Part II: The sorta pink lipstick
Mama’s got this sorta pink lipstick — it’s the color of a burnt storm-sky and it falls outta her clutch while she’s packing up the last box before we move to Hopeulikit, Georgia. I’m going to miss Summerville. All my friends are here and I really like my school.
Benny, the super sweet Filipino boy next door, is my best friend. We exchanged addresses. We’re gonna be pen pals! He’s learning calligraphy and I can’t wait to read letters from him. I’m both excited and sad about this.
I don’t know what to call this feeling.
I bend down to pick up Mama’s lipstick and for a moment, I want to flip the top off and run it over my lips but I am hesitant. She watches me from the corners of her eyes.
“Clover, that’s not a toy. Put it back in that bag and finish sweeping the foyer.”
I listen. Briefly, I imagine running that smooth color over my lips — that I’m the Queen of the Island of The Forgotten, and everyone must obey my commands. I wear a pink tiara, a pink robe, and clear, royal slippers. My jester’s name is “Prim” and he keeps me doubled over with laughter. I pat the butt of the lipstick and store it back in Mama’s clutch.
The sun peeks through our front door. The stained-glass panels reflect such beautiful colors. I can see the same pink burnt storm sky and I wonder to myself, “Is this some sorta sign? Am I supposed to catch this?”
I sweep our foyer as told. I hate the sound the broom makes as it passes over the floor again and again. That woosh-woosh sound drives me up the wall! Daddy says it’s because I’ve such sensitive ears.
Two years ago, some widely-known doctor took most of my parents’ savings and told them I have something called misophonia. I ain’t saying I don’t believe that doctor, I just don’t want to claim something so weird as a part of who I am.
There are so many other sounds I would rather live without; a dog’s quick swish of its wagging tail, the buzz of a drill, the impatient honking of a car horn . . . all patterned noises that send me into a small tantrum and causes me to have headaches that last for hours. What a weird thing for an eleven-year-old to have, right?
Daddy’s loading the truck. We’re supposed to leave in the morning at the crack of dawn. I’m nervous. Will I forget something? This new family that bought our home, will they take care of it? Will their children run wild and free in the attic? What if I don’t get along well at my new school when summer’s over?
We always move during the summer months. We moved to Summerville from Upper Marlboro, Maryland four years ago. It was the hottest summer ever! I thought my face was going to melt right off as we loaded things into the moving truck back then. The sun must’ve really been upset with the sky. It should be a crime to be that hot! I’ll never forget it!
Mr. Tullis told my daddy that there’d be no problem selling our home this time around and there wasn’t. Two weeks after his visit, we were cleared to move. Daddy’s credit union sent the official documents a few days ago and now . . . well now, I’m standing here sweeping this foyer preparing for our last night in this place.
I look back at Mama. She slips that sorta pink lipstick out and streaks a bit across her lips. She purses them together, then smacks the color in place. She’s so pretty. Daddy fell in love with her easily. I see why. She’s Rosario Dawson and Rae Dawn Chong combined.
What do I know about Rae Dawn, you may ask? Well, she’s one of Daddy’s favorite actresses. I was going to know about her whether I wanted to or not. Says he likes her because she looks like Mama — says the same thing about Rosario too. I can see it. I’ve always seen it.
She catches me watching her and thinks I’m being nosy because of that lipstick but no — I’m too busy hoping I grow up looking just like Mama. Too busy seeing myself in her bold, dark brown eyes.
“One day, when you’re old enough, I’ll buy you your own makeup set, Clover.”
She’s all syrup and no pepper (only when it’s necessary). I love Mama. I know she’s scared about this move. I know she thinks we’ll probably not make it in Hopeulikit. I also know she’s not too eager to meet her new workmates at a local boutique in Statesboro (a town not so far from where we’ll be), but she does want to get back to seeing smiles on the customers’ faces when they’ve made their purchases.
And me? Well, I just hope I can make new friends without much trouble. I look up toward our front door and see the pink burnt storm-sky settling into the stained glass once again and I make a wish . . .
“Please let me be as pretty as Mama when I grow up.”
I brush the broom across our foyer and cringe — woosh-woosh.
*For K.E. Garland, who has been waiting patiently for a continuation of Clover. This was originally published in The Weekly Knob via Medium.
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