I drove until I felt tired not really knowing where I was going, nor with any destination in mind except the vaguely general direction of 'west'. 'West' became synonymous with safety because there had been no news reports of anything happening that way.
We managed to drive at least to some desolate area that had lighting. A cheap looking motel greeted us. There were no people.
There were twelve units altogether all in a horizontal line. The doors which may have been a vibrant green at one point faded to something dirty and ugly. Though curious enough, one of them had a tie on the knob.
We knocked at that one and the door swung open. We readied our weapons to prepare for the worst, but it wouldn't come. There was one queen sized bed, unmade and a small coffee machine that looked clean. There were clothes strewn around the bedroom and a couple of abandoned suitcases. No blood. It was hard to say what happened, but whoever was there made a speedy getaway like everyone else apparently.
I snickered to myself at the thought of two lovers, naked, driving in some aimless direction. Or running.
Riley and I broke into the office to get a key. It may have been the end of civilization, but I refused to sleep on someone else's used sheets. Ew.
So we found a fresh room and took extra coffee from the other one and whatever other toiletries and toilet paper we could find. Extra towels, just in case. Never know when a towel could come in handy.
We showered and slept in shifts so nothing could take us by surprise.
Since leaving town, it was a surprisingly peaceful night. Unsettling so.
When I woke in the wee hours of the morning, Riley turned and said, "I'll sleep in the car. We should get a move on. No telling how long we'll be alone."
He totally wasn't wrong.
"Okay, let me have some coffee and put on my make up," I pulled out a bag of my own where I stuffed what remaining toiletries made sense at the time as well as some make up. Mostly make up.
Riley scoffed at me, "No men around and you still have to put on make up?"
I gazed over my shoulder and my eyebrows shot up in surprise before narrowing deeply.
"What? Don't act like you're mad because you're a typical girl."
Having make up was the one consistency I had in my life from the time I started 7th grade. Some could argue that was too young, but whatever. It gave me time to perfect it. And soon I became way better at it than everyone else. The internet totally helped, by the way. (I mean, seriously. What did people do before it existed?)
I even got some haters along the way, but whatever.
The make up became my war paint. Lips painted close to the color of the skin I'm proud to call my own, or red like the passion and drive I carried in my being. Cat eyes so sharp they could slay, and in their own way they did. Many, many times. Cheeks pink and shining with my youth and shimmer so bright, no one dare dull my sparkle.
But there was always an art to it, a precision that I couldn't help but appreciate. I mean, it was something that was way older than me so it was around for a reason, right? Status, power, and sometimes in time of war. And yes, to attract men, but that was seriously the smallest part of it.
Putting on make up felt like a ritual , and rituals gave power and made one stronger. After a while, it didn't feel like 'just make up'. It felt like power, and no one likes giving up power.
I found myself standing up and closing the distance between us, "And what makes you think anything about what I'm doing is for anyone other than me?"
I stared at Riley with a challenging look in my eyes until he said, "Whoa, I didn't mean to offend."
I held up my lipstick, rouge in color, "You see this?"
Riley glanced to the lipstick as a look of confusion crossed his face.
"Pharaohs have worn this and so have queens. This may have turned guys to us, but it has also brought them down to their knees," My brows - totally groomed to perfection - deepened their crease and Riley looked surprised as I said in a low tone, "I wear this because I like to remind myself how fucking powerful I am, just like them. And just like these queens, yesterday I've killed. And I don't put it past myself to be an isolated incidence. This isn't just for beauty, this is for war."
I turned to the mirror in pointed silence as I began applying everything.
Riley made coffee for me that morning.