The Third Mrs. Kessler
Her eyes—leaning closer to the magnifying mirror, Elaine could read the future in her eyes. Not so long ago one of her best features, they now seemed less brown, less deep, less alive with the hope and promise they once held. Despite ministrations with moisturizers and creams, the skin at the corners had begun to show crinkles. Her once lush lashes seemed thinner, even slightly scraggly, and needed lots of help. Pouches had not yet formed—be patient, she told herself, these, too, will arrive soon enough. The rims tended to redden, especially at night, a condition worsened by many years of wearing contact lenses. She had finally given up the lenses, to which she never quite adjusted, four years ago, just after the divorce from Jacob.
Had she been more beautiful as Mrs. Jacob Kessler, the third wife of the famous pianist, than as Elaine Goldman Kessler, the forty-four-year-old divorced mother of an eight-year-old son, or did she imagine it? Certainly, the world had been much more impressed with her as Mrs. Jacob Kessler. Hotel managers, maîtres d’, store clerks knocked themselves out to arrange the best tables, the most capacious suites, the quietest and most comfortable surroundings. Limousines awaited her exit from grand hotels; first-class was the only air travel she knew. Except for the month they spent every summer at Jacob’s place in Maine, near Castine, the details of cooking, cleaning, and other domestic chores were assumed to be beneath her notice—these days, working at a full-time job, she sometimes seemed to have time for little else—and even at Castine they had a cook four nights a week. The better part of her ten years as Mrs. Jacob Kessler had been quite magical—the most interesting part of her life, Elaine thought.
About the Author
Joseph Epstein is a regular contributor to COMMENTARY.