Chapter Three: Comments

Chapter Three: Comments

A Chapter by Amelia Birch

Ruby reviews her super rare eyeshadow, but the comments she recieves are not what she expected.


 “How’s the new laptop holding up?” Mum asked spreading Mrs Huntley-Morris’ homemade raspberry jam on her toast.

“I wrote an article on it yesterday,” I grinned.

The sun was shining in through the window throwing squares of light onto the table as I squinted in the brightness. I wanted to spend the day in the garden wearing my favourite jean shorts padding around in the grass with my bare feet. Instead I was wearing my regulation no more than an inch above or below the knee school skirt and my feet sweated in ballet style shoes. We weren’t allowed sandals. Even in the baking sunshine, not that it stopped Lacey-Jade of course but for some reason she was never pulled up on her lack of uniform. Come to think of it, neither was Saffron but she went for more clothes rather than less, even in this kind of weather.

Mum held the toast up to her chin. “Nice work! What was the article for?”


She raised her eyebrows jammy toast still poised and ready to eat. I figured she wasn’t in the mood for guessing games that early in the morning.

“Lacy-Jade let me write a review on my new eye shadow for the school magazine!” I finally announced.

Mum made excited ‘mming’ noises around the toast she’d chosen that moment to bite into.

“I know, I know! I’ve waited three years for the chance to write for it. The old editor was a b***h and Lacey-Jade hates me.”

“I’d say Lacey-Jade’s a b***h too.” Mum joked. “And I wish you could have written something a bit more intellectual but I guess you didn’t have the choice so I’m chuffed you’ve got something in print!”

“Me too,” I said picking up my bag. “I only hope it was up to her standards.”

Mum smiled, “You’re a fabulous writer. If it’s not up to standard it’s because it’s not vacuous enough and trust me, if that’s the case its best you aren’t associated with a publication like that.”

I bent down and gave her a hug. “Thanks Mum. You working today?” She was wearing her green uniform and her hair was tied back in a ponytail.

“Afraid so,” she said nodding, “I’ll bring dinner home with me so you don’t have to cook.”

I winced. I knew exactly what she was trying to suggest. She thought I should be revising too. Well I’d get round to it when I was ready.

The Huntley-Morris’ cat was waiting at the end of their path but as it thumped its head against my calf I walked right on past ignoring its slighted glare. I didn’t feel like knocking for Saffron that morning. My shoulders slumped as I remembered her words from the evening before. She’d have to deal with the cat and Boo-Bear all on her own I thought, I’ll wait for my apology at school.

Arriving at school in record time I wandered slowly through the glass doors and took as long as I could to climb the spiral staircase. That’s what not being distracted by idle chatter does. It gives you plenty of time to get to school although as a wave of misery swept over me I realised I liked being late, liked being involved in the Huntley-Morris’ family chaos. The school building was that strange mix of old and modern. Imposing red brick on the outside and 1970s interiors as though it was announcing its importance and glamour to the world but making sure its students still knew it was an ordinary school. Don’t get your hopes up girls, you might be the best Essex can produce but don’t expect to get to Cambridge. You aren’t that special, you’re still just girls from normal houses. Or if you were Saffron and I, you’re still from a social housing estate in the wrong end of Chelmsford.

Lacey-Jade waved me over to her desk. The seat beside her was empty so I lowered my bottom in its general direction.

“Don’t sit there,” she said. “We’re not friends.”

I blushed hovering in mid air not sure whether to continue my sitting action and risk her wrath or stand again and allow myself to be bullied.

“I got your email,” she said.

I stood. I didn’t want to be a pushover but I also didn’t want to jeopardise my chances of being published. Her face was empty of emotion but full of bronzer. Swirls of garden shed brown graced her already over tanned skin.

“And?” I said.

“You’re a good writer.”

I sighed resisting the urge to say I could have told her that a year ago. Now it was the last few weeks of school and I didn’t have the time to become a magazine regular.

“You’ve got some good photos too,” she said pulling at one of her false eyelashes.

Saffron walked in. She noticed me standing and chatting to Lacey-Jade and glared. Then she did something I wasn’t expecting. She ignored her own seat and went to sit next to Jenny Turpin. I liked Jenny, don’t get me wrong. I knew Saffron did too. But she was my friend; my best friend. We always sat together. Jenny’s chin nearly hit the floor as she glanced from Saffron to me. She shuffled over to the edge of the desk in a way which told me she actually preferred having a bit of space. Jenny was on the larger side and whereas Saffron didn’t have the soft curves which graced Jenny’s figure she was tall and chunky. Solid rather than fat but probably still a bit too wide to sit comfortably under those circumstances.

“Can you do another review?” Lacey-Jade asked ignoring the show down the whole class had just witnessed.

I tore my eyes away from Saffron. “I’d love to.”

“This issue is out tomorrow. The last issue of the year will be going out in three weeks. I need to get it out before the last exam finishes. Let me know what make up you’ll be reviewing by the end of the week.”

I let out the breath I was holding and nodded profusely. As I walked back to my seat half of me wanted to dance for joy and the other half wanted to curl up into a ball and cry. I’d been annoyed with Saffron and I wanted her to know, that’s why I didn’t call for her. But I didn’t want to start a big argument. There was also the magazine. I was like a kitten on a warm lap purring with happiness over being asked to write for the last edition but more make up? What would my Mum say?


I walked home the same way I’d arrived; alone. I let myself into my empty house. As much as I told myself I had other friends, no one else lived near. And anyway, my life was so entwined in Saffron’s it felt empty without her. I opened and closed the fridge then remembered Mum was bringing dinner back with her. I checked the treat cupboard, crisps, nuts, mini cakes in individual wrapping; nothing grabbed my fancy. How was I going to entertain myself for the next few hours?

I trotted upstairs and grabbed my laptop. I had a review to write but I had nothing to write about. Twenty Shades of Beige was the only piece of make up I owned. I’d learnt a lot from my YouTube trawl but although I now knew a whole load of brand names I still didn’t know where to buy them. I needed to make a choice and then go shopping. I typed ‘cosmetics’ and ‘review’ into the search engine. So many videos came up it was impossible to choose between them. A feast of stunning women with preened hair and bright smiles graced my screen one after another. These women weren’t famous. They weren’t special. In fact in the before clips some of them weren’t even that beautiful. What was more surprising was how young many of the YouTube beauty experts were. Some were even my age.

I opened my bedside drawer and dug out my Twenty Shades of Beige palette. That little box of eye shadow had got me into the school magazine. I wondered what else it could do for me as I rustled through the drawer for my borrowed make up brushes. The one thing those YouTube beauty experts had in common was the one thing I also had; a laptop with a webcam. If they could do it so could I. Realising I needed a decent background I hung Saffron’s Mum’s leopard print dressing gown on the wardrobe door and swung the laptop round to face it.

 “Good afternoon!” I simpered. “Welcome to my very first YouTube review. Please subscribe to my channel because this will be the first of many. I’m starting with a bang today because I have something very sought after in my hot sticky hands…. Ta daaa Twenty Shades of Beige!”

I winced. I sounded like Cherry. Nevertheless I continued as I took my audience to be through contouring, shading, and lining the perfect smoky eye. I hit the share button as soon as I’d finished, not wanting to lose heart and change my mind. I wondered how many people would see it. If anything was going to get me hits it was Twenty Shades of Beige. This was the beginning of my YouTube journey but if I was going to start taking it seriously I needed a decent profile picture.

Holding up Twenty Shades of Beige I shuffled into the right position so my eyes looked out from the mirror into the webcam. I shut one eye and clicked the button. The image was blurred but the winking glamour puss staring back at me from the rare make up palette mirror was exactly what I wanted to see. I tried again and ended up with the perfect photo. Now I was forever the girl with the green cat’s eyes and the expensive eye shadow. I was certain to get followers. Once I’d wowed them with my make up master classes I could start teaching them about politics and literature. My very own YouTube channel, the next addition to my writer’s CV.

I heard the rummaging of a key in the front door. Mum was home. I sniffed the air as I clattered down the stairs wondering what was for dinner. I couldn’t smell anything which meant it was probably pizza.

“Hey baby,” Mum called. “How did you get on with your revising?”


I hadn’t.

I ignored her question. “What did you get Mum?” I saw the small white carrier bag in her hand. “Fried chicken!”

“That’s right!” she said throwing her bag on the bentwood coat stand and following me to the dining room table. Settling into the chair she passed me a box. I opened it and picked up a chicken wing.

“You’ve not really spoken about your exams at all,” she said. “How are you feeling about them?”

I picked the skin off my chicken. Mum didn’t approve of take away and we also couldn’t afford it. There was only one reason she’d brought fried chicken home and that was to allow me to concentrate on my revision. The one thing I hadn’t started yet. The truth was without Saffron drawing me timetables and ranking the subject areas by importance I didn’t know how to start. I wasn’t going to tell Mum that though. Not when she’d thought I’d spent all evening revising rather than helping her with dinner.

“You know you can ask me for help don’t you?” Mum said looking at me from under her eyelashes. “Any time.”

My heart flip flopped. “I know Mum but its fine. I got this covered.” There was a lump in my throat. I wanted to tell her, I really did, but what could I say? I couldn’t admit I didn’t know where to start, that I’d done nothing. I was a bright girl, I could wing it.

After dinner I said goodnight and went up to my room for the evening. I retrieved the laptop from my bedside table and perched on the end of the bed. My heart was in my mouth as I flicked through my email to find I had comments on my review. I hissed a ‘yes’ under my breath and clicked over to the video to see what people had to say. My first YouTube review was a hit!

My heart thudded back down my throat and into the pit of my stomach as though someone had given it a swift kicking along with my excitement.

BeautyBloggingBabe had written, “LOVE the eyes but if you don’t mind some constructive criticism your face is a little red, maybe a heavier foundation?”

MACfan had chimed in, “Agree. I think with your skin tone less pink in the blush wouldn’t hurt either.”

I didn’t have any blush or foundation on! All I’d focused on were my eyes! I put a hand up to my cheeks. Were they really so offensive? I’d never realised I was so ruddy. My stomach now felt as though I’d eaten a ten pack of Crispy Crèmes and ridden a rollercoaster. I couldn’t understand why someone would write something so negative. It was obvious this was my first video. Maybe they wanted to make sure I didn’t embarrass myself any further by posting more. It was to save my ugly face from becoming a laughing stock.

Luvmakeup wasn’t impressed at all. “You need mascara and eyebrows. It’s not easy being ginger but you can make your life better by getting some good mascara and pencilling in your eyebrows. Ginger skin isn’t great either I know, but at least you don’t have freckles. It could be worse.”

I picked up a strand of hair and frowned at it. It wasn’t ginger. It wasn’t even remotely ginger. Maybe it could pass as strawberry blond in the winter when the sun hadn’t worked its magic but right now it was definitely blond. The commenter was clearly a bit strange, what did she mean ‘at least I don’t have freckles?’ I loved freckles, especially the ones that graced Saffron’s nose and cheeks. When I started high school I wanted freckles like hers so much I drew them on with a felt tip.

I frowned at the strand of hair again. What was the ginger comment about?  I’d have known if I was ginger, wouldn’t I? Someone would have mentioned it to me by now. And anyway, what was so wrong with having red hair? But it was my red skin they were picking up on wasn’t it? I’d always thought of myself as pretty. I knew I didn’t have a string of boyfriends behind me like Lacey-Jade and her friends, but I blamed my skinny figure and my shyness. Not to mention my choice of education, after all it wasn’t as though I met any boys at my all girls’ school. To be honest I rarely met any boys anywhere, not to sit and talk to and get to know anyway. It was obvious now that wasn’t the problem. My terrible skin was the issue here.

The last comment simply said, “I have this palette and I love it.”


I hit the shutdown button and slammed the lid of my laptop.

The school magazine was coming out on Monday. By lunchtime everyone would see my rosy face peering out of the photos. I’d even have year seven kids laughing at me and Lacey-Jade wouldn’t let me write another article again. But I had a whole weekend ahead of me to wait for the onslaught. Worse than that, I didn’t even have Saffron to moan to.

© 2014 Amelia Birch

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In this part of the story, I feel more clearly the inner character of the character. I was quite moved when I read it. Thanks for sharing

Posted 10 Months Ago

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1 Review
Added on August 16, 2014
Last Updated on August 16, 2014
Tags: teen, young adult, crossover, make-up, make up, cosmetics, facebook, youtube, blogger, beauty, vlogger, coming of age, parent


Amelia Birch
Amelia Birch

London, London, United Kingdom

I'm a non fiction author attempting fiction! more..

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