Reprint: The Joker

an origin story

This story first appeared on my Patreon, and later on Annika Obscura, in 2018. Content warning for self-harm and sexual harassment.

It wasn’t anything special, the one that broke her. It was, comparatively speaking, a minor offense. Just a whistle—a compliment, as so many people had assured her—followed with a “Smile, love” when she glanced in the whistler’s direction. But she was tired.

She went home and sat at her dressing table. Vanity. She hated that word, vanity. It wasn’t vain to look at your own face.

“Smile, love.”

She picked up her favorite lipstick, the bright red one, and traced her lips. She kept going around and around, making her mouth redder and wider and she painted on layer after layer of lipstick.

Then, just as suddenly as she’d needed to apply the makeup, she wanted it off, off, OFF. She wiped at it with a tissue, but it barely touched it. She tried a wet wipe and only succeeded in smearing the red stain larger.

She walked to the kitchen and picked up a knife.

She scraped the lipstick off, cutting her lips out of her face until no man would ever again tell her to smile, because now her entire face was a smile, a great grinning maw.

She laughed.