Song of the Thorn Bird

Song of the Thorn Bird

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Lipstick and Lies (Mag 9)

Marah peruses a Cosmo while her sister and the others set up for a Girl’s Night In. She knows she should probably help, but it’s so nice to have a minute to sit and to read something other than weekly reports and the Wall Street Journal. “Hey, Ladies,” she shouts towards the kitchen. “Did you know you can learn alot about a woman by the shape of her lipstick? Let’s see… a slanted tip, close to the original shape reveals a rule-follower. Um, a rounded tip to a point indicates a loveable, people-person. The easy-going, peacemaker will have an exceptionally rounded lipstick end, whereas the high-spirited, debater will have lipstick with a sharp, angled tip. Yep, I have proof now. You're all rule-following sheep!”

Magda, Marah’s sister, saunters over and teasingly snaps, “Which shape indicates a lazy ass who sits while her sister and friends do all the work?” Marah tosses the magazine to the side, opting to contribute to the night’s festivities. Besides, after the week, hell the decade, she has had, nothing sounds better than one of Deidre’s Mojitos with fresh mint from the window box. Off she goes to solve her problems with rum, lime, sugar, fresh mint and a night of debauchery with dear friends.

An hour and four Mojitos later, Marah and the others collapse onto the cream-colored leather of Magda’s oversized sectional. This is the type of evening all the girls long for. An evening without the demands of jobs, men and children, each sprawled out on the couch, somehow interlocked with the woman next to her. This is as close as it will ever get to the slumber parties and innocence of their youth. As much as she loves each woman on that couch and for as long as they have known each other, Marah cannot help but ruminate, “No one here knows me. They think they do, but really, it’s just an illusion. I will never again be that person they assume me to be.  Not since the day that he walked...”

Deidre, conjurer of liquid healing, startles Marah out of her private reverie. “Hey, McDreamy, snap out of it!” Tossing the daydreamer a $20 tube of Femme Fatale heisted from Marah’s own purse, Deidre demands, “So what’s your lipstick say about you, Mar-Mar?” Marah opens the tube, supposedly to reveal her innermost self. Magda leans over, bursts out loud with a horsey little laugh, “Geesh, Mar, you have the funkiest looking lipstick shape ever. Look at the weird curvey-pointy shape.  Here, hand me that magazine!” Magda rips the Cosmo out from underneath her sister's legs to continue the assessment.

“The sharp-angled boxed curve suggests that this person is extremely talkative, very creative, and falls in love easily. Mar, this is so you. You could talk the paint off the wall, you’re practically the poster child for Adult ADHD, and you change boyfriends with the price of gas!” This brings an onslaught of drunken giggles and a mocking that can only come from people who genuinely care. Marah laughs with them, but inside she carries on an entirely different conversation.

Ten years ago, I probably would have agreed. Most assuredly, I am quite the chatterbox with a million whirling dervishes frantically dancing in my mind, so wildly that most of what’s in there scatters and hides. However, the part about “she falls in love easily,” I highly doubt.

Does the sharp-angled boxed curve reveal the fear and trepidation that has frozen this heart that once pumped hope and faith through these veins? Can a tube of lipstick expose this soul’s invisible scars that cause the heart to atrophy? In the curve on that lipstick, will they all finally see the wall, overgrown with hesitation and self-preservation, fortress that protects the shattered spirit? Probably not. I am quite adept at deflecting any real assessment. If these ladies, whom I love dearly, don’t even see the truth, why shatter the illusion now? I can play along with the rest of the world to play the light-hearted lover they expect me to be.

After resetting the defenses of her heart, Marah smiles and lets out a forced laugh. “You’re right. My lipstick is crazy looking. So this curvy part here says I’m creative, enthusiastic, talkative, and fall wildly and madly in love at the drop of a hat, huh? Well, of course I do, you ding-dongs. I mean, ain’t love grand? Especially when love comes in the shape of a yummy lifeguard in Cabo or that lawyer, Mr. Tall-Dark-and-Delicious. As a matter of fact, ladies, I have really should run. I met this very charming and very young college boy at Bookman’s Alley last week. I’m going to take the gamble that he’s there tonight, all alone, and perhaps in need of some ‘research assistance’. Pardon me while I go and ‘fall in love easily’ right this very moment. “

With the serenade of catcalls and bawdy words of wisdom, Marah finds her keys, throws the lipstick into the Gucci, and grabs the Cosmo, all with a bravado and swagger that is nothing more than an act. Hurriedly kissing each woman good night, she dashes off as if in a rush to have tryst with a new lover; in reality, she is fleeing before she breaks down and confesses the truth. Once in the shelter of the car, tears begin to flow as sobs escape from behind the fortress wall. In the light of the street lamp, she stumbles through the pages of the Cosmo desperate to read her fortune once more. Finding the page, she reads aloud through sobs in a hushed whisper, “...falls in love easily,” repeating it over and over again. After several minutes, Marah looks up, and to whom she is unsure, begging to know “When? “

A piece inspired by Magpie Tales.


Tumblewords: said...

A poignant tale!

Star said...

Our most demanding feelings are the ones we prefer to keep hidden. In the shape of a lipstick tip, here a sensitive nerve is touched. Feelings are revealed just as surely as the colour of the lips reveal the personality.
Good work.
Blessings, Star

Chrissy said...

What a great story...I know for me putting on my lipstick adds that little bit of somethin'... (well,duh).That bit of color makes me feel better, like the sun popping out. Freshens up my mood.

chiccoreal said...

Mesmerizing short story! No wonder! Four Mojitos in an hour? The tell tale heart would not be imbibing that heavily if it were true to form. What are these hot ladies thinking, they are going to score when totally tight (wasted in Canada). Juss knew a tear jerker was coming! Cosmos mags are a great form of romantic diversion; rarely can reality compete unfortunately! Enjoyed reading this, and certainly I can relate!

Book Dilettante said...

Very good story! I had also read some time ago that the shape of the tube of lipstick reveals something about the person who uses it. You used it nicely in the story.

My Magpie Tales poem

otin said...

That was really good, Lisa, you can definitely write. What does the shape of my deodorant mean?? haha.

rel said...

Wow, tres bien! You tell an awesome story. Easy to read, attention to detail and enough trueisms to lead the reader to believe he is truly reading a confessional. But it is fiction.....right?
I'll study the shape of any lipsiicks I see from now on.
Genetta didn't write on the mirror because in a few minutes she'll return from the corner store with croissants and coffee! ;)

middle child said...


I can't help but continue to love. It is genuine and automatic. But I have come to the realization that no one seems to be able to truly love me back.

Brian Miller said...

lisa...nice change of pace for you and wonderfully took something simple that we can relate to "the shape of the lipstick theory" and made it come alive. marvelous.

PattiKen said...

Good story. I especially like the last line.


Splendid story telling - very good use of the photo prompt. Such a heart wrenching, sad, story though. These lines are so emotional and soul-baring... "Can a tube of lipstick expose this soul’s invisible scars that cause the heart to atrophy? In the curve on that lipstick, will they all finally see the wall, overgrown with hesitation and self-preservation, fortress that protects the shattered spirit?"

I like this very much, it speaks volumes about the hidden agony of heartbreak and the "face that is put on" to mask the pain.

christine said...

You certainly can write a tale, this was a real page turner.. sad little twist at the end I felt quite sorry for her.


Peter Goulding said...

A whole new world!

R. Burnett Baker said...

Nicely written, Lisa. That last, rhetorical question she asks: Who among us hasn't at some point hasn't asked it?


Peg said...

Very well told - the heart behind the facade.

steviewren said...

Hey I tore that page out of a magazine..the one that compares lipstick shapes with personality. I wrote a blog post about it a couple of months ago.

I hope she finds a new love.

The Reader said...

Well done Lisa! I loved the image: "a million whirling dervishes frantically dancing in my mind, so wildly that most of what’s in there scatters and hides"! A very evocative description. Your story flows well and I have a clear sense of the internal conflict of the narrator. I really liked it! :D