Hope leaped in my heart. I swung around and studied the mirror.Yikes.“They’re freakish. Like huge black racing stripes across my brow.“I have got to see this.” The doorknob twisted back and forth but the lock held. She banged. “Let me in.”“Okay. But, you won’t laugh…”“I promise.”
I hesitated another moment before unlocking. Then, I opened it, a crack.
“Let me see.” Mia shoved open the door. Wide. Her faced contorted. A thousand alarming emotions flashed before she burst out laughing.
“That’s not nice.” I crumbled, feeling vain and foolish.
Mia’s smirk never wavered. “Have you tried baby oil or… or fingernail polish remover?”
“Yes… both. And the fingernail polish remover burned like crap. That’s what caused all the red, rash-y stuff on my forehead.” I pointed to the burn.
Mia giggled again.
“You promised.” I pouted.
For the next 20 minutes, we tried everything: oils, cleaners, and Goo Be Gone. Nothing worked.
And, of course, I had another problem.
“I have to go to my Apple Appointment. My computer crashed and I don’t dare miss my appointment. You know how impossible it is to get into that place.”
“You’re going out?” Mia’s jaw hit the ground. “In public?”
“Well,” The horror in Mia’s face shook my confidence. I decided to wheedle. “I hoped you might go for me. I know you don’t know much about computers but I could tell you what’s wrong.”
“No way. I hate that place.”
“But I’ve got to get this story finished and I can’t without a computer.”
“I’m not doing it.”
“I went through 21 hours of labor to have you and got stretch marks everywhere.”
“Should have used better birth control.”
“Ungrateful child…” I started and then threw all of my mother guilt stuff at her and… failed when, Mia said the worst of all.
“Mom, you know my computer skills suck. Even if I took your computer in, I’d probably bring it back, and it still wouldn’t work.”
Logic. I hated that.
“Well then I’ll just have to go myself. Looking like this.” I had to twist the knife one final time. For God’s sake, I looked ridiculous.
Mia didn’t waver. “Why don’t you just put it off a couple of days? Then you wouldn’t look so… freaky.”
“Oh, I’ll be fine.” I fell back into my long-suffering mother routine. “I’ll hide behind my Jackie O sunglasses. They cover half my face.” I straightened my back. “I won’t take them off. Just pray I won’t have to read anything or I will have to trade them for my readers and everyone will see.”
Mia didn’t look convinced.
“I’ll dress up too. Wear something chic and glamorous. I’ll look important.” I shrugged. “Besides, all the Apple people have piercings and tattoos. I bet they’ll be kind. They might even decide to copy my look.”
An hour later, wearing my Jackie O’s and looking like a movie star lost in Fort Worth, Texas, I checked in for my appointment. Within a minute, I stood before my Apple Genius, a young girl with burgundy hair and a nose ring.
With barely a look up, she asked a barrage of questions and then, sure enough, said, “I need you to read this and sign here.”
I squinted, tilted my sunglasses up and peeked out the bottom. But I still couldn’t see a thing without my readers. I decided to bluff.
“Uh Huh.” And, I scribbled my name and snapped my glasses back on my nose.
She gave me a quizzical look. “That’s the wrong spot. Sign here.”
Stressed. I stared harder. Prayed for focus. Tipped my sunglasses up again and crawled closer to the computer screen. Still nothing but blur.
“So where?” I asked.
I squinted. I lifted the pen. But where…
The genius shifted her weight from one hip to the other in a way that screamed impatience. Screamed you’re stupid. Oh, I knew that move had pissed her mother off many a time.
I grabbed the computer pen, scribbled my name and popped my Jackie O’s down.
“That’s still not where…”
The hairy guy working next to her shot a leave-the-old-lady-alone look.
She responded with a snotty sounding huff.
Like I was blind and deaf.
Okay bitch, I flipped off my Jackie O’s and glared.
Both of them froze. Her jaw dropped. He just stared.
“Is there a problem?” I asked ever so sweetly.
“Ahhhhh.” The girl stammered, suddenly chaste and demure. “No.”
Lightning flashed. Suddenly, I understood the shock value of blue hair, rings that hung out your nose, snake tattoos and ear lobes that stretch down to your shoulders.
My eyebrows radiated power. Intimidation. Fear.
In my day, we brought others to heel with giant diamonds, screaming couture, big hair and high heels.
Amazing. The only thing from our generation that survived was the heels.
Wouldn’t have been my first choice.
“Ahhhh, do you have your power cord?” My Apple Genius asked my eyebrows.
“Yes.” I pumped my brows up and down twice.
Horror struck, she gasped, grabbed her computer and started typing.
Tickled by her rattled demeanor, I slipped out my cell phone and texted Mia.
…. My apple genius is talking to my eyebrows… I hit send.
Two seconds later, Mia text back. …. Hahahaha ….
I looked up. Saw the glance. Watched the whispers fly around the Apple Store. A small group in the corner stared at me, then turned away appalled. My eyebrows were all the rage. Ogled by everyone.
I winked at a young, tattooed couple knowing we were simpatico. They flinched and looked away.
My text notification button dinged.
Mia…. I wish I were there. Think how funny if we both had the eyebrows. We could start a new trend!!! ….
I texted back…. The skin around my eyebrows continues to burn. Yikes. I wonder if it is getting darker????? ….
Ding. Mia text came up…. Ahh! I’m dying over here! LOL ….
No. Really. My brows really burned. Acid. And smelled weird. But, I didn’t want to sound hysterical so I texted back.
…. I’m glad to know u r enjoying this. I don’t dare look in the mirror. Afraid of what I might see ….
…. Haha Look! Please look! ….
I looked at the mirrored wall behind the Apple geniuses. Giant black road stripes stared back. Maybe… a little redder flaring but nothing that explained the burn.
I texted…. One is blacker and bigger than the other ….
…. Omg. Stop! I’m crying! ….
My Apple Genius said, “Your hard drive is crashing. It’s not dead yet, but almost.
“What happens to all my stuff? All my documents and pictures?”
“You’ve been backing them up. Right?”
Is she crazy? I panicked.
“I don’t know how to back up anything. My husband takes care of all the computers and… I don’t think he’s done anything to my computer. Why would he? It’s never broken before.”
The girl just stared mesmerized at my eyebrows.
“Hey,” I spoke sharp and hard. “Does this mean I have lost everything?”
“No, not yet anyways. But, you need to back up everything while you can. But we can’t do that here. We’re not allowed to remove your hard drive. You’ll have to take your computer somewhere else.” Then she passed me a business card with a “help” website.
Horror clung to me. Years’ worth of stories lived only on that computer. Without thinking, I rubbed my fingers against my burning brow. Little eyebrow hairs broke off and fluttered down, onto the counter.
My Apple Genius turned horror white.
Desperate, I ransacked my purse for a mirror and saw – nubs. My eyebrow was gone. Most of it anyways. A couple of hairs remained near my nose, then some nubs, and bare spots, then my ear. I touched my other eyebrow. It crumbled.
A strangled squeak snuck out of me.
My genius’s mouth gaped open. The guy standing next to her stared too.
Nobody said anything.
I turned, grabbed my computer, stuffed it into its case and zipped it closed. I glanced back at her. Her mouth was frozen in a giant 0. “Thanks.”
She nodded and gave me a zombie-like wave good-bye.
I turned and fled. My eyes trained on the floor, hopeful to escape unnoticed. I maneuvered around an Apple Class, swerved around the old couple listening to the merits of an iPhone.
Three steps away from the exit, a man backed into me, squishing my foot. I screeched and fell backwards. He grabbed me, stabilizing me.
“Are you alright?”
“Uh huh.” I looked up. There stood the God of my high school. The Captain of the Football Team. The love of my high school years – Mark Sullivan.
I rushed to prayer, “Please God, don’t let him recognize me. If you do that for me, I will never, ever, do anything bad ever again.”
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