The Essence of Senescence Milo Twyla
The coffee cup drained but the croissant left untouched, Hattie removed the breakfast tray from her lap, placing it onto the space of bed beside her. She turned off the TV and slipped out of the sheets, into her vast walk-in closet.
The room was clinically ice-white with blinding lights which scrutinised every nook and cranny. It was precisely organised, yet replete with designer clothes, shoes, sunglasses, hats, jewellery and bags, all confined to a nude or monochrome spectrum.
She stepped up to the enormous mirror and examined her reflection once more, whilst slinking out of her silk pyjamas, which were left to fall onto the carpet. Her five foot nine figure was naturally curvaceous but artificially lifted. Her breasts were heavy yet miraculously buoyant, her hips broad, her bottom plump and her stomach soft.
Although her ever-critical mind remained unsatisfied, Hattie was confident in her enduring shape and shamelessly posed for herself. But once her eyes reached her face, she startled and pivoted away from the reflection to regain composure.
In need of a distraction from the atrocity that was her maturing face, Hattie immersed herself into the vaults of clothing. She began selecting her outfit, removing items from their hangers and position, dropping them slovenly to the rug once rejected.
Flushed, but supremely calm, Zephy stood up from the sunroom’s floor and floated to the bathroom. The shower walls were covered with iridescent, pearl tiles that shimmered playfully in the light into a kaleidoscope of colours.
She stripped the slightly-damp lycra from her clammy skin and glided into cascading, ice-cold water. For a carefree moment, she relished the revitalisation. However, her emotional guard having been lulled by the relaxing meditation, despair burst from her core, shattering her apparent strength once more.
She collapsed abruptly against the chilly wall, powerlessly sliding down to her knees. The tears that had been mounting all morning finally poured out of her eyes in a great flood, down the face that had now crumbled again into anguish.
Although barely able to see anything but a blur, she gaped down at her clenched fists and the scars that mutilated her inner wrists. She turbulently clutched them to her heart, before fevered fingers slipped up to her skull and tugged frantically at the roots of silver hair, now soaked by the same water that drowned the sound of her unhinged sobbing.
Cosette surfed through TV channels torpidly, past multiple programmes reporting an approaching comet. He wasn’t actually watching, but fidgeted with the remote as he drifted in and out of a vegetive state, whilst scratching subconsciously at the insides of his forearms.
Small, purple-grey punctures dotted his anaemic skin, similarly disfigured by swollen veins. His long, grubby nails were not gentle in itching but rather bruising, tearing at raw sores. He didn’t so much as flinch, his arms likely desensitised.
His inner alarm pulsed in his malnourished ribcage and he peeked at the humongous clock on the wall. He startled at the time, knocking over his mug, causing the few remaining drops of brandy to spill onto the messy table.
“Shit,” he wheezed hoarsely.
Not bothering to wipe up, he stumbled to the racks and racks of intricate, vintage clothing that stood behind him. Speedily, he peeled multiple layers of garments off from hangers and lurched back into the bathroom.
Hattie strutted out from the closet, clutching a crocodile skin handbag in her right hand and feline sunglasses in her left. She was dressed in a black, tweed pencil skirt, ending just below her bony knees, an ivory, silk shirt and a matching, tweed blazer. She wore three-inch black, patent leather heels, a lustrous, pearl necklace and a stupendously-conspicuous diamond on her right hand’s ring finger.
Just before exiting the bedroom, she halted abruptly. Her breathing was shallow, her heart racing and palms sweating; she nervously licked her lips and scratched at her throat.
After a few fidgety moments, she straightened her shoulders, inhaled a deep breath and hid her fraught eyes behind shaded lenses. She then paraded out of the doorway, down the confined corridor and into the main room.
His breakfast plate clean, Jules was sat at the gargantuan table, reading a newspaper article about ‘Asteria’s Comet’. Welcoming the music of her click-clacking stilettos, optimism surged into his dreary eyes and a merry smile emanated from his grooved face. He twisted in his chair and goggled up at Hattie adoringly. “Morning. You look stunning.”
She customarily ignored him and continued past him, through to the kitchen.
The daily, but no less excruciating, splintering of Jules’ heart was evident, causing him to helplessly lurch forward as though his core had been sliced in half. His face crumpled inconsolably and heavy tears slipped down his cheeks, onto the newspaper below. Why do I do this to myself?
Ashamed by his explosive outburst of emotion, he snorted and raised a napkin to his bloodshot eyes, dabbing them hysterically.
Alone in the kitchen, a tense Hattie pulled a chilled bottle of vodka from the fully-stocked fridge and, trembling, prised a prescription pill bottle out from her bag. She shook out four tablets, hurled them to the back of her throat and washed them down with the smooth liquor. She was instantly pacified and
Zephy eased herself out from the now-steaming shower, sinking into a soft, oversized bath towel. She brushed her slightly crooked, stain-free teeth, shook her wet hair and hung the towel up on the door.
Any and all visible trace of the harrowing attack had now vanished, hidden, locked tightly inside her. She had so scrupulously mastered how to mask her torture, that only remarkable observance could detect her perpetual inner turmoil.
Forcing onto herself a carefree or at the very least mentally-stable expression, she skated naked across the apartment and into the closet, where she swiftly dressed into the outfit previously laid out.
Hattie stomped back into the main room, where, with entrenched etiquette, Jules chivalrously stood up from the table. He contemplated her ambivalently, his heart, which loved and praised her, clashing with his head, which loathed and slandered her.
Although it was he that had been loitering about for her to be ready, she spat, “Hurry up. You’re going to make me late.”
She trotted off to the front door, where expectantly she waited for Jules to open it for her. They stepped into the hallway and, whilst he locked the door marked ‘12~739’, she strutted off ahead without him, knowing he would follow.
Ernie turned off the TV and ambled into the kitchen, where he washed his breakfast dishes. Once clean, he stored away the crockery and peeked at his innocuous wristwatch. 8:24.
Ambling into the corridor, he struggled to contort his rheumatic joints into his navy blouson jacket, then plucked up his keys and exited the flat, locking the front door numbered ‘9~168’ behind him.
Zephy strolled over to her bedside, wearing a floaty, white blouse with baggy sleeves; it was slightly see-through and the buttons were undone to below her sternum, revealing her vivid, violet bra and the flesh of her cleavage. The shirt was tucked into lavender, corduroy trousers that ended just above well-worn, leather hiking boots.
Her waist-length hair was twirled into a high, messy bun, secured by a silk scarf, coils tumbling down to frame her bare, sun-kissed face. Her fingers were adorned with multiple, offbeat rings as were her wrists, scars hidden beneath a myriad of disparate bracelets.
From her bedside table, Zephy picked up a lustrous, black pocket-watch and flipped it over. Engraved on the back was the exact same symbol as that of her tattoos, with ‘FENTON-FLINT’ written above. Her thumb caressed the inscription nostalgically, before attaching the chain to her belt loop and slipping it into her hip pocket.
She threw on a grey trenchcoat, stitched with purple thread, that reached knee-height and tapered in at the waist. Grabbing a battered, leather rucksack, harlequin sunglasses and patterned keys, she climbed the tiresome stairs, opened the dazzling door and stepped out into the hallway, locking apartment ‘7~250’ behind her.
Cosette stumbled out of the bathroom as if stepping out of the 1920s. His ashen afro was parted to the side and slicked down, small waves defying the gel. His sunken eye sockets were dusted with smoky, black shadow, making his eyes coyly downturned and toffee irises pop. His lips were stained with oxblood lipstick and narrowed into a permanent pucker of an exaggerated cupid’s bow.
He wore a raspberry, silk dress with a drop waist that fell to mid-calf. It was beaded with a subtle, floral pattern and hung from spaghetti straps, his anorexic chest, collarbone and ribs strikingly visible with the plunging V-neck. His lanky, hairy legs were swathed in opaque tights and black Victorian leather, laced boots with a spool heel.
Cosette then threw on a burgundy, velvet coat that fell just above his hemline and hid his disfigured forearms, the cuffs and collar of maroon faux-fur that also lined the inside.
With a phlegmy cough, he scuttled up the carpeted stairs and out into the hallway, slamming shut the unlocked door numbered ‘9~942’.