On the bathroom counter lays a glossy magazine with a woman wearing a helmet of dark, large, voluptuous curls. The strands of her hair mimic the architecture of a spiral staircase. The woman smiles, smiles, and laughs, and smiles as she settles her dark hand elegantly in her sleek, black mane. Long fingers embrace curls; curls enmesh in long fingers. Reaching up a finger, you lightly stroke a dry, straight lock, feeling brittle ends collide clumsily into one other as they separate like ugly tree branches. You begin to strip, and feel your heart race faster as each article of clothing glides to the cold, tile floor soundlessly. You can do this; you will do this. You reach the shower slowly, ...view middle of the document...
. .” The words came out like cotton candy hidden with shards of glass.
“I don’t understand.” And you can’t explain. You can’t explain what it felt like stepping into the shower and letting the water droplets bless the roots of your hair before gliding along down your shoulders or how the first curl you touched was softer than the wrist of a prisoner who no longer wore chains or that you didn’t know whether to the dance because you’ve finally been set free or cry weightless tears because you’ve been kept from this freedom for so long, so you laughed instead. You can’t describe how your arms and legs transformed into elegant, brown petals and now you know what it means to blossom or paint how crazy you must’ve looked when you shook your head back and forth to see if you could fly because you have never felt so light. You can’t recite the song you sang when you stepped out and the sun graced you with a gold halo. And you don’t.
“Well,” your mother begins. She crosses her arms and leans back against the island. She pops out a hip that would make the most confident of men lower their heads. Her eyes are filled with fire, and you fear they will burn. You cough. “Your hair straightener didn’t break, did it? You could have always borrowed mine. You didn’t have to resort to such measures. I mean, goodness, Isabella. You have to go to school and work and what will people think?” Scratching your scalp, you take a deep breath, thinking back to when you stopped wearing green because a little boy called you a frog. And the time when you formed the habit of covering your mouth with your sleeve when you smiled or laughed because a classmate called you “Brace Face.” And the time when you decided to leave your hair straight because every other girl around you had straight hair.
“We’re straightening it.” Your mother clasps her hands in front of her. “Go upstairs and get me my straightener.” You remain frozen, heart racing. Your mother’s arms are crossed again, full blaze. A slight tilt in her head causes your feet to unglue from the floor and head for the stairs. You trudge up the stairs like you’re walking in molasses, because you are. At the top of the stairs, you turn towards you mother’s room and head in. You make your way into the bathroom and stop in front a large, wooden cabinet. It’s been scrubbed so hard you wonder if the intricate designs around the edges had just been carved. You open the cabinet and reach for the hair straightener.
And you remember.
Nine years old, and freshly washed. You hop into your mother’s room wearing a clean, baggy shirt and ripped, pink pajama pants decorated with smiling ponies. Your hair has just been washed smells like a blended smoothies of mangoes and bananas. You wave your arms wildly above your head and kick your feet to a tune that only you can hear. You mother plugs the hair straightener into the wall and settles on the bed. The television is on, playing some home renovation show that your mother loves but you...