It's never when it's first applied, that fresh and faultless line, too dark, too deep, to be real. The best look of lipstick is when it's a little used. The ring of it on a tarnished cigarette. A half moon on a glass. A shadow of its intended hue, blown on bathroom stalls, wasted on sheets of 2-ply in the trashcan. The best look of lipstick is the shade that's discarded.

Once this has happened, what is left on the lips seeps into the skin tint of the girl's face. It becomes less the mask it started out to be and more a shade of her own features, blending in until it is merely accenting her mouth, the high crests of her upper lip, the slight slope of her pout. When she parts her lips to speak, her teeth seem white-blue, shocked like a lightning bolt against oxblood clouds.

This would be the best time to kiss her, so that her stain no longer poses a threat, and stays with her when you release her. You won't need a mark to remember her.

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