Aunt Julie pulled the covers to my chin, and messed up my hair. “Time for a trip to the barbershop, Little Man.”
The jitters in my tummy jumped to my lips. “Those big chairs scare me. Can’t Mommy come back just for a little bit? Just to cut my hair?”
My jitters went to Aunt Julie’s lips, but she didn’t sound scared – much – when she said, “There’s nothing to be afraid of, Jimmy. The people at the barbershop are nice.”
“But I don’t wanna. Please, can’t Mommy do it one more time? Please?”
“It won’t hurt, Jimmy. I promise.”
“You said that Jesus loves me, and that Mommy and Daddy are with Him because the car got messed up and they’re in Heaven. If they all love me, won’t Jesus let Mommy come back for a little while to cut my hair? Please?”
Aunt Julie didn’t say anything. She turned off my Tigger lamp, and went to the bedroom door. The bright light from the hallway sparkled on the wetness of her face.
Why did my talking always make her cry? Mommy wouldn’t like it if I was making Aunt Julie cry. I would just have to stop talking to her.
I swung my legs faster, wishing my feet could touch the black and white floor of the Barbershop. I stared at the big chairs where they would be sitting me. My feet would never touch the floor from there.
Aunt Julie took my hand and tugged. “It won’t take but a few minutes, Jimmy.”
The man holding a pair of scissors looked like a giant – even beside that gigantic chair. “Hello there, son. Ready for a cut?”
My feet came off the floor. I was covered all over with a black blanket. Aunt Julie touched my cheek with a cold finger. “I’ll be sitting right over there, okay?”
I shook my head for yes. I hadn’t talked to Aunt Julie all morning, but she had still cried when we left the house.
After whispering a long time to the barbershop man, she sat where we’d been first. I wondered if he could feel the butterflies in my tummy.
“Well, Jimmy, your aunt tells me this is your first trip to the barber’s chair.” The man picked up a spray bottle. “You must be a big boy. How old are you?” He squirted at my head. The tickle of water almost made me giggle. Almost.
I tried to hold up my fingers but he wouldn’t see them through the black blanket. “Six.”
“I tell you what the trick is to having a conversation while getting your hair cut.” The chair moved. I grabbed for something to hold.
“See that big mirror? Keep your eyes on it. That way we can talk without you moving your head. Okay?”
I shook my head for yes. Wait, I wasn’t supposed to do that. I looked in the mirror. The man looked back at me. He was smiling.
“You can call me Michael.”
Michael moved to the other side of me, squirting more water. “Talking’s a good thing, Jimmy. Helps you figure out things you don’t understand.” He picked up the scissors and I watched him work in the mirror.
“Do you like talking with your aunt Julie?”
I started to shake my head again, and then stopped. “Sometimes, but I always make her sad when I ask her something.”
Michael stopped and looked at me in the mirror. “What things make her sad?”
“When I ask about Mommy and Daddy and why they can’t come home.”
“Do you know why they can’t come home?”
The shake made it halfway this time. “’Cause they’re in Heaven with Jesus. But if Jesus loves us, why can’t He let them come home sometimes? I want Mommy to cut my hair.”
My neck hurt from keeping it so still as I kept watching Michael. He stepped to a small table and picked up a long comb. “Sometimes it’s hard to face things and talk about them.” He combed my hair to one side, his scissors cutting chunks and sending them to the floor.
From over my head, he looked at me in the mirror. “Yeah, Jimmy?”
“It’s easier to talk to the mirror.”
Michael smiled. “True, Jimmy. True.”
That’s when I decided to talk to Aunt Julie again. And I knew the right place – in the mirror.
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