Red Bullet

She was a flame.
The hot red poker was always cracking down on my fingers as I reached to grab the black butt on the bullet of her favourite lipstick. The glossy silver of the tube, how smooth the strawberry tip crept up, the tiny click when the cap was placed back to its home that resonated throughout my stomach. It was a forbidden luxury. One that, “You’re too young to be playing with!” Bobbing around in the back of my mind whenever my hands got too itchy.

She was a scarlet wound.
I remember how her face almost matched the interior of the tube. The wine dark river of blood pockets flushed up into her temples. The cylinder was snatched before my chubby fingers had a chance to hold on. I never even had time to cry.

She was the flick of salmon’s tail.
My first date would have been perfect with the addition of that red lipstick. I thought I had planned the most impeccable route out of the house, setting up traps like a labyrinth to keep my mother busy while he waited around the corner of our overgrown front gates. I quickly learned that my mother was the Minotaur and you could not escape. I had to scrub so long to remove the streak of crimson tides from my cheek, smudged from angry fingers, that my date left thinking I wasn’t coming anymore. She held my jaw between her thumb and pinky and I could smell the heat pouring from her nose.

She was the magenta of an August sunset.
We were curled so tightly on the couch, wrapped in blankets and late night snacks. My heart was broken but her arms were so warm. She left ruby red kisses in my hair, traces of the chemical compounds found in lipstick placed along the ridge of my scalp.

She was hard as the brick my father had used to build our house.
I asked her politely. Without emotion, as if it was a trivial question coming out of thin air. She told me the story of my birth. She told me the story of the first time he cursed in front of her. She told me the story of her hands over her ears in the back of her closet with red lipstick painted across her cheeks, down the bridge of her nose, because he didn’t like the colour red anymore. She told me the story of the day she vowed to wear nothing but red until death took over. As she unscrewed the bullet and as the pigments touched my lips she told me the story of how she never wanted to see me in red.

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