She put her makeup on slowly, carefully. She wasn’t used to wearing it. The blush was dark; a burgundy that ran across her face in the shape of a bruise. Standing, her knees hurt. Her back hurt and her knuckles felt arthritic. She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.

“That took too much time,” she said aloud to the mirror.

Her lips were dry and she was thirsty. It was an inexplicable thirst that never left her so she was used to the sandy tongue, the chapped corners and the sneer that followed. There was nothing she did for anyone without motive and no one was around to touch her lips so she didn’t bother. She eyed the chapstick on the shelf but didn’t grab it yet. Setting the bamboo brush on the sink, she began with the mascara. Carefully, she applied the wand to the eyelashes of her left lid first and then examined herself again. She had to stop in between each stroke before continuing the task. Her thoughts had already been seized by something else; something distant, either imaginary or future, she could never tell. She reached for the twisted, plastic straw in her pocket and began twirling it in her fingers on instinct.  Letting herself be overtaken by the fake memory; the fake way he held her, the fake way he smiled, the fake way it felt, she felt the rush in her chest.

“Stop it,” she barked at herself.

Her head shot up exiting the trance. Staring at the mirror once more, she held her own gaze.

“My name is Catarina Kacyrek,” she practiced again.

She said it a couple more times until she was satisfied with the way it felt rolling off her tongue. Naturally. Nodding, she put the straw back in her pocket and began to apply the mascara to the right lid’s eyelashes. It’s always like this. She couldn’t see the clock in the bedroom and was thankful. I’m late, she knew. Taking her time anyway, she could still feel the electric bubble running up her spine demanding she go “play” in the bedroom. The urge to leap out of the doorway and begin twirling in her apartment was strong and growing stronger with each stroke. I have things to do. She set the mascara neatly in her makeup bag and pulled out the eyeliner. She started with the edge of her top lids. Dragging the skinny black pencil across the left, she couldn’t help but continue talking to herself.

“What the fuck is this all for?”


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