Twisting your too-thick hair, you make it into one long braid down your back because that's the way he likes it. He says your hair is too big and gets in the way during sex. He says it chokes him and invades his eyes. Invades makes you think of war and how you must be very dangerous. How your hair could kill with its intensity. Your hair could break glass the way some sopranos can shatter a wine glass into ice shards.
You check your braid in the 3-way mirror, touch it tentatively with one finger — like it was red-hot fire, that hair, smoldering and crisp. Then you rise from the striped silk chair that flanks your dressing table, the one your mother brought here from England when she got married.
Sometimes, when he's gone on business, and you're alone, you have a cup of tea at this dressing table. And if you're alone and hungry, you'll have a meal here.
Standing in the warm room, on inches of thick pile carpet, in just your beige slip, you take it down so your shoulders are bare; looking at yourself in the 3-way mirror. You know you're pretty, even when your hair is wild and at war. You stand there and question him: his values, his loyalty. And feel your breathing start to slow and break up like someone about to die. But you don't think it will be today.
Today you will have sex with another man, the one who passed by just as you made your first mile on the track, who smiled big as he ran by making sure you noticed, holding up his two fingers like a fork, or even a peace symbol.
You pull out your long braid, yank it free and watch your hair fall around your shoulders like strong steel, or a gathering storm, or maybe it's the clamor of peace you hear. There's a raucous fiddle and other instruments are coming in now. And the last of the day's sun dances across your window.
words: Susan Tepper, NY (homepage)
image: 'beyond' - Dorothee Lang, Germany (blueprint21)
another moment of you: Once Upon A Time (#21)