A Makeover with Aphrodite and Barbie

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The next day, Aniket and I bathe Aruvi, brushing her hair and grooming her. She hates nail clippers now, thanks to me. She complains of shampoo burning her eyes, the body wash being too slimy, the lotion smelling too feminine, and her white dress to be too short.

She reminds me of myself; a mere tomboy nerd who wasn't allowed to talk to other boys, tomboys, or nerds, as a matter of fact.

The cuteness of the little devil makes us both overlook her whining, but when she complains that my story wasn't actually a real story, I couldn't take no more.

"Hey, my story put you to sleep. The lion was the king of the forest. He ate all the other animals. He lost his citizens, so he was dethroned. The moral was to eat only as much as you can fit in your belly. Don't be greedy. It was simple, and you were asleep in the a jiffy."

Aruvi snorts, mucus flying out of her nose. She wipes it on her sleeve, sucking in the rest of her snot.

Okay, not so much like me. I am a neat freak.

I quickly remind myself to pin a handkerchief on her dress next time. It's disgusting when she wipes it on herself.

Besides, I don't think snot looks good in an interview. She is going to have to look good to make a good impression with her future principal, who Aniket apparently bribed to get an appointment. She's a nun.

Oh, the irony.

I swallow the bile coming up, turning my head to face the other way. Aniket notices the blatant disgust in my face, pursing his lips in amusement.

He puts Aruvi's feet on his thigh, helping her with her slippers as she sits on the bed dangling her legs. I tie a pearl chain around her neck, moving on to part her hair and French braiding it on each side. She looks cute. I roll off the bed, circling around it to admire our work from a broad perspective, and for the first time, a sense of family seeps into my brain.

"You know how to braid hair?" He asks, making me raise my eyebrows.

"Do you think Aphrodite descends from Olympus to braid my hair for me everyday?" I say sarcastically.

"I didn't mean it like that. Your hair looks so put together—

"You mean the rest of me isn't put together?" I glare at Aniket, hands on my hips. Aniket looks like a dear caught in headlights, his eyes so wide, it looks like it will pop out any second.

"No, no! Krithi, I mean you look beautiful any way you are—I mean, sometimes you don't bother to pretty up—but, still, you look pretty now. I mean, always. You look naturally pretty all the time." He clears his throat, uncomfortable.

Aruvi has her arms folded between the two of us, blatantly judging our awkward exchange with a raised eyebrow. Great, a five year old is sizing us up.

"Are you insinuating that I'm too lazy to Barbie myself?" I growl, my hands clenched in fists.

"No, of course not. It's just that, you still don't know how beautiful you can be if you tried." He argues.

"Whatever. I was too busy skipping grades, and saving lives and being pregnant, and kidnapping you back from the supposed good guys that I forgot about curling my hair and applying lipstick."  I counter.

"I surrender, woman. You win!" He says, putting his hands up halfway.

Aruvi and I exchange glances, probably thinking of how cute and comical he looks. We both burst out laughing, earning a manly pout from Aniket.

Damn, that's a panty dropper.

"Two against one is not a fair match." Aniket says, playfully glaring and pointing between Aruvi and I.

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