I was the only blonde at the redhead party. Not even a wig? Patrice said. I felt like a dipshit. I took my cup of vodka and cranberry into the bathroom. I opened a cabinet below the sink. A boxy makeup bag covered in sequins was open. I reached inside and took out a tube of concealer, a pink lipstick, an orange lipstick, a red lipstick, and an eyelash curler. I put everything back except for the orange lipstick. I applied it heavily. I blotted my lips on toilet paper. In middle school, my mom found some toilet paper I’d used to blot my lips in the trash and asked me if I’d been practicing kissing. She didn’t know about blotting.
In the living room, everyone was playing a game with a large red basket. Someone screamed, pass the basket! They passed it over my head. To look casual, I put my hands in my back pockets and found a barrette. I pinned a section of hair back. Something touched my neck and I turned to see a man with spiky red hair. How is it that you’re here? He said. I blinked quickly. A girl like you oughta be, he said, I don’t know, on a banana seat bike? I wanted to punch his throat but instead I smiled as big as I could. He tried to kiss me. I pulled back. No, I said, making the peace sign. He looked disgusted.
The basket made its way outside to the swimming pool. A girl with long red hair and bangs jumped in after it. Everyone pressed against the windows to watch her splash. She lifted the basket and dumped out many dozens of eggs. She cracked one on the lip of the pool and ate it. Medium-boiled. Someone opened the sliding glass door and everyone spilled outside and ran to the pool. They reached for eggs. I ran and reached too, and when I got an egg I cracked it against a tree. I held it in the palm of my hand. It felt like a cold little boob. I squeezed it until I crushed it and yolk stuck to my skin.
My lips looked perfect, I know it. Fox-colored and shining with the lick of my tongue.
Meredith Alling reads