Complete (Incomplete)(10)

By: Lindy Zart

Mia somehow threatened my hair into obeying her. One half is pulled up with bobby pins and the rest loosely falls down one shoulder in waves. She also took over my makeup, painting me in shades of cream and blush. I have to admit, she knows all the secrets to making eyes pop, cheekbones sharper, and lips fuller. Even my nose seems smaller, less wide. The face that stared back at me when I checked my appearance in the bathroom mirror before we left was a prettier and more feminine version of me.

My friend is talented and her gift of making the average person exceptional is kept undiscovered in the small town of Fennimore. She works in the beauty shop her mom owns; Kalinowski Kurls, mostly perming hair and doing manicures. Her favorite times of the year are Homecoming, Prom, and of course when there is a wedding.

Scanning the crowded street, I take in the lively mass of faces and boisterous voices. I see people I know and wave when greetings are called out to me. I am surprised anyone can recognize me in the tight white and black striped strapless dress and neon pink heels I’m wearing. I feel naked, supremely exposed, in the outfit. I don’t feel like me, but I guess that was the point. Apparently Mia felt I needed a major overhaul. The shoes, of course, are mine, so I do have that minor bit of myself to cling to.

Mia eyes me critically, her next words surprising with the way she is scrutinizing me. Her expression clears as she says, “You should wear more skirts and dresses. You look good.”

“I wear dresses.”

“Okay, dresses that emphasize your figure. You can thank me now.”

Rolling my eyes, I say, “Thanks.”

“Now it's your turn to tell me how good I look.”

I laugh because I know she is serious. “You always look good. Fantastic, even.” A slinky plum-colored dress and silver sandals make up her ensemble, the dress complimenting all her bodily assets. I scan the crowd. “What time is Bethany supposed to meet us?”

A makeshift stage is set up on the other end of the road a quarter of a mile down from where we stand. Charlie Brown is the entertainment and I smile when his twangy voice croons over the sound system, reaching out to lull all of us within hearing distance. All sides of the main road have been cordoned off, businesses looking out of place and forgotten on the other side of the limelight. It reminds me of a cattle pen and all of us milling about within the gates are locked inside. We aren’t really. I know this, and yet I feel slightly claustrophobic. There are too many people and not enough visible exits.

Mia brushes away a wildly curly lock of strawberry-blonde hair as a warm breeze picks up and blows it into her face. “Eight. What time is it now?”

Though people of all ages have flocked to the fundraising event involving food, drink, and music, the majority are young adults, which strikes me as odd. Usually these kinds of things draw an older crowd, teenagers having better things to do. Even stranger is the tension—excited energy zinging through the air to the point the atmosphere seems alive with it. Even I am not immune to it, though I don’t understand it. It thunders through my veins in rhythm with my heart.

Good or bad, something big is going to happen.

I glance at my cell phone and drop it back into the bright yellow clutch accessorizing my dress. “It’s almost eight, about ten to. Where are we supposed to meet her?”

“Near the fire department. Come on.” She tugs at my wrist and I follow, weaving through the throng of bodies. An eclectic mix of scents hit me as we walk—perfume, body odor, alcohol, and greasy food. “She has a new boyfriend she wants us to meet. She met him at the pharmacy they work at together and they’ve been dating for about a month. He’s from Kentucky, and apparently, she is in love.” Mia glances over her shoulder at me, perfectly tweezed eyebrows lifted.

“Good for her,” I state firmly, though a spark—microscopic and fleeting—of jealousy swoops through me.

Arching a look at me, Mia smirks. “That’s what I thought, only with more sarcasm and less sincerity.”

I snort and turn toward the brick structure that houses the town’s firetrucks, immediately bombarded by hands over my eyes, vanilla perfume, and voice saying loudly into my ear, “Guess who.”

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