A typical day in the life of Buffy Summers began with a slender arm floundering for the alarm clock, quickly shutting it off before it could wake her husband sleeping peacefully on his side of the bed. Slipping out from under the heavy comforter, she would quietly make her way to the master bathroom and turn on the hot water for the shower, letting the room fill with steam to drive out the nights chill before searching for the days outfit in the attached walk-in closet. Once her clothes were selected and the merits of various shoes considered for a few minutes before settling on the perfect pair, the entire ensemble would be laid out on the chaise lounge in the back of the room. Stripping off one of her many cotton or flannel pajama sets with the fun and quirky prints, she would drop them along with her underthings into the basket by the door on her way into the shower.
The shower began her morning beauty ritual, starting with the thirty dollar coconut scented shampoo that helped keep her hair shiny and blonde and ending with the special, sixty dollar, in-shower body conditioning lotion that was supposed to lock in moisture and keep skin looking youthful. Youthful skin was good, especially now that she had passed the dreaded thirty year mark, but she had mostly bought that one because it left her smelling like strawberries and cream all day long. Grabbing one of the two extra-large, extra-fluffy white towels from the rack beside the shower and giving herself a rub before wrapping it around her body, she would take advantage of the condensation left by the showers steam to clean the bathroom. In the bottom of the small linen cabinet beneath the his-and-hers sink was a basket of cloths and cleaning supplies that she kept for just this purpose. She moved quickly, wiping down the large wall mirror, paying special attention to the burnished gold frame with the subtle but intricate flower patterns before moving on to the long counter and the sinks themselves. She loved the design of the sinks, two large, white marble bowls sitting atop the grey stone of the counter, the water running from an attached spigot that matched the gold of the mirrors frame, but all of their curves and nooks made cleaning difficult so for them she pulled out a small toothbrush. When she was done with the counter area she would turn to clean the large Jacuzzi tub in the corner, paying special attention to the water jets and to the built in bamboo shelves before moving on to give the glass walled shower a quick wipe down. Finally, she would let her towel fall to the floor, using it to wipe up the excess water from the black and white tiled floor before dropping it and her cleaning cloths into the basket on her way into the closet to dress.
Once dressed and accessorized to her satisfaction, she would head back into the bathroom to put away her cleaning supplies and pull out her hair dryer and brush, changing her hair from a soggy, limp, almost brown mess to the shiny, golden tresses that were one of her best features, checking to make sure her roots weren’t showing as she went. Dressed and with style-able hair she would head back into the bedroom, sitting at her antique, cherry wood vanity with the uncomfortable stool that matched the rest of the furniture in the dark, masculine room. The vanity was a bit too large for her, but Riley had insisted on the set when they had seen it in the shop, wanting a classically male room to retire to and the set really was beautiful, heavy and solid and simple as it was. She would watch Riley in the mirror as she put on her makeup and styled her hair. Most of the time he would stay deeply asleep until she finished and went to wake him up to take his own shower but sometimes he would stir and slowly, quietly come awake until he was sitting up and watching her, occasionally meeting her eye and smiling in the gentle way she had fallen in love with. He would wait until she was applying the finishing touches before getting up to walk across the room to the bathroom, never saying a word but stopping on the way to drop a light kiss to the top of her head.
Pretty and primped and ready to face the world, she would make her way out of the bedroom, down the hall and down the stairs, past the entranceway and the formal living room and into the kitchen where she would prepare the same breakfast every morning, one cup of oatmeal, one fruit and one glass of soy milk per person. The only thing that changed was the type of fruit. The white dishes looked nice against the light wood of the round, four person table nestled in the sunny corner that served as a breakfast nook, delicate blue floral pattern catching the light from the bay windows prettily.
She would head back up the stairs to open the door at the far end of the hall, picking her way across the toy sprinkled room and opening the white, lacy curtains to let in more light from the wall of east facing windows. Then she would turn to the twin bed with its pastel pink sheets, almost overflowing with pillows and stuffed animals and dolls and one very sleepy little girl. Moving aside the sheer netting of the canopy hanging from the ceiling above the bed to sit, she would gather the child up in her arms, holding her on her lap and brushing back dark hair to reveal eyes stubbornly closed. Rocking Dawn gently, she would murmur little encouragements, telling her it was time to wake up, what a delicious breakfast she had waiting, how much fun she would have at school, until those eyes opened and Dawn took her hand with a quiet “Good morning,” and followed her down the hall, down the stairs, through the entryway and the formal living room and into the kitchen just in time to meet Riley for a family breakfast.
Throughout breakfast they would make small talk about their plans for the day. Riley giving vague outlines of his agenda for work, business meetings and presentations and lunches, Dawn eagerly detailing her expectations for her day at preschool in the way that only four year olds can, repetitive and simple but enthusiastic. Buffy would listen and respond, making sure to seem extra interested when she saw Dawn’s eyes light up with excitement, extra supportive when she heard any uncertainty in Riley’s voice. When breakfast was over, Riley would grab his briefcase and they would walk him to the door. He would give them each a quick kiss on the check and Dawn would wave and shout goodbye until his car turned the corner at the end of the street.
Then they would head upstairs to the bathroom off the hall filled with oh-so-chic Sesame Street décor to brush their teeth together, Buffy with her hot pink toothbrush and Dawn with her special singing toothbrush that helped her brush for the correct length of time via an Elmo led rendition of the ABC’s. She and Dawn would have a brief, lighthearted squabble about Dawn’s outfit for the day and, usually, Dawn would end up in something that matched. Grabbing her backpack on the way downstairs, Dawn would contemplate her snack choices with the same intensity that her mother did shoes and when she had decided, Buffy would walk her to the sidewalk to wait on the bus. Waiting on the school bus, Buffy would give Dawn a chance to show off her newfound knowledge, asking her to spell small words or do very simple addition and when the bus pulled up she would give Dawn a big hug and a kiss, tell her she loved her and wave after the bus until it was out of sight.
She always walked slowly back up the drive to the house, enjoying the early morning sun and the sounds of birds and neighbors getting ready and leaving for work. She’d admire the flowerbeds and shrubbery on the lawn, make mental notes of anything to tell the gardener or maintenance men and pick up any toys Dawn had missed and left out the previous evening. After cleaning up the breakfast mess, she would head upstairs again to pick up the clothes that Riley had inevitably left on the floor and any mess that he had made in the bathroom. She’d make up the bed and go down the hall to make Dawn’s bed, grabbing the laundry from her room and then the laundry from the master suite to take to the room under the stairs that housed the ecofriendly washing machine and dryer, a laundry sorting hamper, a small shelf for detergent and other miscellaneous laundry items and an ironing board with a super cute sunflower print cover that she had bought last spring. After sorting the laundry into whites, darks, lights, and dry clean only, she would wander around the house absently fluffing pillows, unnecessarily dusting and vacuuming idly.
After all of this was done her family had been gone for three hours, it was ten in the morning and she had absolutely nothing to do to fill the five long hours until Dawn returned home. Boredom was Buffy’s life, time seemed to slow to a crawl during the weekday afternoons spent alone in the quiet house. Her neighbors worked or kept to themselves, she’d left her friends behind when they had moved to the LA suburbs and she had nothing in her life to keep her occupied beyond her family. The only variations in her routine were her choice of outfit and the type of fruit she had for breakfast.
Today it was a banana and a knee length, black A-line skirt over sheer stockings paired with a white camisole underneath a fitted, white quarter sleeve button up and black, chunky-heeled ankle boots. Her blonde hair was pulled back and she looked altogether quite professional. Or, at least, she hoped she did because today was the day she changed her life. Today was the day she escaped her rut of boredom and the pointless direction her life had gone. Today was the day she, Buffy Summers, got a job.
Well, she hoped she’d be getting a job, she hadn’t actually had one in her adult life and she wasn’t completely sure how she was going to go about it, ten years was a pretty big resume gap. It wasn’t that she’d never worked before, she’d had a part time job at the Doublemeat Palace during high school and she’d been preparing for a job in college, she’d even gotten over half of her degree done on the way to becoming a school counselor. Life, however, had gotten in the way of any career ambitions she’d once held. She sometimes wondered how something as slow moving as her life had overtaken her so quickly. One moment she had been in her junior year of college, the next she was thirty-one, married with a child in the suburbs.
She’d had the best of intentions in college, she’d had a plan. She’d never expected her life to end up like this, with nothing to do and nowhere to go. When she’d met Riley in her sophomore year of college he had been a senior and so sweet and wholesome and just yummy, nothing like Angel, her only other serious relationship that had ended in disaster. Riley had graduated and gotten a great job at a security firm, they had moved in together and starting her junior year, Buffy had been pretty happy. Sure, maybe things with Riley weren’t passionate, but they were soft and loving and he made her feel so secure. Then her mother had died and everything had come crashing to a halt.
As the only child of a single parent, Buffy had been incredibly close to her mother. Coming home from class, she’d know immediately that something was wrong, Riley hadn’t seemed to know what to say. When he’d finally found the words to tell her, she’d gone into shock and stayed there all through the long drive home to Sunnydale. Sometimes she thought she still was, a little. It wasn’t until she had finally seen her mother’s…finally seen the body that she had broken down. Buffy had never cried that much in her life, not when her father had left, not when that guy had attacked her coming out of the Bronze that one time, not even when there had been a big gas explosion during her high school graduation.
After her mother’s death, it was all kind of a blur. Riley had encouraged her to take off of school for a while to mourn and recover, then he had proposed so there was the wedding to plan, then the honeymoon, he’d gotten a promotion and encouraged her to just wait a bit more during such a hectic time and then Dawn had come along. Now Dawn had a more active social life than her and making dinner was the most exciting part of her day.
But that was going to change. She was going to get a job, even a little one, and she would have somewhere to go and something to do and people to see every day. She wasn’t going to sit around the house going slowly but surely insane. She wasn’t going to interact with only her family for weeks on end and the majority of her conversations were not going to be about Sesame Street. She was going to move from in front of the full length mirror beside the bench in the foyer, grab her minivan keys, walk out the front door and fill out as many job applications as she could in a day. She was.
Taking a deep breath, smoothing out her skirt and fighting the urge to change her shoes once again, Buffy reached for her purse on the coat rack by the door, double checked that she had her keys, plenty of money and no less than five pens, then stepped outside before she could change her mind.