Peer Review by Jolenify (Singapore)

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I Want To Be Free

By: Mallorie Cheves


You and I both know that I'm not a neat freak, but I found the energy to clean our house today, and I found her lipstick in the bathroom. "Dubonnet", it says. You always told me how red lipstick made me look old, so I know this doesn't belong to me. I know red lips bring out the acne scars I never saw until you pointed them out, and I know it ages me at least twenty years, so why would I own lipstick that makes me look ugly in YOUR eyes? While I'm writing this with my left hand and holding "Dubonnet" in my right, I wonder what you tell her when she puts this on. Do you mention how the deep crimson pigment brings out her glistening eyes? Do you compliment her smile and tell her how it "makes the twinkling stars envious"? Of course you do; I'm sure you have those lines memorized like the back of your hand. 

How long do you think this lipstick has been here? Two months ago when I first caught you two together in our house, one month ago when I saw her kiss you on our back doorstep, two weeks ago when I found her bra in your closet, or last week when I caught you two in our bed, along with my picture flipped over on your bedside table?

I went through your phone again. I know you hate it when I do that, but the moment I saw her name illuminate across your screen I couldn't stop myself. You're right, Michael, she is absolutely stunning. I only caught but a quick glance at her when she darted out of our room with the sheets covering her body, but the pictures that she sends you are beautiful. When I see the messages between you and her - how much you miss her, or how you'll always love her even if you and I are together - I no longer feel angry. I feel envious, and I feel envious because you have never missed me and you never will. You never sent me messages when I was out of town saying how you wish you could hold me again. Yet whenever I glance over your broad shoulders to read your messages, all I can see is a longing to be with each other that you both share. 

It didn't used to be this way. We used to enjoy each other's company instead of dread it. We would say goodnight to each other and kiss each other good morning, despite our horrible morning breath. My heart would flutter like the wings of a hummingbird every time you called me "baby girl", and you would bashfully blush each time I called you "hun". We all know that the honeymoon phase passes with time, but I wish we could have spent that time together for just a little longer. I never wanted you to let me go, but it seems I have no control over that now. 

Yet despite your decision to cut the bond between us with the same knife you used to stab me in the back, you will never let me go.You will never let me go because our memories will never leave me, and it'll take more than a glass of wine and good friends to get over you. It'll take time to recover from what you've done to me - what you've done to us. No matter how desperately I want to be free, I signed over my freedom to you the moment I told you I loved you.

I saw Dubonnet everywhere that night. I saw Dubonnet on her lips and on your chest. I saw Dubonnet on her nails. I saw Dubonnet in her cheeks when her and I made eye-contact. I felt Dubonnet in my body when it took all of the self control in me not to scream, and I bit my lip so hard from resisting that urge, that Dubonnet dripped from the corners of my mouth. 

I used to believe that we were star-crossed lovers destined to be together. Every time I cry about you I realize that, like Romeo and Juliet, not all star-crossed lovers see a happy ending. It's time for me to find my own happy ending; I don't need you anymore.

I can no longer tolerate living here with you. I refuse to pretend that nothing happened between you and Kourtney. I would hate to be a burden and get in the way of "true" love. I only have one thing I ask of you: Do not look for me. I do not want to get a message from you telling me how much you miss what we used to be. I do not want to hear your voice over the phone late at night while she pretends to be asleep in your bed. I do not want to sit beside you and witness you turn over her picture on your end table, so you don't have to be riddled with guilt every time you look into her hazel eyes. Most importantly, I don't ever want you to make her feel how I feel right now. You won't need to check up on me; I'll be free from you eventually, so take good care of her, okay? Give her the time of day and love her the way you used to love me. 




Peer Review

The usage of 'Dubonnet' in the piece. The fact that the lipstick doesn't belong to the writer evokes curiosity to read on. It's a great hook. The writer continues to make many references to the lipstick and it's colour throughout the letter, and this highlights the betrayal she feels from this evidence of an affair, mostly because it could have alluded to the beauty of the woman.

I feel that you have done an excellent job conveying the anguish and bitterness of the writer towards her husband. Perhaps more context can be given regarding the way they slip apart. Whose fault was it? Maybe the writer doesn't even want to know to spare herself the heartbreak. It's interesting to think around these line and it may bring more depth.

What made the guy fall away? How long have they been married? Will the letter be placed under the red lipstick for impact?

You are an amazing writer. I love the rawness of the letter and the emotional touch that makes the piece sit heavily in my mind. A little bit of tweaking can be done if desired but no matter what it's a strong piece that you should be immensely proud of!

Reviewer Comments

Brilliantly crafted. Keep up the good work! It is a joy reading your piece and I hope you'll do well for the competition.