Makeup dripping down even as she puts it on. Her hair is unkempt and messy, she would try to calm it if she weren't so worried about the messy black streaks etched on to her face, she keeps trying to apply the eyeliner even though it was expensive and she's wasting it, but she's crying too hard to reason or function rationally in any sense of the word. She thinks, maybe if I were sober.

In the perfect story of her life, her brother wouldn't have died. The end.

Showing up drunk at the funeral is the worst thing she could have done, but nobody is going to blame her and she knows she won't be the only one. She cries the loudest and she lurches toward the priest, hits him over the head several times with her umbrella ("Why are you lyyyiiiing, my brudder izzen DEAAAAAAD") before Aunt Mae takes her back to the car and drives her home.

She pretends she doesn't remember anything the next morning, but the memory of the priest's face makes her feel a blend of mortification and a wild urge to laugh--so she snorts laughter through the tears as she downs another glass of port.

A rich boy takes her out on a date and he's nice enough not to say anything about the mess that is her face--a foundation, mascara, and eyeshadow combination conspiring to make her look like a wax doll that spent the night with her head on the heater--but he can't help but look at her a few seconds longer than she thinks is necessary. The dinner is pleasant and she eats far too much far too quickly ("Excuse me for a moment" becomes just another way of saying "I need to go to the bathroom so I can puke out all that fancy food you just paid ridiculous amounts of money for") so maybe it isn't as pleasant as it could have been, but she decides it's bearable. When she comes back to the table, he smiles tightly and asks if she would like some wine, and suddenly the date is marvelous.

Five drinks later, and she thinks that alcohol must be a love potion in its own right, because the boy sitting across from her with his lips pursed and arms crossed is the most beautiful thing she has ever seen, and she wants to tell him. He's so beautiful, in fact, that she spews the words all over him. He's still gorgeous (albeit foul-smelling) as he angrily takes her back to his car and drives her home. He dumps her unceremoniously on her bed (for a moment she believes that he's gonna stay the night) and as he turns to leave, her voice cracks,

"My brother's dead."

He stops, then, but only for a few seconds. By the time she hears the front door slam, her pristine white pillow has already volunteered to take some of that Maybelline and CoverGirl off her face, if her eyes will eke out a few tears to help the process. Too lazy to walk to the sink so she can scrub it all off, she thanks her bed and proceeds to cry herself to sleep.

Drinking at home is a sort of lonely thing to do, so she sits at the vanity, attempting to tame her hair and tracing her eyes with eyeliner that insisted on blackening the liquid salt that hadn't stopped coming in the past three weeks, maybe in the hope that her Lancome "Noir" would hide how red-rimmed wasted she looked. Even if she was drinking alone.

She sits primly at the tiny table in the corner next to the window, and pretends there's someone else there until she pours the rest of the wine from the bottle and into her glass. She gazes at the dark claret, remembering the brief feeling of adoration she had felt for the rich boy who hadn't called her back despite six hours' worth of apologizing over the phone (in which each successive hour found her more and more inebriated) and contemplates that she should end this disastrous romance with alcohol, stop calling it up late at night so she wouldn't have to suffer the painful and bitter morning-afters. But she isn't the type to have the willpower to end destructive relationships, because she can't bear to lose the word "love" that comes before the word "affair."

Or so she tells herself.

She stares at the liquid in her hands that start to shake--it'd be so easy to take a sip, she muses that apples and wine should go together the way they just ask for man to sin--and it's a standoff only for now, she already knows she's on the brink of losing this impasse. So she does the next best thing: she drops the glass.

Dark red and sharp, transparent shards litter the floor, and choice four-lettered words fly rampant through the air as if she hadn't meant to let it drop (and perhaps she hadn't, but there's no way of finding out the truth now), words that crash on the ears of the ill-treated neighbors she knows she'll have to apologize to eventually. Yet the triumph that is in her voice too quickly succumbs to the weakness that is so inherent to her, because it is less than thirty minutes later that she crawls to the closest bar she can find to drown her sorrows, conveniently forgetting (yet again) that sorrows can swim.

A/N: written for the November 2010 WCC at Fractured Illusion's forum The Review Game.