At 6-foot 2-inches in her stocking feet, Mildred was noticeably tall. In her stacked heel Oxfords, she was taller yet. By the time I met her, Mildred was angular, hard-edged, and in her late 40s. She wasn’t one for friendships, but as her next door neighbor, I knew her better than most.
Mildred was not much of a drinker. Maybe she’d have a sip of sherry before lunch just to stimulate her appetite. Maybe she’d have a tot of whisky before bed to help her sleep. Maybe she’d have a social drink over the holidays, but as she often said, “I really don’t drink.”
When Mildred did drink, she was a lot more fun. Her flushed face seemed friendlier; her judgmental eyes kinder; her brittle self… softer.
Just one sip and Mildred was ready to shrug off her ever-constant cardigan and smooth her dress down over her hips.
A second drink would see her reaching out to strangers, drawing them close and confidentially cooing, “Call me Millie.” Her tight, beauty parlor curls seemed to have more bounce. Her blunt hands appeared more girlish.
At two drinks, anything was possible. Kneeling at the altar rail, she was liable to wink at the priest as he served communion. Later in the church fellowship hall, she’d be quoting the New Testament instead of the Old.
Dancing by herself to music only she could hear, Mildred seemed to grow shorter as she floated away in a haze of soft and pretty.