Anatomy of a Mid-Life Crisis
a story by Dot

Today was her birthday, and she celebrated it alone.

“Don’t you look pretty,” she told herself, dripping with sarcasm, as she inspected the gray streaks in her hair.  She traced the laugh lines next to her eyes.  “A killer beauty.” She cupped her sagging breasts, made southward by two forever hungry no-longer-children, and sighed.  “It’s a wonder he comes home at all.”

He.  Her husband, whatever that was supposed to mean; even she didn’t understand all the details that comprised a marriage, and she had a sneaking suspicion that he knew even less.  His glaring absence today told her that he still had quite a bit to learn.

She had no doubt that he loved her.  After all, he gave her a family, stuck around long enough to be some sort of a father figure, and put up with thirty-odd years of her complaints.  Not to mention that he never, ever looked at another woman the way he did at her.  At least not in her presence.  And he did care enough to give his life for her, when evil threatened to destroy them all.

Yet, despite all of this, she had no doubt that he loved Another more: he was dedicated to the thrills of battle with a passion that sometimes drove her to jealousy.  Most of the time, it just pained her to know that while they did have their moments together, she would always be playing second fiddle to whatever challenge that happened to stand in his way.

She’d tried to change him, at first in a subtle, gentle manner, then with much more force.  But he refused to play Daddy or Breadwinner with just as much determination as she had to make him fit those roles.  They bickered without end, each trying to get in the last word and neither really succeeding.  She even took her frustration to the bedroom once; that was how she got pregnant with their second, during a time when she wasn’t quite ready to play mother again.

After that, she gave up on molding him into her image.  With the pressure gone, he’d at first behaved just as she feared, disappearing for weeks at a time with no sign of him anywhere.  Then, without warning or explanation, he returned, and she couldn’t seem to get rid of him.  They spent a blissful five years together, enough time so that their second grew up in adoration of their father instead of fearful respect like their eldest.

Then school began, and once again he was gone.

That was when she realized she had no hold on him whatsoever, that he would always come and go as his first Love called.  And with the passing of each birthday spent alone in bitter silence, she would have less and less time to cherish the few moments she shared with him.  If he outlived her—a definite possibility considering he still appeared to be in his prime while she withered—he might not even come to her bedside when time took its inevitable toll on her aging body or attend her funeral.

It was enough to make her want to cry, or at least scream and break a few objects.  But she was too old for such petty fits.

Especially since there was no longer anyone watching.

Unnecessarily Long and Tiresome Authoress’ Notes:
When I attended JACON 2001, the guest of honor was Sean Schemmel, who is the voice of Goku in the American dub of Dragon Ball Z.  Among one of the questions posed to him was his opinion of Vegeta and Bulma’s relationship, and he blew it off as being “a hot thing”.  Before this, I had already begun to have second thoughts about my shamelessly romantic notions, but his statements came as the real wake-up call.  This piece is my reassessment of the Prince and his Lady, drawing more closely from the source material.