This blog post is generated by @sexblogofsorts who challenged followers to write a short piece inspired by a lipstick name.
My lipstick is Saigon Summer. It’s an orange hue, rich luxurious, autumnal. The sort of colour that could make you imagine warm sensual lips that would kiss you forever. The use of Saigon though jarred with me, I thought of the Fall of Saigon in 1975, the pictures of destruction the beaten people, I remembered my grandmother describing it in the minutest detail so I should understand and feel what it was to suffer and remember my own families history of escape. From that came this. Probably rather dark for a lipstick trigger, but there we are.
She still felt the pain when she walked even after all these months, the last vicious acts of soldiers who knew they’d been defeated but were set on leaving their mark on the powerless; a small victory but one which left destruction more complete, more complex than any of the burnt buildings in Saigon that spring.
There had been 4 young men, brutalised by their own regime; little more than boys really. They’d pulled her into the empty room, stripped her, toyed with her barely grown breasts and raped her. Not the slow sensual awakening of womanhood she had thought would be hers by right, dry ripping blood soaked tearing womanhood. Each man thrusting grunting spitting, fingers that clawed, hair that fell in clumps about her feet. Kisses stolen, not as the poets told her, lovingly under the spring blossoms from coy lovers, but bitter cigarette stained tongues that choked her innocence into dust. Acts of human creativity that would be the stuff of horror for some, shared images of eroticism for others in years to come. Hours that passed changing her beyond imaginings, her body disfigured by animalistic pleasures, the defeated seizing their last chance for power. She recalled almost with fondness the shy one who sodomised her with the barrel of his gun yet whose eyes had filled with tears as he’d left saying he was sorry. They’d looked for her, her frightened family, finding her still bound surrounded by the debris of her body after 3 days. Her nakedness marked by bruises and dried blood; each avoiding her gaze trying not to speak of what had been done, ignoring the congealed evidence of all that had been taken, telling her it would be well now the Americans would heal her. Above the stench the sound of helicopters drowned out all hope as those who might have helped retreated, abandoning her as did the caring eyes in the days that followed, as her body clung to life and she learnt to touch herself when washing and not vomit.
Spring blossomed, charred timbers scorched concrete played host to flowers. Nature said be strong, from anything beauty grows, take heart. Take heart? She cried! in the narrow alleys where she slept, amongst the scraps she fought for like the vermin that sniffed at her at night; take heart, whispered the small orange hued flower, take heart.
The new order was cleansing the city street by street, extracting pledges to leave the overcrowded tenements upon rice payments, sending them back to the countryside to work. It seemed everyone had a purpose under the new order, a role to play, a skill. Her ‘skill’ it seemed had been created by the old order, her body no longer cared what was done to it, how many times, with what or by whom. The new order relished this as a victory too, passing her around as evidence of the animals they now dominated. Her dead eyes ignored their faces as they fucked her, hairless smooth bodies that covered her like snakes. Rope that suspended her from exposed beams alongside their makeshift dorm her mouth hovering at just such a level to pleasure them they said. How could it be pleasure she wondered? watching another man’s cum dripping from her taking your turn to turn to fill this skeletal ragged mess that no longer bore any trace of woman?
The small orange hued flower grew larger in the cracks and crevices, leaves stretched towards the sunlight, roots burrowed amongst the destruction, and every day the old man cleaned for the soldiers sharing his meagre food with her. The old man who silently cut her down that night when the soldiers for sport had bet on how much cum she could swallow, choking her on her leash till she passed out.
He never spoke, this man whose skin was not like the soldiers, his downy arms glowed with autumnal browns against the fading sun, hypnotising her as they moved. Whose touch was not like the soldiers, it was soft, hesitatingly gentle as he washed and dressed her visible wounds, easing the invisible. Yet his quiet eyes downcast in respect for her, missed nothing; her slightest movement and her need was met, water, food, a blanket. Tangled hair glued with the gel of whores he made silken again, sitting behind her brushing it tenderly, his deft aged fingers plaiting it into a glossy replica of rope. Twisting it around her head a halo. With passing weeks spring blossomed into summer, Saigon summer hidden under Ho Chi Minh. Care hidden under lidded eyes, averted looks.
Each night he covered her with his blanket, lying close but not with, watching her as she stared at the stars quiet tears as if from a broken statue streaking her cheeks. He longed to simply lie moulded against her, in his winter years, to once more feel the radiated warmth of another easing the loneliness of age. To drift into sleep with the fragrance of her spiced sweat filling his nostrils, to wake with the curve of her neck under his lips. The old man and the young girl, wrapped in loss, in unrequited longing for the protection of love. Protection that had failed her that night he’d let her walk out to fetch food for the family in hiding.
The dead eyes saw nothing but the outline of the orange hued flower in the speckled darkness as the first petal fell.
The Saigon summer had ended, autumn had begun.