Bonnie ran her fingers through her fully straightened hair. Flatter, longer, darker. It made her face seem bigger. Fatter…she pinched her cheeks, then the skin around her ribs, then the ring of fat pushed up by her tight jeans. Freshman fifteen? Not…already, right?
She got so close to the mirror her nose touched it, and changed her focus to her face. Skin so light you could see through it, so starchy white her teeth looked yellow. Blackheads across her nose and chin, a sizable red spot above her right eye. The way her mouth drooped, the closeness of her eyes, the bushiness of her eyebrows. She prodded and stretched her skin, her hair. She coated her face in moisturizer. She sat, exhausted and disgusted.
She could have at least fixed her eyebrows, if she had remembered to pack tweezers.
Sam wouldn’t be home for awhile yet, probably. Bonnie glanced at the door, then tip toed to Sam’s side of the room with a dancer’s lightness and began poking around in Sam’s make up. There wasn’t a lot, it was mostly for her hair, which was short, jet black, and startlingly obedient compared to Bonnie’s stubborn locks. Tweezers, tweezers…Sam had to have tweezers, her eyebrows were always perfect.
The door handle clicked, and Bonnie leapt across the room to her side, searching frantically for something to do. She picked up the lotion and squirted some in her hand.
“Hey,” said Sam, in her uniform for the museum where she had been working since halfway through high school. It was a much longer commute now, but as an art history major it seemed silly to quit. She looked exhausted but beautiful all the same, much like how she always looked.
Bonnie said hi, watching Sam with stiff curiosity. They hadn’t had time to bond much since move in about two weeks ago, with Sam working all the time and Bonnie trying to keep herself occupied, but now here they were together, both awake at a reasonable hour, though it was dark.
Sam fell onto the bed face down and groaned into the pillow.
“You’ll never believe what just happened,” Sam said, reaching into the food drawer and pulling out a jar of Nutella and a spoon. “Seriously, I barely believe it happened.”
Bonnie finished putting on the second layer of moisturizer and hopped into her bed, opposite Sam. Sam was very much the opposite of Bonnie in appearance: very dark skin, spotless complexion, short hair, an hourglass figure that made Bonnie’s thickening boyish body seem even uglier.
“I had to pick up bagpipes for the museum—which is crazy enough,” Sam began, eating the Nutella like ice cream. “But whatever. So I’m on my way, I miss the bus, I’m pissed. And this old guy sits next to me, and just starts like, swear to God, playing my bagpipes!”
Bonnie’s face flushed. There’s no way that happened…had Sam seen her dancing? Did the RA from the floor below tell Sam that Bonnie was being disruptive? Bonnie laughed with Sam, decided to play it by ear. Maybe, just maybe, this ridiculous and coincidental story happened to be true.
“Hey, mind if I borrow your tweezers?” Bonnie asked after listening to Sam’s story.
“Oh, sure.” Sam dug around in the makeup and hair products and produced a black set of tweezers. “You can just use them if you want, you don’t have to ask about tweezers. Tweezers should be a fundamental right, in my opinion.”
“Sure,” Bonnie said. “Thanks.”
She rose the tweezers to the top of her eyebrow.
“Whoa! Hey,” Sam said, bounding across the room. “Mind if I help you out?”
“Not at all.”
Sam taught Bonnie plucking techniques, how to only pluck from the bottom unless in a dire emergency, how to find the arch angle by laying a pencil across your nose, how to tell where the borw should begin and end based on the size of one’s eyes.
“There you go!” Sam said as Bonnie finished her right side. Half pretty, Bonnie thought. Amazing what a difference those little hairs could make. “Hey, I like your hair like this. It must have taken awhile, no?”
“Yeah, quite awhile.” Bonnie sighed. “I wish I had nice, natural hair like you do.”
“You do,” Sam said, then quickly, “Hey, um, can I talk to you about something?”
“I kinda go by ‘they,’” Sam said, mixing around the Nutella with the spoon. “Not ‘her.’ If like, that’s okay I’d rather you call me by ‘they.’”
“’They,’” Bonnie repeated. “Sure, Sam, no problem. Why didn’t you tell me earlier?”
Sam shrugged, then reached into their bag and pulled out a jar of Nutella. “Wanna be a classic college kid with me?”
Bonnie smiled, but her hand went to her side, grabbing at her skin.
“Oh, shut up, Skinny,” Sam said, smiling. They jumped up and grabbed a spoon out of their top drawer, tossing it at Bonnie. “Come on, let’s bond.” Sam patted their bed, and Bonnie sat beside them.
Bonnie scooped the Nutella into her mouth. Delicious, sugary, fattening…oh well. She needed a friend more than a pretty body. They talked for hours, until the Nutella jar was empty and their bellies were full. They talked and talked, and soon Bonnie began to loosen up.
“I tell you what,” Sam said. “You ought to start dancing again if you miss it so much.”
“Well. If I agree to dance again, will you agree to take that drawing class next semester?”
“That’s barely fair! That’s a lot of money for a drawing class.”
“But you want to, right?”
Sam twisted their mouth up, scratched their chin. “You got it, Bon. I’ll draw, you dance.”
“Deal.” They clicked their spoons together.