“Hi, I’m Mary, so glad we could meet. I’m going to make you look beautiful today!”
This is the line I heard when I finally became somewhat coherent.
After that, I noticed that I couldn’t see.
My eyelids were shut, and I couldn’t find the strength to open them.
Next, I noticed I couldn’t move my body. I felt like a lump of sandbags that had been thrown to the bottom of the ocean.
“The makeover I’m going to give you is for one of the biggest days of your life.”
This lady had a country twang to her voice. Did she realize that I couldn’t move? Did she realize? That I was alive? She was talking to me after all, she must have had some sort of inclination that I could hear what she was saying.
“When new product comes in, we will go through all the basic steps of beautifying! Isn’t that exciting? I’ll shampoo your hair, wash and moisturize your face for the perfect makeup application, and even play some music in the background. Some high-quality pampering time is the least I can do for the beating you went through.”
I tried to move my mouth and create some sort of sound, but the more I tried, the more I realized the crisis I was in. I was locked inside my body. The only thing I could control were my thoughts.
The lady continued to ramble on in her country twang.
“I would say that my clients appreciate what I do for them, not just any mortician could do what I do. Some say it is a true talent, but I think it’s just a matter of technique. Technique really does make all the difference.”
Mortician. Did I hear that correctly?! Why would I be with a mortician right now? My heart began to beat against my stilled body. Have I died? I was only 21 years old, too young to die.
This isn’t right. I can’t be dead. I can hear everything happening around me.
“Oh honey, you are gorgeous. I knew as soon as I saw you, you’d be a hit. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on you! Don’t get me started on your brown curly hair – it’s one of my favorites to work with.”
A squirting sound filled my ears followed by a few thuds, then another squirt. A cold, substance touched my scalp followed by a massaging of two hands on each side of my skull.
“Ok, honey. I’m washing your hair and then we are going to put a deep moisturizer on your locks, then I’ll spritz you with an oil to make your hair shiny after we are done blow drying.”
I can feel a tingling sensation in my lips. It almost feels like the blood is running back to them, and they are fizzling back to life; nerves and muscles awakening.
“I’m going to do all I can for you since you are only with me for a short amount of time.”
The lady with the country twang continued to explain every step of the process to me. She keeps calling this my pampering time.
It scares me that she says we are only going to be together for a short amount of time. Where will I be taken to after this? Do they think I’m dead? Am I going to be buried alive?
I tried to contract and flex my muscles, but I couldn’t make the connection between the brain and body. All I could do was lay on the table and listen to her words fill my head.
“Not all my clients are easy, like you. No. Some require extreme makeovers, but that is all part of the job. That is why I get paid well for what I do. I’m providing an important service, after all.”
What had happened to me…to put me in a situation like this?
“Now for my favorite part, the makeup!”
The clinking and shuffling of little, fat, thick, and thin makeup brushes tickled my ears as she lined her trey with each tool. The sound of her mulling through her color palette would have almost put me in a trance if I weren’t scared shitless.
“Blush is my personal favorite, I always want my product to leave my studio looking alive as possible.”
The bristles of her brush danced across my skin as the blush was carefully colored onto my cheekbones.
“Oh! This color is just to die for! You look like you just saw your crush walk into the room. I’m digging it. So, gorgeous, honey!”
I could feel the heat of the lamps above my face, creating microscopic sweat beads as my fleshed warmed up under the bulbs.
“Now, we just need to add the final perfect pout. Now, the client has requested the color red, so give me a second as I dig through the options.”
What did she mean by client?? Was she referring to my family? Did my family think I was dead? Was this mortician preparing me for my funeral?
“Should we do cherry red, cranberry red, or burnt red? Oh, who am I kidding? It’s obvious that the color should be cranberry red with your complexion.”
The sensation was becoming stronger in my lips. I tried to twitch them again, and to my surprise, my mouth slightly opened.
“Ok honey, we are going to move onto the spray tan now, and then we are going to finish up with your manicure. Now for the tan, we have a couple of different options for your base color, but I’m thinking we should go with this pinky hue since you are so fair. Just to liven you up a bit, you know?”
The sensation began to run through my toes and fingertips. Would I eventually be able to move those as well? I couldn’t wait for my body to wake up, but what would happen to me if I couldn’t awaken myself in time?
I had to hurry.
She rubbed the primer on my skin and started spraying away. The scent of coconuts and pineapples filled my nose. I tried to think of my happy place on the beach as I played with the tingling sensation in my fingertips. First the nerves and then the muscles; come on, make the connection.
I could feel the swatches of color brush against my nails, and I waited to try and move my fingers.
“ALL DONE, HONEY! My gosh, you are a little firecracker. You’re going to be ‘oohed and ahhed’ over when everyone sees you today.”
The sensation was like fire through my fingers now. I could feel my pinky starting to twitch.
“Ok, honey. I’m going to give you the rundown of how this evening will go. First, your viewing will be held up on a stage.”
A viewing! Ok, so this must be my funeral. If I will have people coming up to see me, perhaps someone will notice me moving. I can be saved from this.
“Each man will come up and view you. After the auction is over, you will go back with the highest bidder. See, it’s so easy, and remember – you look beautiful!”
Wait. Auction?! Bidder?! Men looking at me?!
A screech and a whoosh filled my ears as I heard something being wheeled towards me. Then the unlatching of something filled my ears, and before I realized what was happening, my body was being hoisted from the table and laid inside whatever bedlike box I was being put in.
Four hands were on me now. This lady had someone helping her. My limp body was gently laid on soft satin cushions. A pair of hands pulled on the dress I was wearing, flattening and perfecting my outfit. Finally, my left arm was placed over my right, and the lid was shut and latched. I could hear the two people talking outside the exterior of the box I was in.
“You did a good job, Mary. She looks perfect for her viewing.”
“Thanks, Bow. She’s going to be a hot and fast sale.”
“Seriously, Mary. It takes a lot of work to make a dead body look somewhat lively, at least to get through a few rounds with the client. What’s your secret?”
“Not all of my products are dead to begin with, Bow. Paralytic agents create the same effect as a dead body.”
“Ha! Wait…but the client thinks…”
“I know, I know…I’m deceiving the buyer, but product would run low if I had to wait for a decent looking dead body every time we do this.”
“What do you think the client will do when the paralytic finally wears off of her?”
“It’s not like they are going to go to the police. That would be quite foolish.”
“You’re bad, Mary.”
“No, Bow. Our clients are bad. I’m just providing a service.”
The conversation ended, and my box was being wheeled away. We entered a room, and the chatter of testosterone filled voices echoed through the room.
My eyelids were still shut, but that familiar tingling sensation started to radiate through them.
I heard the unlatching of my box, then a ray of light hit the back of my eyelids. I was on display.
A few of the men gasped. I heard shuffling of paper, which I’m guessing was money. (You can’t bring a credit card to an auction like this.)
I could feel the tingling sensations running up my arms and legs. I could almost fully bend my big toe.
Then, I heard the words that made a cold sweat break down my back.
“Brown, curly haired girl! Died young, and is oh so beautiful! Her body is still very well intact. I swear you’ll be able to feel some warmth left! $100,000 going once, going twice! SOLD!”