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  • When I was a little girl, my Mum always had a dressing table. She would sit at it and apply her moisturisers, her creams, her perfume and her cosmetics.

    Watching her, and myself, in triplicate through clashing mirror reflections of smoke and reality, I would crave the smell of the scent and the leather of her vanity. The essence of her.

    She would meet my eyes as I sat behind her, scrunched on my parents bed, and smile. A soft sad smile that was sure, before a gaudy clown like grin replaced it as she sipped then lipsticked and formed great big circles with her lips to avoid staining her teeth with either tannin or lanolin.

    My eyelids peeling back with evaporating coldness from the fumes of acetone and polish for her nails. The sure strokes as she painted the enamel. And then sat, palms of hands against the vanity, fingers splayed, stretched upwards, as she killed drying time by gazing away from herself to winter trees beyond the window.

    That same front window that I would peer from as they left for their evening, my father with her. Laughing into one anothers eyes, in a cloud of black chiffon and Diorissimo, as he guided her into the car, to whisk her away for an evening of dancing, of dinner, of revelry.

    When I became a mother and wife myself, I had no vanity. At all.

    Tinted protection at best.

    Until recently.

    As she has lost her ability to care, mine has replaced hers, perhaps.

    My husband bought me a leather vanity case a number of years ago. I cried. It reminded me of all of the things she was and all of the things I had never let myself be.

    And now I am actually using it. It sits, utilised, on my dressing table. My dressing table that has no mirror. I do not sit there, yet. Maybe a chair and a mirror will be next.

    Either way, when I sit at and with my vanity, with my children behind me, there will be no sad or sorry. I will meet their eyes and make them giggle. There will be no smoke in my mirror. I will not gaze away from myself. I will turn and gather them, no care for my vanity, for kisses.

    I will wave at them and blow more affection up at the window.

    And later, race home to them, without haze or guilt at my evenings pursuits.
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