When Evelyn had first announced she’d be showing up at eight thirty, Holly had thought it was absurdly early. She had, it seemed, underestimated Evelyn. When they entered Evelyn’s apartment she was greeted with the sight of about ten to twelve people, all with various equipment and beauty tools. Evelyn whisked her past them all, not bothering with names, simply categorizing them as ‘hair’, ‘makeup’ or ‘accessories’. At the far side of the room was Matilda, in deep conversation with someone who was holding up several sketches. Matilda glanced up as Holly drew near and smiled,
“Good, you’re here. We can get started.”
“Matilda, are quite so many people really necessary?”
“No. But we’re only working with the best today, and the best always brings an entourage. Here,” she held up one of the sketches for Holly to see. “What do you think of this?”
It was a rough a sketch of a red-haired woman, whom Holly assumed was supposed to be herself, in the dress she and Matilda had picked out, wearing jewelry and her hair fixed up in elaborate braids around her head and neck.
“Good, then that’s decided. We’re going with this one,” said Matilda, clapping her hands. “Let’s get started, we have a lot to do.”
At some point in the day, as Holly’s hair was being tugged or she held still for makeup for what felt like hours, that perhaps letting Evelyn and Matilda take charge of her hair and wardrobe for this occasion had been an exhausting mistake. But once she finally put on the dress and stood in front of the mirror, hair and makeup complete, she was shocked.
It almost didn’t look like herself, staring back. She looked older, more…perfect somehow with every blemish hidden. She lifted her arm and moved it, as if she needed to make sure it was really her in the mirror.
She turned around slowly and smiled at Matilda and Evelyn, who were both a few feet off, waiting nervously. “Thank you. Thank you for everything.”
“We’re not quite done yet,” said Matilda. “You need some jewelry; Margo has a few things for us to try out.”
Necklaces and bracelets were lifted up against her skin and then dismissed until a silver pearl teardrop pair was decided on and a simple silver comb for her hair.
Matilda clapped happily. “You look beautiful Holly.”
Evelyn glanced at her watch. “And we have a little over an hour to spare before Alan’s supposed to come pick you up. Excellent. I can talk you through the premier a little bit.”
“Talk me through? What’s there to talk through?” asked Holly, alarmed.
“Well there’ll be some photographers there. Alan and you have been attracting quite a lot of notice. Somehow it’s captured the public imagination, which means it’s captured the photographers’ attention. So they’ll be there alright. Which means this is your chance to shine as an actress in your own right, without Alan.”
“What do you mean, ‘without Alan’? I’m going with him. He’s my date tonight.”
“Of course he is. But while on the red carpet, make sure they get some pictures of you standing by yourself, and then chatting up some of the stars that will be there. There’s also going to be a good bit of focus on Frank, so be sure you spend some time out there chatting with him.”
“Evelyn! I can’t just go around chatting people up, hoping a get a couple of pictures taken of me.”
“Of course you can. It’s all part of the business. You want to give off the impression of elegant sophistication. That’s what we’re going for here. You’re very young and very nice, but that’s not what people look for in movie stars dear. You need to be something more.”
Holly felt skeptical over her ability to do this, but decided now was not the best time to say so. Matilda gave an exaggerated eye roll behind Evelyn, and Holly resisted the urge to grin.
“And that’s what we need to show people,” Evelyn was saying. “Also, right before the film starts the director will make a very long, very boring speech. They always do. Then the principle stars, that will includes you, make speeches as well.”
“What? What on earth am I supposed to say?” asked Holly alarmed.
“Nothing interesting, so don’t worry. Just say what an honor it was working with the director, how the crew and cast all felt like one giant family, you’re so pleased to be a part of this picture and then sit down. Honestly everyone there will have heard the speech a thousand times over so it’s really not that big a deal. If you just mumbling something along the right lines, we’ll all know what you’re saying.”
“Right, okay. Well as long as it can be short.”
“You’ll do fabulously. Just remember to speak clearly and-”
“Evelyn, I do hate to interrupt, but even though you’re not getting quite the treatment Holly got, you still have to get dressed yourself for the evening,” interrupted Matilda.
“I suppose you’re right. There’s never an excuse not to look your best. I’ll be right back Holly dear.”
Once Evelyn was out of earshot, Matilda sidled closer and whispered, “I thought you were beginning to look a little overwhelmed. She’ll be at least an hour. With any luck, by the time she’s ready, Alan will be here to pick you up. And remember, the most important thing you can do tonight, is to in yourself. It’s your night to celebrate.”