ELIQUATUS by Amy Lewis

Our first flash fiction comes from Amy Lewis. A little lipstick, a bad date, it’s almost a true story…


You hear him speak.“Your lipstick is staining your teeth, baby. It’s ruining your killer smile. Here.” He stretches his hands towards you and offers a napkin.

His lips are swollen and intestinal. The way they mouth the vowels, sucking at them like hungry leeches, leaving the words anemic. Disgusting.

“Is it?”

You ignore his outstretched hand, enjoying the way it flutters uncertainly to the table after a moment, reminiscent of a moth—fat and hairy. He is an insect. Beneath you. Pulled in by your luminescence, the damp heat between your thighs. You are his flame, and he will serve as tinder for your fire.

You flatten your tongue and run it over your teeth, feeling the grittiness the lipstick left in the minute grooves of your incisors—didn’t you read somewhere that certain brands used fish scales to make it shine? A chili extract-Capsaicin, you read, just a little irritant to give you that perfect bee stung pout. If you ate the stick, you wonder, would there be enough to cause the delicate tissues of your throat to swell—enough to close your airway?

But you can’t. Chances are, it would get on your teeth and ruin your killer smile. Ruin your picturesque death. They wouldn’t talk about how artfully your curled ‘golden 6VG blonde’ hair fell around the meticulously maintained skin of your angular face; no, they wouldn’t sigh with envy at your perfect waist–22 inches when you checked this morning– preserved forever in the moment, instead they would cluck their tongues in disapproval and hidden satisfaction, sighing over the stains on your teeth at the funeral—scrubbing with bleach can only do so much. It would ruin your image, and for you, your image is everything. That’s why your lipstick is one of a kind. Made by you; worn by you. Anything else is second rate. And you are first rate.

“Is it gone?” you flash your teeth at the man across from you, pulling your lips back, exposing the enamel and bone and fleshy redness of your gums in a grotesque parody of a smile.

His eyes dart to your teeth, and he nods, a tremulous, jerking motion, and mops at the translucent beads of sweat gathering on his forehead. You wish he’d let them stay. They were marvelous when they caught the light—refracting dozens of colors, turning each of his epithelial cells into a unique, temporary jewel.

You hold the grimace for a few seconds longer, carefully running your tongue over each indenture, mapping out the terrain of your teeth. His eyes follow the movement, and his own comes out to lap at the salty perspiration that has formed a glossy mustache on his upper lip. You allow your muscles to relax. He stands up, a bumbling movement that causes the red wine in your glass to reach hopefully for the edge of itself for a brief moment before settling back into complacency.

You know what’s coming next, and your smile becomes plastic, like the Barbie doll you are.

You dip the lacquered edge of your fingernail into the wine and hold it over the white table cloth.

Drip. Drip drip.

The cloth is eager to be embrocated with color, to escape the bland whiteness of itself. It is hungry for change.

You hear him speak.

“You look tired, baby. We should go back to the room.” His fingers fidget on the table, a repetitive movement that turns your thoughts to the mindless, ecstatic writhing of maggots in a demesne of rot.  

“Of course.” Your bottom lip catches on the F, making it into a purring V. A slight pull of your facial muscles and your mouth slides into a different sort of smile—a smirk. Like everything else about you, it is subtly suggestive. And like everything else about you, he loves it.

You stand up.

The walk is filled with the potent weight of anticipation. It is a gift for your sympathetic nervous system, touching the nerves individually, coaxing them to wakefulness. You are alive, your body says. It is time to live.

You reach the room. It is a duplicate of hotel rooms around the globe; designed with comforts of home and decorated with reminders that it is not. You apply another heavy coating of lipstick.

Then, he is kissing you.

He presses his face to yours with all the arrogance of a Spanish conquistador. You yield.

You open your mouth dutifully, and his tongue pistons inside, eager to explore and to take and possess the territory that is you.

He pulls back, impatient for the next step and says, “Get rid of that lipstick. It tastes like iron. Let’s get these clothes off, baby.”

He begins to undress himself, but eventually stops and sits, pressing a hand to his abdomen with a grunt of discomfort. It turns into a choking gurgle of pain. You admire the way his back contorts into a contoured curve as he doubles over. You trace his spine with interest, fingering the ridges of bone, surprisingly prominent through the layers of fat and meat.

“What the fuck?” he gasps out, wheezing audibly with each wet breathe. He falls on the floor, his legs still tangled helplessly in the folds of his trousers.

“Arsenic,” You correct him, “does not have a taste. You’re tasting your own blood.”

A brushstroke of fear, and the beginning of the inevitability of death, splashes into your subject’s eyes. He coughs out a single word, all that is allowed to him in these final moments, and asks, “Why?”

“The secret to true beauty,” you reveal, “is pain.”

For the first time, he ignores you. He does not speak.

Amy Lewis is a soon-to-be registered nurse, writer, and couch potato in Eau Claire, WI. Her stories and poems have appeared in microsoft word documents, various scattered notebooks, and occasionally on napkins. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and will have an Associate’s degree in nursing within the next year, unless that Hogwarts owl she has been waiting on for years decides to show up. 



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