With no warning whatsoever, Kate’s hand starfished squarely over my face.
Not just her bare palm and fingers, either. It could only be a make-up wipe she was using, as I immediately recognized the texture and the dampness. Before I could flinch or slap her hand away, she gave a quick but firm circular wipe all the way around my face. Forehead, cheek, lips, and other cheek. I could only attempt to sputter out a protest in response, as my lips kept getting nudged and then squarely covered by the wet wipe.
I thought that would be the end of it, but then she began focusing on the cheek she ended up at. She managed to get a few rough scrubs in before I managed to shove her hand away while wincing at how aggressively she was wiping at my face. “KATE.” I shot a death glare at her, not even wanting to imagine how the incomplete removal made my face look.
The bigger problem was the fact that there was a reason I took so long with my routine in the morning. Along with my short stature and all around lack of curves, there was a third feature I had that contributed to my youthful appearance–my freckles. Pair that with red hair, and I could be mistaken for a tween if my outfit was too casual. It used to happen all the time at restaurants and the movies before I made a more conscious effort in the morning to mitigate those things I was most self conscious about. While my outfit was still intact, mostly, Kate had just undone my perfect hair and make-up in a matter of minutes. I’d have to remove the rest of my make-up just to not look ridiculous after she started the process, and my personal things were in a duffel bag at the bottom of the trunk.
“What?” she asked, playing innocent save for the way her lips were pursed in a small smile. I couldn’t tell if the act was on the off chance our parents heard my exclamation over the radio now playing through the front speakers, or just to piss me off. Both, I suppose.
“You know what.” I bluntly replied. She knew full well how much I hated my freckles. Her skin was fairly clear in comparison, save for a handful of her own freckles that worked a lot better with her overall image than they did with mine. Yet another thing to be jealous about, but it definitely paled in comparison to our general size difference.
Kate stayed right next to me in my personal space, curiously tilting her head at my response. It had only dawned on me that she had unbuckled in order to braid my hair. If I was sitting in the car without my seat belt on like that, she would almost certainly tattle on me. Not in the childish way, like yelling it out if we were still kids, but more by feigning worry about my safety; maybe idle speculation about whether or not this is a habit of mine. I had made it through a year of undergrad, yet my sister could still make me nervous in terms of how bad she could make me look to our parents when she wanted to.
Her position also made me feel a little trapped. With the window to my left and Kate to my right, it’s not like I had anywhere to go while the car was traveling down the freeway. “You said I could give you a make-over, Annie,” she said. Technically, true, but I had only ‘agreed’ because I felt pressured to.
Also, did I? Looking back, I’m pretty sure she said I needed a touch-up or something. Not totally removing the make-up that I always work so hard on in the morning in order to hide my freckles. But the damage was done. Even without a mirror nearby, I knew there wasn’t an easy way to undo what my sister’s partial removal had messed up. Hopefully Kate had enough supplies tucked in her backpack under the seat; otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to redo my make-up until I had access to my own belongings. “Just-” I began, suppressing the urge to say something rude, “Give me the wipe. I can do it myself.”
“Nope. Hold still, and close your eyes,” Kate said, with a little smirk, “Trust me, little sis. It’ll be a lot easier if you let me take care of it.”
My eyes immediately narrowed. I hated ‘little sis’ almost more than I hated ‘Annie.’ The patronizing nickname was one thing, but the other phrase actually made the occasional person instantly believe that I was the younger sister. Usually, just a salesgirl at the mall, or a friend of a friend; nothing that would follow me in terms of embarrassment, but still frustrating whenever it happened.
If I wasn’t relying on whatever make-up Kate had lying around, my response would have been a lot more harsh. She was getting way too old to still be pulling shit like this. “Kate, I don’t need your help.”
“Well, duh. You’re a big girl, sometimes. But don’t you want to bond as sisters?”
Sometimes? And there were definitely better phrases than ‘big girl’ to describe what I was, but she was clearly going for the pull-up reference. “Kate, I’m being serious.”
“I’m being serious, too,” she said, with a tiny shrug, “Now, close your eyes.”
This wasn’t getting us anywhere. As usual, I found myself caving and subjecting myself to my younger sister’s games. Either way, my make-up had to be removed. As annoying as it was to let Kate get her way, it was starting to feel easier than bickering around it for another five minutes.
She didn’t hesitate at all.
The moment I gave in, the wet wipe was all over my face. Her movements were a little bit erratic, making me flinch every now and then as she firmly rubbed my lips, circled my eyes, and roughly scrubbed at my cheeks all over again.
And, all the while, I had to hear that quiet giggle every time I reacted.
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