BY MONIQUE QUINTANA
My eyebrows are little lines that are strait across. They were born with no bend.
I'm thirteen, and my mother takes my face in her hands and plucks my eyebrows into a shape. I look at myself in the mirror. It's like these little lines are incantations. They look like music notes above my slanted eyes. I adore them.
It’s January, 2016. My sister and I are at a museum in London, and we walk up to an art piece called “Eyeliner Tutorial” by Rallou Panagiotou. I mistakenly think its says, “Eyebrow Tutorial.” I think they’re odd looking eyebrows, but I can’t stop looking at them. My sister takes pictures, while I reach up, like I can pull them off the wall. I remember the security guard in the corner, and I run my fingers over my own brows, and I get dark brown smudge on my hands. It looks like soot, and I feel like a chimney child in a Blake sketch. I want to feel the jet-black curves of the eyebrows on the wall. I want to wear them like a hat on my head. They make me want to slide down the rail at the tube station.
Rewind to six weeks to ago. I‘m rushing to meet my friend Steven at the community college we both teach at. I know that I’m forgetting something significant. I search my pockets and I lean over and tie my Doc Martin boot. I wonder if I’ve left my stove on and if my leftover early grey is scorched to oblivion. A teakettle tragedy. I mourn it and walk on. We get to the café where we go to be cliché writers. In front of the restroom mirror, I see myself, and I remember. For the first time in eight years, I forgot to draw on top my eyebrows. I don't think Steven has noticed. It’s a good thing I skipped that bang trim. I put on black lipstick to try to make up for it a little. I get earl gray again, and I can see little black rings on the edge of my cup. I imagine an eyeball under each ring, like a universe.
It’s 1997 and it’s springtime. I’m a freshman at Bullard High School. I’m pouring hot water into beakers in science lab. I add the solution. I can hear a senior girl talking to her friend about her weekend. She snuck out of her house to spend the night with her boyfriend. This makes me envious, and I listen much harder. Once she got to her boyfriend's house, she realized that she forgot her make-up bag at home and she didn’t have the nerve to go back and get it. In the morning, she makes herself a shower contortionist, so that her face doesn’t fall off. She doesn’t want him to see her without them. They’re her trademark.
My sister, Miranda was born with brows like a Athena's bow. Every morning she paints on top of them. They are a garden she prunes and plucks like a mandolin. She makes a little path to her rose bud warrior mouth.
Hello 1998. I’m hearing rumors about Frida Kahlo film projects. There are three different camps making pitches. One is for Madonna, one is for Jennifer Lopez, and one is for Salma Hayek. I want Salma Hayek to get it because I think she’s the best actress of the three and because I think that she can pull off the brow the best. Those brows, like a prayer on her face. I’ll become a tiny thing; I'll walk her brows like a bridge.
Today, I go to a shop where they do hair threading and henna tattoos. I ask for "eyebrows only, please", and the woman who is bent over my face smells like sweet perfume and has a daughter who plays the cello. Her husband died when they came to the U.S. She asks me if I am from India too. I tell her no. I think women from India are beautiful. She wipes away the pencil, so she can see them better, and she takes her thread and whisks it across my face. I imagine her daughter with her instrument's bow. I hold my eyelid taunt with my fingertips. I write my intentions for the day, they are inked on the bones underneath. The woman is twirling away and away on my face, like a fluttering, strait lines, no bend, no bend.
Monique Quintana is the Beauty Editor of Luna Luna Magazine and the Editor-in-Chief of the blogazine Razorhouse. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from CSU Fresno and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Huizache, Bordersenses, and the Acentos Review. She is a Pocha/Chicana identified mother, daughter, and English teacher from California's Central Valley.