We sneak into the upstairs bathroom while her mom is out back gardening. We hold hands. She puts an index finger up to her lips and looks back at me with wide eyes. Shhhhh. She opens the satin jewelry box like something might pop out of it, no breathing. I hear her swallow. She takes the mirrored tube of lipstick into her palm and as she encloses it with her fingers she squeezes my hand too. She looks at me, mouth open, a red ring around her lips from the strawberries. Her breath always smelled like barbeque chips. I am yanked forward as she starts to run down the hall. My hand interlaced with hers feels so far ahead of me. Go faster. We dive on to her bed and she lets go of me. She’s wearing a yellow dress that looks itchy. Pink stains on the belly from the strawberries. She fans her fingers out wide to reveal the lipstick. Removing the cap. Twisting, twisting, twisting, until the entire stick is out of its tube. I’ve never seen something that red, like a ruby. She puts the lipstick to her nose, smelling it with one quick inhale. She extends her arm, puts the lipstick to my nose so I can smell it too. It smelled like a grandmother. She brings it back, close to her face, close to her mouth. She opens her mouth. She takes a bite. Half of the stick is gone. She chews once, her lips purse, she spits the lipstick into her hand. Saliva the color of bright blood. As her mouth contorts I can see her teeth, they are caked with red. She shakes her head.
It looks good but it doesn’t taste good, she says.