“Kendra! Happy New Year dahlink!”
Irena leaped from around a corner and startled me a bit. Her hair was down and she had a playful expression on her face, which made me feel strange, because I had never seen an older woman look playful without the presence of small children. Also, I had never seen her hair down. I followed her down the hall to a small room.
“It’s been almost three weeks dahlink. It’s been much too long. Where has been my Kendra?”
“Oh I’ve been ill, also, I have been gone for the holidays.”
“S’okay dahlink, let’s get to business.”
Irena prepared the medical table where I was to lay. I took off my skirt and underwear, careful to hide it behind me, because I was embarrassed that it was a tattered old pair of panties. I laid on the table and watched her move about. She smiled at me while she cut strips of paper, got her tweezers, and checked the temperature of the wax by putting a small drop on the inside of her arm, they way a mother checks the temperature of stove heated milk. I spread my legs and she put her hand on my knee. Irena always looks beautiful, I thought.
“How is your love life dear? Who has come and gone? Three weeks is a long time for my Kendra.”
“Oh yes,” I said while she spread hot wax on me. It felt warm and comforting, but only a little. She pressed a strip of paper on me and pulled it off efficiently. I flinched. She was still waiting for my answer. She put more wax on me and I clenched my fists at my side.
“Well, two lovers are gone. One I didn’t even have a chance to tell you about. The other was the one from Florida. But while home I went on a date with the most beautiful woman. She might be flying out to see me soon.”
She tore a strip of hair out. I felt like I might puke for a brief moment. Irena wiggled one of my toes and winked at me.
“So what is with you and women. You talk talk talk about the men in your life. I ask about a woman and you turn red.”
“Oh I’m not sure. I didn’t realize I did that.”
“Are you a lesbian dahlink?”
Irena pushed my legs up over my head. I grabbed my heals. She put hot wax all over my asshole. I felt nauseous again.
“No I don’t think I am Irena.”
She ripped again, looking stoic. I thought I might kick her, but the pain was gone before I could think of how to describe it. Irena plucked at a few hairs she had missed. This was more painful.
“I am going to see John next week, maybe.”
Irena was quiet as she continued to tweeze and scrape at little invisible hairs. A lump developed in my throat. Irena does not always approve of my life and behaviors. She doesn’t like John. She hasn’t liked him since I first told her about how I met him on a Chinatown bus. I think what upset her the most was the fact that I took a bus to Philly, which is very unglamorous to her. I tried to think of something else to talk about.
“I wrote a new poetry book. I wrote 40 poems in two days.”
“That’s my little poet dahlink, so productive. Are your new poems about love?”
“No, they are about my family.”
Irena pushed up her glasses and didn’t hide her disappointment.
“How is your family dahlink?”
“There is some death and sickness. My trip home was a bit sad.”
Irena touched my head.
“That’s my brave girl.”
“How is your family Irena?”
“Oh we went to St. Petersburg for Christmas. I saw my grandson. My husband is lovely. We are going to travel soon. You know dahlink, third times a charm.”
Irena’s first two husbands are dead. She covered me with lotion and then baby powder.
“Today was fast. Can I make an appointment for a facial on Wednesday?”
“Yes of course dahlink.”
She handed me a slip of paper to give to the woman at the front desk.
“You better have more interesting stories for me by Wednesday dahlink.”
She touched my hand and winked at me again. I wasn’t sure that I would have more stories to tell her. I tried to think of better ways to explain the stories I already had. Irena never gets tired of hearing about young love.