The Healing Horse, Ch. 25, Scene 7: Lipstick

image of red lipstick in a tubeThis novel deals with the struggles of growing up with disabilities, but there can be happy times, too, when children make new friends and dance with joy.

(Image courtesy of Jennifer Donley from Portland, United States, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Scene 7: Lipstick

A few minutes later, Kimberly ran back into Karen’s mother’s bedroom. She giggled so hard that she could barely get her words out.

“Guess what I have, girls?”

Karen and Tammy caught the giggles and shouted, “Lipstick!

Kimberly pulled a golden tube out of her jeans pocket. She pulled the cover off and twisted the base until the waxy, cinnamon-colored lipstick rose.

“Who’s first?”

Karen said, “Let Tammy be first, and how about if we play dress-up, too? I’ll get out Mama’s shawls, and we can do each other’s hair. Do you want some music? I can turn on the old Victrola. We can listen to some jazz and blues.”

“That’s a great idea!” Kimberly and Tammy shouted.

Karen hurried to the antique Victrola that stood in the corner. As gently as she could, she slipped a wax disc out of its sleeve and started the music playing. It was Cab Calloway singing “You Gotta Ho-De-Ho.” She and Kimberly danced a few steps. Tammy’s arms and legs moved in time with the tune.

Tammy puckered her lips, and Karen applied the cinnamon lipstick. Kimberly puckered her lips in sympathy with Tammy. Karen put the color onto Kimberly’s mouth, and Kimberly put it onto hers. They pursed their lips like their mothers did to smooth out the lipstick. Tammy watched and did the same.

Karen dashed to Mama’s armoire. The floor of it was over a foot up, so she had to climb into the cupboard, and then stretch her right arm far overhead to reach the clothes. She tugged each shawl off its hanger and draped it around her neck. First came a pink silk shawl, then a black cashmere one, and then a yellow feather boa.

“Which of these do you want, Tammy?” Karen asked, holding up the shawls.

“Oooooh, the yellow one!”

Karen looped the yellow feather boa around Tammy’s neck with the most fashionably elegant result.

“Which one do you want, Kimberly?” she asked.

“I’ll take black, please.”

Kimberly shook the cashmere square until it was flat and then snuggled it around her torso and wrapped the top edge in upon itself so it stayed in place like a bath towel.

“It’s my little black dress, ladies!”

They laughed more.

Karen draped the pink shawl deliciously around her neck and over her shoulder, just like a movie star would when greeting a deluge of admiring fans on the red carpet.

“Do you want to fix each other’s hair, too?” Karen asked.

“That sounds like fun,” Tammy said.

Karen dragged the stool from Mama’s dressing table until it was in front of Tammy’s wheelchair. Kimberly sat down carefully so that she would not disturb her newly made cocktail outfit. She leaned forward so that her waist-length, wavy brunette hair hung forward and within easy reach for Tammy.

Using her strong right hand, Karen unbuckled the strap that held down Tammy’s right arm. Gently, she wrapped Tammy’s fingers and thumb around the handle of the natural bristle brush from Mama’s dressing table. As Kimberly leaned over Tammy’s lap, Karen helped her friend brush Kimberly’s hair. At the same time, Tammy’s left leg muscles mimicked the movements of her right arm. Despite the buckle and strap that held it down, her left leg jerked up and down as her right hand brushed Kimberly’s hair. Her left foot, which was also strapped into place, spasmodically pushed back and forth, without any control. Her spasticity was directly related to her excitement.
Kimberly was caught off-guard with curiosity. She could not understand why Tammy’s leg was extending and contracting at the same time as her hand was, but she was so comfortable with Tammy’s company, that she simply asked her why that was happening.

“Tammy, why is your leg going like that?”

Immediately, Tammy’s limbs relaxed a little, although they continued dancing, slightly, choreographed by her inner life.

Tammy smiled and said, “I can’t control these movements. They’re part of my spasticity. That’s why my feet are buckled in and my arms are strapped down. Otherwise, they’d fly all over the place. When I get excited they move around even more. To me, it’s a normal part of life. I’m used to it.”

Kimberly smiled with relief. She felt a lot more comfortable after asking and knowing. “Okay,” she said. “I understand.”

The girls danced and hummed and sang with the music, as they primped and fussed over each other, brushed each other’s hair, got all the bumps out of their ponytails, and fixed their bangs just right.

“Ohhhhhhh,” Tammy gushed. “I look so pretty! No! So ravishing, just like a princess!”

“Now for the finishing touches,” announced Kimberly, as she danced to the beat of the music. “It’s time for the finishing touches, girls! More lipstick!”

Kimberly added more color to Tammy’s lips, and then to Karen’s. While they were rubbing the lipstick in, Kimberly put hers on.

“Now, we look as stunning as Elizabeth Taylor! Are we going out on the town?”

They screamed with laughter and danced wildly.

Original text ©2022 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

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