|Rosie strolled through the mall, pausing to admire a pair of shoes here, a soft print dress there – window shopping. This was one of her favorite pastimes on a Saturday morning. Her goal though was the Ye Old Curio Shoppe. She loved the place. It was always so interesting – full of antiques and haberdashery, even some old costumes that the Theater sent over from time to time. There was always some kind of treasure or trinket - and today Mrs. Evans was having a sale.
“Hello, Mrs. Evans,” she called out as she entered the tiny cluttered shop.
“Mornin’ dearie,” Mrs. Evans shuffled her way through to the front. She seemed old yet ageless at the same time. Although her memory was fading a little, her blue eyes twinkled and she always had a ready smile for her customers – so many of them were old regulars.
“Do you mind if I browse around a little?” Rosie asked.
“No, my dear. Have a look around, and take your time. There's no rush.” Mrs. Evans eased herself into her rocking chair, and started polishing a silver teapot. Rosie found a beautiful matching cup and saucer, with a dainty rose design – just like my name – she thought, and a lovely soft woven Burberry scarf. As she passed by an old Welsh dresser, her crocheted waistcoat caught on the knob of a drawer which slid open. Nestled inside was a small filigree box which contained little circles of color. Were they paints or make up? Rosie wasn’t sure, so taking the box out of the drawer she walked over and asked Mrs. Evans.
“Well my dear. I’m not sure. It looks like stage make up, perhaps from the Theater, and I didn’t even know it was there.” She smiled up at Rosie, “If you’re buying the teacup and scarf, you can have the little box for one pound. It might be an idea to refrain from using the make-up though.” Her brow furrowed as though trying to remember something and then it was gone.
Rosie was pleased with her purchases and though she used the teacup and saucer and had worn the scarf to the office, she’d forgotten about the make-up. Until the morning, she dropped her normal make-up container and the contents scattered all over the floor.
“Oh damn.” she said, wiping the mess up with tissues and then a damp cloth. As she rinsed the cloth she remembered the make-up box and fishing it out, she applied the eye-shadow, face powder and blusher sparingly. She didn’t know how old it was and it did seem a little garish in the harsh light of day.
The delay caused her to miss her early bus, but it was such a lovely day, she decided she would walk to work this morning.
“Mummy, did you see that lady’s face?” she heard a child say, before her mother hushed her. Her mind had been far away,yett now she noticed as she walked, that there seemed to be people looking at her. Not everyone, but some. Some stared, their mouths gaping, others glanced at her and then averted their eyes, and still more had expressions of surprise or even shock.
Were they looking at her? She wondered, suddenly self-conscious. They couldn’t be looking at her. Maybe the make-up was running. She put a hand up and felt her face. It felt a little tight. That was all. It had to be something to do with the make-up. She had known it was old. She tried glancing sideways into the reflections of shops as she passed but it was too bright and she couldn’t see clearly. If anything, it seemed the make-up seemed brighter. Her lips were very red as were her cheeks. Circles of red. That seemed odd, she thought. And her skin looked so pale. She continued trying to catch a glimpse as she walked but now the stares seemed to be even more obvious. She rubbed at her cheeks as she walked, in an attempt to tone down the color. She even rubbed her lips. She could feel herself start to perspire. What were they looking at? The eight blocks to her office had never seemed so long.
Now she could even hear gasps, hysterical giggles; saw hands cover mouths, eyes widen, heads swivel. She dropped her head, trying to hide her face. Yet it felt strange when she did, like her face was falling forward, almost as if it was going to fall off. She placed her hand over her mouth, her chin. Her skin seemed so cold, so dry. Finally, she reached her building and with a sob pulled open the large door into the foyer.
“What the hell?! Rosie?” A familiar voice to the side of her called out. David!
“Oh, David!” her relief warred with her embarrassment and her mounting fear. She started to take her hand away, but as she did so, it felt like her jaw was coming away in her hand. She held tight.
She was almost scared to look at him, petrified of what she would see in his face, his eyes.
“Your make up. Why are you wearing a clown’s face? At least, I think it is… sort of….kind of…” he stammered. He was trying to be polite, but revulsion showed in his eyes, his voice, “Move your hand. I can’t see.”
He pulled at her hand unexpectedly, and her jaw dislodged, fell from her face, to the marbled floor, bounced once and then smashed into pieces like a porcelain cup.
Her hands flew to her face, her eyes full of tears, and fear - meeting his, wild and full of horror. She felt her face begin to shift, long cracks running up her cheekbones, then crumbling beneath her fingers, as she tried to hold it all together. Her reflection was mirrored a thousand times in the glass walls of the foyer, and David’s screams reverberated through her head until there was blissful darkness and merciful oblivion.