William Henry Harrison turned over.
His wife, Abraham Lincoln, slept soundly at his side.
“You up?” he whispered. Abraham mumbled something unintelligible. William Henry Harrison poked her nose, to be sure.
He nodded, satisfied. He got up. He tip-toed to the downstairs bathroom. He plied up the bit of loose floorboard and pulled out his stash.
He stood. He turned it upside down over the sink.
Lipsticks, rouges, mascara, eyeliner; dozens of shades and colors. A supply that had taken him a decade to collect. He put his hands into the pool of smooth plastic cylindrical cases. He looked into the mirror at his pale, hairless, disease ridden face. He picked up the lipstick:
He spread it over half of his bottom lip.
He pulled another. Deep Purple. He finished the lip. For the upper lip he used Fire and Spice Red. He kissed the open air and giggled. He placed the used lipsticks along the edge of the sink. He snatched up the rogue and smudged it along his left cheek. He rubbed it gently, savoring it.
Then, a knock.
William’s ears stung as he frantically gathered up his treasured tubes and began shoving them back into the case.
“I’m okay!” he called. “I just—“
William turned. Abraham stood there. Her ashen face slack with horror.
“William, what is this?”
She said it, slow and calm. The way she speaks when she is angry.
“I—“ William took a breath. “I want,”
“What? To be arrested? To be taken away from me?”
William sighed. “To be beautiful, Abe, people used to be beautiful.”
“There used to be war too, and racism, discrimination, you know, you’re not uneducated!”
William nodded. He began to cry.
“How did you even find all of this?” Abraham asked, stepping into the room and picking up one of the tubes. The dull light reflecting off of her hairless head.
“Different pl—“ William sobbed “—places, people. You know.”
Abraham shook her head. “William, you could be put away for, gosh I don’t even know how long. What were you thinking?”
“I told you!”
“Beauty, right. You are a fool, William. I won’t make you get rid of it. But, I won’t be in the house with it.”
Abraham walked out of the bathroom. William, panicked, called after her.
“Wait, just wait!”
He reached under the floorboard and pulled out a mess of hair. He dashed from the bathroom.
He held it out to Abraham.
“Just put it on. You will see! You will feel it.”
Abraham rubbed her smooth head.
“You should have known better,” she whispered. She turned and walked up the stairs. William walked back into the bathroom.
He placed the wig on his own head. It was black and wavy. He shook his head and let the curls decorate his brow. He wiped the tears away with a rag. He picked up a tube from the sink and smeared its contents across his forehead. He reached for more. He pulled tube after tube from the sink. Lipstick for his nose. Lines of mascara slashed across his cheeks. He barely took a breath until the sink and floor were covered in cheap hollow tubes.
He looked into the mirror, at himself, for the first time. He smiled.
The tubes crunched under his feet as he made for the window.
He opened it. The endless line of slate-gray buildings loomed over the landscape. Below he could just make out the street’s teaming gray mass of citizens, roaming about.
He leaned over the sill and closed his eyes. The wind took up and snatched the wig from his head. It was flung into the nothingness. He didn’t mind.
He’d made a decision.
***Let me know in the comments below if you’d be interested in me turning this into a series.***