by Nicola Henderson
On the eve of her 47th birthday, the age at which her mother had died, Marta was struck by a terrible longing for a life she had not lived. It might have been the arrival of the decree nisi that stirred the feeling, marking the end of another disappointing union, or it might have been the appearance of her mother's wan ghost peering out from behind her reflection in the mirror. With unusual detachment and clear-headedness, Marta reviewed the part she had played in all her relationships and began to discern a pattern. Her parents, sister, friends and lovers had failed to meet her expectations of impossible perfection, stubbornly refusing to submit to her will; she damaged them all, but mostly she damaged herself. For a moment before it evaporated, she cradled the insight in the palm of her hand. It left behind a shimmering trace.
Nicola Henderson lives in Edinburgh, Scotland. She enjoyed six so much the first time, she did it again.