23. revelation

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March, 2018

It was the Friday after International Women's Day and Ingrid's eyelid twitched as the eyeliner brush ran over the globe of her eye, along the curve of her lashes.

"Are you about done up there?" she groaned through gritted teeth.

"Shut it," Cait hissed at her. "I need to concentrate."

Ingrid heaved a prolonged sigh, careful to keep her facial movements to a minimum. Caitlin slaved over the very special make-up scheme she'd designed for Ingrid's big night – something that could hold its own against her extraordinary outfit. And like all masterpieces, it took time and painstaking effort to perfect.

"There," Caitlin declared some many minutes later. Her thumb rubbed some excess eyeshadow away and blended the foundation in some more. "All done."

Ingrid blinked at herself in the vanity table mirror. She turned her head sideways, tilting it back and forth to take in the full scope of her makeover.

"Not bad."

Caitlin's reflection rose an eyebrow at her. "Not bad? Not fucking bad?"

Ingrid laughed. "Don't get your knickers in a twist, girlie." Then in a lower voice, "It's amazing. I love it."

The Irish girl grinned.

Thankfully, the dressing-up process did not threaten to ruin Cait's craft but she still helped her friend carefully put on the two-piece suit. The tailors had customised it into a velvety forest green, traversed by thin silver stripes and fitted with big chrome buttons. She attached her pocket watch to her blazer and adorned her hands with appropriately steampunk trinkets – to match the hat she perched on top of her pinned-back hair.

After Ingrid slipped into her colourful oxfords and grabbed her skull-topped cane, Caitlin had her pose for a Cillian-bound snapshot that made the boy excessively enthusiastic.

"He's totally fanboying out," Caitlin said.

Ingrid suggested that they make a brief video call and she heard his genuine joy for herself.

"You have to send me pictures!" Cillian decreed. "All the pictures!"

"Hold your horses, young man," Ingrid urged him. "Keep your eyes peeled on social media, there should be some livestreams going up. Now if you don't mind," she raised her cane and tipped it to the brim of her hat, "I have to go slay."

Cillian cheered loudly in her wake while Ingrid exited the room.

*

The venue they'd chosen for the event soon proved to be rather small for the turnout. Ingrid felt at once proud of this achievement and almost overwhelmed by the crowd and the flashlights. Brennan-sponsored refreshments lined several tables at the entrance and Liz made an impassioned speech once the more important guests had shown up.

feminam amor is a spotlight on female love. That's actually what the expression means in Latin, 'female love.' Or some approximation of it, at any rate...

Ingrid shuffled absent-minded from painting to painting.

Why Latin? Because it's the mother of most European languages, especially the ones in the Romance group – which does not mean what you think it means, it's related to the Romans...

She'd ended up in the section where Rose's abstract floral paintings hung on the wall alongside the sketches and pictures Rose had taken throughout the creative process.

And female love doesn't mean what I bet you're thinking it means, either. Kinky lesbians and shit, right? Brought to you by two married women, after all. Well, if that is what you're thinking – you're wrong...

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