Red Lipstick

This is the July story for the 12 stories in 12 months challenge. You may have noticed that I haven’t published one of these in a few months. Between the pandemic and starting a new job, life has just been too crazy. But, hopefully, I’m back in the groove now. This month’s prompt was “red lipstick” and the word count was 300. It’s not my best work, but it’s good to be writing again. And it’s short enough to be painless.

***

He carried the bus pan into the back and put it on the counter to the left of the dishwasher. He put a tray in between and started unloading the dishes. He looked down at a set of lip prints on a white mug.

Ugh. Red lipstick. I hate red lipstick. It never wants to come off.

Besides, it doesn’t even look good. If you’re going to make your lips look fake, why red? What about yellow or blue?

He finished loading the tray. He lifted the handle on the dishwasher and slid the tray in. He lowered the handle and the cycle started.

Gram used to wear red lipstick.

Yeah. It always smudged on my cheek. I’d be rubbing it off forever.

She never went out without makeup. Had to look presentable, even if she was just getting the mail. It’s funny, I don’t think I’ve ever seen either of her daughters wear any makeup. Must be a generational thing.

It was shocking seeing her in the hospital. No makeup at all. She must have been mortified. All those doctors and nurses and attendants going in and out, and she didn’t even have her face on.

The cycle finished. He pulled the tray out of the right side of the machine and watched the steam dissipate. He started collecting the dishes to put away. He picked up the white mug. They were lighter, but the lip prints were still there. He chuckled.

Like I said, it never wants to come off.

He rubbed the stain with his thumb. Nothing happened. He wet a cloth and put some soap on it, then rubbed the rim of the mug. After a minute, it was white again. He put it with the other mugs and sighed.

I miss her all the time.

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