Cherry-Red Lipstick

January 23, 2012
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I watched her take one last drag from her cigarette. Her eyelids closed halfway in pleasure as cherry red lips hugged tightly around it; in my mind I saw the smoke suck smoothly down her throat as if in a vacuum and curl up in her lungs- diffusing through their walls and seeping to every corner of her body. Slowly she exhaled and I watched again as the grey smoke danced back up and out her mouth- now poised in a small “o” shape. It dirtied the insides of her lips as it flowed slowly like an upside-down waterfall above her head and throughout her glossy hair. Opening her eyes, she grinned and showed her smooth, ivory teeth outlined slightly in black, ebony tar like keys on a piano. “Let’s go,” she said pursing her cherry-reds, looping a skinny arm through her purse and pushing open the back door to the gym. I followed the clicking of her pumps back to the cafeteria where the students ate in a sea of ripped denim, XXL shirts, and flirty giggles. Her tiny butt maneuvered through the crowd and I continued to follow her trail of ‘Scuse me’s and ‘Watch it’s, allowing myself to indulge in the attention of the crowd. It was a drug and I could stay high on the jealousy all day. Finally arriving at our table, she popped a mint into her mouth and snapped open a water bottle, her sharp, red nails twirling to twist the cap. She started talking about a party and I watched her lips as they moved- her scarlet lipstick standing out like poison against her pale, porcelain skin. The stark curve of her smooth upper lip swooped sinfully skywards only to run elegantly down to a point in the middle of her mouth like a clear drop of blood in the clear water of her face. Every now and then she would take a sip of water and leave a bright red circle around the mouth of the bottle. “So you’re coming right?” “Yeah, sure,” I replied. The bell rang and we walked to class.
Four hours later, she was reaching her hand into the cupboard next to a grimy sink and pulling out two bottles of hard liquor. We drove to a house at the end of a small, dirt road surrounded by trees; already I could hear the drunken shouts of people at a party and the music playing loudly. Immediately after closing the door boys swarmed her like moths to a lamp. I traipsed through the house behind her- listening to scornful insults about any girl who dared to look her direction and laughing dryly along as guys checked her out. Eventually she pulled out the liquor and instructed me, “Drink.” She raised her bottle directly upside-down and began to swallow- I imagined the clear liquid sliding down and clinging to the tar and dirt coating her throat. I tipped my bottle back and felt the stinging alcohol burn coldly in the back of my mouth. Ungracefully, I sputtered and wheezed the cool liquor down before giggling drunkly to cover up.
The rest of the night was spent in a similar manner- I drank when she drank and laughed when she smirked. As she went to the bathroom to check her makeup, I leaned against a banister and watched the commotion- my head started to throb and objects spun around me slightly out of focus. Then I heard a scream that split my head in two; I hunched over with my arms around my head until people began nudging me uupstairsand telling me things I couldn’t understand. Finally pushed through an open door my heart quickened and dropped. My blood chilled as my eyes followed the stark outline of her cold, pale-white, skeleton body lying frozen against the hard, black linoleum- a single trail of thick, red liquid dripping from her nose and dancing with her cherry-red lips.





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