An extra story

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On the advice of a fellow-author, publisher and friend, I decided to re-jig the contents of Twelve Roses For Love. This meant that the first story, the one about Saint Valentine, became part of my author’s notes. As a result I was one story short. So, the paperback version of Twelve Roses for Love has an extra story, for some reason that extra story hasn’t uploaded to the e-book version. I’m working on fixing that.

In the meantime, I think it only fair to share that extra story as a free read here. I’m hoping that when some of my followers read this one, they’ll realise that the stories contained in Twelve Roses aren’t your typical romances. There are a few that are, and as I have mentioned before, there’s one rather amusing and saucy story at the end of the book. For now, here’s your bonus story…

Dark Lipstick

Theresa still couldn’t believe she had put up with all that for so long. It had been an almost textbook case. How had she, of all people, allowed herself to become that person. She loved Jake. Correction, she told herself as she sat on the bed in the women’s shelter, she had once thought she loved Jake. 

He wasn’t your typically handsome guy that she’d met at the gym two years ago. But there was something about him. An almost shy lop-sided grin, dark brown hair that fell over one eye, which he constantly pushed back. They had dated. He’d told her he’d had anger-management issues and the gym was to help work these out. 

She understood. That’s kind of what she herself was working on. But hers were more a case of self-esteem. Feel good about your body and yourself, all the support groups had said. And it had worked. When she met Jake, she was trim, the curves were where they should be and she had muscles. 

“I’ll arm wrestle you,” she’d said to Jake who had an impressive set of biceps himself. Her smile always lit up her face and danced in her eyes. Who would have predicted that that would be her undoing! The friendly roughhousing in bed began to lead more and more often to Jake actually using his strength against her.

The first time he was all apologies. The classic, “I’m sorry babe, I didn’t mean it, it will never happen again.” Followed by flowers and chocolate. 

She’d worn dark lipstick to work and made some empty silly excuse about slipping in the bathroom. 

Later he was all sarcasm, laced with jealousy, for what she never knew. “You think you’re kick-ass tough? I’ll show you who’s tough.”

The dark lipstick was always handy, a great cover-up. But her eyes held the hurt she continued to hide. 

Then quite by accident he figured the button to push to hurt her the most was to undermine her hard-won self-esteem, “You don’t smile any more. It’s the only time you’re pretty.” 

Theresa looked at herself in the mirror then. It was true. Her face only lit up when she smiled. She wasn’t pretty. Her face was too long and her hair hung lank unless she washed it every day.  She bit her lip, the tears welling up as she repeated the mantras that were supposed to build her up, “You have to love yourself.” What the hell did that really mean? And what was there to love? A face too long. Arms too thin. And ever since she’d stopped going to the gym her muscles had gone slack sagging under the weight of her low spirits. 

With hindsight she saw that it wasn’t a case of anger management for him. He just enjoyed the power it gave him. Last week she learnt what it meant to love herself. Last week he had pushed that button way too far when he came to her in the kitchen and for no reason twisted her arm, his lop-sided grin twisted into a grimace, and his words twisted into an auger of hate, “You’re ugly bitch!” He’d yelled, “And I’m going to make you uglier so no one will ever look at you again!” He raised a broken bottle to strike her. 

In that moment Theresa knew what it meant to love herself. It burst with all the warmth of a heart full of deep, fathomless love. A love so pure it gave her the strength to wrench her arm out of his, raise her leg and land a full-bodied kick in his groin. As he doubled over, she grabbed the hot pan from off the stove and struck him in the face. He fell down and passed out. She felt for his pulse, knew he was still alive. Then she packed all the things that were hers and walked out. 

“No,” she said, “that’s enough!” She smiled grimly to herself. “Whatever it is long, thin, ugly, it is my face and I love it.” 

Dark Lipstick

A bloodied gash upon my lips

The purple wound should not be seen

Lest they should say, “I told you so,”

And love I thought I had, has been

A sorry, sordid, lost affair.

Dark lipstick covers all my dreams

How long will it conceal my plight?

Another love, another fight

Some other way to turn a trick,

Another reason… dark lipstick.

Until I learnt I can fight back

Not just with fists, or fire or might

But knowing I can change my tack

Knowing I can walk away

Knowing I can live again

For I have learnt to love again

Learnt to love myself again

No more bruises on my lips

Yet I still wear dark lipstick

Not as a mem’ry or charm that would

Fend them off, but now because

The mirror says, that I look good!

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