You could have a big dipper   

Cosmetics by Kathryn Anna Marshall

CW: Harassment/Abuse



YOU MUST NOT DRAW ATTENTION TO YOURSELF

I stifle a laugh as I read enormous black letters painted on bare brick walls.

The windows are shuttered, to help us think, and the door is bolted, to keep us safe.

In my hand is a part-used lipstick called Lusty Rose. I recognise the indentation in the tip, where my lip brush stroked over and over and over.


YOU MUST NOT DRAW ATTENTION TO YOURSELF


There are seven other women with me in a space the size of my old dressing room. They do not meet my gaze. I have a mattress and a shelf. The woman to my left is staring at the lipstick. Her hands twist in her lap. She flicks her eyes upwards.


I should place Lusty Rose next to the other things delivered over the last four days, three hours and seventeen minutes. So far I have been reunited with a pot of Seductive Shimmer (for bedroom-y eyes), a tube of Luscious Lash (for look-at-me lashes), and a pot of Fevered Flush (for that very special glow).


YOU MUST NOT DRAW ATTENTION TO YOURSELF


My neighbour to the left has a jenga-like collection of tubs and tubes of greasy promises. The shelf to the right of me holds a single pot of hand-cream.


YOU MUST NOT DRAW ATTENTION TO YOURSELF


Perhaps they will bring my Perfectly Matte eye shadow (for girls who mean business). It would enhance my bristled, bloodied scalp.


YOU MUST NOT DRAW ATTENTION TO YOURSELF


I open my mouth. The silence of seven women staying their breath stills my tongue.


YOU MUST NOT DRAW ATTENTION TO YOURSELF


As well as being on every wall this sentence is at the top of every page of the small book I was given four days, three hours and twenty-seven minutes ago. Underneath is a space for past transgressions.


On the eighteenth of September I looked Mr G. in the eyes. This made him think I wanted him to touch me.

On the eighteenth of September I wore eye make-up. This caused Mr W. to touch me during our business meeting.

On the eighteenth of September I coloured my lips bright red which made Mr P. act in a way that was demeaning to his position.



Kathryn Anna Marshall is a poet based in Shropshire. She returned to writing after diagnosis with M.E. left her unable to work - or do very much else. Kathryn has work published or forthcoming in print journals such as Mslexia, Popshot Quarterly, and The Dawntreader, as well as online at places like Sledgehammer Lit., Streetcake and Words for the Wild. She is also a columnist for Spelt Magazine , and hopes to publish her first pamphlet in the not too distant future. Twitter @KathrynAnna_x Instagram @kathrynannawrites Facebook KathrynAnna Writes kathrynannasite.wordpress.com


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