At 4:00 on the dot, Mom was pulling up to the curb to pick me up. When she saw me, her jaw dropped a little, but then she got that look she gets when she starts feeling nostalgic for my childhood. I climbed in the car with a grin after putting my bags in the backseat and she smiled at me. "You look beautiful, Amanda! I'm so glad they didn't make you look like a clown!" We laughed and I was very happy that she liked it; this meant I could keep wearing it! When we left the mall, Mom obliged to take me by Hayley's so I could show off my new makeover. When we pulled up, I opened the door and jumped out almost before the car rolled to a stop. I was so excited and couldn't wait to show Hayley how great I looked.
When Hayley opened the door, though, I was met with a gasp and a look of.... disdain.
"Wow... What did they do to you?" Hayley wrinkled her nose slightly and took a step back to look at me. I frowned at her. "Um, they showed me how to put on makeup... you don't like it?" Hayley shook her head and made a face. "It's just...not....you." There was a long, awkward pause as Hayley examined my face. I crossed my arms and looked at the floor, not wanting to admit how bad my feelings were hurt at that moment. "Geez, Hay... You'd think they cut my face up with a knife or something. What do you mean it's not me? She used really neutral colors so I wouldn't look like a clown or anything." I looked back up and could see Hayley still staring, her eyes narrowed slightly. "Well Mandy, it just... You look so much like one of those girls in the in-crowd. The smokey eyes and the super shiny lip gloss... You look like you're trying to be something you're not." I felt my face getting hot. "Something I'm not? And what am I not, Hayley?" I stared at her with my hands on my hips, fighting back tears. I was so upset. I knew my mom was probably watching the whole exchange, and it was bad enough that I was fighting with my friend that I didn't need my mom to see it all. I was mad, though, and I was determined to get an apology out of Hayley McCain right then and there. She pursed her lips and looked away. "Nevermind." I stomped my foot impatiently. "No, Hayley... If you have something to say, then say it." She glared at me and crossed her arms across her tiny chest. "You look like you're trying to fit in with the popular girls. And let's face it, Mandy. You're not one of them. So why try to act like it." I felt my jaw drop as I stepped back a little, toward the car. "Oh my gosh, Hayley! That is the stupidest thing you have ever said! How is wearing a little makeup trying to be like Danielle or Katie or any of the other ones in that little group?" I wanted to point out that she was wearing makeup now, too, and that I could have easily used the same argument on her. "Wow... I really didn't think you, of all people, would act like this. I know it's different, but it's not like I got plastic surgery or something!" I shook my head at her and put up a hand. "You know what? Forget it... Thanks for your support, bestie!" I hoped that emphasizing that last word would put a massive guilt trip on her. I turned and started walking to the car, and I could see Mom staring with wide eyes. I was embarassed that she had seen our little exchange and I could feel my eyes stinging with tears. I could hear Hayley saying something behind me before she slammed the door, and I reached the car and yanked open the door with such force I thought I might rip it off the hinge. I jumped in the seat and slammed the door, yanking my seat belt on hurriedly. Mom started to say something but stopped herself, and instead just backed out of the driveway and headed home.
When we reached the house, I ran inside and straight up to my room. I laid on my bed and faught back tears. I was so mad and upset. How could she act like this? Shouldn't she be happy for me? Hayley had always been such a supportive, great friend and I was honestly dumbfounded at her reaction to my face. After a little while, I heard a soft knock on the door. Mom.
"Come in", I mumbled, but loud enough so Mom could hear. The door came open slowly and Mom stepped in my room. She crossed the room with a careful look on her face.
"You wanna tell me what happened back there?" She asked the question slowly and quietly, and I sighed. When she did this, I could never help myself from opening up. And I so didn't want to talk about it. "I don't know, Mom. She just... She didn't like the way I looked." I glared up at the ceiling and felt Mom pat my hand gently. "Honey... You look beautiful. I don't know why Hayley acted like that, but honestly... Do you think she might have been a little jealous?" I sat up, confused. "Huh?" Mom went on. "You know... You do look a lot different, a lot older... Maybe Hayley is a little jealous that you look so good." I laughed lightly. "Come on, Mom. It's not like this makeover is going to suddenly get boys looking at me or get me dates to the dances and stuff. Why would she be jealous?" Mom shrugged. "I don't think you're giving yourself enough credit, sweetie. You're a gorgeous girl, honey! And makeup doesn't change that; it just brings it out a little more. Sometimes girls feel threatened. And maybe this kinda scares Hayley that you're going to change, you know?" I nodded, looking at myself in the mirror across from my bed. "Maybe... But she has no reason to be jealous. I'm still the same loser I was yesterday." I laughed a little and Mom shook her head. "Well... If you need to talk anymore, let me know, ok? I'm always here for you, sweetie." I nodded and smiled up at Mom. She smiled back and left the room to go fix supper. I was staring at the wall, trying to decide what I wanted for supper when another soft knock sounded on the door. "Come in!" I called a little louder than last time. Mom came in and sighed. "Mandy, my boss just called. Babe, I just found out that I have a conference to go to this week. It was spur-of-the moment change in schedule; I wasn't supposed to go till the end of next month, but there was a scheduling conflict and it's a training I can't miss for work. Will you be ok here?" I nodded. Mom was going to be gone for a whole week! Inside, I was ecstatic, but I didn't want to let her know that and hurt her feelings. Instead I nodded and smiled, my mind racing with the possibilities of having the house to myself for a week. "Sure, Mom... I'll be fine." Mom nodded and frowned. "I'll have to leave you some money so you have it for food if you need it, and I guess I can leave you the keys to Dad's truck." I felt my eyes widen. Even though Mom had kept Dad's truck after he died, I was hardly ever allowed to drive it. Mom only let me drive once in a while, and only in an emergency did I get to use his old Chevy. It was a red 1970 shortbed truck, with refinished vinyl seats. The air conditioner didn't work, but the radio did and it was a treat for me to get to drive in it. Mom frowned again and put her hands on her hips. "Promise me you won't go driving all over creation in that truck... Maybe I should take it instead and leave you my car." I shook my head vigorously. "No, Mom, I promise I'll be good. You can trust me!" She waited a sec and then smiled and nodded as she ruffled my hair a little. "I know... I'm just nervous to leave you for a whole week on this short of notice." I shrugged. I'd done it before; it was no big deal. But with me being Mom's only child, she still worried a little too much. We talked a little more about her expectations of what I was to do while she was gone, then she left me to myself.
I turned on the radio in my room to the local top 40 station and pulled out my diary. I wrote all about my makeover experience and Hayley's reaction and how Mom was going to be gone for a week. I sighed to myself. With my best friend being so rude, calling Hayley to come sleep over was out of the question. I certainly wasn't going to be the one to make the first move at a reconciliation. I wondered what I'd do for the whole week by myself. I felt alone.
The next day, Mom left for the conference after church. I had worn my makeup to church and couldn't believe the reaction. All the girls in the youth group (minus Hayley, of course) kept telling me how great I looked and the guys all just kept staring. Katie Lauhr, once again, kept shooting me snide glances but I ignored her and kept thanking the others for their compliments. It was a nice feeling... For the first time in my life I felt like a real girl. I sat next to Michael in church and we had passed notes back and forth during the service. I told him about Mom leaving and he wrote funny little notes about how I needed to have a party since my mom was gone, and how he was going to sneak over and trash the house to get me in trouble before she got back. Of course I knew he was kidding; it was all in fun. When I had told him Mom was letting me keep the keys to Dad's truck while she was gone, he had gotten really excited and said we needed to take trip to the paintball range in nearby Crestfield. I had to admit, that sounded really fun. It was a good idea...
After Mom left, I settled in for a movie marathon. I had 5 movies laid out, a big bowl of popcorn, and some cookies. I fully intended to veg all day and pig out, but after two movies I was bored. I got up and cleaned up my mess, then walked around the house, trying to decide what to do. I finally decided to get online and see who was on to chat. Normally I would have just called Hayley but I was holding fast in my resolution not to be the one to cave and call first. So I got on the computer and loaded Yahoo Messenger. There were a few people on, but nobody I really wanted to talk to at the moment. I went to check my email and was just about to get off when an IM window popped up on my screen. It was Danielle. I wondered what in the world she could possibly want.
danip84: Hey Mandy... It's Danielle
mandyb_323: Hey... What's up?
danip84: Not much... Just sitting in the house. Bored. :)
mandyb_323: Yeah, me too. My mom's gone to some conference thingie, so it's just me.
danip84: Oh yeah? I'd be so happy if my parents were gone!
mandyb_323: LOL Well it's not so great for me 'cause I don't have brothers and sisters to keep me company.
danip84: Why not call that Hayley chick?
mandyb_323: Eh... She's mad at me. :(
danip84: Really? Why?
mandyb_323: I don't know... She acted really weird when I went to show her my makeover.
danip84: Ohhhh, I see. Yeah, you looked so good! I was surprised to see you like that.
mandyb_323: Gee thanks. :P
danip84: You know what I mean... It's a good change! :)
mandyb_323: Well thanks. :) I like it. I've been begging my mom to let me do it for years! Now if she'd only let me color my hair. I hate my hair color!
danip84: Yeah I need to get mine done again. I need some new highlights for sure after that pool party... The chlorine killed it! Hey, why didn't you come? Our whole class was invited.
mandyb_323: Oh, I thought it was just for you and Katie and Sarah and all you guys.
danip84: No, it was for everyone. I'm having another one this weekend... You should come!
mandyb_323: Oh yeah? I might... Depends on what I've got going on.
danip84: Well if you decide you want to, it's gonna be Friday, starting at 5. We're gonna swim, then do a bonfire out back.
mandyb_323: Oh, sounds fun. I'll try to make it.
danip84: Ok, cool! Well I'm gonna go call Sarah back before she freaks! LOL But yeah, you should come Friday! I just wanted to tell you that I thought you looked really good the other day!
mandyb_323: Thanks, I appreciate it! And I will definitely try to make it Friday. Thanks again!
danip84: Awesome! Later, girl!
And that was that. I stared at the screen for a little bit after she logged off, wondering why in the world she went out of her way to invite me to her party. She knew I didn't jive well with her friends. Danielle wasn't as bad as the rest of her clique. She didn't make it a point to bash other people, and she did speak if you saw her outside of school, unlike some of them. When we were younger, Danielle and I had been friends. Our parents hung out a little bit because our dads played golf together, and up until about 6th grade we even had sleepovers and stuff. But as we got older and Danielle got into boys and stuff, we stopped hanging out. I was considered a nerd 'cause I was quiet and didn't draw attention to myself, and she was popular and always in the limelight for something. I liked her ok, but Hayley couldn't stand her, so that was another reason I hadn't been close with Danielle in a long time. But the party did sound fun, and Jake would probably be there. Jake was Danielle's on-again-off-again boyfriend. They had dated like that for the past couple years. It wasn't like I would ever have the nerve to flirt, but still... No girl likes to see the guy she's crushing on flirting with another girl. That can be brutal.
But still... It would give me something to do other than go to Youth Group at Bro. Rich's. Although if Mom found out I skipped a church function to go to a party at Danielle's, she would definitely have questions. Good thing she wasn't going to be there to ask them!