Doris had never been the most beautiful woman in the world. She was rather plain and didn’t have anything special going on for her. Besides, she was already over fifty years old and women her age simply didn’t have the same opportunities in life that younger ones. She couldn’t complain about her job, because she had been very lucky to keep it for so long but she would have loved to get married at least once in her lifetime. She had always dreamed of wearing a wedding dress and having one of those fun parties to celebrate her nuptials.
She had her chance when she was around twenty-four years old. An older man had wanted her in marriage and her father had agreed to it. Of course, Doris didn’t want to marry him but, in those times, women did whatever their father told them to and it was very difficult to do something different than what parents told their children. Doris cried and stopped eating for a week but that didn’t change his father’s mind. However, the old man that wanted to marry Doris died only a couple of days before the actual ceremony so she was saved.
When she looked back to that memory, she found herself thinking very differently from that young girl she used to be. For example, she regretted the fact that she was never interested in knowing more about the man she was going to marry. Of course, they practically didn’t know each other but she could have asked and maybe, just maybe, that would have changed everything, even the fact that he had died. Yes, fifty year old Doris thought it was a good idea to marry a man that was, at least, thirty years older than her.
Be that as it may, she never got to wear that wedding dress. Besides, she had to see her two brothers and three sisters getting married. She had to go to their weddings and pretend to be happy for them but she never really was. She also had to go to other weddings, where she was even a bridesmaid. That was even crueler for her because she got too close to the real thing but it just wasn’t the same. It was all an illusion to keep her away from the one thing she wanted in life, the one thing you couldn’t really buy or force to happen.
In her work, however, Doris was successful. She was the assistant of the principal in the same high school where she and her brothers and sisters had gone. At first it had been weird to work there but she adjusted just fine in no time. Now she loved to reminisce about all those good-looking boys that had walked the hallways back when she was a teenager. She found herself thinking about them a little bit too often and even took to the social networks to track some of them down to see if they had changed a lot or not so much. The results were predictable.
Before turning fifty, Doris had gone over backwards to get a man. It sounds a little bit too desperate but it was what she wanted. She opened profiles in most of the matchmaking sites in the Internet and also downloaded several apps on her phone with the help of one of her nieces. She even started going to bars on Friday nights to see if she could attract any man. Doris didn’t even mind if it was only a crazy sex night but that didn’t happen either, which was frustrating and also hurtful for her. She felt even older than she really was.
As her birthday grew closer, she decided to go to all these events that advertised that you would get a couple in no time. Some of them were events where you met several men in a limited amount of time and others were holidays for singles in which the goal was to meet all of the people that were there with you and then just see who you had the best chemistry with. The thing about all of those was that they were only a waste of money. She always came back home disappointed on everything and even sadder than before.
After she turned fifty, it was as if something inside of her changed. She didn’t want to keep being desperate and accepted the fact that she was never going to find anyone. Of course, she remembered all of those family dinners for special holidays when she had to lie to her family or confess to them that she was still alone. As her family was concerned, Doris had been in a relationship with several men but it never really worked out for several reasons. Some didn’t have a job; some others were scoundrel and they were even a couple that ended up being gay.
Now that her parents were dead, those family dinners were over. She rarely met her brothers and sisters, only in funerals and such events, which was great for her because that way she didn’t need to talk about her private life. Stopping the lies had been really good for her because for a fragment of her life, she knew too well all the things she need to say to make a believable lie. She was so good at it that it seemed that she was beginning to believe everything she said herself. It was a very sad thing to do and it was for the best that it was all over.
So, after fifty, Doris was not interested in finding anyone new. She wasn’t interested in anything to be honest. She went from her home to her job and back home every evening. On the weekends, she spent several hours tending to her dog Fluffy and her small but well taken care of garden. It was her pride and joy, as she really loved to spend hours and hours getting everything to perfection. It was her passion and it helped her not thinking about thoughts that hurt her.
One day, by the advice of her next-door neighbor, Doris sent pictures of her garden to a specialized magazine, just for fun. Her neighbor had said that sometimes they sent people over to take pictures for their magazines and that was always fun. She thought that Doris could be one of the proud owners of a famous garden. At first she wasn’t too sure but one night she decided to do it, just to add a little bit of fun to her life. Maybe it was the wine she had been drinking, but she was as happy as one could be while taking the pictures.
Days later, she received an email from the magazine telling her that they were interested in a visit and asked her about her availability. Sure enough, they were there the following weekend. Her neighbor stood close by the whole time, showing Doris her two thumbs up every time the photographer took a picture or when the interviewer asked Doris about some of the flowers and she answered in the best way possible. They were only to people but she felt overwhelmed for a moment and had to take deep breaths when they weren’t watching.
The interviewer, shortly before leaving, told her that her pictures would be in the mix for the next issue, which would portray suburban gardens from the country. She could be in or out, they didn’t know yet so she had to be very attentive of the issue. For Doris, it was a torture to wait that long because the magazine was released every two months. But thinking about it also made her very happy and proud and it was certainly better than wondering why she was not married or why no man appeared to have any interest in her.
Sure enough, almost a month and a half later, the magazine’s new issue had her garden in the front page and in at least four other pictures inside. There even was an awkward picture the photographer had taken of her looking at her tulips. She was a bit embarrassed by it but many people thought it was a very nice picture. She kept the issue by her bed, to look it every time she felt down. Doris knew not many people knew about that magazine but that didn’t matter because it made her feel great and that’s what mattered.
However, the following week every single person she met greeted her kindly, smiled and congratulated her. At first she was very confused but then she read a letter she had gotten from the magazine: she had been awarded a prize for the best suburban garden in the country. The prize came with a cash prize and an actual medal that would be given to her in a ceremony in the magazine’s headquarters. For the first time in her life, Doris was really happy, for real, and did not relate her mood to her relationship status. No man could make her feel better than that recognition.