Magic Makeup

Sookie’s mother tried to think of something stranger, something that would stump us. “Miguks can’t see us,” she said. “Korean faces blind them.”

Aha!” said Sookie. “That can’t be true.”

I thought about it for a moment. It could be true Americans didn’t see like Koreans did; they had overly large, odd-colored ball-eyes. “What do you mean?” I asked.

“Just that it’s possible to be invisible to them.” Sookie’s mother pushed away from the table and held her hands out to us. “Come,” she said, “I’ll show you what I mean.”

Duk Hee led us to the back room where she and sometimes her boyfriends slept. Sookie and I perched on the edge of the bare mattress while she searched through her drawers of makeup. When we saw her filling her cosmetics bag, looking over her shoulder once in a while to consider our faces, we started wriggling like market dogs for sale.

“For some reason,” she explained, “American Joes cannot see our faces clearly. Especially when we use the eye shadows, lipsticks, powder, blush-i they give us, we confuse them…I’ll tell you what I think. I think that this makeup is magic—a disguise that lets us move through their world safely.”

Fox Girl by Nora Okja Keller

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