When Kellie pats the stool and asks me to pop up, I give her my I ain’t popped anywhere in over three decades and sure as hell ain’t about to be popping now look. It’s a bad start. Is there any other way to start a free pamper session I haven’t signed up for and don’t want? But the plothering rain has delivered me through this door – so this is my fate.
I hoist my backside, cheek-by-easy-does-it-cheek, onto the stool. Kellie tells me I can call her ‘Kell’.
‘Look, Kell, I don’t want foundation or plumper or primer, or whatever. Just a wee sample – ‘
Kell stops me with her open palm. Her large blue lids close with the solemnity of purpose reserved for clerics offering communion.
‘Décolletage,’ she whispers, in a French accent that curls from her mouth like incense from a swinging thurible.
‘De- what?’ Why are we both whispering?
She presses her palm onto my chest. ‘It’s natural.’
‘I would hope it all is.’
‘Crepey.’ She’s still whispering.
‘What the hell is crepey?’ I ask. A woman cradling an Intense Facial Repair Kit stops to listen. She needs to hear this. This kind of information concerns us all. ‘Like a crepe crepe, covered in Nutella and banana, crepey?’
Kell twists a mirror and, for the first time, I see my chest as others see it. My God. The horror, the horror.
‘Crepey as in crepe paper,’ she says.
‘You know that thin, super-crinkled paper you make pom-poms with at primary school?’ says the other customer.
‘I know what crepe paper is. Thank you.’ I say. I look in the mirror; see only pom poms fashioned from human flesh, swinging from cheerleader batons.
‘…flawless, poreless…’ Kell cantillates, as customer zero gets down on her knees, and together they start chanting: ‘Brow whiz, brow freeze, power peptide serum!’
‘Give me the Age Reversing All-In-One Concentrate,’ I scream, and she hurdles the counter for a pot and box-kicks it into my hands.
‘I’ll take one too,’ screams the other customer.
We don’t wait to leave the shop. We peel off our tops and, with no time for clasps, rip off each other’s bras and, smearing ourselves with the sacred fervour that only the newly-saved understand, we cast out our wrinkles and we are reborn.
Kathryn Aldridge-Morris writes flash fiction and creative non-fiction. She has a closet full of expensive make-up samples she doesn’t know what to with. She tweets @kazbarwrites