She always wore candy apple red lipstick. Ethan never knew why, but every time she came in, those candy apple red lips stood out against her pale skin. She didn’t wear any other makeup.
Ethan sipped at his bourbon and coke, looking at her across the bar. He hoped she noticed him, without noticing him looking at her. He’d been coming here after work every day for three months. Three months of wistful glances and cheap booze for a pair of red lips that didn’t know he existed.
Her eyes drifted over to him. Ethan immediately looked at his wrist, hoping that she couldn’t tell he didn’t have a watch on.
An hour, and two bourbons and cokes later she slipped away from the bar and walked out to the street. Ethan noticed that her high heels were the same candy apple red as her lipstick.
Ethan gave himself a couple of minutes before following her outdoors. The doorway was wreathed in blue-grey cigarette smoke. He bent at the shoulders as he coughed. Ethan stood up, straightened his tie and muttered a prayer to himself. He let out the breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding and walked over to her. She was leaning in the doorway of the sushi restaurant over the road and talking on a cell phone.
“No, Rick,” she said in a surprisingly deep voice, “I said 10:30 TONIGHT. It’s been two damn weeks, you had plenty of time to make arrangements,” she said.
Ethan caught himself smiling and tried to bury it before she could spot him eavesdropping on her. He strode forward, and gave her a nod of familiarity as he walked past. He pushed on the door of the restaurant as if to go in. Unfortunately, the door was locked as the place was closed.
She laughed. “You’re going to have to get your California roll somewhere else,” she said. Her voice was just loud enough for Ethan to hear.
“I guess so,” he said.
“Let’s cut the bullshit. I’ve seen you watching me for a while now. I don’t know why you haven’t at least come over to say ‘hi’ or anything,” she said
“Well, I – “
“I promise you I don’t bite. Often.”
“That’s handy to know. I don’t think I ever caught your name?” Ethan said.
“I never said it. I’m Jacqueline. Jackie to my friends.”
“Which do I get to use?
“Jacqueline. Definitely Jacqueline.”
“Do you want to go for coffee sometime? Or sushi?”
“Sure. If you’re buying, I might let you call me Jackie by the end of the meal. Give me a call.” Jacqueline gave Ethan her phone number. He returned the favor.
The next night, Ethan slunk to the bar again. He looked around for Jacqueline and her candy apple red lips. She wasn’t there. Ethan slid into a darkened corner booth and dialed her number.
Immediately, something exploded in the parking lot. Running outside, he saw a Volkswagen Beetle burning. It was candy apple red.
The inspiration for this piece of 500-word Flash Fiction was a prompt I found online (I forget the site, or I would link it) that read “Candy Apple Red.” A It’s a first draft, but feedback and comments are always welcomed.
“Lips” photograph from Laura Tulaite