Lip Service

assorted hanged clothes near white light bulb

Photo: Henry & Co. on Pexels.com

 

“Oh, but you will love this!” the seller gushed, her purple tipped pixie cut bobbing in time with the movement of her thumbs on the screen.

“Do you really think so?” the matronly woman twirled tentatively in front of the mirror, unaware that the saleswoman hadn’t even raised her head.

“Absolutely!”

“I’m worried the color is too bright,” the woman fretted and patted down frizzy wisps of hair long past the time for touching up. She smoothed the folds of the dress over her midriff. “Also, I don’t know about the pattern. Don’t you think it is too young for me?”

The saleswoman paused in her staccato typing long enough to glance at her customer. She stilled a yawn. Less than an hour before she could close, return the piles of discarded tried-on clothing to their hangers, and be free from the need to constantly reassure strangers that they looked better than they did or could.

“This color is all the rage,” the seller noted in the half-petulant, half-coercive tone she’d found tended to move her less assertive customers into feeling that to not buy the item would somehow mean they were backwards, dated, or wasting her time.

A long moment passed. More preening from the customer.

“It does not really work with my coloring,” the woman frowned. “Or is this just the lighting here?”

Not much would work with your coloring, the seller swallowed a retort. “It is all about the right combinations,” she said instead. She plastered on a smile, put her phone down, opened a jewelry box, and pulled out a small black tube.

“Here, let me,” she added, twisting an orange mass out of the bottom part of the tube and reaching for the woman’s chin. “All you need is the right lipstick.”

 

 

For Linda’s SoCS challenge: Lip

 

 

Soul Searching

NewZealand InbarAsif

Photo: Inbar Asif

 

Would you sell your soul

To sorrow?

Would you reap

Hate’s awful gain?

Would you let go of

Tomorrow

So false power

Rise again?

 

Will your heart see

All humanity?

What will you allow,

Sustain?

Will your soles

Feed earth

Or hollow

Out it’s wealth

To drain?

 

Will you leave

Your soul abandoned?

Will you let your spirit

Die?

Or will you hold on

To the morrow

In a world

For you

And I?

 

 

For the SoCS prompt: Soul/sole

 

 

Unabashed Bash

red-velvet-cake-3960016_1920

Photo: Fawaz Sharif

 

She would not apologize for throwing a party to celebrate her last menstruation.

“Oh, but I will have a bash, if only to bash the preconceived notion that we women have any reason to be bashful about our body’s machinations,” she declared when her husband paled at the idea and her sons bloomed into a matching shade of pink.

“We gals bleed for a good chunk of our lives,” she pressed on, ignoring the slight green hue that crept onto her sons’ faces. “It is the blood of life, the blood of disappointment, or relief, or missed opportunity … but it is our blood, made by our bodies and relinquished so new lining can accept a future product of intercourse.”

“Mom …” her eldest groaned, but she silenced him with one of her ‘looks’ and glared a warning at her youngest, who appeared ready to chorus. At seventeen and sixteen they had squirmed through several variations of “the talk” in their lives, and would survive this one, too. Especially as they were old enough to be instrumental in causing a female’s monthly cycle to not cycle … If they were capable of ravishing girls’ bodies with more than their eyes, they should be able to stomach the realities of what girls’ bodies are capable of, as well as what women both endure and celebrate.

“I’m not going to force you to be here for the party,” she clarified. The vivid relief on all three of her menfolk’s faces was hilarious even if she couldn’t help being somewhat insulted. “What I will not do is lie about what this party is for.”

Her body had reached a milestone, and she wasn’t going to pretend it was nothing worth a mention. Not when the two young men (and the one which had preceded them but never made it through to birthing) were proof of the very miracles that female bodies – like her own – had been capable of till now. This called for proper celebration.

She rummaged in her bag and pulled out a scribbled-on napkin. “Let’s see. I’ve made a list. There will be invitations, perhaps shaped like uteri, or like tampons. I hadn’t decided.”

Now that her attention was no longer fully on them, her sons eyed each other and began to beat a slow but determined retreat. She raised an eyebrow in their direction and did not challenge them, but when her husband deigned to follow his offspring, she tapped the seat next to her in more order than invitation.

He sat.

He’d learned long ago that anything to do with “women’s time” was best not argued with or over. He hadn’t the foggiest idea what it would be like to have a period (or be pregnant or lose one or give birth or nurse babies, for that matter), and he wasn’t sure he wanted to have more of an idea of any of it. Certainly not the bloody business, which always gave him the queasy willies. So he kept his mouth shut and nodded at what he thought were appropriate intervals as his wife kept on with her planning monologue.

It did not stop his mind from sending fervent prayers that Carrie or Michelle or Linda, or anyone with double-X chromosomes, and therefore far more suited for such planning, would stop by or call and rescue him from being his wife’s audience.

“So,” she enthused, “for the cake? What do you think? Red velvet?”

His favorite. Well, not anymore.

He didn’t think he’d be able to touch the stuff again.

 

 

For the SoCS prompt: abash/a bash/bash

 

Celebrity Stalk

green celery carrots and pepper flakes garlic

Photo: Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

“I will not celebrate with celery,”

She said, and then

She frowned,

For no celebrity that’s

Worth her salt

Will turn down green

When it is found.

 

“We can still have a

Celebration,”

She tried correcting course,

But the celestial already

Knew

She had no true

Remorse.

 

 

For the SoCS prompt: Cele-

(I was having WAY too much fun with this one! 😉 )

The Critic

silhouette of a man in window

Photo by D. Tong on Pexels.com

 

It was his job to be the critic.

He’d taken it on when he was but a child and there was naught by chaos all around him.

Criticizing was a way to put some order into madness, to have at least the illusion of control.

Not that he’d criticize them openly and risk the switch or belt or backhand or the things that were … well … worse.

But criticize he did.

Mostly himself.

At first as practice.

Then as habit.

Then as something he would do without even a pause to think.

Offer a knifing critic.

Of his actions. Of his wishes. Of his hopes. His thoughts. His dreams.

What had began as coping, turned a prison.

And the jailer was inside him.

The sentencing, his own.

 

 

 

For the SoCS Saturday Challenge: Critic(al)

 

Third Yawn

man person cute young

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

“We’ll be okay,” he promised, even though he had never cared for a baby, let alone one quite so young.

It didn’t matter. He’d google it. He’d even call Aunt Edna if he had to.

For now, there was nothing to do but reassure Margo, who looked as if a semitrailer had gone over her once and came back for seconds. He had no idea what bleeding in a new mother meant, but he didn’t think it could be something to ignore, even as he simultaneously tried hard to not imagine the exact nature of it.

Still she argued with him till he said, “what if you give whatever this is to the baby?”

She let him call the paramedics. She agreed to call her mom.

“There’s breast milk in the freezer!” Margo remembered as EMS wheeled her out.

He was curious enough to head straight for the kitchen to check it out. He wasn’t sure what he was looking for till he spotted a few small zippy bags in the freezer’s door. They had a date scrawled on with a sharpie and contained an off-white substance. Didn’t look like milk. Well, maybe like a watered down version of ‘milk’ from the vegan aisle.

He stood there and wondered how the milk got from the freezer to the baby’s tummy. Do you cook it? Does it get ruined if you microwave it? Isn’t it supposed to be in a bottle? He hoped Margo’s mom will arrive before he had to figure that out.

He shut the freezer door but his mind would not shut the topic. How did the breast milk get into the bag in the first place? Did people sell this stuff? Was it hers? How does one milk a breast? Do you even call it “milking”? His mind conjured images too odd to contemplate. He wasn’t sure he liked realizing that women’s breasts had … um … practical uses.

The baby whimpered and he jumped to pick her up from the swinging car-seat-like-thing she was strapped into. Took him a good two minutes to figure out the clasp. Fort Knox, this thing. By then the whimper became full on red-in-the-face howl. He tried not to panic. Did babies normally get this loud or was the baby sick? He thought of Margo’s bleeding. Would he have to check, you know, the diaper area?

He bounced the baby lightly against his chest and she burped and dribbled some off-white liquid that looked like the breast milk in reverse. It wet his shirt but he didn’t care because the baby quieted. He wasn’t sure whether to keep bouncing her or not. What if she burped up more and ended up losing all the food in her tummy? He settled on a sort of light jiggly dance. Seemed to help. When he peeked down he saw the baby’s eyes had closed. The tiny mouth was closed, too.

A huge yawn stretched his.

He’d just come home from a double shift at the construction site and was dreaming of bed when he remembered that he’d promised Margo he’d check on the stairway light. He knocked on his neighbor’s door to let her know it was just a faulty light-switch, and was alarmed at how awful she looked when she opened it.

Margo rented the one-bedroom above the studio apartment he liked to think of as “his bachelor pad” though it was more like college-dorm-meet-thrift-store-shabby. Margo had already been pregnant when she’d moved in, and he’d felt a combination of protectiveness, shyness, and admiration for the young woman. Her mother had given him a critical once-cover and a ‘best not mess with my kid’ look when she’d come for the birth. He cowed under her glare and tried to stay out of their way. He hoped he passed muster when Margo’s mother found him making room for the stroller in the small landing. She didn’t say much, but she was marginally less glacial afterwards.

He’d been relieved when Margo’s mom left. Now he couldn’t wait for her to return.

Another yawn. He wasn’t sure how far away Margo’s mom lived. An hour? Two? More?

Margo had left her mother’s number on a sticky note, but he didn’t want to call. Told himself she had enough to worry about, though in truth he just didn’t want her to think he was as inept as he felt.

I did get the baby to fall back asleep, though, he thought defensively …

The third yawn threatened to swallow half the baby.

He lowered himself gingerly onto the couch. Hoped the baby stays quiet. She did. Good. He’d just close his eyes for a moment.

***

He woke to pots and pans and the smell of eggs and coffee. There was a slight weight on his chest. He stared down to see a downy head peeking from under a brown blanket.

“You were both fast asleep,” Margo’s mom manifested, apron-clad and a sudsy sponge in one hand.

He blinked.

She smiled, and he noted to himself that she didn’t look half as intimidating as he’d remembered.

“How’s Margo?” he chanced.

“She’s stable,” her smile thinned, with worry, not critic. “They gave her blood and are keeping her for observation but I can bring Ella to visit her later this afternoon.”

As if she knew she was the topic of the conversation, the baby stirred and stretched a small fist at his jaw. Her eyes opened and she contorted her face, ready to cry.

“I’ll take her,” Margo’s mom put the sponge down and wiped her hand on her apron before reaching for the baby. “Did she eat?”

He shook his head. Still a bit dazed and surprisingly disappointed at the loss of the small heft over his heart.

“I’ll make her a bottle.” Margo’s mom nuzzled the baby’s neck, and tilted her head toward a phone on the coffee table. The smile was back. “I took a photo, by the way. Of you and Ella. Was too sweet to not share.”

 

 

 

For Linda’s SoCS challenge: Yawn

 

Essentially

bridge over quiet water SmadarHalperinEpshtein

Photo: Smadar Halperin-Epshtein

 

“Essentially, it should just be a matter of putting one foot in front of the other,” Dan noted, raising a mischievous bushy eyebrow and staring meaningfully at the assembled group of aspiring hikers. “Only that for some of us this might be an impossibility, seeing that … well …”

The participants laughed.

The six youngsters had barely five feet between them, let alone the assumed two per beating heart.

Dan had none.

“So,” the bearded guide waved a muscular arm over the skateboard that supported his legless torso. “We do something better.”

He pointed at each of the youngsters and their varied modes of conveyance. “We glide, we slide, we roll, we hop, we drive. We do whatever is necessary, and …” he chuckled, “because lunch will be served at the end of this path, we best get started or we’ll also end up doing it hungrily.”

 

 

For the SoCS challenge: ends with -ly

 

A Firm Affirm

girl wearing white and black striped long sleeved shirt jumping outdoor

Photo: Tetyana Kovyrina on Pexels.com

 

She climbed atop the hay

And called

“I am King Of The Hill!”

And then she paused

And frowned

And said,

“I am the Princess

I’m the Queen!

No dress

No crown

But still!”

 

 

For the Stream of Consciousness Prompt: Affirm