'In Other People’s Shoes ' by Emily Devane

That evening, the house fizzed and bubbled with guests. Matilda crept upstairs. She sniffed the ghosts of Fathers’ cigars and buried her head among the coats – stroking the mink and ocelot with her fingers, exploring pockets for lipsticks and loose change.

Then, with Mother’s gold sling-backs sliding beneath her feet, she tottered in front of the standing mirror, tried adulthood on for size. Her painted lips, made crooked by a hairline crack, smiled back.

Lately, Mother had taken to staring at her own bare reflection before announcing: ‘And now for my armour!’ with a reckless tilt of her martini glass.

Earlier, Matilda had sat cross-legged to watch the pencilling of lips and eyebrows, the dabbing of cheeks, the endless blotting – then skipped beneath Mother’s perfume spray, waiting for a cascade of scent to fall upon her own upturned cheeks and cast its spell. How she longed for the same fine hands (so practised at wielding a cocktail), the same full-throated laugh (low, from too many cigarettes) and the same devastating way of seeming not to care (marriage offers since Father: plenty).

Up there, for a while, Matilda could pretend what she liked. For example: that the sound of Mother’s laughter was not a lie.

Comments

  1. You've turned a popular childhood habit into a bewitching tale, Emily. This is pure gorgeous flash.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You got me at...house fizzed and bubbled with guests....

    ReplyDelete
  3. Brilliant - and what a killer last line.

    ReplyDelete

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