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Six Lipsticks by Slawka G. Scarso

Avon Berry Nice

Your first lipstick is a gloss and tastes of strawberries. The moment you apply it, you start to lick, lick, lick, till the flavour is gone and your lips are stained like you ate those fruits for real.

Rimmel Airy Fairy

Your second lipstick is the colour of a pink rose. Your mum picks it for you. She doesn't even let you try it. She says it's appropriate for a girl your age. Even your grandma would approve, she says. What has grandma got to do with lipsticks, you don't know: you've never seen her wear any. All you know is you'd like George Peppard to kiss that lipstick off your lips. You dream of bumping into him at the airport, seems reasonable enough for a star, though what he might be doing at your local two-landing-strips airport is hard even for you to justify.

Revlon Black Cherry

Your third lipstick is the colour of burnt aubergines. It's the colour of your mother's summer pudding. It's the colour of the sky at dusk, right before the storm. At least it's not black, your mum says. These days black is all you seem to wear. Most days you put it on the school bus, when she cannot see. You've mastered a technique there, applying it when the bus driver picks Anna and all her brothers. Your mum says Anna's mother has worn far too much lipstick, with far too many dads. You don't care, all you know is that it takes them 40 seconds to get on the bus, and that's enough for you.

Max Factor Lipfinity Passionate Red

Your fourth lipstick is red. Not a slutty red, but a good red, good enough for a job interview. You go to many, after graduating from university. Interviewers ask you whether you plan to have babies right away, because they couldn't afford having you in that case. You find it funny, because so far all the boys you've met were too stupid to even consider them as boyfriend material. Deep inside, you still dream of George Peppard.

L'Oréal Colour Riche Blushing Berry

Your fifth lipstick still has the pointy edge with which it was shaped at the factory. Locked in the bathroom, you look at it sideways, wondering how things can be so perfect when everything else around you is not. Wondering when you'll wear it. Grocery shopping, carpooling, even birthday parties never seem to be good enough to spoil its perfection.

Lancôme L'Absolu Rouge Pigeon Bloody Ruby

Your sixth lipstick is burgundy. You buy it at 50. Your body is changing these days. A different change from the pink-rose-lipstick-days when your mum would buy you makeup. Your friends complain, but you like this age. You say fifty is the new twenty, and thirty, and forty, because you feel you skipped all those years in between.

You use it to the very end, scooping the remnants with a brush until you can mirror yourself in its tiny golden cylinder.


Slawka G. Scarso has published several books on wine and works as a copywriter and translator. Her short fiction has appeared in Mslexia, Ellipsis Zine, Entropy, Bending Genres, Necessary Fiction and elsewhere. She was recently shortlisted by Fractured Lit. She lives between Rome and Milan with her husband and her dog, Tessa.More of her words on or on Twitter as @nanopausa.

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