This week’s Friday Fiction is hosted by Vonnie over @ her blog My Back Door. Click here to read and share more great fiction.
A/N: This is actually a rerun for me at the moment, since I haven’t finished the new little pieces I’ve started. It was written for the FWC Challenge for the topic “Hard and Soft”. I wanted to write about Sisters (which is also a major theme in this year’s NaNo Novel!) so enjoy!
Her smile haunted me.
I’m still not quite sure why. Maybe because I hadn’t seen her smile in so long or maybe because I was too busy in my own selfish world to recognize her happiness. I never realized how so little could make her so very happy. I should have. That’s what sisters do.
She was working too hard, I suppose, that’s when I first noticed it. It started with the cut on her finger after dinner one night and then one cut turned into two and the next thing I knew, her hands were covered in band-aids. My fears escalated to a point where I didn’t know what to do with myself. There was no one to discuss the matter with, and there was absolutely nothing I could say.
I didn’t have the nerve. So I began to worry.
I wasn’t sure how to ask her, or even how to go about beginning to ask what was going on. That was a train wreck of a conversation that I would make absolutely sure to avoid. I had seldom interjected myself into her life, and it seemed almost a crime to do so now. Granted I had only begged for two favors of her in my life, to live with her, instead of my sparring parents and to sign for my student loan, so I could attend college
We have an understanding of sorts. I think.
Last night, I’d whined about the fellow I wanted to invite to dinner. Shayline’s only reply to my question was an appraising look followed by two direct orders.
Clean the house and get a decent haircut.
I didn’t think there was anything wrong with my hair, but of course, I wasn’t going to object and I couldn’t actually remember the last time I had cut it. So I wound up taking the thirty-dollars and heading for the mall. There were a few cheap salons which should offer a decent haircut for the allotted money, tip included.
If I had paid more attention to my older sister, I suppose I would have realized sooner. But we’ve already established my lack of attention to detail, so it would be pointless to dwell on that.
Then again, when one is sitting on a stiff metal chair, with a wet and decades old vinyl smock on the front, thoughts turn elsewhere to keep from focusing on the nauseating mishmash of color that became the temporary shroud for my beautiful transformation.
I was too busy concentrating on not breathing, because the disgusting chemicals turning my hair into a work of art were too strong for my sensitive nose. Now I remembered why I generally put off haircuts. They were self-inflicted appointments of absolute torture.
To distract myself, I let my thought wander to my sister. Sitting miserably in that horrid chair, I dissected her harsh personality before me. She wasn’t an easy person to get along with, her methods were strange and her life, routine. She was stubborn to a fault and absolutely put her foot down when I begged for a bellybutton ring. When I went through with the piercing without her permission, she simply purchased a bottle of cleaning solution and left it on my dresser to acknowledge what I thought I’d hidden.
I couldn’t bear her silent disapproval and removed it within the week. Her aura was so strong, there was a sort of strength to be gained from it. But if you were unfortunate enough to garner her displeasure, you would do everything within your power to right it.
Awkward hands tangling through my hair was cause enough for another hiss forced through my gritted teeth. The jabbering, gum-snapping stylish-in-training was wearing on me. I hated the inexperienced hands and the feel of someone else so close. Too close. I’d never really done well with that kind of close. It was one reason I’d wanted to move over with Shayline, she understood space.
My shoulders grew rigid as the sharp snapping of the scissors continued on and I dug my fingers into the crumbling vinyl armrest cover. Eyes squeezed shut, I waited for the torture to be over.
The bell chimed as the light footsteps of another entered. A whispered exchange happened behind me and then I felt the presence shift, announced by a faint, floral fragrance. There was something vaguely familiar about it and the new puzzle tangled itself in the snares of my mind. Soft, gentle hands slipped into my hair with only a faint pull, as if hooked on a fingernail.
The chattering student was sent to attend to another customer and when the gentle hand touched my cheek, to signal the chair tipping back, I had to open my eyes.
I stared upwards into the shocked face of Shayline, knowing my own expression couldn’t be much different. “Dana?” Her voice changed at once, a little hesitant, a little worried.
“S-shay?” I gaped upwards, staring from her comical expression to the pair of scissors expertly wielded in one hand. My gaze snapped to the mirror and I was relieved to find the resulting image, satisfactory. “You cut hair?” I heard myself say.
“In my spare time.” She tilted the chair back, reaching for the dryer. “Looks like she didn’t do too bad a job.”
“The band-aids…” I twisted to look, but she rapped my head with her knuckles, a cue to look in front.
“Stay put. You’ll ruin your hair.” She chuckled. “I’m improving.”
A blush tinged my cheeks as she began to methodically work through my tangle of hair. Her hands were soft, smooth and sure. The same hands that had always combed, untangled and braided my hair for so many years. I closed my eyes to enjoy the sheer pleasure of it.
(c) Sara Harricharan