She pressed her red lips to the stone. There was a “click” as he pressed the shutter. She saw his grin when he had lowered the camera, and grinned back.
“Can I take one of the mark?” he said. “Sit next to it. – No, I like your lips smudged. It works.”
More snaps. She posed, then relaxed and looked away, and he took some more. Not too many; film wasn’t cheap.
They said goodbye to Oscar Wilde and moved on. Edith Piaf, R.I.P. Then – who? He would rather go home, eat, drink some wine, have sex while her lipstick was still bright and smudged. She would rather linger a little longer. The darkening clouds decided it for them.
Home. Sex first, then pizza, sitting on the floor in the tiny apartment. Grey light filtered through a small window unframed by curtains.
They did not have many things, but felt they had more than they’d dreamed.
He read some Burroughs aloud and she sketched in black ink. His profile against the light from the window. The ink was all over her hands. She left unconscious fingerprints on the floor.
Night crept over the city. The lightbulb had blown. She lit a candle.
Ginsberg now. He wondered aloud whether they would meet such a man in person. She changed the subject: the club down the street would be open. Cigarette smoke and jazz.
“And red lipstick.”
She acquiesced, redid her lips without a mirror and he smudged them immediately. On the street outside he bought her a rose from a flower seller and she ticked it behind her ear. The thorns pricked at her scalp.
The streetlights distracted them, shining gold on the wet black concrete.
It took them twenty minutes to reach the club, stopping and starting and exploring down unfamiliar corners. The rose slipped from her hair and left a breadcrumb trail of petals, bruised and red on the wet concrete. She kissed him in a darkened doorway, streetlight glinting on her teeth when she laughed, and he bit down on his “I love you” as she wiped the lipstick smudge from his mouth.