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Her name is Claire. In the cubicles next to her at the hospital, from 7 to 3, are Charlene and Delia. Sometimes, at the coffee machine in the morning, they say hello to each to other. Then they go to their cubicles, plug in their ears and listen to doctors with various accents dictate surgical reports all day. It's a 24-hour operation - Claire goes to lunch for a half-hour at 11:30, Charlene goes at 12 and Delia goes at 12:30. Claire doesn't know that Charlene's mother is dying of cancer or that Delia's son has a serious drug problem and may go to prison. They each have errands to run during those 30-minute breaks - quick stops to the drug store, the grocery store, paper work to be signed. For each woman, her mortgage payment or rent takes up half of her paycheck. The rest goes for electricity, gas, car payments, insurance, gasoline, phone service and luxury items such as cable TV or cell phones. Each has grown children that require money on somewhat of a regular basis. Diapers to buy, formula, medicine, you know. Once in a while, a new pair of shoes or a new uniform has to be bought. Each woman is divorced, in her 40's. None are beauties, but not hags, either. Claire, at 5'3" and 115 pounds, had to give up her long-term use of contact lenses because she started to require bifocals. Men used to eye her while shopping at Walmart, but that doesn't happen anymore. Charlene is a tall blonde beauty, or used to be, until she started putting on middle edge spread is now up to about 145 pounds. Delia is Hispanic - short and rather chubby, with a hearty, zestful laugh. But her hearty, zestful laugh never gets heard - her short chubbiness speaks far louder. After work, each woman picks up from school or day care any younger children still living at home, cooks dinner and helps out with homework. Maybe a load of clothes needs to be done - actually, it usually needs to be done, because clothes are expensive and children outgrow them so fast. After bedtime - after wrestling the kids to bed around 9 - the woman sits down and glances at TV or maybe a Vogue or Harpers Bazaar. Whichever, it's exactly what she expects to see at the end of the day - tall, lithe, beautiful, blonde women - the types their ex-husbands are married to now. There are no mirrors in her home, because she knows, all too well, that she is invisible now, in this wonderful world of ours, filled with opportunities.

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