Ah, you’re an autumn, she says as I eye the shadows and mouth the names on the lipstick tubes, buttered rum, precious pearl, amorous rose, cool peach, every word a pucker.

What’s autumn? We had to clean the house spic and span before she came over because mom didn’t want her thinking we were dirty and poor.

She is carefully unloading her samples on the glass coffee table in the special living room for company, her soft white hands, tipped in a tasteful nude, she would later tell my mom. Oh, you know, it’s fall, when the leaves fall.

Leaves fall? My mother shakes her head. Her teased and permed hair hardened by hairspray. Her eyes rimmed black. Her brows brushed and darkened. Her lips an appropriate red for her job at the bank.

Yes, off of trees when they turn red, orange or yellow.

Leaves don’t change colors here. She stops and looks at me, seeing my dark brown skin and long tangled brown hair, my favorite rainbow t-shirt and not matching shorts, my long legs, scratched and scarred from playing in the sun all year long.

I guess you are right, but still, you are an autumn, dear. She clicks her emptied case closed.


Melissa Llanes Brownlee is a native Hawaiian writer who lives in Japan. She received her MFA from UNLV and has fiction recently published and forthcoming in The Citron Review, Waxwing, Claw & Blossom, The Lumiere Review, (mac)ro(mic), Micro Podcast, Bending Genres, 3Elements and elsewhere. She tweets @lumchanmfa and talks story at www.melissallanesbrownlee.com.