always assumed age was something that happened to other peopole, that you were never really fourty-five, only her mother was fourty-five. She read the magazines that told about popular fashion, and she knew the words to her daughter's favorite song, by the newest American Idol.
She drove a mini-van, with tinted windows and remote keyless entry. It had plenty of room for JJ's entire soccer team when it was her time to drive them to pizza hut for a celebratory dinner. And there was room for the groceries when she went to the market every Monday afternoon, timing it perfectly to be home in time for the kids to arrive from school ready for their afternoon snacks. She was Mrs. Thompson to the teachers she met with every school quarter, and the bank teller at the local branch. And she had never minded it.
It was a Monday, she always went to the grocery store on Monday. She left the house at promptly 11am each week. She had a purse over one shoulder, and the keys in the other. She ordered her usual at the local drive through espresso place, and worked the wheel of the car carefully with one hand while trying to sip the hot beverage balanced in the other. She pulled up in front of the store at exactly 11:21am.
She had a shopping list stored in her purse, and she checked each item off as it was dropped in her cart. She smiled and made small talk with the cashier as her items were bagged and the bags were reloaded into the cart. She was cheerful with the young boy with pimple ridden skin who stared a little too longly at the twenty-something cashier's breasts. She pointed out her car, pressing the button on her keys to have the lights flash, as she dropped her finished coffee into a stratigically placed waste bin.
He didn't seem to mind his work, and he talked a bit about the price of mini-vans and the importance of storage room for growing families. She pointed out that having a dvd player inside was useful when you had young children prone to accidents. He laughed politley, but didn't really get the joke. She closed the back of the van and offered him a two dollar tip. He smiled and took it greatfully, thanking her over the rumble of the carts wheels as he pushed it back toward the building.
Katherine was about to get into the front seat of the van when something caught her attention across the street. It was a familiar looking silver sedan. She recongized the small ding in the front left fender, from when James had run it into a pole in the parking lot of the field where JJ had his soccer games. She frowned, glancing down at her watch. It was just after one in the afternoon, late for a lunch.
She closed the door to the car, and navigated the lines of cars of the lot towards the small cafe on the other side of a four lane street. She reached the curb and was about to turn to take the cross walk when she saw her husband. A hand went up and a hello was on the tip of her tongue, which never touched her perfectly manicured lips, when she saw someone else.
She recongized the woman from office parties. The kind that were held at christmas where every one pretended to like one another, and the wives huddled in a corner while the men talked business with too much brandy in their stomachs. She was the wife of a co-worker of her husbands, they had been to dinner several times. The last of which was just a week before, Katherine had made an orange chicken with a side of brown rice and steamed vegetables. Every one had seemed to enjoy it.
Her arm went back down to her side as she watched her husband and the other woman. Her name was Ashley. She was younger than Katherine by at least ten years, probably more. She was the sort of woman a man married after he divorced his first wife and bought a corvette. She had the kind of blonde hair that didn't come in a bottle, and the sort of perk in her step that only came from breasts that had never seen a child's mouth and a bra that had little flower patterns on it. Her face only had wrinkles when she laughed, which she was doing now as she spoke to Katherine's husband.
Katherine stood still as she watched Ashley reach across the table between her and James. She was very quiet while she noticed the younger woman's short skirt, long legs and impractical heals. She wiggled her toes in her comfortable, but moderately stylish loafers as she noticed how Ashley's fingers entwined with her husband's. She held her breath when she saw them kiss, and let it out in a big gust when the kiss was held for several agonizingly long moments. She held her head high as she walked back to her mini-van, and unlocked the doors with the remote key-less entry. Katherine felt fourty-five when she turned the engine on and drove home, in time to get the kids their after-school snacks.