By Shawna Stimple
Charlie Ashe loved the snow. The entire Ashe family did. Every winter, they headed for their rental cabin in the Appalachian mountains, to spend a weekend skiing, and enjoying the great outdoors. This year they booked their cabin from February 13th through the 15th.
Charlie sat shotgun, while his sister Lucy drove down the winding mountain road. It was amazing how two siblings could be so different, but so close. Lucy was the picture of a beautiful girly girl. She had blonde hair, blue eyes, and a gorgeous smile. She was wearing a pink, knee length, long sleeved, wool, turtleneck dress. Her legs were encased in a pair of white tights, and her feet were warmly laced into a pair of pink knee high boots with one inch heels. She wore a white knit, waist length cape over her shoulders, with three buttons running down the front, and she sported a pink headband with a little white bow on the side, in her blonde locks.
By contrast, Charlie was wearing a pair of torn up skinny jeans, a grungy band t-shirt, and a pair of Chuck Taylors. His dyed black hair, hung greasily in his face, while he shivered under the paper thin hoodie he’d brought. “Why does the heat in your car suck so bad?” he asked through chattering teeth.
“Because I bought it myself.” she answered smugly. “That’s why I get to drive it here, and use it on the trip. That’s also why you get to head up a little early instead of having to wait for Mom and Dad to get off work.”
“Whatever. I’m just glad we’re almost there. I’m freezing.”
“Patience little brother. You’ll be sitting by a fire soon enough.”
The little car pulled into the driveway of the rental cabin around lunchtime. The siblings smiles of relief were quickly replaced by frowns as they noticed missing front door. It seemed to have been replaced by a fallen tree, surrounded by a mound of snow.
“Well that figures.” Charlie said, with defeat.
“I’ll call Mom and Dad, and see what we should do. Go see if you can find another way in.”
Charlie walked around to the back of the house, while Lucy made her phone call. After 10 minutes of assuring her parents that they were alright, she finally got them to calm down, and try to fix their problem. Her Mom then handed her some more bad news, when she told them they wouldn’t be down till the next day, because of some goings on at her dad’s office. Just as she hung up the phone, she noticed a dripping wet Charlie, making his way to the car.
“Oh my god! What happened to you?” she screamed, as she hurried her brother into the passenger seat.
Charlie placed his shaking hands on the air vents, gladly taking in the little warmth they could provide. “I tried climbing in window, but when I saw it was locked I jumped down. I landed on a frozen puddle, but the ice broke, and I got soaked.”
“We have to get you into some warm clothes or you’re going to get hypothermia. I think I have an extra outfit in the back. I wish our we‘d just gone ahead and brought our suitcases. Mom and dad should have them tomorrow.”
She reached into the back seat, and retrieved a white bra and panty set, a pair of tight black jeans, and a pink ruffled spaghetti strapped top, along with a pair of pink tennis shoes, and a white pea coat.
“I guess I have no choice then.” he said, reaching for the dry clothes.
“You’re not going to like this.” Lucy said, unbuttoning her cape.
“What am I not going to like?”
“There is no way you’re fitting into these jeans. Your butt is bigger than mine. I’ll wear these, and you’re going to have to wear my dress, and tights.”
“No fucking way!”
“Fine. I’ll drive the 10 snowy miles into town, and you can just be naked, shivering.”
Seeing no other way Charlie resigned himself to his fate. “Alright. Give me the dress.”
With a lot of awkward maneuvering The siblings managed to remove Charlie’s clothes, transfer Lucy’s outfit to him, and dress Lucy in her extra clothing. When all was said and done, Charlie felt ridiculous, but also warmer than the drive up. It seemed that with his returning warmth, he also gained the ability to complain.
“I don’t see why I had to wear the bra too.”
“When we get into town I assumed you wouldn’t want to look out of place. That cape wouldn’t look right without two little bumps sticking out, would it?
“I guess it wouldn’t, but what about my face?”
“Don’t flatter yourself. You’re not dripping with masculinity yet. With a little makeup, you might even be as pretty as me.”
“Ouch. You really know how to kick a guy when he’s down.”
“Don’t worry. Pretty boys grow into handsome men. Dad was pretty.”
“I’m going to tell him you said that.”
An hour later they arrived at the rental company’s office. Right before she got out of the car Lucy reached into her hair, and pulled out her headband. She slid it into Charlie’s hair, saying, “It goes with the outfit. Wouldn’t want anyone thinking you weren’t put together, do you?”
“Just hurry up. I want to get out of this as quickly as possible. I don’t understand how you put up with this prissy shit.”
As Lucy walked to the door she was surprised to see it fly open before she could reach the knob. A forty something, big haired woman with huge glasses stood in the doorway. The woman suddenly spoke with a thick southern drawl, “You must be Lucy. I just got off the phone with your parents. Is that Charlie? Don’t let her wait in the car. It’s freezing out here.” The woman waved her hand at Charlie to come inside. He sat keeping his head down, until he realized she wasn’t going to stop. He reluctantly stepped out of the car and followed her inside.
“You girls must be freezing. Would you like a cup of hot chocolate?” the woman asked, reaching for a thermos at her desk.
“That would be lovely. Thank you so much.” Lucy replied.
“Anyway, my name is Edna. I’ve just spoken with your parents, and they’ve apprised me of the situation at the cabin. Usually we have a team check on every property before the guest arrive, but somehow y’all fell through the cracks. I’ve got a few gentlemen heading that way to clear the door. They should have it all cleaned up around sundown.”
“Thank you very much. I’m sure it will be wonderful.” Lucy said.
Edna continued, “Well we take pride in our hospitality here. That’s why I can’t let it stand that y’all have been stuck out in the cold. I’m ashamed that everything hasn’t been perfect. That’s why I’m going to book the two of you, a day at the local salon. My treat.”
“That really won’t be necessary ma’am. We’ll look after ourselves for a few hours.” Lucy said, gazing at her brother, nervously clutching the hem of his dress.
“No, I insist. I’ll drive you over myself, and afterwards, I’ll take ya’ll out to a nice dinner.”
“If you insist.” Lucy said, mouthing sorry to Charlie.
“What do you say Charlie? You don’t talk much do you sweetheart?” Edna asked, eyeing the pink clad boy.
“I guess so ma’am.” he nearly whispered.
Lucy jumped in, “Charlie’s been a bit of a shy tomboy ma’am. She’s just recently started to come out of her shell.”
Edna’s smile grew wider. “Oh honey. There’s nothing like a good southern makeover to make a girl feel like the belle of the ball. Come on girls. Get your purses. I’m parked out back.”
At Lucy’s car, Charlie was feverishly trying to negotiate his way out of going. He was dumbfounded when Lucy handed him a pink handbag with a white satin ribbon sewn around the top tied in a huge bow just beneath the handle.
“This woman is persistent Charlie. Just go with it for now, and we’ll be at the cabin in a few hours. Tomorrow you’ll be skiing, and it’ll be like this never happened.”
The drive the beauty parlor was quiet, save the Dolly Parton music blaring from the speakers. Charlie sat quietly in the back, considering jumping from the moving vehicle, but before he found the courage, they pulled into the parking lot.
It was an old fashioned parlor, with a row of dryers on one side, a row of chairs on the other, and a row of sinks in the back. Everything was done up in pastel pinks, and blues. At the front, there was a desk, with an older blonde woman, and a much younger blonde girl, both dressed in matching pink smocks.
“Well howdy Edna.” the older woman said. “You’re not due back here for another week. What brings ya’ll over this way?”
Edna walked over, and gave the woman a big hug. “Hey Elsie. These two lovely young ladies have some time that needs killin’, and I figured they could use a little pampering.”
“Hello girls. What kind of pampering will they be needing?”
“The works. Spare no expense. It’s my fault that they’re stuck here waiting, so whatever they want. It’s on me. This is Lucy, and Charlene Ashe. Treat ‘em well.
The siblings waved a quiet hello. Elsie then introduced the younger girl. “This is my daughter Heather.”
“How ya’ll doin‘?” gushed the big haired blonde, sweetly.
Elsie continued, “Why don’t ya’ll come on back? You can pick ‘em up in an hour Edna. They’re in good hands.”
“Bye girls. Can’t wait to see your new dos.” Edna said, walking out the door.
Lucy followed Elsie to her chair, while Charlie stood by unsure of what to do. Heather, sensing some apprehension, took Charlie by the hand, and walked him over to her chair. “I love your outfit.” she spurted out. “It’s so…put together. Where did you get it?”
“It’s actually my sisters. She’s letting me borrow it.” Charlie mumbled, looking at the floor. “I usually don’t dress this flashy.” he said honestly.
“Well flashy is a good look for you. Big is beautiful, here in the south, and you are doin’ it big honey.”
Heather helped Charlie remove the cape, and hung it up. She then sat him down in her chair, and tied her pink apron around his neck. “Do you trust me?” she asked.
“I guess so. Why?”
“I’ve got something in mind. Just sit still, and when I’m finished with you, you won’t have any reason to be shy anymore.”
Charlie wanted to run out of the shop immediately, but he didn’t know where he’d go. If he took off, he’d be miles away from anyone he knew, wearing a pink dress, and he’d be leaving his sister behind to explain away his actions. He felt trapped.
Heather removed the pink headband, and started running a brush though his hair. “You’re a natural blonde. I see your roots showing through. Why would you wanna cover it up with this junk. You’re way too pretty, honey.”
With her hand on her chin, she stared at his head inquisitively. Suddenly, it looked as though a light bulb had gone off. She started mixing a thick smelly paste at her station. When she was done, she took a flat brush, and started spreading the paste in his hair. After a few minutes, she had every bit of his hair coated. She then wrapped his head in plastic wrap. As he looked in the mirror, he thought he looked like something that belonged in a fridge.
Next she started spreading a sticky substance across his eyebrows, and covered them with a strip of paper. When she suddenly yanked them off, he was shocked to see that most of his eyebrow hair went with them. He winced a little while she rubbed a soothing lotion over them.
After that, she spread a thick green mud mask over his face, and walked him over to the dryer. She gave him a magazine to read, and he fingered through it, knowing full well he was going to find out how much work it took to look that good.
Twenty minutes later the timer went off, and she led him over to the sink to wash out. She scrubbed the mask from his face, and he immediately noticed how soft his face was. She then wrapped a towel around his head turban style, and walked him back over to her chair. She had a sheet over the mirror to “not spoil the surprise” as she put it.
Heather removed the towel, and with comb and scissors in hand, began snipping away. After what seemed like eternity, she clipped his hair high on the back of his head, and he could have swore he felt her sewing something into his hair. She repeated this process a few times, before she seemed satisfied with her work.
Next he felt her rolling his hair in dozens of curlers. Charlie was amazed at how heavy his head felt. If he wasn’t careful his head would fall over with the weight of the rollers. When she finished, it was twenty minutes under the dryer again.
When she pronounced his hair dry she led him back over to her chair. On the counter was a makeup box, that looked like it could be used to transport bodies. With surgical precision, she shaded, and lined his eyes. She brushed powders, and creams all over his face. With a few strokes of a mascara wand, Heather smiled at a job well done.
She took down his hair a roller at a time, and with each one removed, he could feel his hair spring back into place. She brushed, combed, teased, and tweaked until she was perfectly satisfied that not a hair was out of place. She worked the pink bowed headband back into his new style, and finished him off with a thick coating of hairspray.
“Something’s missing.” Heather said, more to herself than to Charlie. “I know.” She reached for a little gun, and without warning felt a pop in his ear. He then felt something slide into the newly created hole, and then the process was repeated on the other side.
The last thing she did was coat his lips in something, and then paint over that with a shiny substance. Placing the cap back on the tube, she turned and grabbed the sheet, and as she pulled in from the mirror, she let out “Walla!”
Charlie couldn’t believe what he was seeing. His hair was now back to it’s usual blonde color, but was much brighter than before. Somehow it’d grown to the middle of his back. It was styled high on the back of his head, and well in soft curls all the way down. The headband sat behind side swept bangs. His hair was huge.
As he examined the face of the girl in the mirror, he couldn’t help but think that he would have been lucky to get a date with such a beauty. Her eyes sparkled beneath the soft blue eye shadow, and her lashes were thick and long. Any boy would have been a slave to their flutter. Her cheeks glowed with a rosy pink, and her lips matched. He’d been told his lips were huge before, but now they looked so plump, and kissable. He looked at the mole that sat just above the corner of his lip. His mother had called it a beauty mark, and now he could see why. As he touched his fingers to his hair, he noticed the two large pink disc dangling from his earlobes. He couldn’t find any words.
“You don’t like it?” Heather asked.
Startled by her voice, Charlie turned and said, “No…I do. It’s just so…big. I’ve never had it like this before. It really is beautiful.”
“Well you’re in the south honey, and big is beautiful here. I thought the extensions were a nice touch.”
“Oh. That’s how it got longer.”
“You really don’t go to the salon much, do you?”
At the front of the shop, Edna, and Lucy were waiting. Lucy’s bangs had been cut, so that they now sat at about eyebrow level. Her hair was pilled high on her head, with curls and waves spilling out the back. Her crown had been teased to high heaven, as Elsie had put it.
“Oh my god!” said Lucy, staring at her feminized brother. “You’re so pretty. Your hair is so…big.”
“Your’s too sis” replied Charlie.
“When in Rome.” Lucy giggled.
At the restaurant Edna had the siblings rolling on the ground laughing, at the stories she told about her adventures, with the local townsfolk. She really was a sweet woman, and kind to boot. Charlie could tell that she took pride in helping a young awkward girl come out of her shell a little, and he was happy that he could do that. He just hoped that all of this could be undone as quickly as it had been done. On the way back to the car, the three stopped at a photo booth, and had their picture taken. They each kept one of the prints to remember their encounter.
It was dark when they pulled into the driveway of the cabin. Out in the yard was a pile of freshly sawed logs, and they could see that the source of their troubles was now gone. Unfortunately, they also noticed the brown sedan at the end of the drive way.
“Oh my god. They’re here.” Charlie said, with a terrified look on his face.
“They weren’t supposed to come till tomorrow. They’re going to freak.” Lucy said, sharing Charlie’s sense of dread.
Edna noticed the fear in their eyes. “Girls, don’t worry. I’m sure they’ll be alright. It’s just a little makeup and hairspray. You look beautiful Charlie. I doubt your mother will complain about that. I’ll walk you in. If she needs to get mad at anyone, she can get mad at me.”
Edna walked to the cabin, with Charlie, and Lucy slowly following behind. She knocked on the door as she opened it, and yelled hello down the hall. As they walked into the living room they noticed their mother, sitting by the fireplace, reading a book.
“Hi there.” Edna said, startling the woman. “I’m Edna, from the rental company. I’m terribly sorry for the mishap earlier today. I had a wonderful time with your girls though.”
“My girls?” Mrs. Ashe said, a little confused.
“Yeah. When Charlie and Lucy showed up shivering on my doorstep, I felt so bad I took them out to make up for it. They got makeovers. Charlie is worried that it was too extreme, but I told them you’d understand. A girl’s only a teenager once, you know. Is you’re husband around? I’d like to say hello, and apologize for the mishap.”
“He’s staying home. He got overloaded with work and couldn’t make it. I went ahead and came out to make sure the children were okay.” Mrs. Ashe stood up, and looked behind Edna, to see her two children. “Oh my god Charlie!”
Edna smiled, and said, “I know. She’s beautiful isn’t she. Quite the little butterfly.”
“Yes she is. Hi…Her hair is so…big.”
“A little local flavor. Anyhow. I’ve had such a good time with them tonight, that I’d like to invite them to the Valentines dance tomorrow. I’m chaperoning, and I think they’d have a wonderful time. Would you mind terribly if they came?”
Mrs. Ashe‘s answer surprised the siblings. “I’m sure they’d love to. I don’t have a problem with it.”
“Great. I’ll pick them up around seven. See you tomorrow.”
As Mrs. Ashe closed the door behind Edna, she walked back into the living room, to face her children. She was so flustered she could only manage to squeeze out two words. “Explain. Now!”
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