Stuck to the edge of my coffee cup. A cakey imprint of berry pink. A swipe of my thumb smudges the impression, and I wipe the residue on my pants. The stain is still there. Several rounds in the dishwasher and the edge still glistens pink.

It sticks to my straw at restaurants. Sometimes it gets on my teeth. It comes with me to breakfast with a friend and sticks to the restaurant’s coffee cup.

“Aw your lipstick was so pretty,” she says. “But now it’s coming off.” 

Sometimes it’s bright red. Sometimes it’s barbie doll pink. Sometime’s it’s pale, nude. Sometimes it’s dark and heavy. It’s rarely outlined, but pops much more when it is. It is tubes left over from years of dance recitals. It’s samples from stores. It only stays for a short while no matter which brand I buy….despite promises of long lasting.

It’s the last thing I put on before I leave my house. It makes me like my smile more. It makes me feel pretty.

But mostly, more than anything else, it reminds me of my mom.

A rose petal pink outlined and finished with gloss. You could find it stuck to the edges of the thermos she carried to work every day. You would find tubes of it in her purse. You would see her putting it on in front of the mirror by the front door — her final ritual before walking out into the world. Her car smelled of lipstick. Thick in the air, imbedded in the seats — the defining difference between the car mom drove and the car dad drove.

It is painting a picture, wearing a mask. It is both bold and timid.

It smudges and smears. Looks flawless for an hour then disappears….leaving its traces on whatever it last touched. It reminds me that I’m like her. In ways I didn’t even realize until I took in the stain.


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