Another missed promotion, another breakup, another kilo on the scale. Failure, disappointment, self-loathing – today’s specials. Taylor stared into her cappuccino as she poured the sugar in and began to stir, distorting the little frothy heart that graced the surface. She looked across the café and saw herself in the mirror on the opposite wall. She felt another ten bricks being piled to the already crushing weight on her shoulders. Her hair hung limp and dull around her face, dark bags circled her eyes, and the frumpy jersey removed any assumption that there may be a female body lurking under there. What had happened to her? How had things gone so horribly wrong?
Taylor trudged across the parking lot, fumbled for her keys and got in her old, beaten-about car. It was a mess, like her life. She opened the cubbyhole to find the lipstick she had stashed a few weeks ago. A mass of papers, gizmos and paraphernalia flew out at her. Irritated, she began to shove it all back in when a bright purple piece of paper caught her eye. She tugged it out:
TOP FIVE CHALLENGE LIST:
- Run a marathon
- Write a book
- Perform on stage
- Climb a mountain
Taylor laughed out loud. ‘Oh, the dreams of the naïve!’ she thought. What had she been thinking when she made that list? All impossible dreams, she didn’t have it in her.
‘Coward!’ she heard a voice inside her head say. It sounded like her own voice, only younger, more alive.
‘I am no coward!’ she shouted out loud. Fortunately the windows were up, but she did get a few stares from people walking past her car.
Dare accepted, Taylor set out to tackle the challenges the braver, more enthusiastic Taylor had set. She gave herself a 12 month deadline. What did she have to lose?
A year went by. Taylor was in a store, shopping for new running shoes. She’d worn out two pairs in the last few months in all her escapades. She walked past the full length mirror in the store and something caught her eye. She stopped, took a step back, leaned over ever so slowly and glanced sideways into the mirror, so as not to be obvious that she was looking at herself. And there it was: in the sparkle in her eye, the tilt of her chin and the curve of her hip.
Turns out it wasn’t hidden in the approving nod from her boss, or the leers from the men at the bar. It wasn’t even hidden in the smile of her personal trainer. It had been pecking from inside the shell of her heart, appearing first as a tiny beak just breaking through, eager for a glimpse of blue sky, and then tumbling out a mass of fluffy down, vulnerable but alive with hope.
Now it owned the sky. Great big wings casting shadows as it soared… proud… free… powerful.
Taylor had found her moxy.
© Deirdré Amy Gower