She examines my eyebrows, using her fingers with maroon nails to smooth the tiny hairs, pulling the light and magnifying glass closer to see exactly where the line of the arch should be.
I lie on the table, my head on a slight incline, a pillow under my knees. I fold my hands like a person might in a casket and I wonder to myself, will she come to the funeral home and fix my brows and do my hair. But then I remember that my brows and my hair won’t matter because I want to be cremated and then planted with a sturdy tree. If they did matter, I would want Kris to take care of them. I trust her to make me a good looking dead person.
She drips the hot wax under the full line of my right eyebrow. I know what is next but the stripping off of the wax makes me flinch. The left eyebrow is next, the hot wax and the same flinching. Then she starts plucking. Searching and plucking, slowly sometimes, then quick like pulling a row of feathers from a Thanksgiving turkey. She is exact, thorough, using the magnifying glass to find every tiny hair growing someplace wrong. It goes on long enough that I want to tell her, it’s alright, you’ve done enough. But I know better. My face is in her hands.
She wipes witch hazel on my plucked brows. She smooths each one once, twice, a dozen times until the motion is hypnotic. I wish she would wipe witch hazel across my eyebrows forever. And then she is done. I get up from the table and look in the mirror. My eyebrows, blond and grey, now look darker, defined. I feel like my mother, with her tiny perfect winglike brows. Then I feel like Joan Crawford, overdone and a little threatening. I ask Kris why my eyebrows seem so dark. She says it’s a mystery.
After she cuts my hair, she studies my brows. I wonder if she’s missed something and we will need to go back to the hot wax pot. She tells me that the skin around my brows is still pink and asks if I want her to use some shadow. I nod because I always do. She has known best for a long time so i don’t quibble.
She leaves for several minutes and returns with several brushes and small pots. She starts on the area under my brows, brushing first one powder and then another to mask the trail of the hot wax. I’m fine with it though I am used to being plain. The artistry of making up eyes and brows escapes me like many things that other women seem to know. I still wear eye shadow like it was 1976. But it looks better, I agree, so I smile.
She finds a smaller pot and a thin brush like a painter would use to add earrings to the Mona Lisa and she traces my brows in a light brown, filling them in from the thickest part and fading into a slight feather that goes nearly to my temple. They are eyebrows now like a serious person would wear. I have no business wearing these eyebrows but I nod and smile at her because she has always been so right. Her long fingers lifts the hair away from my brows, she spritzes hair spray on my arranged hair and her happiness with herself echoes around the room. She is an artist. I am the painting.
I love her for years of repair and restoration. I tell her things and, sometimes, she puts down her comb and scissors and tells me things, too. I trust her with my face and many other things, too, many failures, many triumphs, many problems, many plans. But when I get in my car, I reach in my purse for tissues and I wipe my brows hard. I look in the rear view mirror and I scrub. They’re so dark, I think. I can’t go anywhere like this.
The color is stubborn. I drive away, feeling as in a masquerade. I am not a person who should have such significant eyebrows. I stop at a red light and look in the mirror again. Maybe I am such a person, I think. Maybe that’s what she is telling me. I should trust her. She’s never led me wrong.
I can be arched if I want to be.