The Essence of Senescence Milo Twyla
Although the phone’s baritone alarm boomed on the table beside him, Jules was already awake, staring morosely at the ceiling. Without wavering his glum, ash-grey eyes, he expertly jabbed it to silence as he did every morning.
Although reluctant to face the day and its usual troubles, he heaved his burly body out of the plush bed of Egyptian cotton sheets. Sliding into hand-sewn, suede slippers poised waiting for him, he trudged through his bedroom, across the glacial, marble floor, each also ill-suited and void of character.
Jules braved the continuous white of the bathroom, where counters were buried beneath messy colognes, gels, shaving soaps, brushes and chrome razors. The room-length mirror was still splintered in the corner from the same, violent force that had cracked the sink.
After standing over the toilet bowl for too, too long, he hunched exhaustedly over the sink counter and stared into himself at the mirror. His eyes were sunken and sallow from sleepless nights, his hoary hair was coarse and speedily receding from mounting stress.
Tentatively, he raised a plump finger to the raw line of pinkish-brown skin that encircled his neck, only just hidden by the pyjamas’ collar. However, his hand flinched away just before reaching it as though scared of the psychological pain his touch was likely to induce.
Shoving off from the counter and from reemerging bitterness, he advanced to the charcoal-painted, walk-in closet. It was dimly lit but lined with an impressive collection of exquisite attire. He huffed churlishly whilst glancing around at the racks upon racks of tailored clothing, all suited for appearance but ignorant of his comfort.
Petulantly, Jules flung his fitted, linen pyjamas from his tall and lately-paunchy build to the carpeted floor. His stomach was round and podgy, protruding like that of a pregnancy. His shoulders were slightly hunched, whilst his fleshy pectorals were saggy and blanketed with white fuzz.
Although judicious, he grudgingly began sorting through the endless closet and selected the day’s outfit.
Suppressing all feeling, an emotionally aloof Zephy folded the newspapers and scrambled down from the tall stool. After setting her empty mug into the stainless-steel sink, she returned the half-eaten biscuit packet to the cupboard.
A flicker of vitality flashed over her as amused eyes scanned the various indentations in the wall behind her swinging bed, still populated by the slumbering man. Light-footed and slightly more lighthearted, she wandered into the adjoining closet.
Purple-mottled wardrobes, drawers and shelves were all illuminated by fairy lights, draped whimsically throughout the room. Whilst a rainbow of clothes threatened to overflow from burgeoning storage, a kaleidoscope of trainers, hats and exotic headdresses fringed the floor and ceiling in a somewhat neater fashion. The vanity table and antique, vaguely-warped mirror that sat in the corner were swathed in entangled, prismatic jewellery.
Zephy hung up her violet robe on the back of the door and, now naked, withdrew the sundry layers that would constitute her day’s ensemble. She didn’t ponder upon her selection for long, since eclectic yet graceful and timeless style was deeply ingrained in her bones. She lay these clothes to the side for later and pulled out a sports attire.
She tugged the sports bra down her sturdy shoulders to her tight tummy, then shimmied the risqué knickers and lycra leggings up her muscular thighs, over her femininely plump, dimpled bottom. She clipped up her thick and unruly, argent curls into a knot, unveiling her tattoo-painted spine, inked with a concentric ripple of arcane dots.
A smaller version of the same symbol marked the inside of her right wrist. However, this tattoo was dissected by a thin but deep, horizontal line, scarring the symmetry of the design. Her face contorted with unreadable, conflicting emotions, Zephy’s pensive stare moved from her right wrist to her left, where an identical slash marred the bare skin.
Raising her thumb to the tattoo at her wrist, she instinctively shoved her thumb down, deep into the wound. Eyebrows scrunched together and teeth bit into lip as she pulsed with both physical and psychological pain. Only once distracted by the disturbing discolouration of her skin, did she cease to self-harm.
Hastily dispelling all thought and ignoring the rush of endorphins, she released her aching hands, dropping them to her sides. She walked out of the wardrobe to the open space, where indigenous textiles draped the cluster of vibrant, individually-upholstered sofas and armchairs. In their core was a wooden coffee table, holding a vase of indigo tulips, a psychedelic bong and a joint-snuffed ashtray. The double-height wall opposite the bed was shrouded top-to-bottom with a collection of professional cameras – old and modern – and a vast library of books upon books, journals, photo albums, CDs and vinyls, accessed by a fixed but rolling ladder of equal height.
Zephy stepped into an adjoining sunroom, where full-length, translucent windows surrounded a peaceful veranda. A hand-carved rocking chair and woven hammock were settled in the left corner, whilst in the opposite corner was placed a low glass table, bearing miscellaneous crystals and candles.
With tears yet again fracturing her forced impassivity, she stood with bare feet, spread shoulder-width apart, on the oak floors. She frantically mustered strength, before gulping down an overwrought breath, expelling all affliction. Her supple body then fluidly contorted into the starting position of her daily yoga-tai chi-meditation-type routine called ‘Equillessence’.
Ernie was still stood at his bathroom sink, in front of a cabinet full of daunting dental equipment, to which was fixed a small, swivelling mirror. He began his typical, excessive programme of meticulously brushing, flossing and gargling his pristine teeth, gums and tongue.
His sagging jawline, although speckled with blemishes and liver spots, was now clean-shaven of over-night stubble, his soft and wispy, white hair now also combed flat. His tumbling belly had been pressed into a pale azure shirt and a navy, cotton cardigan. Drab and ill-fitted, dark blue, cotton chinos hung from his flat, pancake arse.
Ernie waddled back into his empty room and made his bed, swiftly taming the thin, cotton duvet and fluffing the single pillow. He folded his plaid pyjamas and neatly placed them on the lumpy mattress edge.
Turning, he then ambled on into his pine kitchen, where counters and cabinets were tucked away in the corner, around a central, folding, melamine table. Well-drilled, he began cooking his usual breakfast of tepid and watery porridge, a slice of somewhat-burnt toast and two fried eggs with broken yolks.