Porcelain perfection had managed to white-wash some of the grief. Wrinkles of helplessness that were cracking across her sallow skin now seemed like a chalky blur. The ghastly pale outlines of her moon-face were intercepted by two craters of sighted sadness.
She poked open a new box of pomegranate red, and pulverized other shades of ruby, granite and plum into one thick paste of promised happiness. The brush strands dipped generously into that bloodied concoction, outlining new lips of joy over that stoic face.
He was her only son. She cringed at the thought of holding his lifeless 12-year-old body. Flashes of his drowning face kept clouding her eyes.
She had busied herself all morning, preparing his favourite Oyakodon and Makizushi. But it sat there untouched, cold and listless, screaming to be fetched from the dining table. There was nothing more that could hamper her already broken spirit.
Looking back into the mirror, she had lost herself. The mask taunted her world, thwarting every feeling that clotted and festered in her heart. Her caked happiness just sat there unchanged, quietly protecting the turmoil within from the pretense without.
The next client was still waiting for her, shaking his legs with uncontrolled anxiousness.
She wore her pretty clown face, and got back to work.