Eyeliner & Ashes

She puts on make-up because it is a disguise, yes, but also because it allows her to be free. The flirtatious eyelashes lengthened with mascara give her confidence. And the eyeliner. God, yes, the eyeliner really does it. She coats it on thick along her eyelids, needing a cigarette to tap in a bored manner as she maybe leans over herself on a bench in the rain, collar turned up against the wind.

The college professors could hardly keep their eyes off her. She was just a girl then, but she felt their hard stares when she wore a black dress to class, or stopped by office hours with fresh lipstick on and mint gum in her mouth to disguise the smell of gin. They had greedy eyes, but pretended to be very interested in her last essay or quiz. She was a good student and they knew it. Always been smart. But now, with the tousled hair damp from the rain and cigarette-stained fingertips, they didn’t know what to do with her.

It is late and she shrugs on a leather coat, not because she’s into leather, but because her last girlfriend told her to keep it. The girlfriend had not cried when they separated. Instead she glared. People were always glaring. She fumbles for a cigarette as she steps outside and lights it under the eaves. Rain pours off the roof. The neighbors are already gone to work.


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