Short Fiction: Glitter Face

Short Fiction: Glitter Face

Talia DeBlasie

Filing off the bus, my friends and I were ecstatic to reach CityCenterDC.  We wanted stuffstuffstuff.

The field trip advisors, three exhausted English teachers, were shouting meeting times and buddy system instructions, triples only.  Kora and I reflexively exchanged glances and formed a tight unit with nearby Penny, the afterthought. Penny seemed slightly out of it, but Kora and I blew it off and continued gossiping about the cute boys who had passed.

Hot Carlos.

Smokin’ Joe.

Etcetera. Etcetera.

Penny split and led the way to the escalator. She wandered straight to the third floor, climbing the stairs instead of letting them carry her. Kora and I chit-chatted while Penny forged ahead.   

By the time we reached Sephora, Penny and her blotchy, acne-pocked face, long flannel sleeves, and sulk were perched at the front lipstick display.

“We’re going back to clearance,” I barked, and Kora and I abandoned her.

We hadn’t even taken two steps when our gossip was interrupted by a large uniformed security guard shouting toward the door.

“Miss, you need to return the lipstick. Ma’am, you will need to purchase that first. Excuse me, this is shoplifting!”

It was Penny, lipstick in hand, shuffling out the door. We turned, bemused, to watch.

The thief in action was an amateur.  She didn’t make a run for it. She remained just outside the store entrance. She wielded the contraband glitter lipstick, Fools’ Gold, like a switchblade, and she applied it in angry slashes across her cheeks, chin, forehead, anywhere but her mouth. She pressed the lipstick onto her wrists and the tower of color snapped, and the metal tube ground into her skin leaving round indentations like bullets.

This is when Kora and I exchanged a glance, mouths agape, eyes afraid, and guilt starting to percolate. We crept forward, approaching Penny, trepidatious.

Penny did not acknowledge anyone’s existence. She was behind 1,000 bars; she was a 1,000-yard stare. Then, she began to pace like a panther. She was a zoo animal that people stopped to look, gawk, point, laugh.

They were curious about a glitter-covered kid, blank, in a mall.

I just had to pay for her lipstick.

When I returned from the cash register, the advisors were surrounding Penny and leading her to the bus.

Kora and I followed the parade in silence except for one floating comment in the cloud: “Do you think we’ll be in her suicide note?”

That comment lingered like mustard gas.

As the Penny Procession reached the bus, Glitter Kid stumbled up the few stairs of the bus with the last of her energy and collapsed in the first triple-seat on the left. Kora and I dropped into the seat behind her. We peered over the bench, over Penny’s auburn hair, over her baggy eyes, over the smears of glitter lipstick.

Her phone was buzzing, text after text. Kora shrugged with a “Why not?” and pulled the phone out of Penny’s flannel pocket.

“Why do you always wear those baggy flannels and Wal-Mart shoes?”

“You only have friends because they feel bad for you.”

“You’re on Snapchat, Glitterface!”

Message after message. Bully after bully.

“You owe me $8.00.”  That one was from me.