Friday Flash Fiction – The Curse of the Cheap Lipstick

I was ready for my interview; arrived early, driven past company headquarters, found somewhere to park, checked my make up in the rear vision mirror, delved into handbag for lipstick – gone? I rummaged then tipped out all the contents on the passenger seat, no lipstick.

There were no decent shops nearby, only ‘CostaLittel’ and I would not dream of going in there. I recalled overhearing a conversation in the beauty department of ‘Dearmans’, my local department store.

Fancy paying that much for a lipstick when you can get them for £1.99 in CostaLittel.

The woman speaking and her friend looked as if all their makeup and clothes came from Costalittel.

But this was an emergency. I slipped in to Costalittel, picked up a bottle of milk and a packet of fake digestive biscuits, holding them aloft so everyone would assume the office tea club had sent me out and sneaked a look at shelves full of unfamiliar boxes and bottles. There they were; rows of plastic, silver cylinders, three colours to choose from.

‘Would you like a carrier bag?’ said the young man on the till, changing my twenty pound note without batting an eye lid, or sparing me a glance.

‘No thank you, urgent supplies for the office.’

I slipped the lipstick in my pocket and just before I got to the door saw a large bin, donations for the food bank, I dropped the milk and biscuits in.


Through the revolving doors, signed in at the desk, into the elegant ladies, marble everywhere with free standing elegant bowls and gold taps. In the fancy frame mirror I applied the lipstick, which co-ordinated remarkably with my blouse, but set my lips tingling. I prayed I would not have an allergic reaction before the interview was finished.

In the swish lift I checked the long panel of buttons, looking for the fifteenth floor, hearing heavy breathing I turned to see a huge stomach squeeze through the doors just as they were closing. I was pressed into the corner, my eyes level with the sign that said ‘maximum of 12 persons’.

My lips tingled again. ‘He must account for eleven people’ I smiled to myself.

‘I beg your pardon,’ said the fat man ‘did you say something?’

first floor, lifestyle health suite said a disembodied female voice.

‘Bet they wouldn’t even let chummy here through the door’ I thought. My lips tingled again, but fat man was blocking the mirror on the lift wall, so I couldn’t check if my lips were swelling.

He cleared his throat loudly and glared at me, I pretended to examine the names of the companies and relevant floors.

‘Which floor did you want?’ he barked.

‘Fifteenth, I’ve pressed the button, Buchannon and Tate – if the poor lift makes it that far with his weight’ I added to myself.

The man’s face flushed, from the puce colour it already was, to purple. That’s when I wondered if my lips were speaking my thoughts out loud… no ridiculous. ‘Please let him get out soon.’

‘I’m also going to the fifteenth floor’ he rasped.

Fourth floor…fifth floor… sixth floor

The female voice continued unperturbed, as the doors opened people stepped back to wait for the next lift, until one brave older lady squeezed in.

‘Good morning Mr. Buchannon’ said the very smartly dressed woman.

He grunted and my heart sank.

‘I hope I get Mr. Tate on the interview panel’ I prayed. My lips tingled and I knew I had spoken the words out loud.

‘It’s Mrs Tate actually’ said the woman tersely.













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