by Cath Bore

Cathy brought a splash of colour into the office, is how the kinder souls worded it. Truth was she sashayed through the door with an easy tilt of her hip, in a dress as tight as skin, and make-up so thick you could scrape it off with your fingernail. Her perfume was the scent of a man. What do they say? Dab perfume in the places you want to be kissed? She was the tart with a heart, a slapper with STDs, and the prettiest baby blue eyes. One who boasted she’d write her memoirs one day.

Too much eyeshadow and not enough clothes, the mother hens clucked. Poor Cathy, bless her, she’ll never find a nice fella the way she’s going. As if there was a way of readjusting her, to make her fit. But you knew each of them remembered the clean, firm boys they fumbled with in teenage times, the sweet sugar rush of a new mouth, as their husbands with thick waists sat across the dinner table each and every night waiting to be fed. The good girls sucked in cheeks at Cathy, and sniffed a little, but daydreamed up a wild side of their own. And the men? Those who kissed away her lipstick? They felt bad, but only for a blink, her cupid’s bow painted and filled back in with a scarlet letter.

When Cathy got ill, she told few people. As her breasts and curves melted down to her bones, she claimed being so thin and pale was ‘on trend.’ But she hated her cancer, never talked about it. Said it didn’t deserve publicity. Her revenge amounted to tottering about in skyscraper heels, ones more stacked than before, and she smiled, a lot. Even then, Cathy hoped for thigh high hems and hearts on sleeves to come back into fashion. They never did.

When she died—it took ages—Cathy was scrubbed clean, made decent, respectable. She was a one off now, a character, so upbeat, so glam! Blow jobs in nightclub toilets chastened to kisses behind the bike shed. She loved life, didn’t she, playful, a right giggle. She never married? No kids? A shame, they said, she’d have made a great mum.

Someone found her notebooks—underneath her mattress—and read them. We all did. She’d drawn diagrams ‘for the next generation‘ and listed her lovers, what they did to her and how often, in round regular writing. What they gave her, the good gifts and the bad. Relayed it in so much detail you smelled the sweat, felt the heat, the chill of wedding rings against your bare back, your body went through everything, each kiss and lick and bite and thrust. Cathy lived on through her pen. There’s a beauty about that, we nodded. Just goes to show. We swooned to her poetic prose, the dark romance, the witty word play. In the final paragraph, she detailed how to avoid carpet burn, and methods she’d used to treat it. THE END was underscored, twice. I heard her laughing as I read.

Cath Bore (now writing as Cath Holland) is a writer of fiction and fact based on Merseyside. She is published in Mslexia, Know Your Place – Essays on the Working Class (Dead Ink Books), Story Cities (Arachne Press), NFFD anthologies, Fictive Dream, Spontaneity and lots more beautiful places in print and online. Twitter: @cathholland01