Brazen: Lipstick

By Jo Phillips

Illamasqua Box Red Lipstick
Illamasqua Box Red Lipstick

The lipstick she had worn that evening was the indelible kind that promised to stay on for twenty four hours. She had seen it advertised in a magazine at the doctor’s surgery. It actually did stay on, mostly, though god knows what was in it to be able to make it do that. Whatever it was made of had got a bit flaky at the edges of her lips so she stood now in the unfamiliar bathroom trying to scrub it off with her fingernail. The man she had gone home with didn’t have any make up remover. At least none that was obvious.

His bathroom was surprisingly homey. She had imagined minimal chic, clean lines, hard masculine edges, from his conversational style, and from his directness when he had asked her to accompany him to dinner. She hadn’t imagined the clutter of sponges, moisturiser, discarded Sunday supplements, house plants. It was nice.

She caught her own eye in the mirror and stopped scraping at her mouth. She let her hands fall and looked at the face in the mirror.

The restaurant they had gone to had been busy and bright. The waitress had spoken in a voice which had the same up and down inflections of an old dial-up modem. It had been distracting. She had said as much to the man, the man whose bathroom she was now standing in. He didn’t seem to understand what she was talking about.

The man was waiting for her in the sitting room. She had left him on the sofa. She started at her lips again, then rinsed her mouth and rubbed it with the hand towel. The last of the lipstick came off on the corner of the towel and she replaced it the other way round so it wasn’t obvious.

To compensate for the disappearing lipstick she dug some eyeliner out of her pocket and drew it on, emphasising first one eye, then the other. She held her own gaze again when she had finished and wondered what she was doing here.

She just didn’t want to feel invisible. Tonight she had felt seen, scrutinised even. It had felt so unfamiliar. Her children, who she
loved with a single-mindedness she had previously been unable to imagine, would be sleeping now in their bedroom decorated with Harry
Potter. They couldn’t really see her, much as she loved them, they took for granted her omnipresence. Her husband would also be sleeping, secure in the knowledge she was staying at the conference centre. He too, had long stopped looking at her body, naked or otherwise. Who would blame her for a sweet moment of visibility here with this acquaintance? What harm could one night do?

“Are you ok in there?” A male voice asked from the other side of the bathroom door.
“Yes”, she replied, “just a minute.”
She replaced the eyeliner in her pocket and felt for the bump of the ring that was also in there.
“Coming”, she said, reaching for the door handle.

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