Monday, January 15, 2007

Sitting on the curb, cigarette shaking.

Caucasian woman, 50s, with tight curly black hair, orange lips and dark chiseled nostrils, dressed in a black wool coat and patterned silk scarf. She sits outside the laundromat, anxiously bouncing her foot.

Fables of Brunswick Avenue, Katherine Govier (HarperCollins Canada)

Page 155:

She turned the hot water tap hotter. Just as she dipped her hands back into the painful, bubbling bath the telephone rang. She let it go four times, so that the caller would know it was an inconvenience, and then dried her hands and set out to find the phone. It was on the floor behind a crate of books.

"Hello mother."

She forgot and now she's wearing her indoor lipstick outside. She tucks her chin into her scarf; head low in her book, knees to her chin. The filter of her cigarette is stained bright orange. Five more minutes on the last load of drying and she can get out of here. She forgot and now she feels silly, her lips ablaze with long-lasting metallic pearl. She's afraid she'll see someone she knows and they'll ask and she'll have to say, No, no she passed on. So young, they'll say, their eyes stuck on her lips, parted and quivering. Yes, she'll say, standing to look them in the eye, straightening the length of her jacket, looking like a clown. Yes, she was far too young. God bless, they'll say.

Bags full of unused Maybelline. Her daughter was just so pale and small. The therapist said she was ready for visitors. She'd gone to the store not knowing what girls like these days. She'd only ever worn one shade of blood red. Looking lost at the counter she'd let a young woman about the same age show her samples. I don't know what she likes, she'd said. She looks different every week. She'd bought the lot, approaching the hospital room with a shopping bag full of things to make her little girl pretty again. It was cause for celebration, a whole spoonful of oatmeal.

She'd been raised not to waste money, so the lipsticks stayed in their own case, Hello Kitty. Each morning she rose, put on the kettle, switched on the FM radio and put on her indoor lipstick.

She forgot and now she's out in the world. It’s written all over her face. She feels like a fool.

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