This year Mom took me shopping at Masquerade Madness, the dusty little costume shop downtown bursting with glorious wigs and unexpected treasures, a whole wall of movie makeup and an old man behind the counter who can turn you into anything, anything at all. I picked my way past the rustling ball gowns that have hung there longer than I’ve been alive, the twenty different varieties of vampire fangs, the vials of black-red gelatinous blood and the Marilyn Monroe wigs on faceless wire busts. I made my way to the back, to a long white dress. A glossy black wig, so unlike my own newly-permed cloud of hair. Gold jewelry, lots of it, all snakes and winding things. And makeup. So much makeup.
Early in the morning I wrap my hair up tight, cover it with the cap like the old man showed me. I adjust the heavy black wig, admire the way my skin glows fair beneath it. Such a change. I apply makeup slowly, carefully, following instructions I’ve clipped from Seventeen. Smoky Egyptian eyes. Red lipstick. If I keep my mouth shut you can’t even tell Cleopatra wears braces, the bands orange and black for October. I am transformed.
I walk to school. This is always the worst part, on Halloween, the solitary walk to school, head down. It’ll be better when I get there. When I'm surrounded by monsters and fairies and the flirty, almost-slutty nurses who are sure to appear now that we’re teenagers, but we'll all be in this together, all of us pretending, playing, all of us transformed.
I hold on to the memory of myself in the mirror as I left the house. I tell myself I am stunning. Conspicuous. So unlike the invisible girl I am. I’ll turn heads. I am brave. I am beautiful. I am transformed.
By the time I arrive my feet are already protesting their strappy gold sandals. I smooth my wig, feel the lipstick, waxy on cold lips, lift my head high, and step onto the middle school campus. Into the den of lions. I’m thirteen and this is the fall of my eighth-grade year. I’m going to make an impression, one that will carry me into high school, one that will change everything.
I survey my audience.
I turn heads. Yes I do. I make an impression. Because I?
I am the only one in costume.
This was my first contribution to the Write on Edge memoir-writing meme RemembeRED. Here is the prompt:
Head over to Write on Edge today to read the work of other writers responding to the same prompt!
Reach back to a costume that made an impression. Was it yours? A friend’s? Maybe it was a costume you never got to wear. Show it to us with your words, draw us into the emotions it evoked at the time. Word limit is 400.