When its early winter morning and the sun is still low and she’s just bathed and the room is warm… when it’s all that and she’s combed back her freshly shampooed hair, she’s beautiful in her bathroom mirror. It’s a trick, a Photoshop effect only real, but she tells herself she’ll remember that girl in the mirror for the rest of the day, because she is lovely.

You’re beautiful, she whispers as she Olays her face and neck, and she watches her eyes when she smiles and she says to herself that they are crinkling in the corners like they did when she was a girl.

She takes the extra minutes to sweeten her skin and the mango scented lotion covers arms and elbows and knees, as smooth and silky as the bottle advertises.

She knows it’s an illusion of kind morning light, but she carries that girl with her even as she dries her too-long-for-her-age hair with it’s wiry strands and it’s glinting silver. Even as the waning day reminds her the eye crinkles are actually wrinkles and the sweet morning scent fades into the reality of eggs frying and dishwater soap and something tracked in from the barn on the bottom of her boot.

The day wears itself on her face and the years are the years, there’s no denying them, but it’s a gift she gives herself each day, that morning exchange with herself, and she’ll unwrap it again tomorrow.