Close up of lips.We learned to paint our mouths kissable, but were taught not to. By the parish priest, by our mothers, by Seventeen magazine. Never on the first date, never more than one boy at a time, never below the neck. We practiced on the mirror and at slumber parties. When boys scratched on the window, we giggled and shivered. Only Lana slipped out, came back smeared and tight-lipped, full up with stories she wouldn’t tell us. At school on Monday, we lipsticked the mirror in the third-floor girl’s room: LANA SUCKS. Later we all learned. Later we all did it.

Sarah Freligh is the author of Sad Math, winner of the 2014 Moon City Press Poetry Prize and the 2015 Whirling Prize from the University of Indianapolis; A Brief Natural History of an American Girl (Accents Publishing, 2012), and Sort of Gone (Turning Point Books, 2008). Recent work has appeared in the Cincinnati Review, SmokeLong Quarterly, diode, and in the anthologies New Microfiction and Best Microfiction 2019 and 2020. Among her awards are a 2009 poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a grant from the Constance Saltonstall Foundation in 2006.

Photo Credit: Anthony Kelly

12 Responses to “Lipstick”

  1. Franciss Dykstra says:

    Beautifully written; I love the pace.
    Read it 3 times over.

  2. Julian says:

    This is a very descriptive piece of writing! I enjoyed every bit of it and I will read it again!

  3. Lacey says:

    This story is great! Thanks for sharing!

  4. bill says:


  5. Janelle says:

    Absolutely beautiful.

  6. Kenny says:

    Well done!

  7. Paul Beckman says:

    Terrific, Sarah.

  8. Tony Press says:

    This is a good one — tough and true and perfectly told.

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