Evie stumbled down the stairs into a mob of hugs and "Aw, Piper!" 's. She passed Piper off to her mama's sister, Mabel, and returned her grandparents embraces.
"Oh, Evelyn, look how you've grown! My... my, Tom, this girl's gonna be all grown up and moved out by the time we get around to visitin' again, ain't she?" Her grandma played with Evie's hair and stroked her shoulders. Her grandpa scoffed. "Now, Annie, that's takin' things a little too far. We'll be back around before then, and it won't be for a birthday or another party. It'll be a nice little visit, promise ya Evie."
"Grandma, I'm only sixteen, gosh darn it! I don't even wanna think 'bout livin' on my own!" Evie added a big smile and a laugh after speaking, so that her grandma would know she didn't mean to sound snippy. "Sixteen? Well, you oughta have your license by now." Evie smiled at her grandma's saying so. "Actually, Mamma, I just got it earlier today. Got a new ride along with it, as well." Her grandpa's eyes widened, and he put a hand on Evie's shoulder. "That truck's yours?" Evie wanted to laugh, but she stayed as serious as she could. "Yes sir, sure is."
Her grandma rolled her eyes. "You two can have your little talk about wheels and engines, but I'll be with the kids." The kids, referring to Evie's aunts and uncles on her mama's side. All nine of them. Her grandpa imitated his wife, exaggerating the eye roll and putting his hands on his hips, making Evie laugh. He laughed with her, then kissed the top of her head and went to speak with her grandma.
"Lord, Evie. I been waitin' for hours to talk to ya, I swear!" The high, twangy voice came from down below and Evie recognized it immediately. "Flora!" She turned around and swooped the young perky blonde into her arms. "That's my name, don't you be going an' wearin' it out." Evie gave Flora a weird look. "Since when did you turn into such a sassy-pants?" Flora looked down for a while, then back up at her. "Do ya think ya could gimme a makeover? All the girls at school do 'em, an' they like 'em. So I think I might try one, too. For the experience of it all, o'course." Evie was beaming with excitement. "'Course, Flora. You go sit on that stool o'er there," She pointed towards a barstool in the kitchen, "And I'll come back with the makeup. But you gotta promise me somethin'." Flora leaned in closer. "What?"
"Even if you don't want me to put somethin' on your face or in your hair, you gotta let me. 'Kay?" Flora crossed her arms, but eventually said, "Fine, Evie." Evie said hello to the most of her relatives, got her makeup from her room, and made her way back over to the stool. Where, sure enough, Flora sat, waiting. Evie spent almost an hour, powdering Flora's face, and putting lipstick and eyeshadow on after. All while her cousin squrimed and complained. But when she was done, Evie was extremely proud of herself. She'd made Flora look like a little girl, instead of her usual tomboy look.
When Flora looked into the mirror, she'd almost burst into tears. "Ya like it?" Evie asked. Flora shook her head, covered her face, and ran up the stairs. "Now, what's goin' on? I thought she looked nice.." Flora's mother, Mabel, ran after her daughter up the stairs. "Flor', honey, what's wrong? Is it the makeup?" There was a muffled voice from upstairs, to which Mabel replied, "This is ridiculous, Flora- I can't understand a goshdarn word that's comin' outta your mouth. Open the door." Flora said something again, which must've ticked Evie's aunt off, because she was now pounding on the door. "I said, 'open the door'! C'mon now, this is uncalled for!"
All the aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, and grandparents listened to the feud for a few minutes, but eventually turned back to their football programs, card games, and conversation. Evie sat at the counter, feeling horrible. Her mama snuck up behind her and rubbed her arm. "Honey, what's the matter?" Evie shook her head. "It's just... is she upset 'cause of the makeup I put on her face?"
"Oh, honey, it's not your fault. She's just a little girl. She'll be alright." She handed Piper to Evie. "Can you change her?" Evie scrunched up her nose. "Mama, she's your baby." She handed Piper back to her mama, who rolled her eyes and went upstairs to change her. Suddenly, the wall phone began to ring. "I got it!" Evie shouted, and she ran to the phone.
"Evie, it's Maybelle. Listen, I need to get outta the house for a while, to let my parents cool off." Evie's best friend, Maybelle, spoke in a hushed voice.
"Well 'Belle, we're havin' a party for Stella right now. I mean- you can still come over, but I just thought I'd let you know." There was a clattering sound of pots and pans, and a few shouts. "What's going on over there?"
There was a long pause, then Maybelle said, "Evie, I'm comin' over. Tell ya then." And with that, she hung up the other line. Evie sighed and hung the phone back onto the wall. "Evie?" Aunt Mabel spoke from behind Evie. She turned around to face her aunt. "Yes'm?" Mabel sighed. "Flora says she ain't gonna talk to no one but you. Would ya mind talkin' to her for a bit? It won't take very long, I'm sure." Evie nodded and went upstairs. She stopped outside the bathroom door. "Flora? It's Evie." The door opened just a crack, and Flora's bright blue eyes peered out. After seeing that it was Evie, she opened the door and Evie stepped inside.
"Honey, what's goin' on?" Evie sat on the toilet seat and set her cousin on her lap. "I dunno. I wasn't cryin' 'cause otha makeup.. well, that was kinda part of it, but it ain't your fault." Flora wiped her eyes and continued. "When I had all the makeup on, I looked like Anna Rae. An' I guess that made me sad." Evie cuddled Flora in her arms, but mostly so she couldn't see that she had started to cry too. Anna Rae had been Flora's older sister, who was about the same age as Evie. But one day, she went out with her friends and one of their older siblings, and they got into a car crash. Anna Rae hadn't been injured, so she went to for help, but she never came back.
"Evie, it's alright if ya cry. It makes me sad too. But I'll bet you're sadder, 'cause ya knew her longer." Flora looked up at Evie and kissed her cheek. Evie gave an awkward laugh between a sob, then wiped up her tears with the back of her arm. "Yeah, well..." She sniffled. "We'd better wash up and get downstairs." They dabbed at their tearstained faces with wet washcloths and Evie fixed her makeup. Then they headed back downstairs, just in time for Maybelle to come knocking at the door.
But when Evie answered the door, it wasn't Maybelle.