Read all the new awesome literary works published on CC for 5/16
One blonde curl is wrapped lusciously around my pointer finger. I gaze down at it and then force my eyes upward to drink in the image of my face. Long, blonde hair trails past my shoulders and onto my back. In the cracked mirror, my eyes squint, trying to capture this one fleeting picture of myself as a girl.
This is what I could look like if I weren’t forced to masquerade as a boy.
I am staring so intently into the mirror I don’t even hear my mother—my Ama—come into the room behind me.
“Take that off immediately!” Her voice is tight and stiff, like rubber being stretched too far, about to snap. “Can you imagine the controversy it would stir?” She whisks the blonde wig off my head and bunches it into a ball. Before I can say anything, she throws it into the fireplace in my room.
I look at my fingers, the ones that a moment ago delicately touched the wig like it was my own hair. “Sorry, Ama,” I say, head bent downward. “I was just looking.” My voice comes out gravelly like a dull knife coaxing butter across a dry piece of toast. I lick my lips and let a few beads of cold perspiration appear on my forehead without bothering to wipe them away.
I wait in my bed until it is very dark and I can hear that no one else in my neighborhood is awake. Then I stand up again. I put on my favorite gray sweatshirt and my raincoat. I put what I will need in my pockets, and I make sure to include a flashlight. It is still rainy and windy. Also, it is dark, and I cannot see in the dark like the northern flying squirrel—Glaucomys sabrinus—who lives in the trees of the Pacific Northwest and is strictly nocturnal. I would love to be able to glide between trees and see in the dark. But I cannot. So I take a flashlight.
Then I walk from my house with the blue mailbox to Boulevard Road, and then I take a left and walk for another mile and a half until I come to the LBA Woods. No one is here now. It is perfect.
When I arrive at the old-growth patch within the LBA Woods, the air is filled with that damp mist turning into rain that makes most of the days and nights in the Pacific Northwest so good for large trees. As I get closer to the old growth, my stride changes from that weary trudge that I use on the asphalt road and in school to the little leaps and sideways hops that I use when I can feel forest mulch and miles of roots intertangled deep under my feet.
I walk into the night forest. I reach out my hands on either side. I can feel the smooth bark of the Red Alders and the rough chasms of a mature Douglas Fir, and then I can feel the stringy fibrous bark of a Western Red Cedar. I can push my fingers into the Red Cedar bark; it is like cloth to my fingertips. But here and there I can also feel the lacelike fingers of Western Hemlock and the prickly needles of Sitka Spruce touching my face and my neck.
“Yeah or something” I lied not wanting to go into the long winded explanation of my disorder in which, based on past experiences, the conversation would either end in awkward silence or confusion and then awkward silence. It was easier to say what they wanted to hear, to give an explanation that they wanted, that they knew; it was better to lie. I plastered on a smile and finished up her transaction, unable to do much of anything else. I handed over her receipt. “Thank you, have a good day” I said mechanically. “You too, oh and good luck with… that” she said hurriedly grabbing her groceries. I choked back a cynical laugh.
“I just thought you didn’t shampoo your hair…”
Trichotillomania is an impulse control disorder that causes people to pull out the hair from their scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows, or other parts of the body that can result in noticeable bald patches. As many as 4% of the world’s population is known to have this disorder and is four times more common among women than men. Hair pulling varies greatly in its severity, location and response to treatment. I have been battling with it since I was thirteen.
“Oh. Your hair is so short on top… I’ll see what I can do.”
When you’re a seventeen year old bridesmaid
at a wedding reception polka band dance
looking a little too sexy in post-ceremony wardrobe-change coverall pants
and the groomsman who’s six years older than you
shows you the bowie knife he carries
hidden in his cowboy boot,
then asks you, as he crushes another empty beer can,
if you would like to check out the plush carpeting—
freshly installed—in his van,
say something like,
“Perhaps another time.”
For the second night in a row that Unicorn was up on the Butte hollering at the moon. Reed lived in the shadow of the Butte on the edge of town. Across his property line the Old Forest ran wild. The Unicorn’s heckling echoed through the fields of barley and in through Reed’s Venetian shutters. If he didn’t do something, and do it soon, that doggone Unicorn would keep him up all night, again.
“Gosh darndit!” Reed rasped, “How am I supposed to get any friggin’ sleep around here with that pointy headed horse flappin’ his dumb lips off? And who does he think he is cussin’ like that, there’s a town ordinance against it.”
“You’re not lookin’ for answers, so I’m not sure why it is you phrase everything as a question.”
“Oh shush. I’m not lookin’ for an argument, Veldma, my quarrel is with that horse.”
“I sure wish you’d take it up with that horse then.”
“This isn’t driving you crazy?”