Lip Gloss

A bomb dropped on my sister today, a big break-up bomb that no one ever expected. It happened right in our house, with everyone here to watch. Did she have it coming to her? I don’t know. Am I glad that it happened? Yes. Does that make me a bad person? No.

Let me explain.

I didn’t know something was wrong when he pulled into our driveway. I had noticed she was home and he wasn’t here, but I thought nothing of it. How was I to know he’d only just left, had only driven around the block, and had come in to try and talk himself out of a mistake?

“I don’t even want to talk to you. Just go, now.” I got up at this point, never one to be around for emotional displays of any kind. [Laura] sounded more than mad, more than upset, she was aflame with ire.

“If I go, I’m not coming back.” They didn’t seem to miss a beat as I left the room. I wanted to close the door, give them privacy. But they were in the living room with its sliding door on squeaky hinges. Somehow I thought the sound of that door would interrupt them, why that felt like a bad thing I don’t know.

“Fine. I just want you to go.” Her voice was getting further away as I turned down the hall to my own room. Our house has no insulation; you can hear what’s going on from one end to another so I didn’t expect to get completely out of range. Especially since her voice was rising.

“No. I mean, I’m not coming back ever. This is the end.” His voice trailed off, I’ve never known [Josh] to raise his voice and he wasn’t doing it now even in response to her anger. It was really why everyone thought they were perfect together. Laura needed that voice of reason beside her.

“I just want you to go.”

“This isn’t funny, Laura. If I go, I’m never coming back.”

Shutting my door helped and I stopped really listening. It wasn’t unusual for them to fight. Despite Josh’s soft-spoken nature, both were very strong willed people. They’d fought before and it was no big deal. What could break them up now? I mean, their two year anniversary was just around the corner. Two years is a pretty impressive time span for high school, and they’d celebrated every month along the way. The day was ringed with little hearts and flowers with a large pink two in marker on the family calendar. I turned my computer on and tried to erase the moment with a game of solitaire. Catches of words reached my ears, all out of context and so not making much sense. Until…

“You can’t just call someone a bitch.” That gave me pause. Who had he said that to? It was hard to imagine that word coming from Josh’s mouth, he seemed even more uncomfortable with swear words than I was at times.

“It was said out of anger, OK? I said I was sorry.”

“Well, this is said out of anger. I want you to go.” Each word was punctuated on its own, as though she questioned his understanding. It was after all the third time I’d heard her say it. This was serious. This wasn’t like the time she told him he didn’t know how to kiss. It wasn’t like the time when he kissed her best friend for her birthday gift. This was something much more. And then I looked up from my game of Solitaire. My youngest sister, [Tara], was at my door.

“Alissa,” I thought she was about to bring up the struggle between Laura and Josh. She called me Alissa, not Lizzer or Liza or even Eliza. “I need your brain.” Good, I thought, it’s some kind of math question. I was wrong.

“I’m worried about Laura and Josh,” she said as she quickly sat on the edge of my bed, really the only other place to sit besides at my computer. “She keeps telling him to leave, but if he does he’s going to break up with her.” She pauses, but by this point I’m only half listening. How am I going to tell her that I’m not going to get involved? This is Laura’s choice and hers alone.

“Do what you think you need to.” That’s all I could say. Our talk persisted a while longer, as she asked again for my help, begged for it. Each time, “No,” or “I’m not the kind of person to help with this,” I even tried “It’s their problem to deal with,” and finally a forceful, “I said no.

She finally left by herself, left me to my computer card game. We had a pretty good relationship and I wondered why she thought I would help with this. I never had in the past. I didn’t listen anymore. I didn’t even notice when he left. I did notice, however, when Tara confronted Laura. Her voice was about as loud as Laura’s had been as she pleaded with her.

“But you two are meant to be together. Everyone knows it.” I could picture Tara’s cherubim-like face with pain-filled eyes.

“No we’re not.”

“Yes you are,” she insisted. “The thought of you not being together scares me. If you two don’t make it then who can in this world?”

“We’re not meant for each other. It was my decision.”

“Just think about it Laura!” The way Tara’s voice carried and Laura’s footsteps echoed down the hall and past my door I could tell that Tara had not followed her. My chest felt tight as memories flooded my heart and mind.

Such familiar words, we’re not meant for each other. About two years ago I faced a similar situation when I broke up with my boyfriend Chris of one year. She never seemed to get over it for reasons beyond me, and if ever he came up in a conversation Laura would turn and ask why I broke up with him when we were meant for each other. Of course, I’m less violent then Laura. I listen quietly, sometimes answering with a calm, “Well you’re wrong.” I had long since given up explaining myself, she didn’t want my explanations. She wanted Chris and I back together.

I continue with my game but it was pointless. On the casino version I was more than $300 in the red, I can’t seem to win at this game. Minesweeper is more my style so I close out the window and open the expert version of the clever logic-oriented game.

“Isn’t my lip gloss pretty?” I blinked at my computer screen for a few moments. Had I heard correctly? How like Laura. Fashion, make-up, music; they were her passions and it seemed even a sudden emotional upheaval couldn’t take her away from them for too long. Tara was likely in front of the TV right now, watching some show, and had given up on convincing Laura of her choice. I heard Laura swish quickly by my room on her way to the kitchen and living room, most likely to show mom the new lip gloss. As I heard her come back she passed my room by without so much a break in her step.

“Hey! Don’t I get to see this lip gloss?” I called as she passed.

“What?” She stopped and leaned back, her head popping around the door frame with a look that managed to be confused and curious together.

“You said, ‘Doesn’t my lip gloss look pretty?’ right?”

“I didn’t think you were into make-up,” she said in a somewhat dry voice. When I didn’t reply she turned her head so that the light caught her lip gloss. It takes a lot of effort not to roll my eyes as I can’t see the difference between this one and any other lip gloss she’s ever worn.

“Nice,” I manage to say. This seems to fuel her interest and she enters my room holding the small round container which held the gloss.

“It’s orange. Want to wear some?” She holds it out to me.

“Why not?” I say. I don’t know how much to put on my finger from the round jar she holds forth, but since she says nothing I assume I’ve done an adequate job. Checking the mirror, I rub it across my lips. It tingles quite a bit. She gets ready to leave, but I’m not finished with her yet. There is a matter to be aired out.

“I heard Tara.”

“What?” She looked surprised as she twisted the lid in place and paused in mid-stride.

“Talking to you about what happened just now.”

“Oh.” The way she says that makes me stop. Is now an OK time to say it? Will she take it gently? Since she doesn’t leave and seems to expect me to say more, I press on.

“I guess now you know a little of what it’s like when someone says those things and you disagree.” I see the first glimmer of understanding, but add anyway, “You know, about Chris.”

“Yea, I guess,” she says quietly.

We’re both silent. Then…

“What do you think?” she asks.

“I don’t know,” I say, expecting the worst. As she’s older than Tara I figure she’ll be a bit more open-minded, but she’s still Laura. There’s no knowing when it comes to her.

“Do you agree with my decision?”

“Agree? I don’t know. I think you two are meant to be an on-again, off-again couple. I think if you’re meant to be together, that this will blow over and things will work out. I think if you’re not meant to be together then you’ll find that guy who’s right for you and things will work out.” She’s silent. I can’t tell if she thinks I’m lying or if she’s considering what I’ve said. It’s really what I believe, that life has a way but you can’t really spend you time guessing at it. You go with what you know, go with your gut, and whatever you do that’s how it was to be then.

“I guess so.” We went on about nothing much until dinner when Laura went back to her room to change, having already made plans to go out that night with [Mindy], her best friend and perhaps the only person who really knows Laura. My sister and I have spoken many times, about little things and about big things. But for one time in our life so far, I think we connected.

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