“Of course, everyone waits patiently for the year to go by for this day,” Laura said, watching the children opening the presents.
The house was packed with people, mostly with Laura's family, people she knew, and family members she didn't remember. Everyone was all around the Christmas tree either on the floor or couches. All that Laura would hear was the family talking to one another and the sound of paper being ripped open. She had a cup of tea in her hands and a jolly smile printed on her face as she looked at the children she usually only saw once or twice a year.
One kid got a toy dinosaur in a box, while a little girl received nail polish and a Barbie doll with a dark blue dress on. The teens opened their presents to find money and electronics, like twenty to thirty dollars or a new phone. Adults in the family got cards, little decorations, and other useless items.
Sarah who was Barbara’s daughter entered into the back of the tree, to see if she could find any stowaways gifts hiding in the back. She got a small present in the with very plain light blue wrapping paper. It seemed it was wrapped in a hurry, like someone completely forgot about Laura and gave her something random. Sarah waved at Laura, but she didn't notice her, even when she called her.
“Hey, sis, she's flagging you down over there,” Barbra said as she pointed to where Sarah was.
Laura looked to where Barbara was pointing at and saw the gift in Sarah's hand. She got up and walked towards her dodging children and opened emptied boxes with holiday wrapping paper at their sides along the way.
Laura bent down and grabbed the present saying thank you to Sarah as she went back. She sat back in her original spot next to Barbara and opened the gift. The wrapping paper was poorly done but the box itself looks real exquisite. The box had painted in dark green detailed vines all around it, wrapping against one another as it went around the box. And the box itself was a light brown tan color that looked like sand directly off the beach.
“Wow that looks wonderful, open it!” Barbra said waiting anxiously for the revealing of what's in the box.
Laura opened it diligently as not to damage the box itself, like it was a piece of priceless art. As she opened it, all could be heard from her point of view now was Barbra’s breathing that was directly next to her, blocking everything else that was going on.
Inside was a white circle that wasn't very tall inside of the box,she reached out and got it out. It was a plane white oval container with purple bold lettering saying ‘Quick Removal Mud Mask’. Great another bathroom product, Laura thought as she gave it to Barbra so she could look at it.
“Thank you...umm...” she tried to yell, but quickly stopped.
She rapidly tried to find a name on the wrapping paper that wasn't her own, but found nothing. Barbra handed it back to Laura so she could find who it was from.
“Who gave me this one?” Laura said in a confused rushed tone.
Everyone just stared at her and it was mostly silent, until everyone responded with a I don't know or it wasn't me.
No one had the intentions to give her something for the reunion other that Barbra, again as every year. She then placed the mud mask into the artistic box and everything went back to normal.
“Maybe it was someone that left early... at least you got something from someone else?” Barbara said with a small smile on her face.
“Yeah... well thanks for having the reunion at your place, my place is way too small for all of these people,” she said also with a smile upon her face.
Barbara responded with a smile and said she was going to meet with other people, so she left to the other side of the house. Laura wasn't a people person, maybe that's why she doesn't usually get anything for the holidays other than from her sister.
She waited patiently for the next three hours to pass by. As the last of the family members left Lara felt relieved and sighed. She quickly went up to Barbara who just entered the living room.
“Can I stay here for the night and leave in the morning?” Laura asked.
“Of course, you can stay her for as long as you like in the guest bed room upstairs,” Barbara said, with a happy expression on her face.
Laura helped Barbara with cleaning the house, wrapping paper was all around the tree, dishes needed to be done and etct. As she was done she wished Barbara a good night sleep along with Sara and picked up her one gift and headed towards her old room, which she knew was the guest room since she did live here before getting a house of her own.
The room looked very plain and white with a closet, a dresser and a little counter next to her bed with a alarm clock on it. The room was not how she remembered it to be, she loved living here with her sister before. Now it was time to move on.
The room had a bathroom that connected to Barbara’s room on the other side. She didn't bring any of her things like cleansing pads, make up, toothbrush and clothes,but she didn't care. All that she wanted was to feel the comfort of people that she knew around her instead of being in her quiet empty little home. She took a better look on the alarm clock and it was 12:36 a.m.
She headed towards the bathroom and looked at herself in the mirror. She looked tired, but she needed to get the makeup off of her face, so she looked into the cabinet and found alcohol along with cotton balls.
“Well... better than nothing,” she said as she doused the cotton ball with the alcohol and applied it to her face as she wiped the makeup off.
As she was done she thought might as well try out my new gift. She took the mud mask out of the box and opened it. Inside was the purple mud. She looked at the directions and saw that it was completely easy to apply, just simple directions.
She didn't have that many zits on her face so she just applied it everywhere for the hell of it. She instantly felt it work and looked at herself in the mirror and saw how she looked like Barney the dinosaur. Laura then turned off the light and headed towards the bed, as she plummeted on her old bed it felt the was as she remembered it to be. The only thing that felt familiar in her old room. She started to slowly close her eyes they soon collided with each other making her see only darkness, and fell into a deep restful sleep.
Later in the morning, around eight, Barbara’s daughter came upstairs to notify that her mom made breakfast for everyone. As she quickly ran up the stairs and skipped into the hallway and stood in front of Laura’s room and spoke up.
“Aunt Laura, breakfast!” she answered, but no response.
She then reached for the dark yellow doorknob and turned it. As she opened the door, her eyes widened. She screamed at the top of her lungs for a few moments before running back downstairs.
What she saw was Laura, but her face wasn't there anymore. It was burned completely off. The eyes and eyelids along with her brows melted into a liquid deep into the hollow sockets and a pool of the remains was left in her empty skull.
The flesh was burned and boiled to a crisp as there was pus bubbles where the skin ended on her face and flesh was dangling on the sides with shades of red underneath. Her nose was completely melted off and the blood just vaporized along with everything else. Her tongue along with her cheeks,gums and the whole inside of her mouth was vaporized and only a skull with teeth remained visible.
Inside of the bathroom was the container of the mud mask. There was a little detail that she missed which was directly in front of her eyes. The warning details which were right under the directions. In black ink it read: Do not apply with alcohol before use. MOST IMPORTANT DO NOT SLEEP while the product is in direct contact with the face or skin.
Only the screams of the Sara and the pattern of rushed footsteps coming up the stairs remained. Laura’s question was never answered.