It was probably between her third and fourth sourdough bread that Lizzie's jeans stopped gliding up her legs. What used to be a fifteen second mindless job in the morning, barely noticed between her skincare ritual and the first coffee of the day, was now a whole ritual of tug and bounce. It's my little morning boogie, she tried to giggle on the phone with her best friend Karen, while prodding the roundness of her hips with the index finger.
But both women remembered their boogie nights in the late 70s well, and it wasn't anything like this. They were naturally thin and beautiful, their thin waists like trophies for the few boys who deemed themselves worthy of their touch. Oh, their bodies, remember Karen, how clothes just fit, you could throw any old rag on and it would magically find ways to undulate over their bouncy bosoms and firm buttocks, making those older men want to shower them with expensive furs and lavish dresses, just for the chance to steal a glimpse at their nakedness. That's how they got their first fur coats, wasn't it? That old banker Jeremy almost dragged them from the bar to the first shop and slid the owner two Benjamins to keep it open until they chose whatever they liked: two glorious minks that they'd share, one almost brushing the ground and the other cut just below the waist. They got away with a quick peck on the lips, which was good business, better than Jeremy himself had ever done.
Lizzie hadn't touched the coat in decades. She was still stunned by the cruel act of ageing, an act she never signed up for, but somehow ravaged her svelte body, leaving permanent crevices and bumps behind. She kept the coat the same way she did her youthful mind, wrapped in many protective layers, hidden by the light of days passing one after another too quickly. On some days, she'd completely forget and go about her life as if she was still twenty. She'd smile at everyone on the street and flirt with young men who blushed like teenagers, puzzled by the uncomfortable desire she ignited in them. But reality would catch up with her quickly as soon as she spotted herself in a shop window, suddenly feeling so foolish in her old lady clothes. She'd give her mirrored self the finger and then storm back to her apartment to call Karen and reminisce about the good days.
Now there was no more storming anywhere. Lizzie was stuck in her flat, like everyone else, baking loaves of sourdough bread and getting fatter every day, along with everyone else. It all started when her son Jason told her that making her own starter might give her something to look after. Like a pet that doesn't poop on the carpet and would provide infinite sustenance and joy. And he was right. Lawrence, her three week-old sourdough starter was very loved, and required so much attention and reassurance that Lizzie started referring to him as her needy boyfriend. At least he puts food on the table, she'd laugh with Karen, who was still with her husband, not that it annoyed Lizzie, well, not that much.
If only her psychic had warned her about the pandemic four years ago, instead of her husband's infidelities. There can be such a thing as living too much in the present, it seemed. If she'd known this was coming, she would've forgiven Garry right away, just to have some actual company when things got bad. Yes, he was arrogant and a bit of an asshole, but he had a good sense of humour, which probably described about 75 percent of the male population, or at least 75 percent of the men Lizzie had met (the rest were gay). Humour would've been nice now. Someone to shout at for being on the toilet for too long, or someone whose sweatpants she could borrow to forget about her swelling belly. Or someone to share all that damn bread with in the first place.
To make herself feel better, Lizzie decides to look for her precious mink coat. She digs up her old attire, stored in what used to be Jason's room before he moved to the coast for university. Something might still fit. Wouldn't that be wonderful. That would give her something to do away from the fresh sourdough tempting her to have yet another snack.
But when she grabs the suitcase from under the bed she notices something strange. A small plastic bag is poking out of the little pocket for your name and address, in case the bag gets lost. And when she opens it, my lord, she finds a handful of those colourful pills she used to take with Karen when they went out dancing until early morning, and they would run into lonely bankers on their way to work. They must've been Jason's, since she hadn't touched the stuff since she got pregnant with him.
She doesn't need much deliberation before she reaches for her glass and washes a baby blue one down. God bless that stupid boy.
She finds her old purple flares which don't button all the way up anymore, but just manage to stretch around her thighs, and a top that squeezes her breasts together in a way that makes her feel short of breath - or is that the pill kicking in? And then she finds it. The beautiful mink coat, splendid as ever. She runs her fingers through the fur like she used to do to the hair of those beautiful, arrogant boys she dated, and delights in the sensuous pleasure of the past touching her present body. She buries her face in it, filling her lungs with the scent of youth, and then glides right into it. The fur still fits, and how well.
Hours later, the phone rings but Lizzie can't hear it over the Kate Bush album blasting from her speakers. Karen leaves a message about that time they ran into Mick Jagger in Philly, but Lizzie dances away, dizzy with joy and ecstasy, her mind and body the same age at last.