Bruise

“Oh Valerie!” Eddy’s sing-song voice called out.

“What, you still can’t manage to give yourself a black eye?” I grumbled.

Eddy leaned back with a smug grin. “Clumsy fingers. Besides, Valerie loves working with me. Don’t you, Val?”

And then she was in the dressing room with us. “I really don’t mind,” she said, moving briskly to arrange makeup supplies. I busied myself with tying my cravat so I wouldn’t end up staring at her.

“See?” Eddy teased. Even without looking, I knew he was grinning at me.
I had tied the cravat wrong. Frustrated, I undid the knot and started over. “You’re exploiting the poor girl,” I said.

“Nonsense,” Eddy declared, “I’m giving her life purpose, isn’t that right, Val?”

In spite of myself, I was staring and saw her shoulders shrug as she worked. “I really don’t mind,” she insisted.

Eddy suddenly grabbed her hand, lowered the makeup brush, and leaned forward to whisper. “Perhaps you could powder his nose so that he doesn’t feel left out.”

Her lips pressed together, mouth crinkled, but the laugh escaped anyway.

My face went hot. I rushed out of the dressing room, suddenly desperate for the refuge of being someone else.

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox

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