Lipstick

By Mike Smolarek

 

 

"Are you there god?" he said. "Can you here me?"

The room was dark and silent. No noise could penetrate the blackness. Mark sat at the window, looking into the night. A few feint stars twinkled among the clouds.

"What is going on?" Mark looked up. He wasnít sure if anything was looking at him. He ran his fingers through his hair.

"Why do I have no luck?" Mark massaged his forehead with his thumb and forefinger. He looked over at the dresser catching a glimpse of the lipstick Angela had left behind. It brought him back to his first memory of herÖ

* * * * *

The music was obnoxiously loud. Hundreds of people crowded the house, packed wall to wall. The only way to talk to someone was to scream directly in their ear. Mark glanced around the room, wondering where Patrick and Ben had disappeared to. They brought him here but wandered off, leaving Mark alone with no one to talk to. He drifted into a corner of the room searching the sea for a glimpse of Patrick or Ben. Thatís when he saw her. She stood leaning against the far wall, holding a strawberry wine cooler. She played with a small silver hoop that dangled from her ear. She wasnít looking anywhere near Mark, but he was captivated by her mysterious black eyes. Slowly, she turned her eyes towards him, until they met. She smiled at him, shooting a cool chill up his spine. His heartbeat raced and he wanted to talk to her.

"Whatís up buddy?" Patrick said behind him grabbing his shoulder.

"Uh, not much," Mark said, turning behind him to see Patrick and Ben.

"Are you ready to leave?" Ben asked.

"Not just yet." Mark turned back around to find the girl. She had disappeared. He scanned around the room for her, only seeing empty beer cans and empty faces of people he didnít know.

"Oh well, letís go," Mark said to Ben and Patrick. Mark slowly shrugged towards the door with his head down; Ben and Patrick followed behind him. When he finally looked up to open the door, there she was.

"Leaving so soon?" she asked him.

"Uh, yeah," he said, shocked. He turned around to check on Patrick and Ben, only to see their backs disappearing into the crowd. Patrick turned and looked at Mark, flashing a sly smile of approval.

"Iím Angela," the girl said.

"Mark," he said. "Nice to meet you." In his head he was saying Angela, Angela, Angela, over and over so he wouldnít ever forget her name.

"You donít look like you are having any fun," she said.

"No, not really." Markís hands dangled half-in and half-out of his pockets. "My friends keep leaving me and I really donít know anyone else here."

"Well, now you know me." She smiled when she said it, almost bouncing on her feet. "You want to go somewhere moreÖwell, less noisy so we can talk?"

"Sure."

Mark and Angela left the noise of the party behind and walked over to the park. They sat on an old, gray, stone bench, talking about everything from college to Sesame Street. The looked at the thousands of stars shining above and watch two rabbits chase each other around the park. The swung on the swings and even jumped off. Mark fell down, but he felt no pain. He just wanted to be there with her. He kissed her that night, while sitting on the cold bench. Not an innocent kiss goodnight, or a tiny little peck on the cheek. It was a deep, warm kiss that he felt all the way down in his toesÖ

* * * * *

Mark blinked his eyes in the darkness. He sniffled a few times, holding back the tears as best as he could.

"Is there someone out there for me?" he asked the darkness. "Am I going to spend my whole life alone, waiting for nothing?" He rested his head on his knees, his arms hugging them tightly. He wanted so badly to have someone to hold. Not just someone, but her. He thought she was the one. He thought she was the one he could be with.

The wall clock ticked away, the only noise in the room. It was two thirtyÖ

* * * * *

Angela walked into the room, forgetting to knock as usual.

"Iím taking a can of soda," she declared, rummaging through the fridge.

"Sure you can have a can of pop," Mark said. She just looked up and smiled at him.

Mark put his eyes back into the philosophy book he was reading. Angela walked over to the radio on top of the desk and flipped it on.

"Oh, I love this song," she said turning up the volume.

"Iím trying to study," Mark said, looking up form Platoís Republic.

"Well, so am I," Angela answered, ripping the book out of Markís hands. She bolted out the door and flew down the hall, Mark jumping up after.

"I got your book," she yelled back as she turned the corner.

"Not for long," Mark answered, steadily gaining on her. He finally caught up to her. He tried to wrestle the book away from her, but her grip was too tight. In desperation, Mark lifted Angela in his arms and carried her down the hallway. She dropped the book and wrapped her arms around his neck.

"Ooh, youíre so strong," she said, with much sarcasm.

"No, youíre just so light," he fired back. "Iím gonna teach you though." Mark carried Angela past the door into his room and walked into the bathroom.

"What are you doing?" she asked. He said nothing and walked past the sinks, and into the showers. He turned on the water.

"Aaaaaaaaa! Youíre soaking me!" Her voice echoed off the tile wall in the bathroom. Mark turned off the water and carried the dripping Angela back to his room. He set her down in the bed, his arms still around her. He smiled at her, and she smiled right back. They kissed.

A knock on the door broke the routine.

"Angela, you have a phone call," a girlís voice said.

"Who is it?" she asked.

"Youíre boyfriend."

"Markís eyes shot open and his stomach dropped. He looked over at Angela, whose face had turned red and worried. Neither of them moved.

"Are you coming?" the girl asked. Angela grabbed her pop can, took a last look at Mark, then left, leaving the door wide open. Mark stayed in the bed and stared at the ring the pop can left on his desk. He rolled over and looked at the clock. It was two thirtyÖ

* * * * *

The blackness came again. Mark rubbed his eyes, smearing the tears into oblivion. He couldnít believe how quickly this had all happened. The high and the low were so close together, with no middle, no happy, comfortable period of bliss. It was straight down.

"Why does this always happen?" he said, the tears finally flowing. "Why canít I just find somebody?" His tears turned to anger. He threw the pillow across the room, knocking the lipstick onto the floor. He pounded the bed, throwing blankets all over the floor. Violent punch after violent punch shook the bed as Mark released his anger, his face reddening as he went.

After a few minutes, Mark saw the futility of his actions. He stopped punching and began to sob again. He dropped his head down into his lap.

A knock interrupted the darkness.

"Mark," a voice said, one that was familiar. "Mark, its Angela. Can we talk?"

He slowly sat up as she creaked the door open, letting the light slip in. He saw her silhouette in the doorway, a little fuzzy from the darkness.

"What the hell do you want?" he blasted. She entered the room.

"Listen," she said, closing the door behind her. "Weíve got to talk. Please?" Her voice quivered. She sat down on the bed, carefully avoiding Markís legs. He pulled the covers tighter around himself.

"Why should I listen to you?"

"Because I care for you," she answered.

Silence returned for a moment.

"Iím waiting," Mark finally said.

"Iím sorry," she said. "I guess I should have said something before."

"You bet you should have said something!" Mark began to fume.

"Would you have done anything different?"

"Yes!" he said. "Everything. Iíd be fast asleep with dry eyes right now."

"Well, what the hell was I supposed to do?" she shot back. "Just blurt it out? Hi Iím Angela and I have a boyfriend."

Mark said nothing.

" I really do love you," Angela said.

"Thatís the problem. I love you too."

"I donít know what to do," she said.

They were both silent again.

"Why canít we be together?" she asked.

" I canít do it," he said. "As much as I really want to, I canít." He sat up in the bed and looked at her for the first time since she came into the room. "How would you feel if you knew there was always somebody else I could go to? How do I know you arenít thinking of him when you are talking to me? Thereís always that doubt in my mind. No matter what weíd be doing, that would always be in the back of my mind."

Silence.

Mark looked into Angelaís eyes, the black eyes that held him just a few nights ago. This time, they were tearful, sad. He watched as a tear rolled down her cheek, leaving its mark.

"Iím sorry," she said, leaning over him. She planted a kiss on his cheek, leaving behind a red ring, then slowly got up. She walked to the door, opened it and looked back. As she walked out, she sniffled, and shut the door with a click. The click echoed in Markís head. He rolled over in the bed and looked on the floor where the lipstick case lay shattered. The clock said three fifteen.

"No," Mark whispered to the darkness. "Iím sorry."

 

-September, 1993