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Lipstick and Eyeshadow

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“Aunt I, are we almost done?” Wally whined impatiently, dragging his feet tiredly over the checkered-tile floor of the grocery store.

“Almost, Wally,” Iris smiled patiently, pushing the heavy shopping cart past the various soaps and beauty products. “This is the last aisle we need.”

“Auntie Allen,” Dick tugged lightly on the hem of her light green sweater, “are we still getting ice cream after?”

Iris’s smile widened as she glanced down fondly at the short 7-year-old. “Of course! You two errand-helpers have earned it!”

The two boys looked at each other eagerly, beaming -- or, in Wally’s case, vibrating -- with excitement. Iris laughed good-naturedly. “Okay, okay. Settle down, Wally.” Coming to the shelf she was looking for, she stopped the cart and bent down to get a closer look. While she browsed the lavender-scented soap bars, the boys turned their attention to the other products curiously.

Right across the aisle, opposite to the side Iris was looking at, were lotions and cosmetics. More interestingly: there were samples of each in every color imaginable -- lipstick, eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, and a whole slew of others. This of course immediately caught the interest of the two young, curious, slightly-ignorant boys.

They met each others equally (and comically) wide eyes, before rushing forward to grab what they could. Wally went straight for the lipstick display. Excitedly, he grabbed the six colors that caught his attention most -- Cherry Red, Shimmery Gold, Black Onyx, Ocean Blue, Sunset Yellow, and Plum Purple -- and gathered them in his shirt (he held the bottom of his shirt out so that it created a makeshift “bowl” for him to deposit his bounty).

Dick, being slightly shorter than his red-headed friend, grabbed what was at his immediate eye-level (and thus the easiest thing to grab) : eyeshadow. Well, not so much “grabbed” as Wally had done with the lipsticks; Dick really just grabbed a fistfull of mini-brushes and raked them across whatever color he felt drawn to. He ended up with three -- Silver Sparkle, Lime Green, and Rusty Red -- in one hand and two -- Neon Pink and Bright Magenta -- in the other, each brush gripped awkwardly between his fingers as he tried not to drop them. Because he was more on the “littler” side, and therefore too short to see himself in the mirrors, he was having trouble figuring out how and where to apply the eyeshadow. (He had not stopped to read the bold label on the display that read “Eyeshadow”, and therefore had little-to-no idea where exactly the sparkly powder was supposed to go.)

Thankfully, Wally noticed his plight. “Dick, lemme help,” he insisted, bending down first to carefully dump his gatherings into a semi-neat pile on the floor. Then, stepping cautiously around the lipstick, he took two of the mini-brushes from Dick and began sweeping them across each cheek in long, swift strokes.

(Iris was, at this point, further down the aisle than she had been before, and was now engaged in light conversation with another woman about the ridiculously high prices of good-quality soap in the general Central City area. In other words, she was in no way paying any mind to the boys behind her going hog-wild on the makeup samples.)

Next, Wally used the other brushes to color around Dick’s mouth, above his eyebrows, and down the front of his nose. He stepped back to examine his work. After 2 seconds of looking over Dick’s eyeshadow-ed face, he nodded to himself; he had, indeed, done a stupendous job. According to himself, at least.

Then it was Dick’s turn to help Wally. Without having to ask, he started grabbing colors from the pile one at a time and applying them to Wally’s face. His tongue poked out of the side of his mouth in concentration as he carefully drew a couple of lines across his friend’s forehead. When he was finished, Wally had swirling, multicolored designs all over his cheeks and forehead, a couple of scribbles on either side of his nose and under the nostrils, and a thick ring of color around each eye.

Wally itched his nose, careful not to touch any of the lipstick. “You finished?” he asked.

“Yup!” Dick nodded proudly.

Wasting no time, the two -- in an effort to at least try to act responsibly -- helped each other put back all of the lipstick and eyeshadow items back in their places. Soon after they had finished their self-appointed task, they heard Iris calling them from the other end of the aisle. She had finished talking to the woman and was now waiting patiently for them so that they could go get in line at the check-out.

“Coming!” they shouted at the same time, sprinting to the cart as fast as they could.

As she waited by the cart, she looked over her grocery list one last time, just to make sure she got everything she needed. Milk, check. Eggs, check. Granola bars, check. Bananas, check. Orange juice, check. Applesauce, check. Soap --

“Auntie I! Auntie I --”
“Lookit! Look at what we did!”

She was drawn away from her list-checking by two excited voices stumbling eagerly over each other in order to get her attention. She looked at Wally and Dick, about to ask if they were ready to go get ice cream, and stopped. Though she hid her surprise well, she couldn’t stop her eyes from growing as round and as wide as saucers, as she took in their appearances. She had to purse her lips to keep from bursting into a fit of laughter. They looked at her with expectant smiles, waiting for her response.

“Wow!” Taking a deep, shuddering breath and blinking back the tears of mirth that threatened to spill from her eyes, she grinned down at the boys with nothing but earnest joy. “You both look absolutely stunning!” she then bent down to their height in mock curiosity, pretending to marvel at their work. “You guys did this?” she raised both of her eyebrows as if hardly believing they were capable of such masterpieces.

They both nodded emphatically. “Uh-huh!” and “Yeah!” were said simultaneously.

“Holy cow! Well, I would be honored if I could get a quick photo of you two artists,” she pulled out her phone, camera at the ready.


Dick and Wally gathered close together as they smiled at the camera on Iris’s phone. “Say ‘Picasso’!”

“Picaso!!!” they grinned wide, showing off their teeth.

“Awesome, thanks!” Putting her phone back into her purse, a sudden thought struck her. Not hesitating, she crouched down once again in front of them.

“Are we gonna get ice cream now?” Wally asked, shifting from foot to foot.

“Absolutely! But, guys….” she trailed off, making sure to look each of them in the eye before continuing. She sighed. “Dick, Wally. As handsome as you two are right now...” her eyes grew soft. “You can’t go out looking like this.”

Immediately, their smiles dropped. Dick looked down at his feet, not saying anything. Wally stopped fidgeting to just stare despairingly into his aunt’s eyes. “But...but why?”

Taking a moment to look over her shoulder longingly at the makeup display case, she sighed again, this time more dramatically. “Because,” she paused to put a loving hand on top of each boy’s head, lingering. “What on earth will they think if they see me?”

Dick looked up, confused. “You?” his brows drew together. Wally looked at Dick, feeling lost.

“Yeah, how am I supposed to walk in there -- with my plain-old, boring face -- right next two you two beutifully-decorated, obviously-talented boys?”

They blinked. “What d’you mean?” Wally squinted.

She rolled her eyes good-naturedly and smiled with her eyes.

“I mean, that I’d like you boys to color my face -- the same as yours, so we’ll all match.” her smile grew as she stood back up.


To say that 60-year-old Frankie Jones of Jones’ Ice-Cream was startled when two boys -- followed by a woman, presumably their guardian -- paraded into his shop at 3:00 in the afternoon wearing an aisle’s-worth of makeup on their faces each, would be an understatement.

He was even more startled, however, when the younger of the two boys peeked over the register’counter to hand him a black, cylindrical tube before dashing out with his ice cream after his companion.

Silently staring after the giggling trio, he mindlessly slipped the small tube into the pocket of his apron.

He’d been dazed the whole time they’d been ordering, and was just now starting to come to his senses. He’d definitely seen weird things in his time, but that didn’t make this any less surprising or bizarre.

Later, as he was closing up his shop -- turning off the lights, locking the registers, checking that the cooling system was still running -- and hanging up his apron, the black tube slipped from the folds of the white cloth and onto the floor.

His curiosity from earlier was again piqued as he set his eyes on it. His aging knees and spine protested loudly when he crouched to pick it up.

Carefully turning it over in his hands, he peered through his reading glasses at the tube’s label, arching his brows as he slowly made out the words.

Mascara Black/Noir

And on the other side, in bold, white letters:


If anyone noticed that Mr. Frankie Jones’ eyelashes were exceptionally sultry the following day at work, they didn’t say anything on the matter.