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

 

 

That Night

Photo Prompt: © Ronda Del Boccio

 

That night, when the children went missing, they fanned out, flashlights in hands and a dark crawling about in their hearts, which even the large projector brought out by the local sheriff’s office could not stop the spread of.

They looked in every corner, under brambles and in culverts and in places too small to hide a squirrel, let alone a child. The three had vanished so completely, one could have believed they had been naught but phantoms.

Yet phantoms wouldn’t have left canyons in souls, eroded deeper with the daily grief. For the kids were never found.

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

Reclaimed Royalty

 

https://naamayehudadotcom.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/7d39a-co.jpg?w=615

Lord O’Neill’s Cottage, Ram’s Island (from article in the Dublin Penny journal – 1830s) 

 

He’d come from royalty. Or at least from those who should’ve been but history had been too blind to realize their value. He’d seen promise in his older brother James: a lust for power and a need to force his will onto others. But James hadn’t shown enough self-preservation for a prince. A pity … but at least it left no issue of seniority.

Since childhood the conspiring doctors tried to claim him ill with “grandiosity.”

His mother failed to see. “We come from farmers, Thomas. Always have.”

Perhaps she truly believed her forefathers were but serfs to the O’Neills, but he knew better. He’d seen himself in the drawing, and it fit what he’d always known: He was destined for more, a royal progeny.

He’d take the island by force. It’ll make them realize it was past time he reclaimed what was his by rights, even if forgotten by history.

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Northern Ireland

 

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

 

 

Not For Sale

three line tales, week 163: a special deal

Photo: Artem Bali via Unsplash

 

I will not be for sale. Not today. Not tomorrow.

Limit not my conditions. Offer no terms for me.

There’s no deal worth my special. Shelves or fly off – I’m free.

 

 

For Three Line Tales

 

Out Played

Photo prompt: © Anshu Bhojnagarwala

 

“It’s an effing eyesore.”

“I don’t care.”

Martin balled his fists but Susan just gazed at him.

She said nothing but he knew: Raise a finger on me and off to jail you go. The judge was clear: Anger-Management or prison. Martin took the former but could swear Susan’s infuriating behavior intended to get him the latter.

He inhaled slowly before turning away. “When Sanitation fines us,” he growled, “it’s all yours to pay.”

“Fine,” she shrugged. “Though I think they won’t.”

He glared. “Why? Got connections?”

“Nope,” she patted the rotting piano. “I’ve registered it as street art.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

When The Ice Breaks

greenland icebergs-933003_1920

Photo: Barni1 by Pixabay

 

He said he’ll be home when the ice breaks.

And every day she waited, one baby tugging at her skirts and another growing restless under her heart, and tried to not look at the field of crosses planted right outside her window. Reminders of the many who the frigid sea or dark winters or the loneliness of this place at end of the world had claimed.

Some days she hated Greenland. The endless nights. The gnawing cold. The monotony of the same few faces and the bickering that eventually picked open old scabs and gauged new hurts for the next arctic dark to revisit.

Other times she couldn’t fathom living any other place. Summer’s endless light. The sparkle on the water. Pups, babies, and not-so-babies frolicking. The wide spaces full of breath and warmth that thawed old sorrows into joy. It felt like coming home.

Will he?

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Greenland

 

To The Seashore

sunset PortBreton2 SmadarHalperinEpshtein

Photo: Smadar Halperin-Epshtein

 

I will go to the seashore

Where the waves touch the sky.

I will go to the seashore

To kiss the day fond goodbye.

I will go to the seashore

Where the boats come on home,

And the children still play,

And the sun’s last rays roam,

And my soul sings with the surf

Where it has always belonged.

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Seashore in 59 words

 

The One Place

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

She ran and wouldn’t stop till she got there.

It didn’t matter that she had a stitch in her side or that something hard in her backpack kept slamming into her ribs or that the lower branches of some trees slapped burning licks against her cheeks.

She would not stop.

At last she saw a glimmering reflection and the slight opening in the dense woods that signaled she was almost there.

Her attention drawn to the sight ahead, she missed a crawler root and fell hard. She lay there, the breath knocked out of her and pain coursing through her body where it hit the ground. A gnarly stump poked out of the earth not two inches from her eye. It would have done real damage.

She was almost too miserable to care but her eyes still filled with tears. For the pain. For the helplessness. For the exhaustion. For so much more she could not find the words for and couldn’t afford to. Not yet.

She had to get up or she’d never move again. The backpack pressed heavy against her and she couldn’t help but remember other weight pinning her down. Unwelcome. Uninvited. More tears sprung. Then sobs that came from someplace between her diaphragm and belly button and competed with the stitch already jabbing through her chest. It was too much. It had all been. Too much.

Finally, after what seemed a decade, her breath calmed and she found strength to push up to her elbows, then her knees, then up to lean against a tree and shift her weight gingerly onto each leg.

Nothing broken. Or nothing broken that would prevent her from getting there. Her elbow throbbed and she was bleeding from scratches on her face and a badly skinned palm. There would be more abrasions underneath her pants where a tear bloomed red at the knee. But she was up, and some burden had lifted in the crying, even if it left her heart hollow with sorrow and echoing with despair.

She filled her lungs with a long breath and a tardy sob escaped to join the others but then her body shuddered one last time and she steadied.

She walked on. Not running now, just dogged determination.

The forest peeled away to reveal the clearing. The pond glowed and the purple light remained as she’d remembered. Lush greens licked the muddy banks and a clump of cattails whispered in an almost nonexistent breeze. The tree, too, was still there, just as it had been before: it’s bark missing in places, it’s silvery leaves rustling as the very breath of the place coursed through it from root to leafy tip.

“I’ve come back,” she breathed, and touched her scraped palm to the exposed trunk. Skin to blood to skin.

An echo filled her chest and she knew it knew her, and the relief made the jagged hole in the center of her self heal some.

This was the one place she never felt completely alone in.

She’d last left it thinking that her old life would not chase her to the new, and she had tried – for longer than she thought she could endure – to pretend that she no longer longed for what she had believed in and had given up. She could give it up no more.

“Will you help me?” she whispered. “I’d forgotten how.”

And the tree rustled and a ripple ran across the water and into her core, and her body softened so completely that she slid to sit leaning against the trunk. Welcomed. Invited. Warmed.

She’ll sleep. And she will dream. And she will wake to find the way back to herself. To her true realm in her rightful time.

 

 

For Sue’s WritePhoto prompt

 

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