The Woman who wished for the wind to change
By Naomi Martin
She was like me – Always putting on a face to fit each occasion or person she was speaking to at the time. There was one for school drop off and pick up. One for Monday’s client, one for Friday’s client. Occasionally she’d put one on for her husband. One for the person she walked past who said “Hello”, One for the lady at the Health Food Store, she didn’t mean to but she even had one for when she was texting some people.
After one particularly exhausting week, well… month actually, she couldn’t bare to change faces even one more time. It suddenly became very obvious how much energy it took to change a face and then change to another one or back again. She was changing faces three to four times a day, sometimes more.
She decided to take a break. She began deliberately avoiding everything and everyone that required a face change. She let her husband take her daughter to the birthday party and she negotiated with him about going to the supermarket on his way home. That way she could stay home alone. And clean. Alone. She cancelled work, she calmly debated with her daughter in the car in front of the school grounds about walking to the class room on her own ‘like the big kids’. She desperately wanted to avoid the obligatory face changes that would occur as she greeted and was greeted by other parents and her daughters teacher. Her daughter saw a friend and suddenly agreed. After a quick hug she watched her daughter scurry to catch up to her friend and her friend’s brother and mum. Her giant school bag covering most of her tiny body so it looked like a back pack with legs and a little head. She drove away from the school feeling guilty but utterly relieved.
On arriving home, she beelined for the kettle to make her favourite cup of tea, then she sat outside in the sun. With her face turned into the sun’s morning rays she tuned into her noisy mind which was clattering and clanging, working so hard to calculate a solution to this problem. She would find a job she could do from the safety and privacy of own home. She would find a new home where she didn’t have to hurry up the drive, then time her exit from the car and entry to the house so as not to provoke conversation or even recognition from four or five of the super friendly, totally lovely neighbours – because this would of course require a major face change. The face that welcomed relaxed chatter and was so interested in other people’s lives. The face that was willing and ready to sink her deeper into debt for handing over time, energy and other resources that she did not actually have available.
With her eyes closed and face still turned to the sun, she became aware of a hint of a breeze on her skin. She opened her eyes and saw the tops of two tall leafy bushes dancing above the fence line to the swirling rhythm of a current of air. The wind picked up and she stared on mesmerised by the way the bushes looked as though they were caught up in battle – each taking a turn to cast their sword like branch forward.
Taking a deep breath in and closing her eyes again she basked in this feeling, this pause in time, a safe place where only she existed for this moment. And with her face turned to the sun, she exhaled. A cloud moved in front of the sun and dimmed its rays and she imagined that her breath had extinguished the giant ball of fire. Everything was quiet. Everything was still.