Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Ohhh . (02/04/10)
TITLE: The Hidden Rite Of Passage
By Sara Harricharan
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Their ranks grew by one after every single reunion. I never could quite make out what it was that Cousin Jess was doing to them. Theyâd go from being fun and tomboyish, to overnight covergirl.
I envied them.
Granted, I had been asked to join their group at least twice, but the single ounce of pride to my name sought the satisfaction of observing their confusion at my refusal. They were disappointed afterwards, but confused first.
I never saw Jess and Angela when they snuck up on me. By the time I did get my wits somewhat together, theyâd dragged me to the living room and wrestled me to a chair.
âHush up!â Jess snapped when I began to shriek at the unexpected ambush. âChi-Chi!â She hissed, waving one hand wildly. âOver here, Aunty! We got her!â
In the time it took for that little bit of information to register, I tried to make another escape. Angela muscled me back down. âSit!â Her eyes seared straight through the invisible target sign on my forehead. âAnd donât you dare make her feel bad!â
âWhatâs going on? What are you guys tryin-!â
âWe asked you nicely, but you refused to cooperate.â Lisa preened her fingernails. âSo, we had toâŠbe a little more proactive.â
âYouâre eighteen, Riza, get over it.â Jess patted my shoulder. âDonât worry, weâll take pics. Lisa?â The girls crowded around me and the camera flashes started up. Breathing was now difficult. The girlsâ constant jabbering and giggles added to the droning noise I could no longer ignore. Everything was winding down to slow-motion.
I only grasped the barest tendrils of what was really happening, because it all blurred by in a mixture of words and actions I couldnât understand, well, except for Jess holding my hand. That was the only familiar thing and I knew enough to relax, because sheâd been the one to hold my hand when Iâd had my ears pierced for my eleventh birthday. Sheâd always been a sisterchick kind of friend.
âEyebrow?â Chi-Chi squinted at my face over her glasses. âYou want eyebrow done?â My Vietnamese aunt was one of the new additions to the family, who spoke little on account of the language barrier, but knew enough to handle herself. She was sensitive to everythingâŠand her eyebrows appeared to be penciled in with permanent marker.
There was no way I wanted her anywhere near my nice, full, perfectly-fine eyebrows.
âYes.â Jess grabbed my wrist. âSheâs long overdue. Eyebrow.â
âEyebrow.â Chi-Chi hummed cheerfully. Her English was accented and careful, but her hands were expert in their work. A tweezers was produced from a glitzy cosmetic bag and the chair was tilted back, while a flashlight added to the torture aspect.
After the first few mumbles of âow!â my fellow cousins in crime began to make bets in chocolate over my reaction when the operation was over. That was enough for me to keep my mouth shut until Chi-Chi finished.
The entire ordeal was great for thinkingâin between the horrible pin-pricks of pain, that is. I thought of a hundred different ways to get back at Jess, until the collective gasp went up from the group.
A mirror was produced.
I stared at the reflection until my mouth went dry. âOhhh! JessâŠthatâs not me-â
Another round of giggles rippled through.
âThat is you, silly.â Jess leaned in close to rest her chin on my shoulder. âLike âem?â
âOhh.â The face in the mirror nodded slowly. âOh myâŠI lookâŠpretty.â
âTell her thank you.â Angela elbowed my stomach. âAnd you always looked fine.â
âT-thanks, Aunty Chi.â I managed, still awestruck by my own reflection. âIs this what you guys were alwaysâŠ?â
âWhen youâre past sixteen, itâs time to grow up.â Lisa grinned. âThatâs what the groupâs for. Itâs like having a ton of big sisters. You can ask them anything and weâre here for each other.â She winked. âAnd Iâll teach ya how to show off those spiffy brows too.â
âEyebrows are the initiation factor.â Sophie tugged the mirror away. âYours were way overdue. Sorry. They were bugging me, so I made Jess agreeâŠâ She shrugged. âAre you in?â
âY-yeah. I guess.â
âGood. Weâve got Cynthia on the list next.â
âNext time wax.â Chi-Chi nodded, knowingly. âWax.â She patted my hand.
I smiledâŠand fainted.
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