On the day before Daisy killed herself, she left her mother’s house with a thick line of lipstick across her wrist. Her mother’s last words to her formed the same phrase she had heard throughout her life, spoken in the same exasperated and high-pitched tone: “You just need a little colour, Daisy.”
Her mother, Mazy, had advanced towards her daughter, lipstick in hand, with all the menace of a butcher advancing towards a slab of cold meat with his cleaver. Mazy’s eyes narrowed, and her pink tongue poked out from between red lips, as she lined up her aim.
Daisy had half-pushed, half-slapped her mother’s wielding arm away, leaving her exposed wrist to bear the brunt of the weapon in her hand. Mazy’s blue eyes turned to her in shock, until the oft-summoned film of liquid around them appeared and the well-rehearsed tear drop swam expertly down her cheek. It traced a streaky, moist gash down an otherwise perfectly made-up face.
For a while, Daisy’s wrist had hovered in the space between them, her hand still outstretched, to block Mazy’s approach. Mazy’s arms recoiled away from her daughter, clasping the lipstick close to her chest, until a red mark was visible across the swell of her exposed upper breast.
Had Mazy known that this would be their last moment together, she might have dropped the lipstick and reached for her daughter. She might have grabbed the folds of Daisy’s oversized cardigan and pushed her clammy and un-made-up cheeks against her own.
Daisy, who did know that this would be their last moment together, kept her eyes fixed on her mother. With every blink, she attempted to form an image of Mazy’s face in her memory. She wanted to burn the negative of it onto the backs of her eyelids so that, when she was in need of it later, she could close her eyes and summon a sepia copy of her mother’s form. When the picture was complete, Daisy fled from the house.
Mazy’s house had previously stood as the centre-piece of a row of terraced houses opposite the beauteous King’s Beach. The houses had stood with their backs to the sea, glaring down at approaching visitors with the authoritative glare of an armed guard. However, the Blitz had peppered the area with bombs and left only two houses remaining. These two houses had eventually been melded together to form one elaborate property, decorated in the style of Ancient Greece. White pillars propped up the wide porch while white roof tiles adorned the top. The rest was red brick. With the sea wailing behind it, the house hunched its shoulders up around it ears and submitted to the salty spittle of each wave’s heavy breaths across its back.
Once Daisy had burst through the front door, it was against the white pillars that she rested for a moment, preferring to remain inside the protective hollow of the porch. Around her, whistling January winds whipped their way over the house.
Mazy watched her daughter’s back as it slumped against the pillar, framing her own form in the window as if she were sitting inside a television set. She smiled, imagining a ghostly audience sitting on the pale grass beyond the porch. With a low voice, she spoke. Her words, which she did not expect her daughter to hear, were aimed at the glass. “I’ll bring your birthday present tomorrow.”
Daisy trod heavily down the porch steps as she left, clasping her cardigan to her thin frame. Mazy followed her with her eyes, expecting to see Daisy turn right once she was through the gate and begin the twenty minute walk back to the small flat she rented. She wondered if it would take longer, due to the stubborn winds that were peeling off the waves behind them. But Daisy turned left.
Mazy frowned. The worry was soon forgotten when Mazy caught sight of her hair in the reflection in the window and she hurried to her bedroom to subdue to curling with a hot iron.
The red mark on Mazy’s chest would go unnoticed. It was wiped away in a hot bath, leaving only pink and fragrant flesh behind.
The red mark on Daisy’s wrist was discovered by a parlour maid in a mid-priced hotel about an hour’s walk away from Mazy’s house. The lipstick had dried and flaked and framed an uneven wound across Daisy’s now empty wrists.