A Dead Woman’s Makeup by Terveen Gill

The coffin was open. Dena Mistry lay in it. The funeral home had ensured that the dead woman looked her best. The funeral director had appointed an accomplished makeup artist.

Sasha could do wonders.

Dena’s two children, a daughter and son, were relieved that their mother would be buried with her makeup and hair in place.

They had never seen the woman without a painted face, and probably wouldn’t recognize her without the layers of cosmetics.

Sasha had given their mother a new look, casual but dignified, something Dena might have considered trying had she been alive.

But the son and the daughter had a problem. They could never agree upon anything. So when the son said – I love it, the daughter said – I hate it, both stood sulking next to their dead mother, the funeral service minutes away from starting.

A compromise seemed the only solution.

Sasha was summoned and the woman wasn’t pleased.

What do you want?

That’s when hell broke loose between sister and brother.

‘Darken the eyelids, accentuate the cheeks, redder lipstick.’

‘Ahh. You want her to look like a prostitute.’

‘Shut your fat face!’

‘You shut your ugly face!’

Then silence. A few tears, sadly they weren’t for Dena.

Sasha had already guessed that she was dealing with idiots, but grief often brought out the worst in loved ones.

Step back. Let me think.

The woman’s palms framed her face, and she looked down at Dena with the eyes of an artist. The twinkle of creative passion in them often mistaken for compassion.

Sasha couldn’t see a dead woman’s face, it was only a stiff canvas, begging to be decorated, craving to be celebrated.

But the woman would do even better. She bent over and her hands danced about, stroking, sliding, patting, rubbing.

Not Dena but Sasha would be remembered for this lovely face.

When she was done, she clapped her hands twice, a smile of delight breaking through her lips.

Come. See.

The siblings stepped toward the coffin, craning forward to see more clearly.

Dena Mistry, their mother, looked like an angel. If only she had a halo.

‘What did you do?’

Their voices collided in harmony.

Sasha wrinkled her nose and shrugged.

I simply removed all her makeup.

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23 comentarios sobre “A Dead Woman’s Makeup by Terveen Gill

  1. Our true selves are always much more beautiful than the masks we wear to disguise ourselves. It’s unfortunate Dena’s children couldn’t see this until after her death. It’s more a reflection on them than on their mother, eh? The masks her children wear have stifled their humanity, it seems. This is vintage Terveen Gill storytelling: wonderful, witty, deep and revealing. And lots of fun to read. Thanks, Terveen! 🙂

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    1. It’s always such a pleasure to read your interpretations, Mike. They deliver the very essence of the story. As we grow, the masks often change and at times, they accumulate into layers. A particular mask for a particular person or situation. Probably insecurities finding a place to hide. Dena is gone but maybe her children could realize something. Thank you so much for your thoughts and observations. 🙂

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  2. This is a great story, Terveen. I loved the fact that in the end, the dead mother lay in her coffin without any make up at all, after a life time of trying to please. I would love to read much, much more about the make up artist. I was particularly drawn to one sentence about her: ‘The twinkle of creative passion in them often mistaken for compassion’. What an interesting job!

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    1. Sasha will have to return then. Absolutely ‘no nonsense or mushy feelings’ when it comes to her job. Only interested in her craft and the best results she can provide. Like having tunnel vision and disinterested in the rest. And Dena can be buried a little lighter, her true face finally in place. Thanks so much, Britta! 🙂

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