by amandakayestein
There was no time to grab the rest of my things. They screamed at me in our living room. His living room. My books were still spread on his coffee table. My Mother’s lamp was lighting the corner, brightening photos of us I was trying to ignore.

I drug my luggage over the rug we had bought together, its fabric too think, making my baggage’s wheels stick. He was right, it was an impractical rug. He was always right. My eyes stung as I yanked the luggage, pulling up some vibrant blue with a searing rip. Let him fix the rug. Let him buy a smart, new one on his own.

I heard his quick footsteps on the hardwood behind me. I focused my eyes on our front door, its blood red painting still smudging the doorknob I had never cleaned.

“One thing before you go.” I thought even his voice couldn’t stop me then. But I found myself standing still, my right hand gripping the doorframe, my left hand numb with the weight of my luggage. I closed my eyes. My breathing silenced.

What else? What else could he do to me now?

I winced as his voice softened. He couldn’t have this, too. This pain. It belittled my own.

“It was worth it.”

“I know.” I didn't mean it, but I said it anyway. I would have said anything to get away from him, to disappear.

My body began shaking in the chilly dawn sunlight. I could feel him step behind me, his breath warming the back of my neck, threading through my hair. I could sense his arms rising.


He obeyed. I started to walk forward, but he was suddenly closer to me again. I stopped.

He kissed the back of my hair, his lips just brushing against my neck, so softly I thought I may have imagined it. He combed through my hair, twisting the strands gently around his fingers. He buried his face against me, his voice coming out muffled and rough.

“I meant it, you know. I really did love you.”

I shut my eyes. “Now?”

He stepped away from me. “I’m sorry.”


The afternoon sun was too strong, casting strange shadows, harsh and abrupt. The houses on my sister’s street stared at me from the windows of my taxi. They seemed to grow larger the further I went – stony adults, staring down a trembling child. I nestled closer to my luggage, shrinking back from my window.

My sister stood in the front of her door, the white paint reflecting sunlight around her like a halo. She seemed to burn on the edges as she stared me down, her body immobile, her floral skirt just ruffling in the wind. As the taxi stopped, she marched to my door, her slender hand too firm on the handle. She looked at me for a long moment. I could say nothing.

“I knew you’d be back.”


Her kitchen looked just as I remembered it. It gleamed painfully. Even her daughter’s paintings on the stainless steel fridge were aligned just so, a perfect display. A showroom touch.

I kept my hands in my lap as I sat at her table. I knew I would soil anything I touched, my hands dirty with some invisible grime only my sister could see.

“I don’t know why you’re so surprised.”

I turned to her. She stood at her sink, her daughter before her on an ornately rustic chair. My sister sprayed her hair down with hot water, the curls straightening under the stream, under her hands.
Her daughter cooed in her sweet toddler’s voice, thrilled by her mother’s touch.

“I told you this would happen. I don’t know why you thought it could last.”

She opened the shampoo, the same bottle from our childhood. As she coaxed it into a foam, I closed my eyes, smelling the tart fruitiness, almost feeling the buzz of the scent on my tongue.

When I opened my eyes, my sister was staring at me. Her eyes were huge, bigger than they should be. I could see them falling from her face, rolling across the floor, landing at my feet. I would kick them under the table, into the corner. Into the dark.

“You have to know what’s real in this world. You always expect too much. I don’t know why you won’t listen.”

I tried to shake my head no. But the room seemed to grow dim around me. My skin was cold. My heart was too loud.

My sister rinsed the foam from her daughter’s hair. The girl pressed her scalp against her mother’s palm, reaching for her thin wrists with her chubby hands. My sister kissed her forehead and lifted her from the chair.

I watched hungrily as she nestled against my sister, her face shining with comfort. My throat grew dry.
Suddenly I found myself standing beside the sink. My sister stared at me. I didn’t look away.

“Wash mine?”

Her daughter eased away from her mother so that
she could dance in circle on the floor, spraying the tile with fruit scented water drops. My sister stood perfectly still. I held my breath.

She nodded. “Sit.”

I did. I leaned my head against her sink and let her hands work through my lank hair. Her touch was firm, her skin too soft. She leaned in close to me.

“It’s not so bad you know. It’s okay to be realistic.  ‘Beauty is truth,’ “

“‘- truth beauty.’ ” My voice was small, higher than it should be.

“See? There’s a smart girl in there still, hiding. Let her out.”

The water was too hot on my scalp. I said nothing. I let her work.

Suddenly I was freezing. Even the steam pouring from the sink felt like ice. I took in a loud breath as my teeth began to chatter.

My sister gripped my arm, her touch hard. I focused my mind on the steady rhythm of her pulse, pounding through her clenched fingers. My breath slowed to match it.

“Are you okay?” I didn’t look up at her. I kept my eyes tight. I meant to nod my head – instead I found myself shaking no. Tears came out, unbidden. They felt like boiling water on my frozen face.

My sister leaned forward, stoic, her back perfectly horizontal as she faced me. She touched my face with her hand, still slick with shampoo.

“Look at me.” I did. The brown of her eyes looked like warm mud, soggy and deep. I wanted to look away.

“You are a smart girl.” I looked down again. Her fingers got tighter. I winced, but did not look up.

“Aren’t you?” It wasn’t a question. It fell flat and hard.

“I am.” The word themselves seemed to take the breath out of me. I choked on nothing. I was too full of nothing.

She remained perfectly still. Her eyes never closed.

“He was lying.”

My whole body shook now. My chest opened up. I could hear my life escaping. I breathed faster, trying to force it back it. “No. He meant it.”

“Listen to me. He lied.”

I stood up quickly. My sister backed away, her eyes even wider than normal. “It wasn’t a lie.” I jumped at the volume of my voice, unfamiliar and jarring. I had never raised it to her.

Her body seemed to grow in her kitchen. Her pale cheeks flushed. “He was lying. He never loved you.”
I opened my mouth, frantic. She stepped forward before I could speak.

“Why would he? “

She reached behind me and shut off the water, carefully rinsing the foam from her skin first.

“You can believe him. Not me.”

She stood close to me. I could see the lines on her face, cracks in faded china.

“But tell me. Who is here now? Who has to take of you? Who is willing to put up with you?”

My stomach twisted, hot and sore. Its heat spread throughout my body. I grew smaller. She noticed.

Her bottom lip jutted in disgust. “It’s not him.”

I feel back into the chair, my hair soaking my shirt. My body felt hollow. Tears came again; these were cold, dead. The fire was out.

“I’m sorry.”

I wasn’t sure she could hear me. She grabbed her daughter, leading her out of the room. With a delicate spin she faced me.

“Then prove it. Do not put yourself through this again.”

She left me in the kitchen, my hair leaving foamy spots on her perfect floor. I tried to mop it up with my sock. It only spread the mess around.


In the night, I lay on a fat pillow, my hair still smelling of apricots. I stared at myself in the dressing mirror, my eyes flat, my mouth thin. I watched myself for a long time. I wondered where I was going.

The shadows deepened in the room. The sounds in the house had stopped. I bristled suddenly, my skin rippling in shudders.

The shadows seemed to grow from the door, ajar just enough for someone to enter. I could see them taking form. I could see them spread.

The darkness formed a hand, reaching out, grabbing. Touching.

I burrowed into the sheets. There was no point. There are some things you cannot hide from.


I couldn’t hide then. Everything about him seemed like the sea. His eyes were cool and gray, an ocean standing still to drown me. His hair was sleek and black, disheveled, as if he had just risen from the water. His skin was the color of sand, and I knew if I touched it, it would be as warm, as gentle against me.

He stepped closer to me. Too close, too close. But for some reason I stayed.


He whispered my name, his voice a wave, his breath caressing as a breeze.

“I can’t.”

My voice was tiny. My lips had had barely moved. I stared at him, pulled into his deeps. Losing my breath. Losing my ground. His water swirled all around me.

His fingers grazed against my arm, a warm trickle. I shuddered, but moved nearer, against my will.

His lowered his face to me, his forehead pressing against mine. I gasped at the contact. His eyes were so soft, so strong. I could not understand the way they looked at me. So loving.

He moved his lips, just shy of mine. I could feel their warmth. I knew if I touched them, they would taste like salt, like warm seawater. I was suddenly thirsty, my whole body dry. It frightened me.

“Charlie? I can’t.”

He shook his head gently, his hair brushing against my eyelashes.

He voice was so certain. I could not help but believe.

“You can. It will be worth it.”


I sat up in bed as I felt his kiss. I touched my lips – there was no one there. Of course there wasn’t. I gripped the blankets until my knuckles cracked, my breath coming fast and desperate.

I saw myself staring back from the mirror. I didn’t want to, but I crawled from my bed I sat against the cool glass, my face pressed up against my own. I tried to focus my breath. It wouldn’t calm.

My eyes scanned in the dark, compelled to search for something I wasn’t aware of. They settled on the sewing basket, tucked under the dresser. The fabric shears gleamed in the faint moonlight. I reached for them instinctively.

Its blades were heavier than I expected. I rested them against my left arm, the metal slick and cold. The chill of it spread through my arm, raising tiny bumps along my skin.

My heart beat mercilessly, bouncing from my stomach to my throat and back again. My head was dizzy, the roar of the blood in my ears deafening. It sounded like eager waves. Like the ocean. It had to be silenced.

I lifted the blades against my neck, feeling the shock of its cold like a kiss. I shut my eyes and held my breath. I cut deep into my hair.

I felt the lock fall against my bare leg, the strands moist and soft. It lay in my lap like a sleeping pet. I brushed it with one finger.

I raised the shears again and cut on the other side,
and then on the back of my head. I cut below my ear, against the nape of my neck. I cut without thinking, hacking it off by instinct. My hair surrounded me on the floor. I ground it into the carpet, feeling my hands sink into the plush fabric, gripping it with my nails.
The sound of the scissors drowned out my heart, my breathing. I focused on it, hearing it echo in my silent room.

When I was done, I dropped the shears to the floor. I touched the mirror softly. My hair circled my pale face. The tufts stuck out, jagged and uneven. My scalp shone through in spots, jarringly white, looking like new flesh.

I stared at myself. The eyes that looked back at me did not look like mine. They were larger, darker. The eyes of a smart girl.
Let others and the author know if you liked it

Liked it alot?


December 10, 2014 - 20:29 I love this story. It's brutal and real.


January 30, 2015 - 04:14 like this...

February 3, 2015 - 06:11 Nice story. You can also read my story named" HAIRS CUTTING''

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