Evangeline Witherspoon removes one of
the lipsticks from the plastic dollar store bag and uses her
fingernail to work off the wrapping. She twists the base, watches the
lipstick emerge, pretty and unblemished and new, a perfect forty-five
degree angle of pure color. She stretches out her lower lip with her
bottom teeth and rubs the lipstick back and forth before pressing her
lips together. She studies herself intently in the bathroom mirror.
Too pink, she decides, wiping off the lipstick with her
lavender-scented handkerchief. She takes another from the bag and
repeats the process. Too orange. Another. Taupe.
"What are you doing, Mother?"
Her daughter Edna limps into the bathroom and squints at her "Why
are your lips two different colors?"
Evangeline glances at herself in the
mirror. Her top lip is orange. Her bottom lip taupe. She sighs. Edna,
she is sure, is convinced that Evangeline is slipping. This
lipstick incident won't help. Evangeline wipes her lips clean.
After Edna broke her hip in that car
accident a few months back, Evangeline asked her daughter to move in
with her. It would be neat, she'd thought, to care for her daughter
once again. She envisioned cooking up great kettles of chicken noodle
soup. Staying up late in pajamas watching movies on that webby thing
that Al Gore invented before he went all environmental. Talking over
coffee and buttery croissants.
Evangeline had thought they'd go back
to the way things were years and years ago.She hadn't expected Edna
to turn into a vegan. Hadn't expected Edna to fall in love with Dirk
Dimkowitz across the street. She hadn't expected Edna to quit her job
and make this move a thing of permanence.
"How is your hip feeling today,
"Getting better every day."
She smiles. "Dirk's helping me with my therapy now."
Evangeline nods. She was supposed to be
the one helping her daughter. Not Dirk. "I'm glad you found
someone. After Brian died...Well, I was just so worried about you.
Out there in California all by yourself, with nobody to take care of
"You sweet on someone, Mom?"
"Maybe." Evangeline wipes her
lips again and tries the fourth tube. Red. She considers. Bright, but
"I like that one." Edna shuts
the lid on toilet, and with her cane, lowers herself on the fuzzy
pink seat. "So who is he?"
"Oh, nobody." Evangeline can
feel herself blush. Living with Edna wasn't what Evangeline had
expected. Edna going out at all hours of the day: Dinners, shopping,
theatre trips and museum visits. Evangeline is..Well, truth be told,
Evangeline is jealous of her daughter.
"Phillip Feizer?" Edna raises
"That old prune face?"
Evangeline says, then glances at her reflection. She presses her
fingertips against the mirror, traces the wrinkles in the glass. When
did she get so old? "Not Phillip."
She applies a bit of blusher to her
cheeks. Just a touch, mind you. Not like the way Deidre Jacoby puts
it on. The woman looks as if she suffers from a permanent and
incurable case of Fifth Disease. Eye shadow? No. She decides. She's
grown beyond eye shadow.
"No. Not Henry,"
Evangeline says, refusing to pronounce his name the French way. Every
since Henry Smith took that genealogy class and discovered he was
one-sixteenth French, he's insisted upon the new pronunciation. "Man
enrolled in a French conversation class at the community college."
"Word is he's failing it,"
Edna says, laughing. "But he's doing quite well in the culinary
class. Might make you a nice dinner." She hoists herself back up
and stands behind her mother; begins pulling bobby pins from
Evangeline's hair. It falls around her shoulders, long and white.
"I look like a witch."
"You look beautiful." Edna
picks up the brush from the counter and begins running it through
Evangeline's hair. "I wish I'd inherited this."
Evangeline sighs and closes her eyes.
"I remember when you used to style my hair. We'd sit for hours
on the couch listening to the radio after I got dinner started. When
you finished, you'd hold up the mirror and it was all I could do not
to laugh." She giggles. "Little plastic curlers hanging
from one piece of hair. My bangs teased straight up. Fifteen plastic
butterfly barrettes all over my head. You made me leave it in until
you father got home." She opens her eyes and sees Edna has tears
in her eyes. "What's wrong?"
"I always wanted it to be like
this, Mom. You and me." She places a hand on Evangeline's
shoulder. "But after I started high school..."
Evangeline smiles. "People must
grow apart before they can grow together."
"I just want to start new. Go back
to the beginning."
Evangeline shakes her head.
"Relationships aren't like lipsticks, Edna."
Her daughter frowns. "What do you
"You can't peel back the cover and
unwrap them anew. And you can't expect perfection. You just pick up
in the middle and move forward as best you can."
Edna nods and dabs at her eyes. "So
who is it?"
"Well, if you must know, it's
"Frank is not a
doofus, Edna, any more than your man friend Dirk is."
Edna sets the brush
on the counter. "What's wrong with Dirk?"
wrong with Frank?" Their eyes meet in the mirror. They hold each
other's gaze for a moment before Edna looks away. "You always
say that Frank is ...overdoing
"Well he is.
But I'm willing to look past all that."
Edna. Same as you were until you met up with Dirk again."
a person gets old doesn't mean they're no longer interested in life.
In a relationship with somebody."
Edna blushes. "But
everything I wanted in a man. And he does do things that embarrass me
"He's so loud,
"That he is.
But sometimes you have to decide to stop being so hard everyone and
take what the world has to offer."
Edna smiles. "You
like Dirk, Mom?"
Evangeline nods. "I
think he's a fine man."
Edna picks up the brush and resumes styling her mother's hair.
the Scriptic.org prompt exchange this week, Michael
at http://MichaelWebb.us gave
me this prompt: "I am not at all concerned with appearing
to be consistent. In my search after Truth I have discarded many
ideas and learnt many new things." --Mahatma Gandhi
Kelly Garriott Waite on Google+
Labels: flash fiction, scriptic.org