A make-over. From my sister.
I knew it was a terrible idea, but I had already agreed. At least, agreed enough for Kate to interpret the decision as fully made. Just like with the pull-ups.
And, with our mother now involved in the conversation, I felt even more pressure to just go along with it. As for convincing myself, I justified things with the fact that I could always demand a different braid if I hated the first one, or do a simple three-strand myself. My fate was sealed in terms of being unable to wear my hair down for the rest of the day, but at least there was still room to overrule Kate’s choice.
At this point, any annoyed huff or comment would just make me look bad. I was supposed to be the mature college girl. So, without dignifying Kate’s presumptuous instruction with a response, I merely shifted in my seat and turned to look out the window. The simple movement was enough to remind me about the wet pull-ups; the thick, wet sponge underneath my ass and between my thighs was bad enough when I was sitting still, but moving around just made it worse. Biting my lip to avoid making an awkward sound in response to the sensation, I merely tried my best to sit still and check out the surroundings as we drove down the freeway.
Kate was quick to unbuckle and scoot over to the middle seat. Did she get in trouble for being unsafe? Not at all. Maybe she had waited until our mother had returned to whatever she had been doing in the front seat, or maybe Kate just assumed she could get away with it either way. Regardless, it didn’t take long for her to begin running her fingers through my hair.
“Maybe I should grow my hair out like this,” Kate said. She had rocked shoulder length hair for the longest time, while I preferred keeping mine longer. Brushing through my red locks over and over, I finally flinched when she hit a small tangle at some point. Of course, she hushed me immediately. “Relax, Annie. I know what I’m doing.”
“Just- be careful,” I muttered. Remembering our ‘deal,’ there wasn’t anything I could say about the nickname like I normally might.
My response only earned me a teasing tug on a few strands of hair that were very much not tangled. This time, I knew she was trying to bait me with her physical response to my words. I still flinched from the unpleasant feeling on my scalp, but otherwise remained quiet. A few seconds later, when she finally seemed satisfied with the straightness of my hair that was literally thanks to how much time I spend making sure it’s that way every morning, she began separating out a few strands to braid.
At first, I had no clue what she was doing. Without a mirror, I could only work with how things felt. Rather than getting to work right away, Kate merely used my shoulders and her fingers to keep separate a few sections out on either side. Nothing familiar yet, though I also wasn’t particularly versed in this kind of hair styling. I still didn’t trust her very much after that stunt she pulled earlier, but I felt committed at this point.
Finally, she actually started working on my hair. I felt the familiar pressure of a tight braid on the left side of my head, and once again resisted the urge to complain about it. Kate’s response was so predictable, it wasn’t worth trying to start an argument. Braids are supposed to be tight; otherwise, they won’t hold. Or something like that. One of those things that was objectively true on the surface, but easy to overdo if your older sister was the cure to your boredom on a road trip.
It was only after Kate started working on my right side that I realized what she was doing. “Kate, stop!” I quickly exclaimed. Pigtails?! Unless I was grossly mistaken, that’s what it felt like. I recognized the feeling from when I wore them many, many years ago. It was a cute style when I was a kid, and certainly lined up with that very same adjective that my sister used a minute ago. Except, as a girl who always strives to offset her physical shortcomings, I was very much against something like this. “Do something else with my hair, okay?”
“Annie, we’ve been over this,” Kate sighed. Not pausing her braiding process in the slightest, she said, “I know what I’m doing, and you need to relax.”
“No ‘but’s,’ little sis. Trust me, this is going to be a super cute look for you! Now hold still, okay?”
I did as I was told, but only because any further arguments or attempts to squirm away would be fruitless. At this point, I was buckled in, and stuck between my sister and the window. It’s not like there was anywhere to go, and I might end up hurting my own hair if I did something that went against the way Kate was pulling. So, for the moment, I begrudgingly accepted the childish hairstyle I was getting. Going back to my original plan, I’d just have to undo things after it was all said and done.
A minute later, I felt the same tightness on my right side as Kate mirrored the red pigtail that was already done. After tying it off, she gave both braids a playful tug. “All done, Annie! Now, it’s time for your make-up.”
As if. This make-over was yet another bad idea that I let myself get talked into, and there was no way I’d allow Kate to ruin my mature make-up too. I turned to look at her, ready to say as much, but I was not at all prepared for what came next.
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