Location: Fashion Show
Object to Mention: Neti Pot (I had to look it up)
Neti Pot to the Rescue
Heschew!! Sniff. Dammit. I don’t need this. Today of all days.
“Damon! That better be her!”
I look back towards the rear of the cafeteria hoping she isn’t coming for me.
“Girlfriend, you look ratchet,” Damon calls out before I can spot him coming from the side entrance. “She’s not happy. You’re late, for one, and now, you look like death.”
I knew I was in trouble when I woke up this morning with a sore throat.
“Damon, it’s not that serious,” I say attempting to convince myself more than him. “Where is she?”
Tsk. “Where do you think she is? She’s been sitting in that wannabe dressing room waiting for you,” he says and saunters off towards the back.
Awesome. It took me half a year and all of the favors I could call in to get her to do this show for my kid sister’s school. My school. I told her it would look good for her agency to be philanthropic. I begged. I told her I’d pay her with my earnings. That was the final deal maker. Money. It all came down to money.
“What the fuck happened to you,” she yells, and I smile.
“Gabby, I’m fine. I just haven’t put my face on yet.”
“Honey, it’s going to take more than make-up to help your face at this point,” she snips and snatches up a bottle of foundation. “You better not ruin this for me. I cannot believe you talked me into this show, but now we’re here, it’s my name on the line. My reputation. You’re nothing. This is my show.”
“You better suck that shit up. You’re the lead tonight. Don’t fuck this up.”
I try to take a deep breath as she walks away, but the phlegm is too thick in my throat and nasal cavity. Please just clear up, I tell myself. As much as this is for the school, I can’t let my sister down. Gabby’s a bitch, and I’ll deal with her later, but now I care more about my sister. “Damon,” I call out hoping he’s close enough to hear me, but my voice cracks and a small choking cough comes out camouflaging his name.
“Oh honey,” he says and squeezes my shoulder. “You really do sound horrible.” He reaches up and wipes the smeared foundation on my forehead. “And you’re burning up. You can’t go on.”
Shaking my head, I just roll my eyes. “D, I’ve been way worse than today. This show is im…” SNEEZE “portant.” DAMMIT! NOT TODAY! “Just help me get ready. Please.”
He nods his head and immediately starts digging through my make-up case. One device after another. First the foundation to replace the foundation I’ve already sweat off. The wet sponge wiping my cheeks coats my skin and make me feel clammy all over. Between the coverage and the blush comes another two layers of color as an attempt to make me look human again. Damon holds the mirror up to me. “Now, we’re getting somewhere.”
I look into the reflection and only see failure dreaming of a pillow and a mound of blankets. My eyes feel like fire searching for an extinguisher. I breathe in through my clogged nostrils and get minimal air. I cannot succumb to this yet. I just need another hour and then I can rest. I hand him back the mirror. “Keep going. I have to be perfect,” I tell him in my nasal mocked voice.
“You got it.” He pulls out the color pallet and begins to shade my lids. “Green’s not your color today. Thankfully, your dress is blue. We can work with that.”
I just nod trying to imagine how disgusting the natural pea hue courtesy of this plague that’s taking up residence in my body is at the present moment. Closing my eyes feels like heaven. Sleep. Instead, he finishes them with black liquid liner and matching mascara. “All done, chica.”
I look to the mirror once again, but this time I don’t recognize who I see. I actually look healthy and fresh. The only tell that remains is how I feel inside…like shit. COUGH…SNEEZE…now the snot comes. “I need a tissue,” I say and cover my nose. He quickly grabs me one in time for me to blow, but when I pull it away, my makeup is ruined. “Oh, no. I’ll fix it.”
“You better or you’re fired,” Gabby says as she shoves the blue CK dress into my lap. You’re on in ten. Get your shit together.”
Defeat and exhaustion take over. “Damon, I don’t think I can,” I whisper. “I’m just so tired.”
“Oh no, honey, you’re not giving up on me yet. After all of the magic I’m performing, you’re getting dressed and out on the runway.”
I just laugh and shake my head.
“Oh! I have just the thing.”
Before I can say anything, he’s running in the opposite direction. I hear him digging through bags searching for the unknown. He comes back and shoves a teapot looking device at me. “Here. Use this. I swear it’ll work.”
“Damon, what the hell is this?”
He laughs at my ignorance. “It’s a neti pot.”
I have no idea if I’m doing it right, but I follow his instructions and hold a bowl in one hand under my nose while I flush with the other. When all is said and done, I take a breath and feel instant relief. “How long until I’m on?”
“Four minutes,” he answers and begins to fix my face yet again before working a miracle on my hair within seconds. “Now strip,” he commands waiting for me to step into the royal blue gown and matching stilettos. “It’s time. Go.”
I run to the stage entrance and walk. Ten. Nine. Eight. I count the steps to the turn. Pause. Smile. Return again. Five. Four. Three. I make it to the back.Done. I can sleep now.