• Vol. 06
  • Chapter 04
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Pink eyeshadow

She hadn’t expected to see them again.

This morning she touched up her roots using the plastic comb enclosed with the red dye packet. Some of the colour had dripped on to her forehead. No matter how much apricot exfoliator she rubbed into her skin, the stain wouldn’t shift. She found a scarf in a box full of odds and ends and tied it through her hair to cover the mark.

She couldn’t remember buying this scarf. It smelled of her mother.

Rifling through her makeup box, she selected frivolity. The pink eye shadow.

It was the memory evoked by the scarf’s scent, she knew, that made her reach for the compact that shared its colour with her mother’s only silk dress. Cut on the bias, it had been shoved in the back of the wardrobe the day the grey uniforms marched into town. They trashed the need for pink, and even their leaving couldn’t bring back the colours she once saw hanging flamboyantly in her mother’s bedroom.

She outlined her eyes with thick kohl; remembered the spit black her mother painted onto her lashes before mascara brushes made everything so much simpler. Thank heaven for new shades of lipstick. The day she’d thrown away the last tube of that sticky frosted burgundy — the only brand the town chemists ever stocked — had been her liberation day.

She hadn’t expected to see them again.

They stood in a line, blocking the road between her house and the town. She looked up into his face, shadowed under its helmet. In that moment, she remembered it all.


Pink eyeshadow

Just a girl the first time they marched down the street. Her mother had pushed her away from the window, told her to play in the garden and keep out of sight. She’d sat under the apple tree; strained her ears to hear what was going on out front.

It'd been boring, sat under the apple tree. No one had come to check she was okay. No one had come to call her in for tea. Chucking her second apple core, she jumped over the garden fence and headed out to the street.

She stood still as the soldiers marched by, one with the fidgeting crowd who stared, silent, at the ground.

Unsure now, she pressed her back against the wall. She wished the stone was apple tree bark, and she were back in the garden where fruit glowed red and leaves grew green, and her mother’s pink dress fluttered on the line.

The grey uniforms filed past. The stern glamour of leather boots clipped against the cobblestones. She looked, sick with longing, home towards the garden. Turning back, her eyes met the face of a soldier. He gazed, smiled, and spat on the ground at her feet.

Today she recognised the face under the visor. Impossible, she scolded herself, her mouth tight with shock. It can’t be him. Perhaps they all look the same. All act the same.

She waited for him to spit.