Chapter 17: Birthday Surprise
“I’m serious, close your eyes!” Katherine yelled.
“That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard you say. I am blind, you idiot!” Pearl shouted.
“Okay, I’m a goof. Just play along. I want it to be like a real surprise!” Katherine whined. Katherine was holding a large Bella’s Department Store bag in one hand and a selection of dresses and shoes in the other.
“Fine, but I am not playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey or hitting a piñata. There is only so much I am willing to do with my eyes shut,” Pearl quipped.
“Deal!” Katherine shouted. “Now, sit down on your bed and be quiet!” Katherine giggled in delight.
“Sitting….” Pearl chuckled. “What is it?”
Pearl could hear Katherine clearing off her desktop. “What are you doing to my room, Katherine?” Pearl asked fearfully.
“I will put everything back exactly where it was when we are finished. I promise!” Katherine said with a huge smile.
“When we are finished? What exactly are we going to be doing?” Pearl questioned.
“Well, last week your mom invited me to dinner tonight with you, your grandma, and Dr. Holt. She is planning on taking you to some fancy Italian restaurant in downtown Dallas. She wants me to come and even said I could invite my boyfriend. So….” Katherine let her words purposefully fade off.
“So? I didn’t hear you, so what?” Pearl cried.
“So, I invited Boyd to join us. And he invited one of his friends. Your mom was totally cool with the idea. They will meet us at the restaurant at six o’clock tonight. Your mom said I could just stay here until it was time to go. That’s why I showed up so late today – I waited until it was time to get ready before I came over.” Katherine was nervous about how Pearl would respond, but she was also very excited for Pearl. She really wanted Pearl to venture out, beyond the wall she had so carefully built.
“You told me you came late today because you picked up an extra shift at Bella’s. You lied!” Pearl wasn’t mad, just trying to soak all this in. “Are you telling that I’m going on a date tonight?” Pearl asked nervously.
“Sort of, he is just a friend of Boyd’s. I really wouldn’t call it a date since your mother and everyone will be there. But it will be really fun, right?” Katherine said as she lightly pushed Pearl’s shoulder.
“Wait!” Pearl cringed. I have never even met Boyd. What does he know about me? And I haven’t even been to a fancy restaurant in ages. I have nothing to wear. I don’t even know what is in style anymore. I look like a pale-faced twelve-year-old!” Pearl was rambling a mile a minute. Her nerves were getting the better of her, and she was having a hard time focusing.
“Slow down there, little lady. Everything is going to be just fine. In fact, that is your birthday surprise. Let me introduce myself,” Katherine said in an overly exaggerated English accent. “My name is Katherine Sparks. I am the head makeup artist in England, the very best around. I have flown approximately thirteen hours to be here this afternoon for your special day. I have been told it is your eighteenth birthday. Am I correct?”
“Yes,” Pearl laughed. “And you are most certainly a goof, Miss Katherine Sparks from England - a royal goof!”
“Please, no flattery is necessary. And might I add, your wardrobe for this evening has also been provided. All that is required of you is your strict attention to my direction and your cooperation. Understood?” Katherine continued in her melodramatic accent.
“Yes, Miss Sparks, understood completely.” Pearl was delighted and scared half out of her mind. She had never had a makeover before, and she wondered what style clothes Katherine chose for her to wear tonight. Not to mention, she hadn’t even begun to stress over this mystery guy she was being set up with.
“Okay, Madame, please relax while I tell you how I am going to do this,” Katherine said.
“Sure, but you just switched from being English to being French. Pick one.” Both Pearl and Katherine laughed so hard that Grandma came in to check on them.
“Are you girls alright?” Grandma asked.
“Yes, Grandma, we’re just having fun,” Pearl replied.
“Well, good. I would expect nothing less,” Grandma said cheerfully as she left Pearl’s room and closed the door behind her. Grandma thought Katherine was the best present to come Pearl’s way in over two years. The gift of their extraordinary friendship had brought a change in Pearl that was unprecedented. Pearl was acting more and more like a young woman instead of an old lady. Katherine had truly become Pearl’s fountain of youth.
“Seriously, what does Boyd know about me?” Pearl asked again.
“Everything, of course,” Katherine replied jokingly. “He knows you can’t see very well if that is what you are asking.”
“Did you also tell him I have an amazingly charming personality?” Pearl said dramatically.
“Actually, I did. I also told him you are gorgeous,” Katherine replied.
“Gorgeous? You didn’t need to lie to the poor guy, Katherine!” Pearl exclaimed.
“I didn’t lie. You are gorgeous. Better looking than I if you gave yourself half the attention you give your cat,” Katherine said.
Pearl was both insulted and flattered by Katherine’s comment. “Really, you think so?” Pearl asked.
“Absolutely! Now be quiet and let me prove it,” Katherine said as she laid out the cosmetics on Pearl’s desk.
To Pearl, it sounded as if Katherine were setting up a full-service cosmetics counter on her desk. “Where on earth did you get all that stuff?” Pearl questioned.
“I told you, I get tons of free samples at work. I have been stashing away as many as possible for you over the last month. You probably have $200 worth of makeup here,” Katherine chuckled.
“Wow! That’s amazing. Thanks! Too bad I don’t have a clue how to use any of it.” Pearl hadn’t put on a drop of makeup on in well over a year. Her skincare routine consisted of washing her face with whatever bar of soap was in the shower, and occasionally, putting on sunscreen before she helped Grandma in the garden.
“Consider this Makeup 101,” Katherine said, returning to her bogus English accent. “First, we need to start with a clean face just like you begin with a blank canvas when painting; likewise, you start with a fresh face when painting the face. We are going to cleanse, tone, then moisturize.”
Pearl’s face tickled and tingled after her face was cleaned. The mint herbs from the moisturizing lotion invigorated Pearl’s senses, and she immediately was beginning to feel pampered and relaxed. “That feels great!” Pearl said in a surprised tone.
“I know,” Katherine replied. “We can make Braille labels on these bottles with numbers on them so you know which ones to use first. If you have any questions along the way, just ask. I will do my best to tell you about the products and how to properly use them as we go along.”
Pearl was impressed at how well Katherine had adapted to her blindness over the course of their time together. Pearl’s vision loss was just a natural part of their conversation, as normal as talking about the weather or a new pimple. And because of Katherine, Pearl readjusted the role her blindness played in her life. Her vision loss was no longer playing the leading role; rather, Pearl herself had taken over that role, and she felt good being the star of her own life.
“Next, I am going to dab concealer under your eyes and blend it into your skin with my fingertips. This will brighten your face and draw attention to your lovely blue eyes.” Katherine was thoroughly enjoying giving Pearl a makeover. At Bella’s, Katherine puts makeup on ladies all day, but it is different with Pearl. Pearl is her best friend, and she wants her to look spectacular tonight.
“Now, I am going to put on your foundation. I brought several shades to make sure I pick the one that matches your skin tone the best. I am going to use a makeup sponge to cover your entire face and neck with a small amount of the foundation. Don’t worry. It is light coverage – everyone will still be able to see those wonderful freckles of yours,” Katherine said good-naturedly.
“Okay, this might feel a little funny. I am going to use a very large powder brush to apply loose powder over your foundation. This will help your foundation last longer and add a little sparkle to your face. It might tickle,” Katherine said as she swept over Pearl’s forehead with the large black makeup brush.
“Good grief, Katherine. This is a lot of work. You haven’t even put any color on my face yet.” Pearl was giving Katherine a hard time; even still, Pearl was having a blast. She already felt pretty - prettier than she ever had before.
“Remember! All I need is your cooperation, not your whining!” Katherine snapped back playfully, using her awful English accent.
“Yes, Miss Sparks. Please forgive me. Continue,” Pearl replied sarcastically.
“Very good then. Now, I am going to use brown eyeshadow on your brows. I will use a small brow brush to softly put the color on in strokes. You have remarkable brows already, but a little more color will make your eyes pop.”
Katherine took her time and used a steady hand in applying the color to Pearl’s brows. Katherine worked meticulously during each step. It was obvious to Pearl that Katherine had been well-trained and that she took great pride in her knowledge of cosmetics.
“Wow, what a difference that made,” Katherine said calmly. “Okay, next I am going to apply eye shadow to your eyelids. I’ll use a dark brown on your upper eyelid, a medium brown on the crease of your eyelid, and a light cream just below your eyebrows. And since we are going out for an evening celebration, I am also going to apply a sandy pink shimmer shade just below the crease.”
“Remember my prostitute story, Katherine,” Pearl chuckled under her breath.
“I know, I know. Believe me, the attention you get tonight will be because you are a drop-dead hottie, not a prostitute. Guys will be getting whiplash looking at you walk by,” Katherine smiled.
“Okay, mascara time. Just good ole’ brown. I am going to apply this to your upper and lower lashes, so stay still and just look up when I tell you.” As Katherine applied the mascara, she couldn’t help but stare into Pearl’s eyes. Seemingly silly, Katherine stared deep into Pearl’s eyes wishing she could transfer some of her vision to Pearl. “Amazing, the eyes are such little parts of the body, yet they provide so much,” Katherine thought to herself. It was difficult for Katherine to get so close to the two things that caused Pearl so much agony: the two things that separated her from everyone else her age.
“Are you getting tired on me, Miss. Sparks?” Pearl asked, sensing that Katherine was lost in thought.
“No, my lady, not at all,” Katherine replied as she jolted herself from the seriousness of her thoughts. “All is well; in fact, I need you to smile. It is now time for the blush. I have selected for you a very nice light rose, just a shade darker than the dusty pink on your eyes. It will look very natural. As you smile, I will apply it to the apples of your cheeks with the brush.”
Pearl smiled as Katherine applied the blush. At every step, Pearl tried to imagine what she looked like. So far, she could only come up with an emotion instead of an image: happiness.
“Now, the lipstick. I have chosen a frosted color for you called Pink Satin. After I apply the lipstick, I will finish off your look with a simple gloss for shimmer.” Katherine finished applying Pearl’s makeup and stepped back. Neither Katherine nor Pearl said a word. Finally, Katherine said slowly, “Pearl, you look angelic.”
“I feel angelic,” Pearl said quietly. “I feel beautiful. I feel happy. I feel like a lady, I feel…” Pearl stopped because she was about to cry.
“Stop it!! Don’t you dare think about crying and ruining your makeup!” Katherine laughed. Katherine too had tears in her eyes. Pearl did look amazing. “You’re going to be the star of the party tonight,” Katherine praised.
“Now, let me fix your hair. I brought my big mama curling iron and all my hair junk.” Katherine plugged in the curling iron and set out hair gel, spray, and bobby pins. While the curling iron heated up, Katherine went through the dresses she had brought for Pearl. Pearl decided upon a dark green wrap dress that came down just below the knee. The color of the dress set off Pearl’s red-toned hair, and the style was flattering to her curvy figure. Pearl topped off the look by slipping into a pair of Katherine’s strappy black heels. Katherine fixed Pearl’s hair in a relaxed updo with side-swept bangs and waved tresses falling down the neckline. To complete the look, Pearl wore her cross necklace and silver hoop earrings.
“I think it is time for your family to see you,” Katherine commented proudly.