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by spud 

Posted: 18 March 2004
Word Count: 417
Summary: just a little observation

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Susan peered closely into her bedroom mirror, pursed her lips and then carefully applied the bright magenta lipstick. Taking a step back she took in her whole appearance. Her long, blond hair hung shiny smooth about her shoulders. She swung her head slowly, from side to side, imagining that she was one of those models in a shampoo advert. Her cheeks shimmered; the glitter gel that she had generously applied earlier, caught and bounced the light back from the bulbs that surrounded the mirror. She smiled, popped the lid back on the lipstick’s gold casing and shoved it deep into the pocket of her denim jacket.

Half an hour later, sitting on the bus next to her best friend Katie, she felt for the small, smooth cylinder. It fitted snug into the cup of her palm, its presence reassured her. They would soon be at the cinema; a birthday treat organised for Katie by her parents, and Susan wanted to be sure that she looked her best. She took the lipstick out, turned to face her reflection in the grime of the bus window and started reapplying it to her still vivid lips.
“Cool!” Katie breathed out the word in an awed whisper. “Can I have a go?” Susan turned to look down the bus.
“OK, but don’t let your Mum see.” She surreptitiously passed the lipstick to Katie, who ducked down, put the colour to her lips whilst trying to see herself in the mirrored surface of the silver grab pole next to her.
“How do I look?” Katie puckered her lips at Susan.
“Really cool.”
Susan grinned and put her hand out to take the lipstick back from her friend. At that moment the bus screeched to sudden halt, and the small gold tube flew away from her, disappearing under the seat in front. She bent down but it was nowhere to be seen.
“Oh no! What am I going to do?”
“Girls, we’re nearly at our stop. Time to get off.”
Katie’s mum was standing by their seat. As she caught sight of the girls’ lips she tried hard to suppress a laugh, but then realised that something was wrong.
“What’s the matter Susie?”
“It’s the lipstick. I’ve lost Mum’s best lipstick. It’s her favourite colour. She doesn’t know that I took it. She’ll kill me.”
Tears were flowing across Susan’s glittered cheeks. All the grown up composure that she had mustered earlier had disappeared to reveal the sobbing nine-year-old that she really was.

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Comments by other Members

Fearless at 15:39 on 18 March 2004  Report this post
A nice little observation...I have the same trouble with my ladyboy friends at the Watford Alhambra on a Friday night. You taking this further, to the land of repercussions?


fabhat at 17:32 on 18 March 2004  Report this post
I liked this, but somehow the word magenta grated. Maybe because it's neither a name a lipstick company would use or a word a 9 year old girl - or even a woman would use to describe the colour. All the other descriptions - the popping the lid of the lipstick on and the reassuring feel of the cylinder - are lovely. I like it as it is - no recriminations please...

anisoara at 20:22 on 18 March 2004  Report this post
This worked for me. It flowed well, I had a few questions come up as I read, and when I reached the end and learned that Susan was nine years old, all the questions answered themselves and I experienced an 'ahhhhhhh' moment that every parent knows.........


Account Closed at 21:11 on 18 March 2004  Report this post
Spud, welcome back. I enjoyed this - it's well written. I thought you could maybe have made more of her not finding the lipstick at the end. I could really picture Katie's mum's face at the end and the girls' faces!


spud at 13:03 on 21 March 2004  Report this post
Dear all

Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment.

Fearless and fabhat - no, there wont be any recriminations, although maybe something about why / how she took the lipstick in the first place.

Ani - glad that all your questions were answered. I tried to write the piece so that you didn't know at the start how old Susan was and bit by bit you'd suspect that she wasn't as old as she appeared.

Elspeth - glad to be back, and glad that you enjoyed this. I'm giving some thought to your suggestion - feel that you may have a point.

Thanks again to you all


Becca at 15:30 on 21 March 2004  Report this post
Hi Steph, there's quite a big issue at the back of this story, about children imitating adult sexual expressions, and all those dozy role models, and girly magazines, and peer pressure as well. I'd quite like to see another story like this but developed into a more dangerous situation for the nine year olds, (but for them to be still safe in the end.) I'm glad one of them's mother was with them, but supposing she wasn't?

spud at 17:33 on 21 March 2004  Report this post
Hi Becca

Thanks for your comments, they really have given me something to think about.

You're right, there is a bigger story behind this. As the mother of an 8 year old girl I am constantly amazed at the clothing and attitude of some of her friends, and more to the fact that their parents seemingly condone this. Then I have the added pressure from my daughter not wanting to be left out and wanting to have 'cool' clothing / makeup etc. It's often tricky having to draw a definite line between what I believe is acceptable and what she is happy to wear. And girls can be so cruel if you don't conform at this age.

'Lipstick' was based on an actual event - the lipstick and its potential loss are real, the rest slightly twisted.

I'm going to mull your comments over and see what I can come up with. Thanks for that!



darkstar at 19:52 on 24 March 2004  Report this post
I read this, and I must admit I laughed out loud at the end. But then I'm not a parent, and while I fairly strong Views about the appropriateness of children mimicking adult behaviour, as an ending twist, it worked really well for me.

A really nicely observed little snapshot.

spud at 08:10 on 25 March 2004  Report this post
Thanks Darkstar

This does seem to work on different levels. The actual incident that inspired it, when related to me, did make me laugh too, but as Becca pointed out, there is a bigger story as well.

Really appreciate your comments

cheers for now


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