There was really no justification for what had been done to the girl. Cassandra liked to think that things like that just didn't happen, but now she knew better. She'd always known better, but it had never been her job to cover up the evidence of something like it. Not until now.
Five years old. The grandparents had given her a picture to work from. Pink ribbons in her ponytails to match her pink lips. She didn't smile. No wonder.
Cassandra had read the article in the paper. The mother, if you could call her that, had beaten her own daughter to death. A daughter she had abused and brutally raped since, according to the article, birth. It was a wonder the girl had made it this far.
Cassandra didn't want to pretty her up. It seemed criminal to take the truth and dress it up nice for a family who must have known what was going on. Besides, how does a woman end up the sort of person who does something like that to her own child? Usually she is a survivor of abuse as well. Survivor. Cassandra had to laugh. If all it took to really survive in this world was to live through the bad stuff, then everyone walking around was a survivor. The trick, the real trick, was to survive and remain not fucked up. Cassandra knew this, more than she'd ever really cared to. Looking at this child's body reminded her very much of those facts.
"You would have been fucked up, Princess." Cassandra said to the little girl, digging around in her makeup kit. It was all she could say to the little girl, to herself, to get her hands moving.
Cassandra had seen pictures of her clients all the time, and had never thought twice about it. She always felt a little bit sad that she only got to meet them under these circumstances. She'd wonder what their lives had been like, who would come to pay their respects. It was almost a game for her to fill in these people's pasts with cinematic details. But she wasn't sad for this dead girl. Or was she?
She began to smear pink tinted foundation on to the girl's face, add colour to the grayish skin and cover the bruises. What she was doing felt so wrong. It had never felt wrong before.
Every one of those pacifist fuckers should have to walk by that girl's casket and see exactly what had been done to her. Each one of them would be just as guilty as the mother for not speaking up. How could you not see how tortured this girl had been? Cassandra could see it in her eyes, in that photograph.
Cassandra placed a small amount of powder on a soft brush. The grandparents wanted to see the child before they put her in the casket. The wanted to make sure everything 'was right'. They said. She knew better. She knew they wanted to make sure everything was covered up. Monsters. Monsters soon to arrive to make sure their pretty little version of reality was upheld.
Cassandra penciled the little girls lips, lightly. Just enough. The corner of her lips was slightly torn from having some object or another forced into it. Cassandra felt tears in her eyes and before she could reach for a tissue, her own make-up was flawed.
She stepped away from her work, over to her own purse, reaching around for her compact. She studied herself in the small round mirror, saw the discoloured skin of her own eyes starting to peek through. She finished powdering her own face just as there was a knock on the door.
The grandparents came walking in and took a look at her, then at the child.
"This isn't right." The grandmother barked, pointing. Cassandra could she that she hd accidentally let a few tears fall onto the little girl's face.
"Do it over." The grandmother sighed. "Well be back in an hour." She spun on her heel and stormed out with her husband a few feet behind her.
"Damn you." Cassandra whispered, throwing the wadded up tissue in her hand at the door as it shut. "You didn't do a damn thing. Not one damn thing."
Cassandra started wiping the makeup off the little girl's face. Melinda was her name. Cassandra had pushed it out of her mind just to get through it. Melinda. She made a promise to Melinda and to herself.
As Cassandra washed the makeup from the child's face, she noticed that the lips stayed pink, and the bruises had vanished.