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Plum, sepia, ivory, mahogany, and rosebud: All are glamorous words my big sister Laura uses for colors I would say were purple, brown, white, dark brown, and pink. I watch as she brushes the “plum” on her eyelids. I get scared when she moves a sharp pencil around her eyes, drawing on the “sepia”. I’m confused when she puts the “ivory” on her eyelashes, and then put the “mahogany” right over it. I laugh when sucks her cheeks in, making herself look like a fish, to put the “rosebud” on her cheeks.
She takes a step away from the counter. She keeps her eyes on her reflection, moving her head side to side. She smiles, frowns, raises an eyebrow, pouts, and narrows her eyes. I look away from her reflection back to my own. My step stool makes me taller, but I am still not even as high as the towel holder on the wall. Laura is tall and pretty: I want to be just like her. I want to use the magic make-up with the fancy colors.
I leap off my stool to follow Laura as she leaves the bathroom. I climb onto her big bed as she throws her closet doors open. She has lots of pretty clothes that she says I can wear when I’m bigger. She reaches in and pulls out a green dress (She calls it “jade”) and asks me if I like it. I nod my whole body. She takes off her robe and steps into the dress, pulling it up her long body. I always help her with the zipper. She moves toward her desk, (Laura calls it a “vanity”). This is my favorite part because I get to help her pick out her jewelry; I get to wear it, too. After we put on jewelry she sprays some perfume. Laura taught me to put it on my wrists and my neck. I don’t know why.
Once she’s ready we sit quietly. I swing my feet back and forth. Laura runs her fingers through her hair and stares at her cell phone. I have one like it, but it doesn’t really work; it’s just a pretend cell phone. I’ve heard Laura say she can’t live without her phone. I think it’s just a phone. It rings and I can see the excitement on her face, but she doesn’t pick it up right away, she waits ‘til it rings a few times. When she does answer it, she uses her Matt voice. That’s what I call it when she talks really nice and soft, and she only does it when she talks to Matt. He’s her special friend. She is always very happy to see him. I know she’s going to see Matt today because she looks very pretty and she always looks pretty when she knows she’s going to see him. I like Matt. He brought me a big chocolate chip cookie once and gave me a piggy back ride.
Laura shuts the phone. She helps takes off my jewelry and puts it back. She pushes me gently out the door, shutting off the lights and closing the door. I hop with both feet down the stairs, cheering that Matt is coming. I hope he brings me a cookie. Laura’s face turns red as she tells me to be quiet. A car pulls up in the driveway. Mom stands by the window with her arms crossed. She does not look happy. I don’t think she likes Matt very much. Laura gets angry at Mom when she tries to talk to her about Matt. I’ve heard Mom say that Matt doesn’t treat Laura very nicely. I think Mom is just mad because Matt has never brought her a cookie.
I follow Laura to the back door. I ask her if I can please, just this once, go with her. She smiles as she tells me no. I ask her please with a cherry and whipped cream on top. She’s says no, this time with no smile. I ask her why not. She says it is because her and Matt want to be alone, that they are going to do big kid things. I ask what kind of big kid things She tells me to stop being a pest. I know that Laura is nervous, but that doesn’t mean she can be mean to me. I tell her I’m a big kid in my best grumpy voice. She ignores me and goes out the door. I watch her as she runs out toward the car, her long legs even longer with her tall shoes. I don’t wave because I’m mad at her.
I sit in my room, looking at my toys. Laura doesn’t play with toys anymore. I pick out one of my books. They have pictures in them – Laura’s books don’t have pictures. Mom comes in and tells me it’s time for bed. I tell her I want to wait for Laura .But Mom says that Laura is a big girl, and that she has a much later bed time than me. I ask her please just this once; I’m a big girl too. She tells me I can stay up fifteen extra minutes after I brush my teeth. So I race to the bathroom. I brush my teeth with my princess tooth brush. Mom watches me as I put on my pajamas. She hugs me tight and tells me to just stay this way because I’m growing up too fast. I tell her I want to be big like Laura. She looks sad, but she kisses my head and walks out of the room. Fifteen minutes is a really long time. I stare out the window into the darkness. But even after forever Laura isn’t home. Mom comes into the room. She smoothes my hair and guides me toward my little bed. I tell her I don’t want to go to bed because I’m not tired. She kisses my forehead and pulls the covers up to my chin. She closes the door, and I am left with only the glow of my nightlight. I fall asleep.
Suddenly I wake up. I heard a noise. I’m scared because it’s really dark. I curl up in a tight ball in the middle of my little bed. I don’t want my toes near the edge; I don’t want the monster under my bed to reach up and grab my feet. I want to call out for my mom but I don’t want the monsters to hear me. I slide slowly down into my covers, pulling them up to my chin. I can’t close my eyes.
But then I hear a little cough. I hear a door open and then shut. It’s not a monster – Laura is home. The monsters are thrown out of my mind and I throw the covers back. I open my door and peek out. Everything is very dark; no lights are coming from Mom and Dad’s room. It is dark in Laura’s room too. I creep toward the door. I think that maybe she is asleep, but then I hear a soft noise coming from the other side of the door. I open the door very quietly.
I don’t think she notices, because now that I’m inside the room the noise is louder. I know now that she’s crying. I say her name quietly and she stops crying. I walk toward the direction of her bed and she starts crying again. I climb up onto the bed. My eyes are adjusting to the darkness and I can make her out on the bed. I hug her, and I start to feel sad because she’s sad. I ask her what’s wrong but she only cries harder, and hugs me tighter. We lay there for a very long time. Her crying is hard, then soft, hard, then soft. All of a sudden, she is quiet. I think she is asleep, but she turns on the light. Streams of sepia and mahogany are running down her face from her red eyes. She tells me Matt is not her special friend anymore. She does not look very pretty.
Suddenly, I don’t want to wear the magic make-up with the magic colors any more.