This post was originally featured at The Writing Network as part of the TTC/MK VBT 2012.
School’s over. Summer’s started.
Her toes dip in to the deliciously cool water. The bottle-colored ripples turn her bright magenta toenails a murky color but she had wanted them painted blue anyway, so it did not bother her much. Mom told her that a lady chooses neutral, muted tones and sheer shades. French-tips and healthy, buffed, naked nails are best. They had argued about it for five whole minutes at the nail salon before Mom relented and allowed her to have her pedicure done in eye-popping pink.
Who wants to be a lady anyway?
She drew her knees up to her chest, teetering on the edge of the boulder, and lay her arms upon them. Her pedicure was a little chipped, but it looked a million times better than her fingernails. They were chipped and broken and chewed down to the quick. Climbing rocks and trees, two of her most favorite things, was not condusive to maintaining a pretty manicure. Mom told her that a lady’s hands spoke volumes about her character. Well-kept hands imply a tidy, ordered mind and a conscienious soul.
I wonder what mine say… nothing good, I guess.
July was going to be hot this year, but hopefully not as muggy as June had been. She pushed a loose, scaggly lock of ashy blonde hair out of her face and sighed. Her hair probably looked a mess too. Mom told her that she should brush it at least twenty-five strokes in the morning and before bedtime to keep it glossy and healthy. A lady takes good care of her hair, it shows that she is proud and confident, though you must be vigilant to not become vain or arrogant.
Betcha no one would think I was vain or arrogant if they saw my hair today.
Though she had chosen a spot in the shade to wait, the world kept turning and the sunlight shifted. She could feel her cheeks growing hotter and redder with every minute. Soon she would be the same color as a tomato, only with hair, and in a day or two, she’d be peeling. Mom told her that a lady is mindful of her skin and always wears sunscreen to protect it. Sunburns can lead to splotchy sun damage and premature wrinkles.
And cancer. You never told me that, but I know its true.
She could hear her father calling from the back porch and she tried to tune him out. Maybe they would leave without her and she could just stay here by the creek with her dirty feet and her ruined manicure and her tangled hair. She would stay right here by the water until she was covered in bug bites and mud, until she was stinky from not bathing and so hopelessly filthy that Mom would have a conniption fit.
She would have to come home and toss me in the tub and scrub me until my skin hurts and tell me all over again about how a lady is supposed to be.
Instead, when her oldest brother came stomping down to the creek to get her, she did not argue and let him lead her back up to the house. Her father ran her a second bath and her middle brother hung her dress on the door. She scrubbed her skin until it was so pink it nearly glowed and her toes were wrinkly from the water. She doused cotton balls in acetone and wiped the polish from her toes and nails. She brushed her hair until it shone and hung straight and shiny down her back. The dress was new and sort of itchy, but she dutifully donned it and looked at herself in the mirror.
I guess I look a proper lady. Sort of.
Her father looked sad when she came down the stairs, but it was hard to tell why. All three of her big brothers were impatient and the youngest scowled as he asked her what in the world had taken her so long. Dad told him to be quiet, because as Mom always said, a lady may keep you waiting, but the wait is always worth it.
“You look lovely, princess, your Mom would be so proud,” her Dad told her as he escorted her to the big black car parked in the drive.
Love & Rainbows,
[Note: Image reproduced from a writing prompt at CreativityPortal.com.]