Kate hadn’t given me a make-over in years.
We used to do each others’ hair and make-up all the time when we were younger, before we started drifting apart in our teenage years. I was all academics and extracurriculars. Kate was the total opposite. Naturally, we were both content to do our own thing when we had separate rooms, reverse personalities, and typical teenage angst on top of all that. We didn’t fight or anything; it was easy to coexist, and not all sisters end up close.
But then her stupid growth spurt broke the pattern. Little by little, Kate found ways to have fun at my expense. This road trip included. I should have known that putting on those pull-ups was a terrible idea. My biggest concern, however, was keeping them a secret. I had no idea that she would pull a stunt like that with her drink. And, now that my guard was up, of course I didn’t trust her with my hair or my face. Especially not with the amused smile plastered on her face.
“No, thanks,” I said.
Did she have to come back here? Sitting in soaked pull-ups was bad enough. The least Kate could do was give me a little peace and quiet for the rest of the drive. Or not.
Kate pouted at my reply, ever the chameleon, and said, “Please, Annie? We haven’t done that in, like, forever! This is supposed to be a family trip, isn’t it? And you’re just glued to your phone.”
As if she wasn’t texting and watching videos for the entire first leg of the drive too. But she’s the golden child and perfect angel, despite me being the one with better grades and currently attending a prestigious university. And her reply was loud enough to carry over the music and up to the front seats. “Kate is right,” our mother said. She glanced over her shoulder in the passenger seat. I immediately fidgeted with my skirt, tugging it a little farther over my thighs. “Might as well spend some time with your sister while you can. She missed you a lot this last year!”
Sure, she did. Or she pouted about it to earn some pity points while I was away.
But I couldn’t accuse her of that. Or of anything, for that matter. Aside from her best friend, I’m probably the only other person who knows my sister well enough to see through her little act. Our mother wouldn’t believe me in the slightest if I suggested that Kate was doing anything but trying to bond with her sister. And, as usual, subtly making me look bad in the process.
Seeing through the act didn’t necessarily prepare me to handle it. “I missed her too,” I said, lying. Like most undergrad first-years, the freedom of living away from home for the first time in eighteen years outweighed the occasional emotion that came from the distance. Besides, there were plenty of other ways that Kate and I could ‘bond’ without her messing up my ensemble. “But I already did my make-up today. And my hair,” I added, just in case.
“So?” Kate replied, “You’d look so much cuter if you let me braid it. And you could use a touch-up here and there too.” Vaguely gesturing to my face, she kept up the innocent smile while our mother was still involved in the conversation. When I didn’t reply right away, Kate huffed and frowned. “See? She never wants to do anything fun.”
“Come on, Annelise,” our mother said, “What’s the harm?”
She took Kate’s side. Shocker.
The harm is that undoing a braid isn’t as simple as just taking off the hair tie. My long red hair can be a mess sometimes, which is why I have a morning routine to make sure it’s tangle-free to start the day. Even if Kate just stuck with the simple three strand braid, there was a good chance I’d be stuck wearing it until I had the chance to shower.
If I answered that way, then I’d essentially be saying ‘I don’t plan on keeping the braid Kate gives me.’ Just two weeks after getting home from my first year at college, I was stuck in the same trap as I often found myself in during my younger teenage years whenever our parents were dragged into things. Damned if I do; damned if I don’t. Let Kate ruin my pretty hairstyle before we visit our cousins for the first time in nearly a decade, or make myself look bad in front of our parents by refusing something that was objectively simple and ‘harmless.’
I hated to give an inch, but it was better than bluntly saying ‘no.’ So, against my better judgment, I asked, “What kind of braid?” It’s not like I’m opposed to putting my hair up. But Kate said ‘cute,’ an adjective I detest for obvious reasons. That, paired with my current guarded mindset, and I’d prefer to know what my sister had in mind before committing to anything.
Her answer was so classic, I really should have seen it coming. “Annie, that would ruin the surprise!” Kate said, “Don’t worry, you’ll love it. You trust me, right?”
Nope. Not in the slightest. “Of course I do. I just don’t like surprises.”
“Well, there’s a first time for everything. Maybe you’ll like surprises after this, and it will all be thanks to your amazing little sister.”
“Or you could just tell me.”
It was a losing battle, as usual. Our mother’s chuckle at Kate’s latest overconfident reply showed that she was more on my sister’s side than mine. I was still resisting, but I could already see the outcome: I was going to let Kate style my hair for me, because I would rather cave than look like the difficult, whining teenager I used to be framed as when Kate cleverly pushed enough of my buttons.
Kate knew it, too. “Nope, that’s no fun,” she giggled, “Go on, Annie, turn around. It’s time for your make-over!”
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