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Before I put on My Makeup

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Mike and Will are rambunctious young kids. They’re also curious and just a little bit nosy. This is how the two eight-year olds end up in Mike’s parents’ room one Friday afternoon. They have the top drawer of their dresser tipped out and his mom’s makeup bag emptied in front of their feet with nothing better to do than create a little art, they figure.

 

“Do you want some on your face?” Mike giggles the words through his hands.

 

Will is already shuffling through the supplies, with a big brush in his hand. “Hm, okay, but I want to do yours too!”

 

Mike picks up a smaller, but similar looking brush and a rectangular case with different colored powders inside. He rubs the brush against one of the brighter colors none too gently, and then begins to dab it at Will’s eyes. He’s pretty sure that’s where that particular powder must go. He makes sure it only goes on the top part of the eyes, that way Will can keep his eyes open and continue to work on him at the same time.

 

While he’s busy doing that, Will has gotten the bigger brush smeared with a generous amount of pink powder. He starts rubbing it around in large circles on Mike’s cheeks, doing little more than smearing it around. “This goes here. I’ve seen Mom do it lots. You want it nice and rosy.” He gives it one last swipe, as if he’s doing it to prove his point.

 

But Mike merely nods along like Will’s telling him the secrets of the universe, while he roots around for something else to put on Will’s face. Ah, the lipstick! He knows this one. He waits for his friend to finish telling him about how his mom uses a long pointy thing against her eyes as part of her makeup routine. They haven’t gotten that far yet. “It must hurt though; I don’t know how, but it makes her say bad words, sometimes.” The thought of Will’s sweet mom saying such things in front of one of her kids makes them laugh uproariously. Mike’s still really impatient to continue on Will’s face though and he’s getting kinda into this makeup thing now, so after the laughter dies down, he tells Will to pucker up so he can apply the lipstick. His friend does as he asks, making an exaggerated face and then waits for Mike to proceed. Seeing Will in front of him with his lips jutting out like that is a little, well… Well, first it’s kinda funny, but then it stops being funny and Mike stops chuckling at him because Will’s got his eyes shut and lips pressed together and Mike is feeling kind of strange about seeing that look on his buddy’s face.

 

“Hey. What’s taking so long?” Will pokes Mike’s shoulder and looks at him funny when he see’s the expression on his friend’s face. He’s never seen it before, but it won’t be the last time he’ll see it. “You okay?”

 

Mike seems to snap himself out of it at Will’s voice and reaches towards him, grabbing his face. “Nothing. I mean, I’m fine. Now, hold still so I can put this on you. I’m pretty sure this is a good color for you.”

 

Will chuckles and closes his eyes again. “Yeah, okay.”

 

Mike was right. It is a good color. A nice, vibrant red. It’d probably look better if it weren’t coming off his lips like crayon on a coloring book, but it’s still nice. Will has a plum color for Mike and tells him to put his lips together like he just did, then he starts to apply it. He’s almost done when they hear a startled noise come from the door and a shout of “Boys!”

 

Turning their heads to the sound, they see Mike’s mom standing in the doorway with a shocked expression on her face, and she, well she’s looking at her son and his best friend smeared in her makeup. The only thing it looks like they haven’t gotten to is the foundation and the mascara, thank God because no one needs an eye poked out on her watch.

 

No one seems to know what to say at first. Mike’s first thought is to ask, “Do you like it?!”, but he’s old enough now to know that judging by her response it’s pretty clear she doesn’t. He feel’s frozen and when he looks over, he sees that Will has shrunken back and is leaning into him for comfort. As inconspicuously as possible, he reaches back and grabs the back of Will’s shirt to hold onto. He thinks it probably helps him just as much as it does Will.

 

Finally, after what feels like a lifetime to the two young boys, Karen speaks. “Just what’s going on here, boys?” She keeps her voice level. Stay calm and patient, she reminds herself. The words ring like a mantra in her head, telling herself to not be anything but rational in this situation. It’s a delicate situation with many factors to consider, after all.

 

“M-mom, w-we- “, Mike looks at Will then before swallowing and continuing, “It was my idea. We were bored. Sorry.” He looks down but before he can say anything else or Karen can think of anything to say in response, Will speaks up.

 

“No ma’am! It was both of us, all the way.” Mike is staring at his friend now because he didn’t have to take part in the downfall. Mike would’ve taken the whole blame, if only to make that awful look leave his friend’s face. He’s simultaneously horrified and awed that Will would do something like that for him so he can do nothing really but turn and nod his agreeance about Will’s story, which actually is kinda true anyway.

 

His mom takes a good look at the both of them, like she’s looking for some kind of secret but whatever it is, she doesn’t seem to find what it is she’s looking for or maybe she does because she gives them a final once over, then sighs a longsuffering sigh. “Alright, you two. Get up. We’ve gotta get you two cleaned up.”

 

They scramble up off the floor at her command and hurry to the door, side by side.

 

“Hold on, you two.” She stops them right as they’re about to enter the hall. The look they give her is one that can only be described as two kids that thought they were going to get away with something but then got caught. Her smile is gentle though, which sets them at ease. “It’s okay, you’re not in trouble. Just- just don’t tell either of your fathers, okay?” Mike wants to ask why, but when he looks over at Will, he’s reminded. Will doesn’t have to ask why; he gets the bruises enough to know without saying a word. Then Karen is rushing them towards the bathroom, tousling their hair as they go. She stops while they continue to the bathroom, then turns back to the bedroom. They’ll appreciate this when they’re older, she thinks with a fond and private smile curving her lips. With that thought, she grabs her camera and heads to the bathroom.