Without sounding dramatic, which I always do, I love an apocalypse. In fact, I’m sort of obsessed with them. Or more, obsessed with the settings that they give. I love dystopian novels, anything decrepit, broken down and battered. But maybe this prompt takes you in another direction.
I’m still going to write these prompts and publish your stories, but for the next month, I won’t be participating. I have gotten a bit snowed under, and need to readjust my time spent, so that I can finish the two novels I am working on. But I’ll be back, in a month. Promise!
Now to last weeks writespiration and your stories about Luscious red lips, anyone that knows me, knows I adore a bright lipstick, so I am chuffed to bits that so many of you took the time to participate. Thank you, I am humbled and honoured every time you do. Ok, slush over, to the entries.
First Jane, with a piece of writing so deliciously rich it will make you covet her writing skills. Check out the accompanying photo and her story here.
Esma slid the lipstick up her sleeve. There were no security tags on little things like that, and it was only a cheap one anyway. She cast a furtive glance around. The security guard was busy searching for bombs in backpacks. The girls around the makeup stand with their gentle pushing and jostling, laughing and joking covered the awkward movement as she wriggled the lipstick safely up past her elbow. The in-store music covered the pounding of her heart. Settling her headscarf straight and tucking the ends tighter beneath her jacket, she pushed out of the shop as swiftly as she dared.
The pedestrian street outside was full of Saturday shoppers. Esma melted into the crowd, only letting out her breath when she was certain the security guard was not going to shout after her to stop. The illicit chunk of plastic bored into her flesh with each step she took towards the bus stop.
Even seated at the back of the bus, Esma remained rigid with anxiety. As if there were security cameras on buses! Only in the silence of the room she shared with her two younger sisters did she dare shake the lipstick out of her sleeve, stroke the shiny case, slip the smooth, blood red lipstick out to admire the lusciousness of its colour, its unctuous taste and texture.
She shivered and touched it with the tip of her tongue. So many things were forbidden. The taste shot through her, a bolt of pleasure. The familiar pervading household smells of coriander and harissa evaporated, and her nostrils flared as she breathed in the cosmetic’s faint perfume. Red lipstick encapsulated all that was bright and exciting in the world outside. A world she was not allowed to enter.
The sound of the front door opening startled her, and she fumbled with the drawer, her drawer in the shared wardrobe, and pushed the glittering, fabulous object beneath a carefully folded pile of scarves and gloves.
Two days later, as she turned into her street coming back from school, a small figure leapt out of the entrance to her apartment block and ran towards her. Farida. Her face was pale, lips pinched, and her eyes stared, wide and fearful.
Esma knew. Her little sister didn’t need to tell her.
“Ommy found it. Abu is… wild.”
Esma stared into the distance, not seeing the apartment blocks, the paper blowing in the gutter, the grimy, anonymous cars that flicked past. Already the street belonged to the past. She smiled and hugged her sister, held her close for a moment. Then she turned and headed back to school. Someone among the advisors and social workers would know of a place where she could stay.
Geoff up with a short and not so sweet poem,
Lipstick is red
Dead lips are blue
Put them together
For a ghoulish one two
and Geoff decided to enter again this week with a longer piece of flash, that is superb, I was gripped right to the end and found myself smiling sheepishly at the ending😀
Tyler split his eyelids and the first migraine of the morning exploded on his retina. He needed to cut down. Rolling out of bed, Tyler crawled to the door, feeling carefully for the beaker of water. Nothing. He always left a beaker for the morning. Frowning as much as his hangover allowed he crawled towards the bathroom and stopped. A memory flicked through the sludge of the previous night. There’d been a girl. He pulled himself up onto the toilet and pissed, trying to remember some detail. Any detail. This was not unusual except he knew this girl meant something more.
Desperate for water he stumbled to the sink and bent to drink from the tap.
A flash of red caught his eye. He stood back and squinted at his chest. Written across it in red lipstick
An outline of a girl’s face flickered and disappeared. Was he? Who was she?
He needed coffee and industrial amounts of pain relief. He turned and headed into the hall. He had taken the first step downstairs when he stopped and stepped back onto the landing. On the glass of his framed degree certificate, in the same hand he read
Yes he was sure she was. With more urgency now he headed downstairs. Only at the bottom did it register she must have been here. He glanced at the front door, sure she must have left; it didn’t surprise him now to see another belipsticked message on the glass
Yes he certainly did. He took a breath and nearly gagged. God his mouth tasted like cat litter. Coffee. Kitchen. The kettle sat on its stand, its shiny surface covered in yet more script
Black, one sugar
He flicked it on and watched the words blister and shrink. Without thinking he pulled out two mugs and registered with slight disappointment there was no other message. Next the paracetamol. Nothing. Where was she?
Click. The water had boiled. He spun the cafetière and smiled. Around the glass cylinder she had written
In bed, stupid.
He scooped out the coffee and added the hot water, adding one sugar to her mug. Once it had brewed he poured two cups, picked them up and turned. She stood facing him. Across her inticingly bare chest she had written.
Skip the coffee. Kiss me.
Ali is up next with an unbelievable story with a proper good twist – I actually see it coming – did you?
I find it quite by accident, squirrelled away at the back of his undies drawer. I place it gingerly in the centre of the bed and stare at it, mind racing. He’s having an affair.
Iconic black and gold packaging. Chanel. I pick the lipstick up, remove the lid and twist. Bright pillar-box red. Used. So she’s a harlot with expensive taste. I fling it in the bin.
I spend the afternoon pacing, vacillating between vehement fury, and cold self-pity. When he walks through the door, I descend on him like a hurricane.
“What’s this?” I hiss, shoving the offending item under his nose.
He blinks, not at first understanding, and then I see fear chase the shock of recognition across his face.
“Who is she?”
“It’s not what you think,” he stammers, and I sneer.
“Of course not. Is she a colleague?”
“No. Yes, well, more of a friend really.”
“How cosy. And how long have you two been carrying on behind my back?”
He sighs, and lets his briefcase slip from his hand. It lands with a hollow thump on the wooden floor.
“About three years, but I’m not having an affair.”
“Three years?” That sucks the air from my lungs. “I can’t believe it. How could you? I never had a fucking clue.” Suddenly, my legs don’t seem strong enough to support me, and I follow the briefcase to the ground.
He comes over all solicitous then, but I shriek at him. “Like you care. Don’t touch me.”
“You’re not listening to me. I’m not having an affair.” He sounds exasperated. He rummages in the briefcase and brings out a photo. I don’t want to look, but curiosity forces my gaze.
She is blonde, of course, and buxom. Quite heavy set, plain features, thin lips daubed with bright red lipstick.
“Huh. Downgrade,” I say. She’s not pretty, yet I am jealous. What does she have that I don’t? Why is he willing to throw away our marriage for her? Then my anger explodes, and fades into tears.
He sits on the floor beside me and holds me, and I let him.
“The woman in the picture is Cassandra. We’re not having an affair, but we are very close. I wanted to tell you for a long time, but I didn’t have the guts.”
“I don’t understand,” I wail. “If you’re not having an affair, then what’s going on?”
I feel him take a deep breath. He is psyching himself to tell me. This is it. The confession. The truth.
“The lipstick’s mine. I’ve been cross-dressing for three years.”
Next we have Kim with some gorgeous poetry, and a last line to die for.
Of creamy lipstick painted
Perfectly – blotted
With the passion of kisses
Tracing their hungry path
Now for my saddled up buckaroo pal, who, incidentally, is running a flash fiction competition this month if you fancy having a go, check it out here. Now to her stunning piece with a heartbreaking end.
1918 Red Lipstick by Charli Mills
Mattie’s face was pale, and Jen figured it was the result of the twit’s recent regime of lemon juice. Her sister sagged when she climbed out of Clyde’s truck and held on to the door like she needed support. Jen stood on the boardinghouse porch in her denim jeans, Pa’s old belt and a red flannel shirt. She wouldn’t give in to the girl’s dramatics. Taking off to Spokane with the camp mechanic was folly, and Jen wasn’t about to coddle her sister. Seventeen was old enough to know better.
Mattie reached into her coat pocket and pulled at what looked like a brass vial. “I got it,” she said and waved the brass at Jen.
Jen crossed her arms and leaned against the porch pillar. “You need to talk to Hilda. She’s none too pleased you ran off to Spokane for two days and left her alone to wash all the bed linens.”
“Oh, please. She can manage. Or you can help, Jen. You never help out around here anymore.”
“I got my own job, Mattie.”
“Playing in the woods.” Mattie smiled wide and opened the brass vile to reveal red. She then used the side mirror of Clyde’s truck to apply it to her lips. She smiled broadly at Jen. White face, red lips.
“You look like child’s doll or worse.”
Mattie sulked. “You’re just jealous because you look like a boy.”
Jen shrugged. “I’m strong, Mattie. I’m not afraid to bump knots with an axe and do the work now that half the boys have run off to Belgium to fight.”
“Stupid boy-girl.” She stepped away from the truck door and collapsed to the dirt in a full swoon.
Mattie never regained consciousness. It took three days for the sickness to kill her. She’d gone to Spokane for cosmetics despite the influenza warnings. When they buried Mattie beneath the rocky soil outside the logging camp, Jen tossed the red lipstick in her sister’s grave as if it were a rose.
Next Judy with a wicked tale that has a serious kick to its ending.
Jane strolled back casually towards the dorm. She had given up a night of passion with Rob to babysit for one of the teachers at the last minute and had spent the night there. Still being early on this lazy Saturday morning, Jane anticipated how much fun she and Rob would have making up for lost time.
As she drew closer, her stomach fluttered with excitement. Rob was so gorgeous; she still couldn’t believe he had chosen to go out with her. He had a gaggle of giggling admirers, not least ‘Slutty Sue’ the pouty blonde with the overdeveloped curves to counteract her underdeveloped brain! Jane’s thoughts always turned spiteful when she thought of her bitter rival for Rob’s affections.
Rob had been a player, but Jane was convinced she had changed him, ignoring warnings from her friends that he was still messing around. He was in love with her; he had even told her so two weeks ago when he was trying to relieve her of her virginity. Of course, she gave in to him on hearing this, as he knew she would.
She entered the old building now, which was still, and quiet, and noticed that Rob’s keys were not in the door, as usual, waiting for her to let herself in.
“Rob, ROB, are you in there?” Jane hammered at the door.
Eventually, she heard a ‘click’ of the lock and Rob called for her to come in. He looked ghastly. His face pale, hair messed up, and the room stank of stale beer and cigarettes. Jane wrinkled her nose but leaned over to greet Rob with a kiss, trying not to recoil from the rancid blast of putrid air that emanated from his mouth. As he reached up to put his arms around her neck, the sheets slipped off his shoulders.
There written in bright red lipstick across his back was one word. ‘ Sue.’
Dr R joins us again with a gory twisted tale of horror
The police broke down the door leading into the trap house and no-one could quite believe what they saw when they got in there. The drug smugglers, the ones they had been trying to catch for years were all dead on floor, each one of them killed by a single bullet shot in between their eyes. The police officers were stunned, they’d been tracking the smugglers for years and just when they thought they got to them in time, someone else beat them to it. Amongst the drugs, the huge sums of money and the paraphernalia found, there seemed like there was no trace of the person responsible for killing the crooks. Although there were guns found in the house, none of them were deemed to be the murder weapon. As heads were scratched and the gravity of the situation set in, one of the sergeants suddenly shouted “you need to come and look at this lads!” from the bathroom upstairs.
One by one, the squad saw what he was shouting about, strewn across a large mirror and all the walls in the bathroom, messages were written with a red lipstick laying inside of the sink. The mirror which was smeared with scarlet had in capital letters the words “you made me do this” on it, the writing slightly incoherent. Another message in large writing said “I’m sorry for doing this but they left me no choice” and another message by the window said “soon I will be free and we can be together again”. Mad scribbles of words were all over the walls, nothing seemed to make sense. It was clear to those who saw those messages in the bathroom that the madness of the situation had taken a twisted turn.
Next up, Hugh, who I’m starting to think has a rather questionable content to his mind. This is also a horror show and a half – bewared, your lipstick will never look the same again!
As Amy Lushwick squashed the umpteenth little creature with the front end of her eight-inch stiletto heeled shoe, she smiled again. She hated the little blighters and had no idea why there had been so many of them or where they were coming from.
She’d almost finished painting her lips with the brightest of red lipstick when she thought to herself how gorgeous she looked. No man or woman would turn her down tonight. She would have the pick of the bunch.
The lipstick had been a bargain. She had been hesitant to buy it from the online auction site at first because the seller had no feedback. However, not only was she now convinced that just by wearing it she was the sexiest woman alive, she was convinced it had brought her all the attention of both sexes. She smiled to herself as she knew she was now the envy of some of her ‘not so’ close friends.
Just as she was going to apply the last bit of lipstick to her lips, something caught her eye. It looked like a very small piece of cotton that was sticking out the side of the lipstick. With the tips of her brightly painted finger and thumbnail she went to pull at it and watched in disbelief as it disappeared into the lipstick. Had she been seeing things or had it really just disappeared?
She hesitated for a moment before putting the lipstick back to her lips. With her mouth slightly open she spread the bright red substance along her bottom lip and then suddenly dropped the lipstick. Both her hands came up to her neck as she coughed and chocked. Falling backwards she hit the floor hard and rolled around until she was finally able to cough up what had entered her mouth.
Now only could she not quite believe what she saw, but it also made her feel sick. It was one of the small black beetles she’d been killing for the last few months, now on its back trying all it could to right itself so it could get away.
It was the sound of the lipstick rolling off her dressing room table that made her look away from the small creature. As it rolled towards her she suddenly remembered what she had read on the internet and what one of the ingredients of lipstick was.
Moments later she watched as another black beetle made its way out of the lipstick. As it hurried toward her she tried kicking at it, but to no avail.
Twenty-four hours later there was no trace of the body of Amy Lushwick or the thousands of black beetles that had emerged from the lipstick. Only the clothes she had been wearing remained on the floor, whilst besides them the beautiful red lipstick wriggled slightly.
Last, but by no means least, is my friend from outside of blogland, lets call her Scarlett, who has a secret desire to write a book, and I for one, think she ought to…
Her hands no longer shook. The nerves had moved from butterflies tumbling from her belly button, south, to a deep heavy pulse. She was ready, she knew it. She took pleasure in the smooth black lid and the curling motion as the blood red slip of lipstick, perfectly sculpted emerged. She looked at herself in the mirror through thick dark lashes, her mouth open, she curved the lipstick over the arch of her lips. The stark contrast to her light skin and dark smoky eyes gave her another rush of excitement. She drew the lipstick hard across her bottom lip, opened mouth a smile drew itself across her face. She puckered her lips together. She was done. She was ready. Tonight was the night she went to bed with her new lover. She rose up glancing a final time in the mirror and blinking, checking herself for any last flicker of doubt. She walked downstairs and rested a cool hand against the back of her husbands neck, his eyes barely glanced at her. Or long enough to notice the black satin dress or hint of lingerie underneath. She brushed her lips briefly on his cheek. “See you later darling”. A small half hearted attempt at a smile tugged at the side of his mouth, his eyes barley blinking away from the tv long enough to say “see you later”. She stood side on for the smallest moment looking at him and wondering who he was. She cocked her head slightly as if to see him ar another angle. “Bye” she said wistfully with no emotional in her voice, as she turned, no longer feeling the cold chill of loneliness, the type that comes from slowly watching someone stop noticing you, stop loving you, like the sun slowly fading behind a cloud. She walked to the front door, nothing, she felt nothing now. As she closed the door behind her and heard the soft click of the door her mind darted to how long it would take until he’d be speaking to his other woman. She shook the thought from her head and thought of where she was going and that deep thud of excitement and lust pounded through her.