It’s been a while, hasn’t it? It’s been bothering me that I haven’t posted for ages whilst I’ve been putting up guest stories on other blogs every week, so this week I’ve brought the Split Worlds home again and thought I’d say a quick hello too.
The lack of posts has had everything to do with the fact I’m writing the third Split Worlds novel at the moment and between that, and a weekly short story to write and record, there haven’t been any other words left! Life is very good at the moment with some really exciting stuff happening just this week – stuff I can’t share with you yet unfortunately.
Anyway, suffice to say I am still alive, I’m just working hard and spinning lots of plates – as I should be! Without further ado, here’s the story – the audio version is here: https://soundcloud.com/ejnewman/made-up should you wish to put your feet up and listen instead.
Maddy twisted the lipstick casing and watched the deep red stick emerge. It was her mother’s favourite and shaped for her lips. Even though she twisted the stick of colour up and down, marvelling at how it sparkled, she resisted the urge to smear it onto her own. That would be bad.
She dropped it into the make-up bag as she heard her mother coming back from the bathroom, bringing the scent of perfume and hairspray with her.
“Don’t touch my make-up Maddy,” she said, closing the curtains.
Maddy pouted, lurking near the dressing table as her mother lifted the stockings laid on the bed carefully.
“I’ve got tummy ache,” Maddy said as her mother rolled the first stocking up her leg.
“No you haven’t,” her mother replied. “I’m going out Maddy, you just have to get over it.”
“With Smelly Simon?”
“Don’t call him that!” her mother scowled as she rolled the other stocking up and fiddled with the clasps.
Maddy looked at the red dress laid out next to her mother’s necklace. She could run downstairs, drink some milk, hold it in and pretend to throw up all over it.
“Don’t even think about it,” her mother said.
“Whatever it was, don’t.”
Maddy pouted and flopped onto the bed, narrowly missing the newly pressed dress. Her mother put it on quickly, then sat at the dressing table.
“Is Sm- …is Simon taking you to a restaurant?”
“Will you eat pizza?”
“I don’t know.”
“Can I come?”
Her mother sighed and twisted around to face her. “No Maddy.”
“I’ll be good, I promise.”
“No Maddy, that’s enough now.”
Maddy tucked her knees under her chin and watched her mother paint on her eyes.
“Can I have some mascara too?”
“No, it’s nearly bedtime, and I’ve told Kelly that it’s 7:30 sharp.”
Maddy knew she’d be able to trick the babysitter into letting her stay up late. But if the plan worked, her Mum might be home early.
Her mother plucked her lipstick out of the bag and pulled her funny face to get it right up to the lines. Maddy studied how she smacked her lips together afterwards and blotted, leaving a dark red kiss on the tissue that was scrunched up and tossed into the bin.
“How do I look?” her mother asked after putting her high heels on.
“Nice,” Maddy said and her mother groaned. “Very nice Mummy,” she corrected, eliciting a smile.
“The taxi will be here any minute, why don’t you go downstairs and play with Kelly?”
Maddy sloped off, knowing her mother wanted to be by herself in front of the mirror. She went into her bedroom instead, drifting over to open the window to look at the sunset. She hoped the phone would ring and they’d hear that Simon’s leg had unexpectedly fallen off so he couldn’t take Mummy out ever again.
Then she remembered the plan, and smiled. The scent of the wisteria beneath her window floated into the room. She sniffed and thought about fairies. It would be okay. Mummy would be home before it was dark, and Smelly Simon would never be seen again.
Maddy was brushing her teeth when the front door opened and then slammed shut. She held her breath as her mother ran up the stairs to her room and shut the door. Maddy pressed her ear to the wall separating them, heard her mother crying. She bit her lip, feeling sad and happy all at once.
She rinsed her mouth, then padded to her mother’s room. She opened the door quietly and saw her mother seated at the dressing table, blowing her nose.
“Why aren’t you in bed?”
“I was,” Maddy lied. “Are you sad Mummy?”
“Yes.” She made the sound of a baby elephant into another tissue.
“Because all men are horrible.”
Maddy took a couple of steps in, and when nothing was said, carried on until she reached the dressing table. She squeezed her mother’s hand. “I still love you Mummy.”
Her mother’s tears flowed faster. Remembering just in time, Maddy plucked a tissue from the box and dried her mother’s cheeks tenderly.
“I’ll be alright Maddy, go back to bed, there’s a good girl.”
She didn’t argue. Holding the damp tissue carefully, she went back to her room, closed the door and tip-toed to the window.
“Hello?” she whispered, leaning out. “Little fairie?”
There was a soft pop and the fairie was there, peeping out from behind a spray of wisteria.
Maddy beamed. “Hello!”
“Hello Madeline,” the fairie said in her sing-song voice. “Did my Lady’s present work?”
“Oh yes! Mummy thought it was her lipstick. And it made Smelly Simon say something horrible to her, just like you said it would!”
The fairie clapped her hands, fluttering above the vase. “And have you remembered what you must give me in return?”
Madeline held up the tissue. The fairie’s nose wrinkled, and she blew glittery dust off her hand that coalesced into a golden cup. “Squeeze the tears into this.”
Madeline did as she was told. Only two drops came out, but when the fairie sniffed at the liquid, she looked delighted. “Good girl,” she said, fluttering up to be level with her eyes. “Now, remember, every time that lipstick is used, my Lady will know, and she will want bitter tears in return.”
“I know,” Maddy said. “Thank you.”
The fairie smiled, stroked the tip of Maddy’s nose. “Such a resourceful little girl. Lady Wisteria is looking forward to seeing what you grow into.”
Maddy watched the fairie disappear. “Yay,” she whispered and clapped her hands. Just like the fairie.