More Flash Fiction From Kathleen Lewis
You need to repair your make-up, she mouths to me. It’s Mama’s 80th birthday and I’m having a little ladies’ luncheon for her; she’s sitting across the table in the country club dining room. So I dutifully bend down, pick up my purse, take out my compact, powder my nose, and re-apply my lipstick. When I am fixed up and looking nice, she likes to show me off to her friends, pass around copies of things I’ve written, pull out pictures of my daughter, who looks like her (curvy blonde), not me (skinny brunette). If I were still a teenager, I might have mouthed Leave me alone, Woman! back to her. But I am a middle-aged adult, and she probably will be leaving me sometime in the next few years. So I turn my freshly-repaired face to her and smile, and she smiles back.
“Oh, I’m sorry, Mama. I was charging the cell phone in the car and I turned it off so that it would charge faster. What’s the matter?”
“Right after you and Carson drove off, I went in the guest bathroom and saw you’d left all of your make-up behind! I was trying to catch you before you got too far up the road to tell you to come back for it.”
“I forgot my make-up case? Oh, rats. Well, I’ve got some make-up at home and I’ll just buy what else I need until I can get back down there to get it.”
“After an hour or so, when I couldn’t get you, I called the State Patrol, described your car to them, and asked them to find y’all, pull y’all over and tell you that you forgot your make-up case.”
“Mama, are you kidding me?”
“No, I’m not kidding you. I know you’ve got work in the morning and you’re going to need your make-up to look nice and professional. The stores will all be closed by the time you get back home and you won’t be able to buy some more.”
“So we need to be looking out for a state patrol car?!”
“No. They wouldn’t do it. The man on the other end of the line said they don’t do things like that, that it didn’t constitute an emergency. He said the taxpayers would get mad at them if they did things like that. And I told him I was a taxpayer and that I was asking him nicely. He said he was sorry, but he couldn’t help me. I guess I should have told them I was having a heart attack and needed you to come back and take me to the hospital.”
“Mama, they probably thought you were crazy. He’s probably told all of his buddies at the station about it and they’re having a good laugh. And Carson would have had a heart attack if the state patrol pulled us over! He would have thought we were getting a speeding ticket.”
“Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of you going to work tomorrow without your mascara and your lipstick.”
“Mama, the world won’t come to an end if I go to work without my make-up.”
“Meriwether, you are past the stage of life where you can go out in public, much less to the office, without make-up.”
“Facts are facts. Do you want me to mail it to you tomorrow?
“No thanks, Mama. No need to go to all that trouble. We’ve got stores that sell make-up right here in Atlanta, believe it or not. And CVS is open all night.”
“Well, just promise me you won’t go to work without your make-up on.”
“Alright, alright, I promise!”
Kathleen Brewin Lewis is an Atlanta writer (born and raised in Savannah) whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in Weave, The Red Clay Review, The Prose-Poem Project, Cerise Press Journal, Like the Dew, Georgia Backroads magazine and Bookideas.com. She recently received her Master of Arts in Professional Writing from Kennesaw State University and is an assistant editor for a new online literary journal, Flycatcher: A Journal of Native Imagination. Her story “Long Distance” ran in Deep South in May.