Y'all, my writing teacher is the nicest, sweetest lady. No, I do not share her passion about nature, but she is so sincere and so eager to share her knowledge about writing. She is giving us some excellent tips. And she liked what I wrote. She even suggested I submit it for publication. Not to brag,* but she didn't say that to anyone else in the class.
She also said that I had "a very nice sense of pacing." I had pointed out that SH noted that I had sentence fragments and didn't I think I had to follow the rules? I told him that no, I do not, I am not in 8th grade thank you very much.
Another student in class said that next time, I have to read last because I guess I stole the show. But the other students had good stuff, too. It's just that mine was funny. BTW, we all wrote about Death. What is it about Serious Writing and Death? Really? I told everyone that next week, they have to write about weddings.**
Anyhow. Here is exactly what I wrote. I was tempted to tweak it, but that would be cheating. And yes, this is a true story.
I push through the chattering crowd to the coffin. My grandmother lies there, still, a rosary laced through her clasped hands. She has a ring on almost every finger and her long nails are painted perfectly in red. Eyeshadow, rouge, lipstick. All nicely done. She doesn’t look bad for a woman of 96.
But something is wrong. I stare, trying to figure it out.
Her lipstick. It is the palest, softest, barely-there pink
I have never seen her in soft pink in my entire life.
Imagine soft pink lips pursed around a Virgina Slims held in those red-tipped fingers. Letting loose some choice words as the owner slipped and fell that time on the calf-poop covered tailgate. Sipping a beer straight from the bottle. Asking intercession from the little St Christopher statue on the dashboard before we drove to Shopko so I could spend the dollar she gave me. Reading The National Enquirer at the grocery checkout.
Those lips have to be red, red, red.
The funeral home had obviously not known my grandmother.
I call my cousin, my sister, my mother and my aunt over.
“Look at her lipstick! It’s all wrong!”
Aunt Pat agrees. “When I cleaned out her room, I found 12 tubes of lipstick, all red.”
We decide we have to do something.
“Does anyone have a red lipstick?” I ask.
We all dig into our purses. My friend Ilene, who has come to the funeral with me, triumphantly yanks a tube from her bag.
We all pause as we think about the next step. We have the lipstick, but do we have the will to put it on a dead woman? Is it appropriate to touch up the makeup of a corpse? What if we get in trouble? Could the owner use the lipstick on her own lips again?
“Grampa Al won’t know her without red lipstick,” my mom says
It is essential.
“I’ll do it,” Ilene, a pediatrician, says. “I had to touch dead bodies in med school.”
When Ilene finishes, Granma looks just like herself. She can rest in peace.
* OK, I am bragging.
** I am thinking about writing about SH's wedding present to me, which is that his parents will never live with us.