The door bell rang.
“Honey, can you get that? It’s probably your parents,” she called out, walking briskly to the bathroom, her calm, barely maintained.
As she closed the bathroom door, the hallway filled with voices, nasal g’day’s and how are ya’s passing around. She could just imagine the shoes trampling dirt from outside, as the guests ignore the gentle request hanging by the door to remove their shoes. She locked the door quietly and lent against it for a moment.
Her mouth suddenly filled with saliva. She grabbed for most of her long her in one hand and lurched at the sink as the bitter flavour of stomach bile and well digested lunch, she could no longer identify, flowed over her tongue and splattered into the sink. The acrid smell enticed a second round of stomach heaving mess, which she then hastily flushed down the drain with soap to chase the thoughts of a third. Feeling temporarily relieved, she rinsed her face and smoothed her hair with a brush. A few dabs of blush and a touch of lipstick brought some colour back to her face. Breathing shakily, she gripped the rim of the porcelain sink and tried to steady her hands.
“One last time,” she whispered to herself. “Then you never have to see them again.”
The reminder brought a wave of internal strength. She touched her stomach briefly as she scrutinised herself in the mirror. When the mirror reflected a face of calm and perfection, she took a last deep breath, rolled her shoulders back, tugged on her shirt, and turned to open the door. She could do this.
She gripped the rim of the porcelain sink and tried to steady her hands. “One last time,” she whispered to herself.