Pandanus Books, 2006
Stephanie Green, Too Much, Too Soon, extract
'Karen prayed to the lipstick goddess before the altar of her silver bedroom mirror. She prayed for eternal beauty as she brushed her hair. In a framed pre-Raphaelite poster behind her on the wall over her bed, the goddess wore a gold and ivory mantle over a purple shift. Karen saw her reflection.
The goddess stretched her limbs and swung her hair over one shoulder, then slipped her feet into tall-heeled shoes and stepped down from her painted sofa. In Karen’s room the goddess balanced herself along the top of the mirror frame. One foot dangled over the edge. Karen put down her brush and glanced at herself in the mirror. Everything was in place except her mouth, which was slightly open.
The goddess opened her palette and let loose her colours around the room. Desert Rose hovered above the window. Primrose brushed its fingers along the sills. Violet Gossamer delicately swathed the walls.
The goddess came down from the mirror and perched next to Karen on the make-up stool. She conjured an artist’s palette onto the palm of one hand.
"Crimson Death?" she asked, touching Karen’s lips with her little brush. "Azure Snow for the eyes? A little rouge? Here is a cloud of Marble Ice to whiten your skin."
The colours danced around Karen’s face, skittishly. They hovered above her, chatting. They left gaudy smudges on everything they touched. This was not quite what she had asked for.
The lipstick goddess took Karen by the hand. "These are the seven uses of beauty," she told her. "Beauty inspires love, calls up desire, disarms an enemy, acquires fortunes, incites jealousy and is a constant reminder of the brief flowering and fading of human life. Beauty causes nations to go to war. It is an art of its own making. Beauty will always be coveted. It will forever bind its owner to the whims of the external world. But it can never truly be possessed by anyone."
The goddess wrapped Karen in her cloak. "Close your eyes," she commanded. Together they stepped forward into the silvered glass. It was like swimming in cold, still water.'
(from A Student of Life)