Fiction Friday: Makeover


Was that her?

The image reflected in the window of a real estate office arrested Alison’s forward motion abruptly, and two young honeymooners ploughed right into her, knocking her leather attaché case out of her hand. “Oh, I’m so sorry,” she said as papers flew everywhere in the hot wind.

The boy smiled. “Oh, that’s all right.” He and his companion bent and swept the pages together.

“Uh-oh!” The girl darted after a stray sheet flicking hither and yon on the vagaries of a hot, dry wind, swatting at it midair until at last she managed to pounce upon it just before it plastered itself to the front of a delivery truck. She swept her hair out of her face as she returned. “I’m afraid they may be out of order, but at least we didn’t lose any.”

“Thank you,” Alison said.

“Don’t mention it.”

Alison watched them walk on, entranced by the easy companionship, the way their hands brushed, then entwined unconsciously. Had she and Carlo ever looked like that?

She glanced again at the reflection in the window. In the hot July sunlight, an old lady stared back at her.

Well, perhaps that was overstating it a bit. Still, her face had sagged beneath the burden of grief and alienation, and in the glare of the hot noonday sun her ponytail hung stringy and mousy, peppered with gray. In her housecleaning clothes, she looked like a worn-out new mother. Only older.

How long had she been sliding into self-neglect without realizing it? Months? Years? Decades? So much of her identity had been tied up in Jeremy, and now that he was gone, she wondered if all this time she’d been getting by on her son’s reflected glory. Time was, she would never have left the house in her cleaning clothes.

She couldn’t stand by Carlo’s side tonight, not looking like this. Men had it so much easier. A man ages, and he becomes distinguished. A woman ages, and she becomes invisible.

Debra glanced up when she walked into the salon. “Well, hello there, Alison! What can I do for you today?”

“Do you have time for a cut and style?”

“Sure. What do you need? Just a trim?”

Something wild and restless took hold of her, an urge to cast off and begin anew. “No,” she said. “I need a change, Debra. I don’t really know what. I just want to feel like me again. Like the girl I used to be.”

Debra’s plain face split wide. “You know how long I’ve been waiting to hear you say that?” She clapped Alison on both shoulders. “You leave it to me.”

Two hours later, colored, bobbed, and made over, Alison stepped back into the heat and turned to face her reflection in the window of the salon. Ghostly in the depths of the reflection, Deb smiled and waved. Alison returned the gesture. The sunlight and the hot wind blew the haze out of her consciousness, waking parts of her she hadn’t been on speaking terms with in months. Years, maybe.

Maybe she could do this, after all.

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood

I had to put this one together more quickly than I’d like, and the idea never developed as fully as I had hoped, so be gentle–but at the same time, please don’t hold back. I love concrits!

This week’s “Makeover” prompt sent me back to my novel about Carlo and Allison. If you haven’t read any of the others, of if you’re interested, here are the prompts about this troubled marriage. (But don’t expect them to make any logical sense, exactly. I’m just feeling out the characters and learning what this novel is about.)


In The Mist

The Magic Hour



17 thoughts on “Fiction Friday: Makeover

  1. Lance

    Who can’t relate to this: “waking parts of her she hadn’t been on speaking terms with in months. Years, maybe.” = wow

    I like how you made her “makeover” organic and emotional rather than material. This was a perfect balance of prose and sensory words to draw out a response.

  2. Nice! It certainly makes me want to read more. The only concrit I saw was your description of the wind seemed a little repeatative at times. Maybe that’s just me, though. Overall I think this is a great piece exploring your character.

  3. “She couldn’t stand by Carlo’s side tonight, not looking like this.”

    What a interesting characterization. I think it is honest to admit that many women feel this way. There is a balance between looking good for yourself and looking good for someone else. I think it’s great that she had been talking about “self-neglect,” but then she relates it to him. Is she really doing the change for herself? Maybe.

  4. Time to devote or not, this was a brilliant response to the prompt. Apart from the wind, which was already addressed, the only concrit I’d give you here is the opening line “was it her?” I’d change that to “Is that me?” Since we’re in Alison’s POV, it seems like she’s talking about someone else at first instead of staring in disbelief at herself.

    I love the impromptu run-in with the couple and the fact you made her wrestle her hair in the wind. You have a mastery of imagery that is unparallelled.

  5. Even if you put it together more quickly than you wanted to, I think you came up with the quintessential story of a woman who needs to change her outward appearance. I agree it’s not as “deep” as it could be, but I don’t think that’s necessary for it to be “good.”

    And it is good.

  6. The change a haircut can bring! I like the way she sees a kind of opposite version of herself and Carlo in the passing couple, but I’m not sure the whole windswept pages moment adds to the scene. I think it turns the attention too far from Allison, and this is very much her time, her moment of realization!

    I almost want more of her relationship with her stylist—and co-conspirator! Deb could give us a lot of insight without pulling focus from Allison. And more of her transformation as it’s happening.

  7. My only critique, do hairdressers like this exist in the real word or is it just that I’m phobic?! I think the mental, psychologic makeover is more important than the physical in this, her sense of finding, being herself again. 🙂

  8. I have a relationship with like this with my hairdresser, but she’s my sister! LOL!

    I absolutely love your writing style and the word choices you make for your fiction exerpts. You should share your fiction more often. 🙂

  9. inmandyland2

    I really liked the ghostly hair dresser in the window. The idea that she was there for that purpose – to remake Allison – almost like a fairy godmother.

  10. Sometimes when I feel rushed to write something, I find that more rawness comes out – less made-over. Yeah, the pun was intended.

    I think you story was great! A relateable (spelling?) tale.

    Just one critique?

    “The image reflected in the window of a real estate office arrested Alison’s forward motion abruptly. . . ”

    The word arrested kind of stopped my reading flow. Maybe, “The image reflected in the window of a real estate office abrubtly immobilized Alison’s forward motion . . .”

    Still getting use to giving critiques, so I am going to needlessly apologize 🙂 I really did enjoy this piece!

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