The Death of Lila Jane(5)

By: Teresa Mummert



I popped the pills into my mouth and swallowed them down dry, nearly gagging before my eyes met my own reflection again. I ran my palm over my pale cheek before my gaze dipped to the large brown, ornately carved box that held my mother’s face paint and spackle. I’d always cringed at smearing dirt on my skin, but I couldn’t deny how men reacted to her when they saw her all done up. They certainly didn’t pay attention to me like that unless you counted the time Lloyd Schumer tripped me in the hall after lunch in the third grade. I had to wear a brace on my wrist for three weeks and the school nurse told me he must have thought I was cute. I was cuter without the stupid wrist guard. I didn’t like boys at all after that.

Flipping open the lid, I rifled through it, finding her mascara that made her eyes look like spider legs. I’d seen her apply her makeup a million times and as I began to apply it to my own face, I realized it wasn’t all that hard. It was kind of fun once the Valium kicked in and I was able to steady my hand long enough to draw a straight line.



***

August 5, 2015

Twenty minutes and a few swear words later, my face had been recreated and it didn’t look half bad. It would take some time to get used to myself looking more grown up, but it was a change I could learn to like.

Tightening my towel around my chest, I hurried into my bedroom, avoiding my mother so I wouldn’t have to listen to a lecture about using her things or worse, praising me for finally becoming just like her. I dropped the swath of fabric as I pulled open my closet, my eyes dancing over the contents as I tried to find something that didn’t make me look like a life-sized doll. My mom was big on dresses and matching short and shirt combos. Flipping open the magazine I’d left on my nightstand, I turned a few pages before my eyes narrowed on an equestrian-inspired ensemble. The knee high, brown leather boots looked a lot like the ones I’d gotten from our ski trip two years ago. I grabbed them from the floor of my closet and tossed them on the bed. Next, I pulled a lacy, white knee-length dress I’d gotten for picture day last year. Paired with a light gray cardigan, I almost looked like I wasn’t an overgrown toddler.

I hurried up and pulled on my outfit, sneaking a few glances out of the window to ensure the vehicle was still parked in its place.

Tucking my still damp hair behind my ear and took a deep breath, swaying as the Valium pumped its way through my veins, lulling me into a false sense of calm.

“He’s just a guy,” I whispered aloud before hurrying out of my room and down the stairs to the front door before I lost my nerve.

The sun was, even more, oppressive today than it had been all week, but I was used to the weather after all of these years. We moved to DeRidder, Louisiana when I was ten, my father taking on a high profile case about a man who was publicly beaten by a mob after a peaceful rally for equality. It had made national news and helped move my father’s career into the spotlight. I missed North Carolina, where the air wasn’t as thick and the rest of my family still resides.

My tongue ran over my dry lips as I focused on my walk toward the mailbox. It felt like my hips swayed a little too far and I was sure I looked like I was waddling like a duck.

“You’re not even going to say hi to me?”

I glanced to my right, my eyes dancing over Silas who looked like he’d grown a foot since the last time we’d talked.

“I almost didn’t recognize you,” I replied as we met next to my mailbox.

“I could say the same for you,” He joked as his eyes travelled down my body and he smiled a wide, toothy grin. He was your typical boy next door with deep chocolate eyes and an IQ that made me trip over my tongue whenever we spoke, which was becoming less and less.

“Yeah, I start high school next week. I thought I’d try to look the part.” I tucked my hair behind my ear nervously.

“What a shame.”

“Does it look that bad?”

He lifted his hand and ran the pad of his thumb down the length of my nose. “You can’t see your freckles anymore.” His finger moved along my jaw. “You had some here that looked just like the Aries constellation.”

“Oh,” I whispered wondering when his boring science talk suddenly sounded so interesting all of the sudden. His hand fell to his side and he smiled. “Speaking of change, you sure look… different.”

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