Cherries in the Snow by Katy Goforth
The old neighbor lady passed on a hot Monday morning. No one found her until the Mobile Meals breakfast and lunch stacked up against the screen door.
Watching the house is my full-time job. Mama says to mind my business. Old neighbor lady house is my business.
No one’s been back since her body was toted out in a black sack. I have urges when I watch the house. They pull at my stomach like a delicious ache. Mama says little gentlemen don’t talk about their urges. One of them urges yanks at my insides and pulls me towards the back windows.
I take inventory of my surroundings. There’s an old peach box propped up against the siding. I grab it and struggle to pull all forty-seven inches of myself up. I try the window. It’s unlocked. With a few failed pushes, I make progress on the fourth shove. My small fingers don’t help the situation. The window is open.
Swinging one stubby leg over into the bedroom and dragging the other one behind me, I let my body freefall to the floor.
I lose one of my prized Roo sneakers. Lavender and velvet soft to the touch, but mama says my sneakers are too flamboyant for a boy. Says sister shouldn’t have let me pick them out. I don’t know what flamboyant means but saying the word out loud and watching mama’s brow crinkle makes my skin tingle.
I pick myself up off the worn oak floor and notice the single twin bed. A butter yellow chenille spread invites me. I take a seat. The bed is neat. My knee peeks through the hole in my faded jeans. I smooth the loose threads just like I’ve seen sister do with her smart shirt dresses. Maybe sister will take me to buy some new jeans. Jeans without holes.
My eyes scan old neighbor lady’s room. I settle on a dressing table. A lady’s dressing table. All curves. I breathe in the sweet smell of almonds. The smell of sophistication. I push myself off the bed and towards the dressing table. A piece of furniture like this says a lot about a person.
I run my hands over the top of it and notice the chipped polish on my fingernails. Sister left the polish in the bathroom, and I helped myself when no one was looking.
My eyes settle on a gold tube of lipstick. Cherries in the Snow. Such a beautiful name and yet so ridiculous. “Cherries in the snow,” I say to the empty room. That’s not even a real thing.
I reach for it and instantly feel glamorous. Mama’s magazines have ads for Cherries in the Snow.
“Does any man really understand you?”
“Makes your lips look good enough to eat! He’ll think so, too.”
Mama says red lipstick is garish. It’s for trollops. Guess old neighbor lady was a trollop. I want to be a trollop too.
I rummage through the drawers. No moustache comb. No musky cologne. No trace of anyone but old neighbor lady. Her white gold Omega cocktail watch rests in a small velvet-lined tray. I model it on my wrist even though the clasp is broken.
I place the watch back in its velvet bed and knock the lipstick over, catching it before it rolls off. Pulling the gold top off the tube gives me another urge, another tingle. I lean in towards the mirror and part my lips in preparation for my transformation. Cherries in the Snow saturates my lips. I admire my bright mouth, and I smile.
Katy is a writer and editor for a national engineering and surveying organization and a fiction editor forIdentity Theory. Her work has been published inThe Dead Mule SchoolandMontana Mouthful. She has work forthcoming inReckon ReviewandCoalesce Community.When she’s not writing, she’s traveling the country following her favorite musicians and collecting oddities for her menagerie. She was born and raised in South Carolina and lives in Anderson with her spouse and two dogs, Finn and Betty Anne. You can find her on Twitter at MarchingFourth andkatygoforth.com.