Why should the need for companionship mean that you have to define your sexuality?Margret has come to the end of working career and a life populated with false friends and empty relationships, and all that is left is the prospect of a life alone. The only perverse, and dark upside to this is that her remaining time will be short lived - For Margaret Laine is dying.When the plane journey home connects her to Alison, a strange but outgoing girl almost half her age, Margret learns to face her true self.Someone she has little to do with for over thirty years.In this heart-warming story of new love and self-discovery, Dimpra Kaleem questions the restrictions put on us by age and social perception whilst at the same time reminding us that all life is precious, and none can be replaced.
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To the lady in the black spotted dress who sat opposite me on the plane ride home from Australia -
Thank you for taking on the role of my muse.
To all those who have doubts - Take the leap of faith.
Be this the first time, or you have been one of my readers since the beginning,
my undying gratitude goes to all of you that have taken the time to read my work.
If she were honest with herself, Margret would have to admit that on some level she had noticed that the young woman sitting in the airport bar had shown her more than just a passing interest.
It was not unusual to ‘people-watch’ when faced with the task of passing the time as you waited for your flight to be called. She had done it herself. Indeed, she had been doing that very thing, which is how she had noticed the girl in the first place. Of course, she had passed it off as the fixed-point stare of one who had lost herself in a world where boredom would transport any of us to somewhere less tiresome. Times of great adventure and romance, or maybe just the silent list checking of things that needed to be done. Whatever the cause, these times would render you oblivious that your gaze had gained the uncomfortable attention from those of whom it had settled upon. Her eyes though lacked that glassy look. They were alive with purpose and drive, and seemingly fixed on Margret, or so her paranoid imagination would suggest. She ignored the girl and went back to her book, a trashy novel by an unknown author that she had intended to read on the plane home, but again, boredom and a delayed flight had dictated that she would start it sooner. She took a sip of her coffee, something that she drank far too much of and tutted as she noticed the crumbs from the Danish pastry she had eaten earlier were still evident on her lap. She brushed them away taking the opportunity to pull the hem of her dress down towards her exposed knee. It was a black and white spotted affair that was far too short, too low cut and no longer age appropriate. She smiled to herself at the irony that it was she who no longer fitted the dress, both in its confines and the type of woman it was designed for. She hated the way it rode up every time she sat down revealing the darker shade of her stockings tops, and at the way it clung to a figure she was no longer proud of. But the ever-demanding world of advertising dictated that women of a ‘certain age’ would not be seen to march into their senior years without a fight. So, varying parts of her had been strapped in and pushed up over the years in an attempt to keep the evidence of middle-age from rearing its ugly head. Well, all that had finished now.
This flight home then, marked the end of that world, for at the age of sixty, Margret had completed her time as a working professional, and had this decision been made by way of a planned exit into a life more luxurious and worked towards, then all well and good. This then would have been a time of excitement and adventure – A new chapter in a book that was decidedly more interesting than the one she was now reading. Instead, this forced departure came by way of an obligatory visit to the company doctor in order that her medical insurance be brought up to date.
There was something behind her eyes.
Margret’s own fixed stare settled on the blank space between her and the book. A small tear of sadness trickled down her cheek as she relived the moment. The diagnosis. Her worst fear revealed at the opening of the golden envelope, exposing her as being nothing more than a mere mortal.
Becoming someone, made painfully obvious a short while after sharing this information with her employers as being, expendable.
Margret fell for a short while down this rabbit hole of dispair until the distorted, tinny sound, announcing her flight helped snapped her back to reality and away from this frozen, terrible fixed point in her life. Margret shuddered the memory into smoke as she downed the last of her coffee as she packed her book into her on flight bag, and as she did so she unconsciously looked up to where her watcher had been sitting, only to find that she was no longer there. Obviously, her plane had also been called, and the brief moment of connection to another human being had become lost in the pages of life’s very own trashy novel.
The plane was cramped. Packed as it was by businessmen and woman such as herself, many of them attempting to make their way home after spending too much time away from their loved ones, whereas all that waited for Margret was an empty apartment. But that was the choice she had made all those years ago when the prospect of being one of life’s power women seemed a lot more glamorous. It shouted to this fabricated world that you were Important.
She was younger then, and more desirable of course. It was the early eighties and she, like so many others had modeled herself on women that consisted mainly of shoulder pads and attitude. With no time for relationships and no interest in starting something that would be anything other than an affair, it was better to be the mistress than a wife locked in a marriage based on a lie. And what a trade it had been.
Career over family.
Client list over husband and children.
A deal done with the corporate Devil.
Since the diagnosis that had promised to take her from this world, Margret, in times of darkness and depression often wondered if she had made the right choice. How different would her life have been had she had turned a different corner? Could she have been happy as someone’s wife? Someone’s mother - And eventually, Grandmother?
She edged her way down the aisle, searching for her seat number and an empty overhead compartment to stow her bag. As luck would have it there was one just above her seat and as she reached up she became uncomfortably aware of her dress riding up with the effort and exposing her stocking tops once more. She took her book from the small side pocket of the bag and clicked the locker shut before pulling the hem back down again only to be betrayed by it once more when she sat down.
“Bloody dress,” she said to herself.
Margret draped her coat over her knees in a bid to cover her modesty rather than engage in the futile attempt to pull the dress down further, which only resulted in pulling the neckline lower.
“Legs or tits boys – The choice is yours,” she mumbled to herself.
The first thing she would do when she got home, after releasing her feet from these pinching, restrictive high heels, and to unclip her hair from a bun that pulled her skin so tight as to make the act of frowning difficult, was to take it off and throw the bloody thing away. She pulled it up a little higher over her cleavage when she noticed a surreptitious glance from a fellow passenger as he sat himself down in the seat behind.
Maybe she should be flattered that men still wanted to look at her breasts, but she wasn’t – She never had been, even when she was younger. She always felt insulted by men who would see her tits before they saw her, but she was not so naive as to realise that the girls served a purpose, especially when it came to closing a deal. On occasions such as these, dresses like the one she wore now would open doors to places that would remain shut to others who would expect their intellect and education to be more than the adequate tools needed to achieve the same result. Margret scoffed at the years some of her peers had spent on an expensive education. The old school handshakes that had secured them a place at the best schools, all in the pursuit of respect, equality and power.
Margret smiled at the memories.
Equality for women?
What a joke.
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