Short Story Excerpt: “The Woman Within”

Accepting the offered cup of coffee with a smile, Chloë began, “So, I want to tell you about this strange thing that happened to me the other day. It was an epiphany of sorts.”

Sharon smiled as she crossed her arms and leaned back against the kitchen counter. “I’ve been there a time or two with the life changing revelations. You know that.”

Chloë nodded and took a drink from the cup in her hands, the familiar bitter heat stopping just shy of scalding her tongue before she continued on.

“It was the strangest thing, Sharon. There I was, staring at myself in the bathroom mirror, this haunted look on my face. My hair was all crazy. Mascara had run down my cheeks and dried there from crying earlier that day. And I swear, as God is my witness, I did not recognize myself. All I could think is, ‘here is this woman looking at me like she really needs a hug’, and then it dawned on me. At some point, I grew up into a woman- THAT beautiful, striking, powerful woman- while on the inside I was still feeling like a worn out, awkward, beat up teenager. In the blink of an eye, Sharon, I swear, I got older without noticing. Sure, I look at myself in that bathroom mirror a million times a day, but for some reason…”

Chloë paused, sighed, and shook her head before she continued speaking.

“I’d not taken the time to actually SEE what’s there on the outside because of the inside, how bleak things seem when I cry and how everything sparkles when I smile. To me, that honesty is true beauty, and somehow without knowing, pausing, or stopping to think about it, I’d acquired that thing I’d always admired in so many others. Oh, how it scared me to see it so plainly in the bathroom mirror, staring back at ME.”

She shook her head again before chuckling, “It sounds so lame when I say it out loud.”

Smiling knowingly, Sharon nodded, “It’s just part of the process of finding the woman within the chaos and muck of everyday living, Chloë.” She glanced at her beautiful long-time friend with admiration before turning around to refill her coffee and mumbling to herself, “All part of the process.”

– excerpt from the short story “The Woman Within”

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