Today, the mirror stares at you. It stares at your lips, your red lips, your red red lips, your lips, red. Red like a cranberry. Red like the cardinal that perched on your windowsill yesterday, with the cocked head and clipped wing. He peered at you with his curious, seedy, black-bead eyes, and you considered each other.
He was a red that reminded you of the ooze of your grandmother’s cherry pie. The cherry pie that she recreated every summer — the one with the flaky crust, embedded with sanding sugar, and vents poked in with a baker’s knife. You’d tried to make it yourself once, but the crust was too crispy, the vents misshapen, the red not quite right. Not the red of yesterday’s cardinal, the cardinal that reminded you of the correctly colored ooze of your grandmother’s cherry pie.
He focused his left eye on you first, then his right. In two-swift bird-motions, he performed a little bird-jump toward the window, all jerky movements and bird-legs. You extended your hand, a gesture of peace, and touched your pointer finger to the glass. He hopped once more forward, nodded in your direction (a courteous bow, really), and then he was red wings away — in flight.
And now, the mirror stares at you. It stares at you as you smear an artificial red over your lips, a red that will stain the rim of your wine glass, a red that will refuse to come off later tonight. You think of the cardinal. You think of your grandmother’s cherry pie. You wear red. Red in tribute, red in spring.
©2018 by Celia Wiseman
Celia Wiseman is a student at the University of Iowa. She has far more questions than answers.