The sound of a happy melody beginning hummed made me lift my head in hope. I had been in a crumbled mess on the floor, my head in my arms as I cried. I was also angry at myself for feeling so much over something as trivial as hair, was I really this shallow? A door opened and closed as the humming came closer breaking me away from verbally berating myself once again. I could hear Indy moving around in her room and the sound of metal being carelessly dropped on her desk before she came towards the bathroom, her feet padding across her carpet almost silently as Speckle pounced around along with her happy to see his master.
The door opened suddenly though I expected it to, it still wasn’t enough to keep me from jumping in my seated place hidden in the shadows next to the tub. But as the light from her room spilled across the room until it fell upon me I heard my sister gasp, whether it be in surprise or shock from what I had done to myself I didn’t know, instead of looking her square in the eye as usual I hid once again in my arms, tucking my legs as close as they could get against myself. I could almost feel my twin taking in the sight before her, strands of blue hair littered the floor along with a single pair of scissors with her sister curled up against the wall looking like she got into a fight with the scissors and her hair paid the price. “Starry what have you done?”
“Nothing.” I answered gruffly my robe muffled my voice which was fine by me I didn’t want it to lend way to the fact that I had been crying. “Starry we are not five anymore I can see you and you did… something.” Indy said insistently as she stepped over the scattered hair in her heels crossing the room before I felt yards of silk and tulle brush against me as she sat next to me. “What happened?”
As close as we were my twin and I, how exactly do you tell someone that “Hey I looked in the mirror tonight decided I hated myself and life so I cut off all of my hair? If I didn’t think I could feel any worse before I started cutting I was wrong because now I do and I look like a boy too to top it all off.” But I didn’t say any of that instead I hide behind humor and sarcasm as I replied “I decided I was due for a change.”
I could feel her looking at me as she turned her head sharply after my answer, as if she stared long enough the truth would come out. But she didn’t press me, of all the people in my life Indy knew the most when not to. “Can I help you with your change?” Indy gently asked as she tentatively touched my hair. “I don’t know if anyone can.” I answered honestly for a change as I gingerly touched my own hair too remembering how it looked in the mirror. Jaggedly uneven and cut close to the scalp in some places, my fingers confirmed that memory that had only taken place an hour or so ago.
“It’s nice to see you not hiding anymore. I think short hair will look good on you” My sister tried to helpfully say with a hopeful smile. “I never regretted anything so much as I do right now.” I said miserably as I stopped myself from touching my hair anymore. “Now Starry I’m sure you’ll do things worse than this and regret them more.” Indy teased as I cracked a small smile and said “Sarcasm doesn’t really suit you Indy.”
“Sleep it off Starry; things always look better the next day.” My sister suggested in her usual well-meaning way. “So did you win?” I asked her about her prom queen running though I already knew the answer before she answered my question. “Yeah, yeah I did but doesn’t matter so much right now.”
Not everyone’s react was as kind as Indy’s. My father knowing women well enough I guess, didn’t say a word about it as he went to get his coffee and instead asked me if I wanted to go to the art supply store.
My mother looked like she was about to cry for a moment as she said “Oh Starry.” I grimaced with the thought that I had finally made my mother cry and not in a good way. No one ever made her cry, at least around other people. Growing up I’d sometimes hear her cry right in her room while my father was out, before my half-sister Violet would come for her visits. With a pained look she suggested “If you would like I can take you to the Salon after breakfast so we can pick up something new for your senior pictures later this week.”
When we had finally made our way over to the salon I sat in the waiting chair remembering the last time I was here. My feet were barely able to touch the ground as I kept trying to stretch to make them reach. That day I left with bangs and an uneven hair cut because I refused to sit still long enough to have it done properly. Every time I heard the sound of the scissors cutting I attempted to make a getaway. “We’re going to have to cut it really short.” The stylist murmured to my mother and himself “As you can see here and here it’s almost cut down to the scalp. I’ll have to use the clippers to even it out.”
To me he said as I sat in the salon chair silently freaking out in my mind of what was going to happen next while projected a hopefully calm demeanor. “Don’t worry I’ll have you all fixed up. Of course it’s going to be considerably short but I’ll be giving you a vintage Punchette style, from her days when she was growing out her hair after she shaved it for the ‘Up yours!’ album cover. You know her last name before she got married was Meringue. Is there any relation you know of? Because that would be so fabs to be related to someone famous like her. She was from this town ya’ know so just might be. I was so distraught when she passed away a few years ago. I have all her albums even the original records. She had such an edgy sense of style in her time compared to the other artists that were out around them.” The stylist went on and on. Of course I had to get the one stylist that was a fan of some relative, another Meringue that succeeds in surpassing the normal standards of life while I barely even touched upon it. The whole time he snipped and clipped he blathered on about her in a way that you might have thought that he never recovered from a boyhood crush on her and probably had a stash of posters hanging up in his closet as a secret shrine to her.
“Ok and we are done!” He said almost proudly while whirling the chair around so I could see what he had done in the large mirror. What I saw was a sight that wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be but still incredible short for my comfort. “You have excellent cheekbones and this style really brings them out. Some blush would help too to bring them out even more. Magenta over there at the makeup counter can help you pick out a good shade for your skintone.” He prattled on as he put some gel into my hair and began spiking it up. I look like a boy I glumly thought to myself as I saw the combination of the high cheek bones and a strong jaw line that was once hidden before I forced myself to turn away.
So far so good I thought to myself as I heard Wisteria finally make her way downstairs when we got back shortly before lunch. Oh no. A thought of fear crossed my mind. Ever since Wisteria and Midnight had called it quits over him not coming home for his holiday leave this past winter she had been on the rampage. Every day she would sleep in to noon or so until she had to get up for work and then after work she would go out with her single friends to the clubs and bars in Briocheporte much to our parent’s dismay, as the sun was beginning to rise she would find her way back to her bed at home. There were very few people on her list of berries that she was willing to sugarcoat things and be sweet about unfortunately I was never on that list, not even close by a mile.
“What the berry did you do to your hair?” Wisteria asked me even before she entered the kitchen from the living room. Her own hair looked like she spent hours styling it when in reality it always looked that way naturally. I could have answered in a way that would have prevented one of our many fights but where is the fun in that? Instead I answered sarcastically feigning surprise “What you don’t like it?”
“You can’t be serious. Is she serious with her hair like that? You can’t go and complain about being friendless when you go and do things that you do know are going to probably isolate you even more. Just what did you think the other kids are going to say when they see you waltzing up to school with hair like well that…” Wisteria said before asking “You do know you’re really weird right?”
“I prefer to think of myself as interesting and not boring like you. I’d rather be a vegetable than to have a type A personality such as yours” I replied as I stuck out my tongue at her. “There is something seriously wrong with you.” My older sister started to insist before our father cut her off. “Wisteria enough already, if you don’t get moving you’re going to be late so focus on getting ready instead of chastising your sister.” My father said to her before she could say anymore to me so shifted her attention to him “I don’t know why you and mom always defend her and let her get away with everything she does. It’s not fair that you’ve always held her to completely different standards that Indy or me.”
At school the other kids stared for a moment before going back to their normal routines, not even saying a word. Things seemed to go well throughout the week until Thursday afternoon during the walk home, after art club something more than mortifying happened.
“Young man?” I heard an elderly woman behind me inquiry while we were waiting at the intersection for the light to change so we could cross. Thinking nothing of it since it couldn’t have anything to do with me I ignored it, staring ahead with my mind on other things.
“Young man? Hello?” The elderly woman asked again trying to get some guys attention. It wasn’t until she tapped on my back that I realized she was talking to me. I turned around with my eyes as wide as saucers, feeling like if I was able to open them anymore that they might just pop out. “Young man will you help me across the street?” She asked with a sweet little old lady smile as she squinted through her thick glasses that gave her eyes an owl like appearance as they magnified them beyond the normal eye size.
“Sure.” I replied uncertainly as I glanced around warily hoping that no one heard her mistaking me for a boy. Her frail hand gripped my arm as I led her across the intersection after the light changed and afterwards she thanked me before hobbling off down the sidewalk. The rest of the walk home my face was redder than a bowl of strawberries.
“Starry is everything ok?” My mother asked me as I got home. She was at the stove cooking dinner while Indy was at the kitchen table working on the last day party for seniors that would be held at Peppermint Pier. Ever since school began on Monday she was always busy organizing it. One of her many duties she would laugh off as student body president, when I asked her why she hassled herself with it. Speckle barely looked up at me while Gemini came crashing down the stairs from my bedroom. Her nails clicked the whole way down the stairs as she greeted me excitedly.
They both had grown a lot in the almost year now that we had, had them. Speckle like his master was happy to meet new people and loved to go on long walks with Indy down to the beach. While Gemini mirrored my personality as well, liking to spend her time in my room with all her toys that she would keep hidden up there from Speckle when I was out. She was incredibly shy around new people preferring to remove herself from the situation by hiding away with me upstairs whenever anyone would come over. “Gemi!” I said affectionately to her as she jumped up excitedly to say hello, something my mother didn’t approve of since it was considered bad behavior but I like how happy Gemini was always to see me. At least someone was.
“Nothing just some old lady mistaken me for a boy.” I grumbled as I rubbed Gemini's belly who seemed to try her best to make me smile again. “Oh I’m sorry to hear that.” She called from the kitchen while I mentally repeated my mantra that had a new part added on to it in light of my recent events. Only three more weeks left then I’ll be done with this place and my hair will have begun to grow out. Only three more months…
By the time Graduation rolled around my hair had barely grown at all. My mother reminded me of how slowly it grew when I was a child compared to Indy’s which grew quickly and like “Weeds on a summer day”. I could barely believe that this day was here, finally. Last year I boredly watched Porfirio and Wisteria received their diplomas and now it was my turn.
“Are you ready?” Indy asked almost nervously as she straightened her dress from behind me, our gowns had come last minute to the school so everyone had to pick them up right before the ceremony. She had reason to be nervous as she was named valedictorian for our class and was expected to give a speech in front of everyone. Seeing her nervous was a gentle reminder of how almost berry she was instead of the perfect girl she always seemed to portray herself unconsciously as. “Yeah sure, almost.” I replied from my position in front of the mirror as I tried to apply my one piece of makeup, the single eyeliner that I own after I came to the conclusion that this was indeed a time of celebration maybe I should pretty myself up. I would finally be officially out of that horrid place otherwise known as high school. “You’re happiest moment in High School can’t be Graduation Starry.” Indy noted with a wiry smile as she left the bathroom to grab her shoes from her bedroom. “Soon I’ll be living in Briocheporte and going to Art School Indy, this is just one step closer to that. So yes this will be my happiest High School memory.”
“Are you ready yet?” She asked again teasingly as if I was the twin that took so long getting ready. “I’m ready.” I replied with one last glance in the mirror as if to say goodbye to the awkward and often tongue tied around others girl “Oh you don’t know how ready I am.” I muttered under my breath as I left.