It was impossible for her to ignore the reflection in the huge bathroom mirror no matter how hazed over by steam it became. Positioned directly across from the shower, she was forced to assess herself each time she pulled the curtain back and stepped out. Dripping wet and naked . . . she considered neither her best look. She moved with an agile grace to the exacting expanse of glass and wiped away the foggy traces with her bare hand while wrapping herself loosely in a towel.

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, am I even fair at all?”

Examining the image presented there, she had to admit that yes, she possessed a beauty that wouldn’t be denied. Genetics had been kind. Her Eastern European heritage had gifted as much as it had cursed her. Appraising the face that peered back through the looking glass, she was not displeased with the firm jaw, defined cheekbones and porcelain complexion. Her mouth – well shaped, but without the currently en vogue, oversized, pouting lips – was rarely lifted in a smile anymore often than twisted into a scowl. Then, there were the eyes that never failed to illicit comments . . . sad, haunted, probing. High, arching eyebrows drew attention to her large almond-shaped eyes, an uncommon color, pale blue randomly flecked green with a nearly navy ring at the outside edge of the iris.

Her most defining feature was a mop of ash blonde hair, her crowning glory. If she were to freely admit to a vanity, that would be it. She knew her hair was lovely and worked to keep it that way. Still, she was careful never to over do it, to keep the mane reined in and conservatively coiffed. It hung naturally around her face in relaxed tresses that she piled up on top of her head to get out of her way or when the mass was predisposed to being an unruly cloud of wild curls floating around her head and shoulders. No matter how she tried though there were always those ringlets that escaped containment falling as they may, softening the slightly stern and rigid look the updo gave her.

Stepping back, she surveyed the curse of her heritage. She would never be a little girl. She wasn’t large, but at five and a half feet, she was sturdy. Scanning down, she had a long neck and pronounced collar bones. She pinched a bit of flabby skin on her upper arm thinking that she really needed to get into the gym and on a regular workout schedule . . . the only way to resolve that problem. It was her opinion she could stand to lose a few, maybe ten, pounds anyway. She thought she had seen a mailer with a special offer from a local place earlier in the week.

She let the towel slide to the floor and continued the critical inspection. She had no complaints with her breasts. They were small, but had not begun to sag as had those of many of her peers; consequently, they held their youthful form, might even be said to be perky. In the past several years, she had started to thicken a bit through the middle. Still she had a waist, her stomach was flat and there where no “love handles” to speak of. Turning to get a glimpse of her backside, she could not understand how an ass that wide could fit into her size 6 jeans. She would have believed the pants mismarked, but she’d had many pairs through the years and it was unlikely they had all been sized wrong. She considered that perhaps by some cruel trick of her mind, she would only ever see that aspect of her physique as larger than life simply as a torment or maybe a reminder.

Her long legs evidenced her passion . . . running. Long ago she had given up any hope of having slender limbs like those found on the fashion runways and in magazine layouts. Once again her ancestry dictated the strong, sculpted calves and thighs that had only become more defined by the infinite hours spent placing one foot in front of the other. Besides, she treasured her time on the track. She was physically exhilarated by the exertion and mentally soothed by the steady, easy rhythm of her feet hitting the ground over and over, mile after mile. It was the only time she felt truly at peace with herself and the world. Personally, she liked the way her legs looked. She felt they gave her body balance, helped minimize what had been laughingly referred to by a past lover as the ‘junk in the trunk.’

She grimaced as she recalled a time long past sitting on the low stonewall lining a boardwalk with an attractive, young man. “What was his name?” She mused aloud. Although the name eluded her, she would never forget how enamored she had been with the self-proclaimed, new age guru. He had been a small man only a couple of inches taller and probably weighing no more than she. It had been a divine day on the sun-drenched beach, the azure sky clear, a light breeze cooling the sweat from her skin as it formed. They sat as he talked and she listened to his pontifications, their shoulders and tights touching. When without warning of a change in subject, he was saying, “You’ve lost some weight haven’t you? It looks good. Maybe if you lost a few more pounds, your thighs might slim down a bit.”

Never one to be ‘shocked into silence,’ her sharp retort in hindsight was probably harsher than needed or even meant. Before thinking the words tumbled out of her mouth, “Maybe if you started visiting a gym and worked on your scrawny-ass, little legs, you might not be so intimidated by beautiful, shapely legs on a woman.” Needless to say, that relationship went no further. She snorted, “story of my life.”

She sighed heavily as she let go of the negative energy that had hitched a ride on that particular stroll down memory lane. Pulling her attention back to the physical inventory at hand, she determined the best word to describe her figure was athletic. She could live with that, but she was going to have to do something about the pasty, pale color of her skin, the result of a significant lack of sunshine to bask in. This dank, dreary place she had called home for the last several years had robbed her flesh of the warm, golden glow so presumed in her youth. She decided to do an Internet search later at work on tanning salons and the options. She’d been curious for some time now about the whole ‘spray-on’ tan thing. A giggle erupted.

The pretty, middle-aged woman in the bathroom mirror cracked a subtle, Mona Lisa smile and responded, “What will they think of next?”