As promised, I wrote “Cleansing Cream”! In my opinion the story’s kind of messy but, meh! You should really read the translated lyrics to the song – it matches the concept of the story. I’ve put the introduction, verse 1 and the lyrics in the beginning of the story but if you want to know the rest of them, here’s the link:
Anyways, enjoy the story and Happy Valentine’s Day!
(This story is inspired by Brown Eyed Girls’ song of the same name).
It hurts, it hurts – my closed heart – a lot, a lot
Oh my honey, honey baby – what do I do?
After playing like crazy all day, I erase my thick makeup
Will I forget by being like this?
Looking quite miserable, on top of my half-erased cheeks
On top of the half-erased lipstick,
The fallen tears melt with the cleansing cream
Why, why, why, unni?
All throughout the night, why can’t I forget him?
Why, why, why, unni?
With my blackened and smeared tears, I can’t forget him
And I stubbornly say, bye, bye
What do I do, unni? I want to sleep now
But my heart keeps running to him
What to do, unni? I don’t think I can go on like this
Please, can you have a drink with me? I ask of you, unni
* * *
“I dumped him,” I declared nonchalantly, inspecting my nails in a bored fashion. Beside me, my friend just gawked stupidly at the confession.
“Y-you didn’t even go beyond a day!” she pointed out.
“Got bored. He was boring. End of story.” Eva clicked her tongue and shook her head disapprovingly – oh Lord, not another lecture… “Look. You can’t force me into a relationship that both you and I will not work. I mean, look at that guy – who still has that bowl cut? And what’s with the formalities? Men don’t walk around with top hats anymore, y’know.”
Eva looked as if she was about to argue but she shut her lips tightly and gathered her things to leave. “Just don’t get yourself killed, Irma,” she sighed before she left.
I don’t get what her problem was but Eva would have the weird urge to take care of someone because apparently, “people’s stupidity worries her to death”. She knew I’m not that foolish so why bother checking up on me? Why bother setting me up on blind dates? What’s with all the lectures? She should’ve minded her own business.
I sighed and pulled out my pocket mirror to inspect my mascara. My eyes had always been watery to begin with so I would constantly check if the waterproof mascara would live up to its name. While on it, I added on another layer of lip gloss to cover up the damage done from the coffee cup. Once that was done, I went back to checking my cuticles. The cafeteria was buzzing and loud – not an ideal place for a hangout or relaxation and Eva would always complain about the bland food. But I would come here anyway. This was our favourite place. The bell rang, signaling the end of lunch break. I didn’t feel like going to my class.
* * *
People were swarming the dance floor, some dancing happily while some swaying listlessly. Some sat at the bar to enjoy their drinks – I was among those people. My margarita sloshed in boredom as I lightly shook the thin glass. I would glance at my left or right occasionally to see the same sight over and over again: flirters, drunks and attention seekers. If you’d squint really hard you could see some depressed men and women among those people, only they would sometimes hide it well – I was among those people.
The bartender was wiping the cocktail mixer with a small towel, his eyes scanning the room in mild curiosity; he must’ve been wondering about how many people were actually here to have some fun rather than drowning themselves in grief. He caught my eyes and said, “I didn’t notice you.”
I smirked, “I tried a different make-up.”
“Well, that explains a lot,” he said over the blaring music, “You and your margarita enjoying the night?”
“We’re having a blast, Karl,” I said.
“Yeah, I can see it,” he rolled his eyes, “I can’t believe you managed to come here every night. Don’t you have work or something?”
“I’d do them in advance, or my friend would do them for me.”
“She’s a keeper, I tell ya.”
“Still hung up, then?” My fingers twitched at that. “Heard from Mark that you two just broke up. And you’re still here.”
I glared at him and pulled up my most vicious smiles, “Oh, I’m not hung up, Karl. He’s just boring, a disgrace to humanity.”
“And now you’re talking like Mordney the Vampire,” Karl deadpanned.
I downed my drink and pushed the glass towards Karl. With a last glance, I called out “It’s kind of fun being a bad girl, you know?” I molded into the sweaty dancing crowd easily, closing my eyes and swaying to the beat sleepily.
* * *
I saw him at the cafeteria.
I was enjoying my hangover alone there, nursing my head while drinking a homemade remedy. To entertain myself I also doodled on my notebook, drawing nothing in particular but lines and squiggles. That was when I saw him.
His strong arm was around a petite brunette with a gentle smile. He himself wore a charming grin that could illuminate the whole world. It seemed like they had just gotten out of the café famous for its reputation of housing couple – the person I knew back then wouldn’t have come to that kind of place unless he’s asking for somethin in return. He had kept up his act so well that I almost didn’t recognise him and when he stopped to “lovingly” caress the girl’s cheek, I nearly emptied my stomach.
Also, why didn’t the girl notice? Surely she had seen his real personality from observing him or absorbing information from others. Why did she look so happy?
Naivety. That will be the death of her.
I harshly pressed my pen upon the page and ripped it into shreds.
* * *
I would see them more frequently after that time.
Sometimes they were on their way to a place; sometimes they would stop at a shop among the street. Sometimes I would see him alone or with a friend, and sometimes she would do the same. I wouldn’t always see them together but I’ve noticed that they would always meet up at Friday and be a perfect picture of an ideal couple.
It was disgusting.
I’ve done my part hating him but seeing as how blessed she looked, it evoked a new hatred within me.
Whenever she would see him she’ll have a twinkle in her eyes that could rival the Sun. Her smile would grow brighter and her face would light up immediately like when a puppy greets its owner after a year-long trip. She’s usually a shy girl but she would sink deeper into her shell when he’s around. It reminded of old days, when I believed that I would see rainbows at every corner –
– when I’m with him –
I yearned for the day when her hopes will be crushed into powder so I approached her. I found her in the café as per usual, reading a classic literature with her head rested on her palm, eyes trained on the letters and shoulders relaxed. Casually, I peered over her book and said “’To Kill a Mockingbird’? That book’s amazing.”
She looked up and realising that I’ve read her beloved book she beamed, “Oh, yeah! I’m rereading it. It’s just…amazing! I mean, I’ve read other great books but this one’s just so classic. Well, there are other books that I like as much as this but I’ve at least read them twice and –”
As expected – she’s not his type. Probably after her fortune or looks, otherwise he wouldn’t even spare a glance. He doesn’t deserve him; neither does she.
After spending some time together after that we’ve become quite good friends, on her part that is. She would consult with me about work, friends and most importantly, her love life. It turned out that she was head over heels and hoping for the impossible – perfect. I supported her pointless dreams until the play was reaching its climax.
“He’s asking me to a dinner!” she squealed, “Quick! What should I wear?!”
Ah. I remember this part.
“Why, you should dress up nicely,” I simply said.
We spent the afternoon choosing a suitable dress as well as matching shoes and purse, not to mention accessories and most importantly, make-up. She had never worn any make-up before so I did it for her. The same make-up I wore that day.
I must admit that she was beyond presentable; she was stunning in her own way. She had been jumping with excitement before and after we’ve arrived at the said dinner place. True enough, it was the same place. She tried to compose herself and before she entered the place, I said “Good luck.”
She simply smiled and gave me a little wave. “I’m sorry” was left unsaid.
* * *
She never wore make-up anymore. Not after that incident.
She was unlike me. She wallowed in grief for days and days until there were no more tears to cry. I’ve heard that she had quit her job and moved to another city, all for the sake of erasing the past. She still sends me messages about her life and problems and would frequently ask questions regarding the two subjects; I would reply honestly.
The day after the latest one I couldn’t bring myself to look up, to see which other girl he had decided to pick up. But I was sure he was still wearing that sickeningly sweet smile –
– something I can’t live without –
And maybe that’s why I kept them away from him. Using any means, I would drive those girls to despair in order for him to continue existing. I would always compare other men to him, how they were nothing but dirt compared to him. Maybe Karl was right – I’m still hung up on him. I missed his presence wherever I was, missed his voice, missed his touch. I missed him, maybe.
Or maybe I wanted to see myself playing the fool again and again. Maybe I wanted to feel happy, just like how I was, and how those girls were.
* * *
“Why’d you bring me here?” Eva asked wearily. The bar was packed as usual, the same crowd and the same music. The same flashing lights and the same drinks. I was seated at my usual seat with Eva beside me, judging her martini with a critical eye; meanwhile I was playing with my vodka.
“I was bored,” I said, “Drink with me, will ya?”
Eva was silent for a while. “You’re make-up’s kind of heavy,” she finally commented, “I mean, it’s not that heavy but it is for your standards, I think. I can tell you’re wearing BB cream, for starters, and your lips are redder than normal; it’s like you’re wearing a mask. I can’t really see your real face.”
I turned to her and smile bitterly. “Maybe I just don’t want to see myself right now,” I shrugged, “Maybe I don’t want to be myself right now.” I downed two more shots of vodka before staggering towards the dance floor.
Eva was the greatest friend ever. She brought me home and tucked me in before heading home herself. I was about to doze off until I remembered that my make-up was still on; wouldn’t be nice to wake up with a stiff face or having smears all over your sheets. Reluctantly, I got up and walked towards the bathroom.
I picked up the bottle of cleansing cream and poured some my hand, mixing it with some water to lather it up before use. Seemingly ready, I looked up and saw my face in the mirror – no, not my face. It wasn’t my face. The eye shadow and eyeliner made my eyes looked sunken and tired. My lips were the colour of blood, so sweet yet sinister. The artificial white of my face stood out against all aspects, giving an image of a mask.
I brought the cream onto my left cheek and wiped the make-up off of it; I did the same with the rest of my left side, my eye, chin and forehead included. When I looked at the comparison I was a polar opposite: a made-up adult face filled with scorn and hate, and a confused young woman staring back sadly. One might say that the made-up one looks more beautiful that the other because of it having the beauty requirements people would kill to have, while the clean face would be described as plain and ugly –
“Oh? Why do you look so surprised? Someone as ugly as you should have known that from the time you were born. You’re not even worth looking at, you blind whore –”
Water cascaded down my face. When did this happen? How did this happen? Why did this happen? I’ve become a monster. I’ve become the person I hated the most. I’ve used others to bring happiness upon my selfish self – I’ve used the time I was their friend to take in their every drop of happiness they’ve earned from spending their time with him. And in the end, all I had ever wanted was to see them fall. To see the same ending for every game play, the same ending to the same game. I still loved him, but why? He was horrible, but my mind would always come back to him. The water kept falling, little sobs echoing in the small bathroom, blackened smears staining my right cheek and the fallen tears melting with the cleansing cream.