Daisy met a man who reminded her of Hank. Over time, she eventually stepped out of the comic book and into real life. Her and John’s relationship flourished and while she never got used to the fact that life in general was a disappointment, she accepted it and lived in a state of adaptive contentment.
That was, until …
‘Reality sucks,’ she said to herself one day, out in the laundry washing the nappies.
‘Who would have thought I’d end up like this, a washer woman with a pile of kids. I should have been a star of the stage and screen but alas …’ She sighed for dramatic effect, ‘it was not to be.’
She sang as she washed the clothes, bounced the baby in the bouncinette with her foot, and watched the rest of the children playing in the backyard.
‘It is not easy being a wife, mother and businesswoman, keeping food on the table, working like a lackey and trying to stay beautiful all at the same time.’ She withdrew from the washing to dry her hands and have a good look at herself in the mirror over the sink.
She squeezed a few blackheads, pulled some grey hairs, and did a bit of wrinkle stretching.
‘Not nice,’ she muttered.
When John commented on how much she spent on hair, clothes, and beauty, she scolded him.
‘I work just as hard as you do. Don’t you think I deserve a few little luxuries in life?’
‘Sweetheart, I don’t mind how much money you spend. All I’m saying is that you don’t need all that stuff to make you look beautiful; you’re beautiful as you are.’
‘Oh John, that’s a cop-out.’ If he knew how much I spent on myself he’d have a coronary, she thought.
The business had been going so well that they expanded and employed more staff to drive the vehicles and run the tours. The interest in dinosaurs had spiked recently with the movie release about a scientist who had brought dinosaurs to life by extracting dinosaur DNA from a piece of amber. Dinosaurs were ‘in’ and business was booming yet they were constantly short of money.
‘I don’t know, John,’ she said, resting her hand on the ledger. ‘We’re busy, but we’re not getting anywhere. In fact, we’re going backwards!’
‘We’ll just have to expand,’ he replied. ‘We need more vehicles and staff to drive them.’
Daisy frowned. ‘I don’t know if that’s the answer. Something’s not right. We work hard yet all we’ve got to show for it is a middle-class life with a lot of debt.’
She turned to retail therapy to manage her depression, and when that didn’t work, she turned to alcohol. She was reckless when she drank, over thought everything, and talked too much. One morning, looking at herself in the mirror, she realised she was not only losing her looks but she was getting old. No longer did heads turn when she walked past. The guys at the bottleshop stopped flirting with her, and she went up a size in clothing. The obsession with growing old drove her back into the old ways of thinking; that she was a character in a romance comic but this time the narrative explored adultery.
She had met an opal miner called J. Fox on one of her many trips out west, and as he reminded her of Hank, he was perfect for the lead role in her new story. Her life began to unravel. She abused herself mentally and was constantly putting herself on trial. Every time she went to a party, she came home and lay awake for hours, going over every minute of the night – who she talked to, what she said, how she said it, how they reacted to what she had said and if she could say it in a more sophisticated way next time. The torment grew.
‘I must get that surgery,’ she muttered and jumped out of bed to go into the bathroom and look at the offending face in the mirror to see if it really did look as bad as it did in her imagination.
‘The best plastic surgery is sleep,’ said a little cherub sitting on the windowsill as it raised its magic wand, chanting, ‘Sleep precious one, sleep.’
Daisy stayed in bed for three weeks. When she did wake up, she cried and threatened to leave. John came close to telling her to leave if she was so unhappy but refrained. ‘Do I really have to put up with this?’ he asked himself.
‘Yes,’ a voice from within replied, ‘because you believe in love.’ But his love only annoyed her more.
Daisy started flirting with other men and looked for attention wherever she could get it. At the local bar, she overheard two women talking about her. ‘Pathetic. Where’s her husband?’ one said to the other, looking her up and down with disgust.
‘You’re just jealous,’ Daisy screamed at them. ‘Just a jealous bunch of has-beens who wanna be me.’
John begged her to settle down but she did not listen. She threatened to leave him, and he pleaded with her to stay, which was just what she wanted.
‘Oh! all right, but you’d better start doing things differently. I need more attention and not just to be told I look all right and that you love me. I want gifts, flowers, overseas trips, spontaneous acts of love, that sort of thing. A bit of effort please, John.’
‘I’ll try, Daisy,’ he said, wishing she would return to being how she was before she turned 40.
The second time she threatened to leave he asked her why and she said she wanted more money.
‘Daisy, I’d like to give you more money, but I can’t see how to do it. I’m sorry hun,’ he sidled up to her. ‘I do love you. That’s got to be worth at least a mil.’
She smiled and playfully slapped him. ‘You know what I mean. I’m tired of worrying about money. We’re just not getting anywhere, and I’m stressed out and I’m getting old.’
He put his arms around her and they kissed.
The third time she threatened to leave he threw his hands up in the air and told her to go.