Francisca combed her still damp hair and let it flow down her shoulders, enjoyed how it tickled her back. She took a step back, looking at her naked upper body. Not bad for a 39-year-old, she thought to herself.
She was a clever girl, and while Ben had done his best to hide the preparations, she knew there would be a surprise party. Why don’t you take a long, hot bath while I prepare dinner for two, he’d said? Good idea, she’d replied, knowing that the moment she went upstairs, the guests sneaked into the house. Ben couldn’t hide anything from her, and that was just as well.
A touch of foundation. She didn’t need much. Mascara and eye shadow, but just enough to accentuate her face. A deep red lipstick perfected her. Still naked, she opened the door to the hallway and entered her walk-in closet, selected black lingerie, black skirt and a red blouse. She slowly got dressed, always keeping an eye on herself in the full-length mirror. Turning slightly to each side, she made sure her attire looked perfect. You still got it, girl, she whispered to herself.
Using her finger, she fixed the lipstick and stroked her cheekbones gently, then went back to the bathroom. She brushed her hair again, applied a little hair lotion, just enough to keep it from being messy, then decided perfection had been reached.
Francisca entered the hallway again and put on her pumps. The heels were very high, so she didn’t use them often, but it was her birthday and she was determined to look absolutely perfect. She slowly descended the stairs, careful not to slip. That would be very unsignifying, and probably painful. She opened the door to the living room.
Plastic trumpets and confetti greeted her. The girlfriends were there, a few colleagues as well. Presents in golden paper stacked on the dressoir, table decked with plates and tiny forks. Ben stood there smiling, holding a large bottle of champagne in his hand. As she looked at him, he rubbed the cork and it flew across the room. Francisca quickly grabbed a champagne glass from the table and put it under the bubbles that were spewing out of Ben’s hand.
The glasses were filled, and they proposed a toast. To Francisca and many more years, they all cheered.
Ben kissed her on the cheek, slipped past her and into the kitchen. He returned with a large cake with candles lit. Francisca gestured him to quickly put the cake on the table and inhaled.
This wasn’t right.
Ben, she said. Why does the cake have forty candles?
This story is the eighteenth installment in the Moments series