Cutting; the ex.

Karen//something to change.

Eric always hinted that he hated my hair. I kept it short through college, never any longer than chin length so that I could style it in a pinch. But he loved the idea of running his hands through long, golden brown locks of hair.

So about a year and a half ago, I’d started growing it out. I lightened it a touch. The golden strands now hang down to my breasts, layered up to my chin, framing my heart-shaped face nicely. I spend around twenty minutes drying, straightening, and curling my hair. It’s never undone or thrown up into a ponytail like it was in college.

It’s become a new, vain, disgusting part of me.

The scissors I grabbed from work feel heavy in my hand. They’re big, with six-inch blades and thick, pink, plastic coated handles. I grab a handful of hair in my left fist.

Holding those strands just below my ear, they feel thin, damaged, ugly. I contemplate my reflection in my bathroom mirror. I look so tired; my eyes are puffy, my lips dry and pale, pimples are sprinkled around my hairline, no doubt brought on by the hairspray I find myself using to keep my stupid hair in place.

I position the scissors above my fist. I’ve never cut my own hair before. I close my eyes, squeeze the blades of the scissors together, and feel them slice through each strand. My head feels lighter already.

I open my eyes. I’m holding the clump of dead, damaged hair so tightly my fingers have turned white. I open my fist, and the hair scatters and falls to the floor, six, seven, eight, and nine inch strands falling to cover my bathroom floor in a golden brown mosaic.

My reflection looks different now. My brown eyes look darker. My face looks more pale. My cracked, dry lips turn up in a smile.

I grab another handful. I keep cutting. When I’m done, hair is littered at my feet, my neck is cold and uncovered, and my head feels light, free, and less cluttered.

On the other hand, it also looks like a crazy person attacked my head with rusty scissors as I slept.

Oh well. That’s what salons are for.

I put the scissors on the bathroom counter, turn off the light, and to go bed.

I still need to wash my damn comforter.

Karen//The ex.

We have this thing where we lay on our sides, facing one another. We look, we touch. I wrap a blond curl around my finger, he runs his hand down my cheek. Lately his eyes have seemed really wet.

I know I don’t love him anymore.

“What are you thinking about, Karen?”

But I love the way he says my name. There’s something about verbal acknowledgement, that affirmation that, yes, I do exist, and I have a name, and this person right here knows it. Says it. Loves it. Ryan’s never said my name out loud.

“January.” It’s the right answer. It’s when I’m done with my job with the Senator and I move to Seattle. To be with him. He smiles.

I want so much to believe in it as I close my eyes. There’s still something comforting about his smell, the combination of his shampoo and his laundry detergent and the smell of sex. Being here like this feels like home. But it feels like the home you grew up in right before you leave for the first time. Boxes are packed up and stacked against the wall. The movers are out front, waiting.

That’s when it’s hardest to leave, because really, you have no intention of looking back.

His reaches for the short, dark, choppy pieces of hair hanging in my eyes. “I still can’t believe you cut it.” He sounds disappointed.

I open my eyes. He’s holding up a strand to the light. After hacking away most of my hair, I went to a salon and had them style it and dye it dark brown. It was edgier, harder, and shorter than my hair had ever been.

“I needed a change. You said you liked it.”

He nods, looks me in the eye, smiles. “You look like a demented fairy from hell, though.”

I laugh, but it comes out like a snort. He chuckles, puts his arms around me and pulls me on top of him. I kiss him. “Seriously,” he says, “let’s get you a pair of fire wings.”

That’s our cue to laugh together. I collapse into him, as close to happy as I’ve been in a long time. This is why I still come here. No one can make me laugh the way Eric can.

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