The idea is that writers share a piece of their writing with you each Saturday. You can check them out en masse, by using the hashtag: #SaturdayScenes
This is the fourth week. If you want to see what I did on other weeks, you can find those posts here, here, and here.
This week I have the opening chapter of my superhero novel for you. Meet Linda Álvarez, one of the main characters in Going Through the Change (not yet published), a menopausal superhero novel.
Things Get Hairy for Linda
Linda Alvarez stood in front of the mirror, horrified. She’d just been to the beauty salon yesterday, but all those weird hairs were back, like they’d never been tweezed and waxed away. She had eyebrows like Frida Kahlo Por Díos, and practically five o’clock shadow. Thank God David had already left for work. She’d have time to take care of it before he got home.
David had been her rock through all this menopause garbage. He’d fetched blankets and brought her ice as she changed temperature four and five times an evening. He hadn’t complained about the extra money she was spending at the beauty shop or commented on the way her body seemed to be shifting around her, reshaping into something else entirely. Something much thicker around the middle than she had ever been before, Linda thought ruefully. She was lucky to have him, she knew.
Come to think of it, it wasn’t just the hair today. She looked really different. There was something different about her jawline and her favorite pink tee shirt hung oddly on her, like it was too tight in the shoulders all of a sudden and didn’t quite reach her waist. Had it shrunk in the wash? She hadn’t changed anything about the way she’d been washing it.
She grabbed the new bar of soap she’d picked up at the Farmer’s Market last weekend. She’d bought it from the daughter of her old neighbor. Her name was Cindy Loo, or maybe Lou. Something like that. She was Asian, so Linda wasn’t sure how her last name might be spelled.
Ms. Lou had moved into the old house after her mother died. Linda had been meaning to bring her a welcome package of some sort, but Cindy kept strange hours and Linda had not yet caught her at home.
Despite living down the street from the older Mrs. Lou all these years, and spending a fair amount of time visiting the old lady, Linda had only rarely seen the daughter. She had been using Cindy’s teas and lotions for years, though. Cindy’s mother had kept a booth for her in the local market and would hawk her daughter’s products, and fill the buyer’s ear with praise of her brilliant child.
Cindy worked the booth herself whenever she was in town. Linda wasn’t sure if she liked the younger Ms. Lou. She had a gruffness to her and didn’t seem to understand how to talk to customers. But she did like the things the woman made. Whether it was psychosomatic or not, those products worked. Her cramps went away, her blemishes cleared up, her mood lightened. Ms. Lou was a genius.
The new soap was called “Nu Yu.” It had a picture of a woman drawn in lines, out of calligraphy, on the wrapper. The woman’s legs were impossibly long and her stride was the length of the wrapper. Ms. Lou had said it would let the inner person shine through. Linda assumed that was just a New Age spin to sell to the hippies who came to the market, a play on the idea of inner beauty, something like that.
Whatever. Even if it had a silly name, the soap was just as wonderful as all of Ms. Lou’s other products. It smelled marvelous and made Linda’s skin tingle. She wondered what was in it that made her feel so alive when she used it. She unwrapped the new bar and reached into the now-steaming shower to set it in the soap dish atop the little remnant of the previous bar.
Linda peeled off her clothes with some difficulty. They seemed to cling to her tightly. She dropped the poor maligned pink shirt on the floor and stepped into the shower. She’d start by getting good and clean and exfoliated, then she’d figure out what to do about her crazy hormone hairs.
Her grandmother had suffered from the same problem, she knew. When she got too old to take care of it herself, Linda used to come by the assisted living place and wax her upper lip on Saturdays, so she would look her best for church on Sundays. Linda tried to remember how old her Abuelita had been when she started having the mustache problem, but she couldn’t remember. Probably Abuelita had suffered with it for a long time, and Linda only found out about it when she needed help to take care of it. Maybe she had only been forty-eight, too. Luckily, there were products for that.
Linda rolled her neck and let the warm water wash over her, grateful for the warmth and the white noise effect of the water beating against the tiled walls. It was easy to let her worries fade when she was in the shower. She stretched out her arms above her head and ran the new bar of soap over her arms and into the armpits—hairy again of course. Really hairy! Caracoles! She was sure she had shaved just yesterday.
She grabbed onto the ledge the tile wall made at the top for balance, surprised to find out she could reach it easily and grabbed the pink Daisy razor out of the little hanging basket just outside the tub area. If she was going to keep growing hair this quickly, maybe she’d need to check into some electrolysis or something. The peluquería was good with waxes and such, but she was going to need a more permanent solution. When she stood again, after shaving her legs, she knocked her head into the shower spigot. Weird. Maybe David had left it set lower than usual?
A few quick strokes and her pits felt smooth again. Linda rinsed out the razor, grimacing at the amount of dark hair that swirled around the drain between her feet. Even her feet looked strange to her today, more spread out. She thought that only happened in pregnancy. Or maybe it was time to see the eye doctor. She might have to upgrade from her simple readers to bifocals or something.
Turning her back against the warm stream of water, Linda ran the bar across her upper chest and shoulders. It felt so smooth and hard. So did her torso. Maybe her time on the treadmill was paying off. When she ran her hand up around her breasts, she gasped a little. She’d never been a busty woman, but her breasts seemed to have all but disappeared. Surely this wasn’t more cambio de vida. She’d never heard of anyone losing their breasts because of menopause. Maybe she should call the doctor and see if she could be seen this afternoon.
More tense now, Linda continued her washing. At least the soap felt good and moisturizing. It made nice creamy suds in her hands. There wasn’t any jiggle across her belly when she ran her soapy hand across it. Her belly hadn’t felt tight like that in a good fifteen years, not since the last baby, the one that had come by emergency C-section.
Then, Linda dipped her hands lower, to clean between her legs. Her eyes flew open. Something was definitely not right. It felt—it was just like—Linda looked down and screamed. There, resting against her thigh was, unmistakably, a penis.