Make up. Short Story.

I saw the Dark Knight Rises on Saturday, it was pretty good, if you enjoyed the others I’d recommend going to see it. I don’t want to discuss it too much because I’m not entirely sure what the ads did and did not reveal. I went into it pretty much knowing that Cat Woman was in it and that was it. Also there were some explosions. The ads didn’t really seem to reveal much, if any, of the plot.

I also rewatched the first two Batman movies of this trilogy set (don’t really know how else to class it!) and I really want to know, why the hell do people still live in Gotham city? Insane fear gas, murdering clowns, hospital explosions? Why would you stay? It just seems a bit silly when there are other cities that are free of super villany.

On with the show!

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She looked at herself in the mirror, slowly pulling faces. Her eyes widened and the edges of her lips moved downwards in an exaggerated frown, squinting slightly, she bared her teeth, then let her face relax. Her tongue moved gingerly between her lips, then extended outwards as far as it would go, she tilted her head to the left and winked. Standing straight again, she let her face relax completely. She looked down at the counter top, strewn with its cosmetics, tubs and jars filled with creams and lotions, pots of coloured powders and brushes were off to one side, tubes of lipsticks and mascaras crowded around the base of the mirror, lined up and gently pushing into one another, as though pleading for attention, for use. She had already purged her make up stash once this week and it was difficult, she would have to have another purge. She spent a lot of money on make up, buying this and that, knowing she would never use it, but it comforted her, knowing it was there, an easily applied mask that would help complete the illusion of who she was. She found that she applied it all without much thought, quick strokes here, soft brushes there and before she knew it the ritual was done. She had noticed that the colours could dictate the day, tell her how she really felt. When she woke up she wasn’t really happy, it wouldn’t last throughout the day, she would need something to cover it. That was where the make up came in, it could hide or exaggerate her emotions as she saw fit. There was something freeing about being behind that mask. It wasn’t thick or fake like the ones you could buy, it was skin tight and as real as everyone else. No one knew what she hid behind the make up and that made things easier. It was so much easier to go throughout her day, knowing she was the only one who truly knew how she felt. She looked at all the items critically, then left the bathroom. She returned a few moments later carrying a large, empty black bag. The bottles seemed to quiver in fear. She started slowly, picking up a container and examining it, trying to justify throwing it away or keeping it, but as she worked she became faster, grabbing handfuls and throwing them away without a glance until it was all most gone and finally, with one sweeping motion, she cleared the counter top, stuffing everything neatly into the bag. She looked at the empty counter and smiled. She tied a knot in the top of the bag and brought it outside, firmly depositing it in the bin. When she returned to the bathroom the counter top looked empty, forlorn, but that image didn’t last long. The counter she would have sworn was clean half an hour ago was filthy. She could see it all now, spots here and there from where dribbles of make up feel, rings where the creams had stained the table top. She turned on the tap and grabbed a small cloth, she wet it quickly and started to clean, wiping away any and every trace of filth.

When it was finally clean she threw away the cloth. It too was now stained and in her mind, it was unsalvageable. It would always be discoloured, always be off. She looked at the empty counter, then at her reflection. Her face was clear and free of make up, her skin held no blemishes today. She didn’t need to hide. She felt something rising inside her, some bubble of exquisite energy, filled with excitement and happiness. A smaller, darker bubble followed, one that told her it wouldn’t last. She suppressed the last thought, of course it would last. It may not have lasted before, but it would this time. She was free, the word was filled with delicious possibilities, she could do anything. The freedom  before had never lasted long, but this time, this time it would last forever. She left the bathroom, turning off the light, no longer  able to look at herself. She knew she was lying, but she could never admit it.

It was an endless dance, one that repeated over and over again. She would get rid of him, for good. For ever. And in a few weeks he would be back, back again like always and she would forgive him like always and slowly, imperceptibly the table would fill again, fill with make up and brushes. Filled with what she needed to hide her shame.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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