Her smile haunted me.
I’m still not quite sure why. Maybe because I hadn’t seen her smile in so long or maybe 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.
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 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. I had seldom interjected myself into her life, and it seemed almost a crime to do so now. Granted I had begged only 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.
Last night, I’d been whining about the fellow I wanted to invite to dinner. Shaylne’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. Instead, I took the thirty-dollars and headed the mall. There were a few cheap salons which would offer a haircut for the allotted money, tip included.
If I had paid more attention to my older sister, I suppose I would have realized sooner. Then again, when one is sitting on a stiff metal chair, with a decades old vinyl and a wet plastic smock on the front, thoughts turn elsewhere. I was concentrating on not breathing, because the disgusting chemicals turning my hair into a work of art were too strong for my sensitive nose.
My thought were wandering to my sister though, and 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 life routine. She was stubborn to a fault and absolutely put her foot down when I begged for a bellybutton ring. When I went 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. My shoulders grew rigid as the sharp snapping of the scissors continued on.
Squeezing my eyes 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. 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 Shaylne. “Dana?” Her voice changed at once.
“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.
“The band-aids…” I twisted to look, but she rapped my head with her knuckles.
“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. I closed my eyes to enjoy the sheer pleasure of it.
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