This is a response to The Daily Post’s prompt, Paint.

Palettes of eye shadow arranged on the vanity, opened and organized by color like a shimmery rainbow.

“Which one? Which one?”

Fingers and brush hover over the neon hues, so happy and bold. Hovering but knowing the courage is not there. Close the lid and sigh, again.

In the mirror, a blank canvas. Try a smile? Try one on like a sweater. It fits, it does, but the eyes mock it. Remember to look away when wearing the smile. Noted.

The neutral palette it is then. Well it’s still pretty. Matte beige and coffee browns but also a sparkly dash of gold. How familiar.

Paint it on with shaky fingers, not too much, but enough to say it, without saying it. Such relief with application and terror, too. A loud laugh bellows out, expelling some of the anxiety that lights every molecule on fire. Let’s hope for a slow burn, then. And not explode on impact.

Some mascara, the best part. The magic wings. Bat them fast and fly away if an attack launches. If? When.

Well, come on. Garnet lipstick, a sensible brunette bob wig, the understudy for the real star, a long wavy red number. Hey! Focus. Small hoop earrings and a silver cross necklace. Too much? Not enough.

Done. Welcome back. Just breathe for a minute. The clock screams now, only 23 minutes to curtain. Do it. DON’T DO IT.

Why do this? Doubt has arrived! Hello, true companion. Why do this, why do this, why do this, why? Just pretend instead, for now. For two hours. Or be cast away forever? Really? Probably. Cast away the castaway.

SEVENTEEN MINUTES TO CURTAIN. Nervous laugh. If only that was it. It’s not. Nervous laugh and tears, hot down the cheeks in mascara trails. A glance in the mirror confirms it. You clown. Hurry up. Stop fooling yourself. Fool them.

Make-up remover pads in both hands scrubbing hard and fast. Earrings gone, wig off. Off with your head! Off with your heart. Turn it off. Pause yourself. He does.

Some aftershave, a fragrant illusion, burns his face. He settles for a drop of lip gloss and an ocean of shame. Ah, great to be back from the hinterland! Home again. Home is where the heart isn’t.

Before leaving for the family dinner, he runs his finger gently across the shimmery gold eye shadow and presses it on the skin over his heart. A sparkly fingerprint hidden on his chest, beneath a nicely pressed shirt.

It rubs off before he arrives, disappears just like him. Poof!

It’s okay, this is best…for everyone. Maybe next week.