by F.E. Clark
“I have painted this mask for over 50 years now” she announces, inhaling a long draw from her cigarette.
“Every day” she tips the fag ash onto a saucer.
“It was my style, my verve, my signature, but now it is just me.”
Lola stares mutely at Josephine whose eyeliner is almost perfect, only slightly bleeding into the creases of her face.
Lola adjusts the shimmery cocktail dress she is wearing, pushing up the green fedora on her head, meets Josephine’s glaring kohl-rimmed eyes.
“I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of people who have seen me without it in the last, oh, forty years, and of those handful; several have left the land of the seeing” Josephine mutters. She takes another draw from her cigarette.
Lola stops her wriggling, stills, she herself knows that she is one of the remaining few who have seen Josephine without her ‘mask’, though she thought that this was her own secret.
“Barefaced, I am a vague impression of reality, or is that only vaguely impressed by reality? I digress….” Josephine, as she often does, seems to be talking to someone else.
Lola thinks Josephine is perhaps thinking out loud, and stays very still, watching. Maybe she has gotten away with it. Maybe it will be ok….
“And YOU, young lady! Where do you imagine you are going at 9am in the morning dressed in my best dress and hat? Which, I must say, should NEVER be worn together. And, what is that on your face? The idea is to accentuate my dear, not paint bruises on oneself.”
Lola cringes, busted. “I just wanted to look like you Nana Jo…..”
“How many times have I told you, not to call me that – I am JOSEPHINE! Do you hear me? Josephine to one and all. A nana is a fruit, and a rather phallic one at that.”
“Sorry” Lola whispers.
Josephine stubs the last of her cigarette out on the saucer, surveys the six year old before her and says, “Come here then girl. Let me show you how to do it properly”.
(I wrote this story in response to the photo for The Angryhourglass contest, week 55, 2015. It came first in the contest.)