Storyglossia Issue 25, December 2007.

A Thin Line

by Brandi Wells


H e pulls at the hem of his floral-print dress, the one he bought on sale at J.C. Penney the weekend I was out of town. He'd hate it if he knew I was calling him a "HE." The dress almost bursts around his stomach, sending roses and crinkled violets splattering across the smooth blue linoleum. Just another thing I'll have to clean up.

He leans over the sink, wobbling in clunky size-thirteen high heels.

"Do you think I need more eye shadow?" he wants to know.

He leans into me, doughy white flesh bulging between each button of his dress.

"No," I say. "You just need eyeliner."

I sit on the toilet lid, fold my arms over my chest, and prop my feet on the edge of the tub. I wish he had cleaned the tub after he shaved.

"I don't want to overdo it," he says, facing the mirror, smearing another layer of kiwi-mango gloss over pruned lips. "Like when teenagers first start wearing make-up, they wear way too much. I think it's the same when guys first try to wear make-up."

"Yeah," I say, biting at the corner of my thumb nail, trying to smooth down the jagged edge without drawing blood.

"Can you help with my eye liner?" he asks.


I get up and grab my eyeliner from the mess scattered across the counter. My blush is caked on wadded-up paper towels, hand soap is running down the side of the sink and a hunk of lipstick is stuck in the drain.

He sits down on the toilet with his dress hiked up a few inches and his legs crossed at the knee.

"Hold still and close your eyes," I tell him.

He closes his eyes, pokes out his chest and wraps his fingers around my arm. It's a sweaty grip and I can feel the calluses on his palm.

I shrug his hand away and say, "Be still."

He flinches and clinches his eyes shut when I start drawing the line.

"Quit," I say.

He parts his lips. His hot breath is on my face and I lean back, smudging the pencil across his lash-line.

"Done," I say.

He stands, and his dress rides up a few more inches.

"I'm so jealous of you sometimes," he says.

He stares at my shoes. Follows my legs up to gawk at my crotch. Then up some more, to my breasts. His eyes don't make it to my face.

He tugs at the under wire that must be digging into his flat chest and then snaps the elastic strap of a Wonder Bra that isn't quite working wonders.

"You know I love you, right?" he asks.

He leans in to kiss me, but I turn away. I give him the cheek. I can feel the hair above his lip scraping across my skin.

"I've gotta clean this mess up," I say.

I pick up my lip gloss, blush and eyeliner and toss them in the plastic trashcan that's in between the sink and toilet. The blush breaks when it hits the side of the trashcan and a cloud of orange dust coats dirty paper towels and used cotton swabs.

Copyright©2007 Brandi Wells