BellaOnline Literary Review
Ruffles by Christine Catalano

Table of Contents


Black Mascara

Deborah McCallister

The light is fluorescent
and unkind.
I glance cautiously into the mirror,
avoiding the wrinkles that seem to belong
to someone else.
Behind me I see her step from her wet bathing suit.
She turns on the shower, moves into the water,
shivering aloud at the cold.
My future body, I tell myself,
sizing her up without staring,
the way we women have learned to do
since we were little girls.
Sagging breasts. Loose stomach.
Bulging thighs, inside and out.
Skin drooping from the back of the arms.
She catches my eye in the mirror
and smiles.
I return to my reflection,
coating my lashes with black mascara.
A girl walks in, tanned, taut, flawless
in a bright pink bikini.
She moves toward the shower, hesitates
at the sight of the woman, reaching up,
rinsing the soap from under her arms.
The girl cautiously warms the water
before stepping under, still wearing the bikini.
She lets the water fall on her.
She does not touch herself.
The woman smiles at her, too,
and then again at me.
The girl pretends she does not see.
She folds her arms across her chest.
The woman moves aside the flesh
to wash between her legs. She rinses carefully,
her skin turning red now from the heat of the water.
The girl has gone. Turned off the shower
and closed a door somewhere to dress.
The woman closes her eyes,
lifts her face to the warmth of the water,
massages something fragrant into her hair.

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