“Don’t.” Annika waved the waiter away from the empty place setting on the other side of the table, her voice husky from too many cigarettes, too many drinks, too many lies swallowed year after year until she could no longer breathe. Explanations would be lost on the attending stranger, so she offered up her glass instead.

“Dirty martini.”

He’d spit in it, retribution for the hours she’d taken up his table nursing her cocktails and despair, for the rings of dark lipstick she’d left on the rim of her glass.

Her roommate had done her makeup, the two of them clad only in lacy underwear, fishnet stockings, and padded bras. They’d done shots to calm her nerves and giggled at the names of the powders and paints. Brute Champagne for her eyelids, Arsenic Lace for the lashes, Maiden’s Pallor on her cheeks. The perfect colors for an impending engagement.

Or a funeral.

Kevin perched backwards in his chair, his own peony lips pursed in an exaggerated pout as he lined hers with Blood Diamonds. When he finished, he blew her a kiss. “Gorgeous lipstick, darling. Almost as hot as my own.”

His was called Lolly Pops, created specially for him by an adoring fan and named after his own one-man show.

“Are you sure you want to go through with this? You should leave him instead, before he breaks your heart. Hop a plane and charge it to the bastard’s credit card. Fly to Fiji or Tahiti, drink spiced rum while nubile cabana boys lather your naked body with cocoa butter.”

Kevin’s fantasies were always sexier than her own.

There would be no naked cabana boys for Annika. Love, that was her aphrodisiac. A half-carat diamond nestled on her finger. A white satin gown with a train so heavy it pulled piles of rose petals behind her as she walked down the aisle. Tow-headed children who shrieked as their father chased them barefoot across a carpet of fern colored grass.

A rush of cold air and tinkling bells wrenched her from the fantasy and back to the candle-lit restaurant. And then he was beside her, her golden Adonis, her flawed Prince Charming.

Her Achilles.

“Sorry, I’m late,” Graham apologized. “Work was hell. Traffic was awful.”

The lies fell from his lips and lay discarded on the table next to her lipstick stained napkin. Neither virtue nor tidiness had ever been his strong suits.

“What’s that on your collar?”

Her hands, naked aside from the Veiled Threat polish, remained folded in her lap as he struggled to view the pink kiss pressed against the cotton fabric.

“Smoochy.” His voice was low, his eyes teasing.

The nickname always made her melt. Even now, she wanted nothing more than to sink into his arms.

If only it had been cheap makeup. Maybe then she could have ignored it. Forgiven him. Forgotten all of this.

But this lipstick had a name.

Lolly pops.


# # #

A Kiss and Makeup by Shannon Schuren
originally published in the Fall 2011 print edition



Shannon Schuren has been published in Toasted Cheese Literary Journal, The Chick-Lit Review, and Big Pulp, among other venues.

For more of Shannon's work,
visit her Big Pulp author page


This feature and more great
fiction & poetry are available in
Big Pulp Fall 2011:
On the Road from Galilee

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