Subverting Romance Tropes: The Movie Make-over
Written by ErinRoach
This work was last updated September 11, 2016
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“No, absolutely not,” Charlie says, crossing her arms across her chest. She eyes the offending item with distinct distaste, watching it sparkle obnoxiously at her. “You are absolutely not putting me in a dress.”
Tom sighs, absently smoothing out the abomination where it hangs on the closet of Louise’s room. “I know you don’t like it, Charlie, but this is the only way to get into Flynn’s party,” he says. “His guards won’t turn away a pretty girl in a dress that makes her look like she belongs there.”
Markus, leaning against the wall on the other side of the room, snickers loudly. “What, we’re counting Charlie as a girl now?”
“Markus, be nice,” Tom admonishes him.
Charlie glances down at her baggy, unflattering jeans and her loose, comfy t-shirt. “No, that’s fair. I’m at least ninety percent sure I’m gonna fall over the second I take a step in heels.”
Charlie doesn’t miss the way Tom winces. “You can wear flats,” he says, his voice rising at the end like he’s asking a question more than stating a fact.
“And then you want me to flirt my way into the party,” Charlie says flatly. “With real people. With the goal of charming them. Me.”
Tom opens his mouth, looks her up and down, and then closes his mouth again, a small crease appearing on his forehead. Markus laughs. “Brilliant plan, Tom. Really. A+.”
Charlie ignores Markus and instead focuses in on Tom, whose brow is still furrowed, his arms crossed over his chest and tension in his shoulders. “Tom?” she asks.
Tom is silent for a moment, shifting uncomfortably, and then says, quietly, as if any louder might bring something dark and dangerous upon them, “It’s our only chance to find out what might have happened to Louise.”
Markus’ grin slips from his face; Tom’s words, no matter how quietly, have burst the careful bubble of ‘not talking about it’ that they’ve cultivated. Charlie glares at the dress again, and then sighs. “Fine. You know what, I’ve worn a dress before. We have to get into this party, right?”
Tom perks up. “Really?” His eyes are so hopeful that she can’t possibly turn him down.
“Yeah, Tom. Okay, let’s do this. Get out so I can get ready.”
Markus is laughing again, and Tom has to drag him bodily from the room. Once they’re gone, Charlie sighs and begins to strip. She kicks off her pants and throws her shirt in a ball on the other side of the room. It occurs to her that it might be weird to wear the dress over her boyshort underwear, but, she’s not about to borrow some of Louise’s ridiculous lacy things, so the boyshorts will have to do. Wincing slightly, she pulls the dress off the hanger, steps into it, and drags it up her body. She frowns at the squeeze of it constricting her, feels like the rolls of her stomach are on full display even if the mirror tells her differently
Charlie spies Louise’s makeup bag on the dresser, and, after a moment of deliberation, she opens it. She considers all the tubes contained inside and then, finally, grabs out some mascara and what she thinks is eyeliner. She spends ten minutes fiddling with the eyeliner before deciding that it doesn’t need to be winged, and then applies the mascara, poking herself in the eye with it twice.
Charlie takes one brief glance at herself in the mirror, her stomach dropping at the way it hugs her figure, then steps outside of the bedroom. She can hear Tom and Markus’ voices in the living room and, stepping carefully so as to not trip on her dress, descends the stairs.
Tom and Markus are waiting in the hall, Tom propped against the wall while Markus leans casually on the banister, and they fall silent when she reaches the bottom of the stairs. She smiles sheepishly, feeling her skin heat and her stomach do a flop at the way they stare. For several moments, nobody seems to know what to say, and Charlie’s smile falters as her skin itches with the desire to be free of the cursed dress.
After a long silence, Markus says, “Wow,” in a long exhale of breath, and Charlie thinks he’s impressed until he adds bluntly, “you look incredibly uncomfortable.”
When she glances at Tom, she sees him nodding emphatically, his eyes wide with concern. “Yeah, Charlie, there is absolutely no way you’re going to sell this. The plan isn’t going to work.”
Charlie lets out a breath she didn’t know she’d been holding, laughing in relief as her skin stops crawling and her stomach stops trying to do somersaults. She quickly sobers, though, as the implication of what he has said sinks in. “I’m so sorry, Tom,” she says. “What’s Plan B? What else can we do?”
Markus, on the other hand, has a glint in his eye that Charlie knows can only mean trouble. He turns to look Tom appraisingly up and down. “You know, Tom,” he says slowly, and Charlie already has an inkling of what he’s about to suggest. Tom closes his eyes as if he knows too and is mentally preparing himself. “I bet you would be a much better choice to get us into this party.”