Melanie’s gaze was fixed on the woman walking towards her in the casual clothing section of the department store.  Searching for a dressing room to try on the short sleeve, marked down end of season top she was clutching, Melanie stopped in her tracks, as the woman neared, startled by the uncanny resemblance to her mother.

“Mom, what are you doing here?” Melanie was tempted to ask, thinking her mother hadn’t driven anywhere on her own for years.

Instead, Melanie stood there for a moment, the woman holding her gaze, wearing the same expression on her face, lips parted on the verge of speaking and gray hair, seriously in need of conditioner, flying in all directions.  When they were almost nose to nose, Melanie realized the advancing woman wasn’t her mother.

Wanting to be certain this was no optical illusion, Melanie extended her hand till it met the glass, a tiny gasp with the revelation she was about to collide with herself, embarrassment by her appearance and overwhelmed at the discovery.

“I didn’t think I looked so old,” Melanie said in the car, catching a glimpse of the wrinkled skin of her right cheek in the rearview mirror.  Anxious to be anywhere but here, she’d left the store empty handed, too dispirited to try on anything after what she’d seen in the reflective glass.  The dressing room would be crueler.

Not until she was safely ensconced in the confines of her own home, the lights lowered to a more flattering glow, did Melanie dare to study her reflection in the bedroom mirror where the cream colored walls softened everything.

“We all become our mothers,” her mother’s voice echoed in the deepest region of Melanie’s brain.  Pointless to ponder the impossibility of fending off the inevitable.

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