Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Write in the MYSTERY genre (04/05/07)
TITLE: Luscious Fruit of the Vine
By Rhonda Clark
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Shock and panic coursed through my veins. How could I be out of such a perfect shade? I looked at the tray that held my entire collection of lipsticks and found it empty. They were all gone—every one of them: Sunkissed Pink, Sweet Red Melon, and Brickyard Afternoon. None were in their respective and revered place in my lipstick tray. Another wave of shock rolled over me. Why were all my lipsticks missing? I furrowed my brow and pursed my lips as I pondered this mystery. Then, I decided to interrogate the most likely suspects, the other female residents of this house.
With my motherly fortitude, I marched down the hall to the room of the most likely perpetrator, my eldest daughter. I knocked on Winter’s bedroom door.
I entered the room and quickly scanned her dresser filled in disarray with a variety of cosmetics. “Did you take my lipsticks?” I asked.
Her mouth gaped open and her chocolate eyes narrowed with disgust. “Of course not.” Then, she lifted her nose into the air, and with a haughty tone she said, “I don’t wear those kinds of lipsticks. They’re old lady shades.”
My anger burned with this acid-tongued teen, but I overlooked her remark and proceeded with caution. “Do you have any idea what happened to them?”
She shrugged. “No ma’am. Summer may have taken them. I caught her playing with them the other day.”
I left Winter’s room and headed down the hall to Summer’s. Luckily, I found the happy preteen in her room. “Summer, I’m missing some lipsticks. Do you know what happened to them?”
Her big, blue eyes looked at me and asked, “Which lipstick are you missing?”
“All of them.”
Summer gasped. “Every tube?”
Her drama, although more subtle than her sister’s, was still annoying. “Winter said she saw you with them. Did you take them or not?”
Summer’s eyes grew wide. “No, mom, I didn’t take your lipstick. I promise.”
Her proclamation made me question her innocence. She had been the culprit too many times in the disappearance of household items. So, I stared at her with my ‘mother glare.’
“Mom, I did use your lipstick last week. You know that pink one…”
“Sunkissed Pink,” I said.
Summer nodded. “Yeah, I mean, yes ma’am, that one, but I put it back in the tray where it belongs. I don’t have it. I promise.”
Again, there was that proclamation, but the child wasn’t doing that nervous lip chewing habit she does when she’s lying. She must be telling the truth.
“Honey, are you ready to go yet?” My husband’s voice called with a hint of impatience.
I gritted my teeth and clinched my fist. “I’m looking for my lipstick,” I called as calmly as possible as I left Summer’s room and dashed into the bathroom the girls share.
Without turning on the light, I slid open the vanity drawer and did a quick rummage. I had to make sure they were telling me the truth. Who else in this house would swipe my lipstick? For a moment, I paused and contemplated the dog. Nah, Bowser would have chewed the tube to shreds and ruined the carpet and sofa with it.
“I told you I didn’t take it.” Winter’s words startled me. I exited the bathroom and said nothing.
“Sweetheart, let’s go,” my husband called again.
Frustrated, I gave up and hurriedly smeared on an old, less acceptable, but accommodating shade tucked inside my vanity drawer and headed for the door. “I’m coming. I know we’re late. Just let me get my purse.” In one swoop, I snatched my purse off the shelf, and tipped it just enough for the contents to spill out. As I stared at the scattered items on the floor, four gleaming white lipstick tubes caught my eye.
“Hmmm,” Winter said as she picked up a tube that lay at her feet. “Looks like I identified the lipstick bandit. Do I get a reward?”
Embarrassment tinged my face. Without a word, I took my favorite shade from her and tucked it back into my purse. On my way out the door, I hear Winter say, “I accept your apology and forgive you.”
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