One point five hours

What can happen in one point five hours?

mi esposa es bonita

I type into the black box and click the green button. About forty minutes have gone by, and now my hair is all pinned up.

“Your skin is quite sensitive,” Susan comments, before dipping her middle finger into a circular beige paste and patting it over my scars.

Excellent! Practice complete. The bold yellow text flashes once before me as I click the blue button. My mom looks at me and opens her hand towards me.

I close the Duolingo app and drop my phone into her palm.

“Look down,” Susan directs me, as a pointed spear nears my eyes. I take a deep breath, and the moment passes, with some mild tears. I look up and see a stranger in the mirror. For a quick second, I think about her daughter whom I used to tutor, her happy bright eyes welcoming me, her long lashes blinking with joy as she prepared a snack for me before our English lessons.

The makeup artist smiles at me before taking out some fake eyelash glue.

A few minutes later, footsteps echo the hallway.

“Whoa, you look like a different person.” My sisters stare at me with little smirks on their faces. I envision myself walking down the aisle, everything in a blur, my eyelids using every bit of their strength to pretend that the falsies are not burning up my eyes.

There is a certain power and allure emanating from the mirror before me.

Susan turns to my mom as her fingers deftly mix the pinks and oranges together on my lips. “You should also go a salon and get your hair and makeup done. It’s a sign of showing respect.”

At this, my mom humbly smiles, “No need.”

I’ve always wondered how I would actually look with make-up, but never would be satisfied with the mobile apps’ renditions, or my private experiments. It doesn’t feel like me. And I do not feel I look better with it–in fact, I always think I looked worse. But, in truth, at the end of the day, I just do not have the time and patience to really perfect the art of makeup that millions of others out there have put in.

Despite all that, when I look into the mirror now, after one point five hours, I see myself in full bridal hair and makeup and cannot help but feel pleasantly uncertain. Is this my ideal makeup? Is this too much?

I pull out my phone and position it to take a selfie, and catch my breath. I…sort of look…beautiful?? It’s as if there is a filter on my face. A filter that makes all sorts of angles look good, that makes me look happy and flawless.

Is this the power of makeup?

Armed with an uncertain amount of confidence and heightened awareness of a new face, I act normal as I speed home, eat lunch, drive to church, and contain myself in an air-conditioned room with my sisters, waiting to be called, waiting to walk down an aisle in stable block heels, while constantly tripping over the lace ivory fabric of my dress and trying to be in sync with my 爸爸 next to me. Compliments wash over me like a still, warm gust of air…

You look gorgeous. We need to take a picture. Muy bonito!

When the ceremony is over, he-who-I-am-to-have-and-to-hold-till-death-do-us-part, turns to me, and says, Who is this person?”

I grin at him, “I don’t know.”

“So pretty…” As he whispers this into my ears, I squeeze his hands. “Are those real eyelashes?”

I hold in my laugh and say, “No, they’re fake.”

He stares seriously and playfully into my eyes, “You look like someone I cannot mess with.”

Then, it hit me. In one point five hours, I seem to have underwent a temporary transformation. Sure, it feels good to feel pretty. But to be someone that no one wants to mess with, that feels pretty empowering.

Now, when I wipe off the makeup, will empowerment linger?

Or dissolve into an unforeseeable future?

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