I don’t know whose bright idea it had been. I can’t say whether I should be amused or horrified at this point. It’s a little bit of both just now and I’m staring at my reflection as little as I can because I can’t take myself seriously if I look for more than a split second.
“When are those coming out of may hair, Quentin?” I cringe at the tone of my own voice, I sound absolutely petulant and I hate it. Still, most of these ribbons are out of my reach or placed just so in my hair and if I try to take them out myself, it seems to worsen things and they become even more tangled. It wasn’t so bad at first with just one or two but now I lost count of how many they’ve put in there, both of them. At least Alexis kept out of it.
This isn’t in the least bit funny, in the long run, at least not for me. I don’t know what was going on through their minds when they decided that this new box of ribbons that just popped up in the mail—like that dress so long ago (to me it feels long ago)—were going to look good in my hair.
The earthy toned ones I don’t mind as much but now I look like someone puked broken rainbows in my hair and I’ve tried getting them out and I just can’t. I’m starting to get frustrated, just sitting here and waiting. Yes, we’ve taken advantage of boxes just randomly coming in named to either one of us before, the dress, the silk flowers, the confetti, but this is past my comfort point. I don’t care if I’m being childish but I’m rather careful of how I treat my hair and this is just too much.
I don’t even know where Quentin is at this point, he and Eoghan went off a while ago, I don’t know how long and just left me here to my own devices, to somehow deal with this humiliation. I don’t think he even realizes how much I hate this. I suppose I should have said no more clearly when they were putting all of them on. I only reacted when they were all done and I saw my reflection. I guess to them it was surprise more than anything else.
When I was young, from what little memories I still retain of the time before Sterling died, I was picked on a lot. Mostly by the slightly older kids who were trying to understand whether I was a boy or a girl. I’m aware my face is rather effeminate, I can’t help that, I was born this way and it’s not going to change. I could deal with it well enough. Often though there were struggles and fights. They’d put me in dresses and would parade me around.
One time, when I fought hard as I could and accidentally broke the arm of one of the kids picking on me, they cornered me and sheared all my hair off. It was ugly and the folks who ran the orphanage could only shave everything off it was so uneven, there was nothing that could be done about it. I was so ashamed, painfully ashamed of this that I spent almost the following year not going outside to play or spending time with anyone. Sterling would come about and spend some time with me but even that it took some time before I let him near me.
It took forever for my hair to grow back, by the time he died and I was left on my own to run off, it barely was long enough to brush my chin and that had been years back that it had been cut. I back then assumed that it was one of those things that made me less wanted by the adults. I wasn’t as pretty or something.
There are footsteps coming back into the living room and I can’t help but curl in a slight ball of misery. If this is what he wanted, this is what he’s getting. A small part of me is aware that this was just a playful game for him but anything that involves my hair in most any way terrifies me. It’s just one of those things I have issues with. Letting anyone near my hair with anything is a struggle for me.
“Yael?” He sounds a little worried, good. I managed to tear all of two ribbons out of my hair and it was unpleasant, I don’t know how he attached those in but they’re just not going anywhere unless he does something about it. I also moved from the living room to my room and I shut the door, it’s something I never do.
“Yael? Come on, it wasn’t that bad, was it? I guess it looked a little weird but it’s nothing to be mad about, right?” Just like when I first started living here, the uncertainty. How I’d raise my voice just slightly to catch his attention and he’d cringe. I think he’s starting to realize just how he’s messed up.
I hear him talk softly and steps start to retreat. His own move forward. I guess Eoghan still was with him. He’ll have some apologizing to do too, it was his idea when he saw the box.
At first when they left I was in a panic and I pondered just cutting it all off but then I remembered how long it takes to grow back. It would take me the better part of a decade and then some to get it back to where it is now, I’m not that patient. I curl a little tighter on my bed and I shake my head as I sniffle. I refuse to cry, it’s not right. I feel like I did when I was young and I picked on by the bullies.
He knows lightly, carefully on the door. “Yael, are you in there? Please, I’ll take them out of your hair if you want, I’m sorry.”
I sniffle again, a little harder and the door clicks open. I can’t even bring myself to look at him as he steps inside and closes the door again. At least he understands I want quiet. “I’m sorry, love. I guess it wasn’t all that funny an idea… if you’ll let me, I’ll take them all out of you hair and if you want afterwards, we can dump them in the fireplace and never ever think about this ever again.”
I don’t move for a few moments before I slowly turn, though only so he’ll have access to my hair. I’m not moving from this spot otherwise, I have no reason to. I still find myself sniffling and the need to cry is pressing more heavily against me. It’s really like way back then.
He settles on the low bench I keep near my bed and I feel him start to slowly tug, untie and release ribbons from my hair. I press my fist against my mouth for a moment and squeeze my eyes shut. “…the dress was one thing, the confetti another. I can wear frills and lace and even leather but not my hair, it’s the only thing I have going for me.”
He’s quiet while he works but after a moment I can feel him exhale and shake his head lightly. “Yael, you’re absolutely gorgeous, everything about you is breathtaking. I’ll make sure that we never put anything in your hair unless you really say you’re okay with it.”
There’s a long pause as he pulls a few more ribbons loose and he reaches a bit closer, brushing his fingers to my neck. I shiver slightly and feel the tears finally begin to prick at my eyes. I feel like such a child! What’s wrong with me?
“Think you’ll still let me help you brush your hair in the morning, one of these days? I know I fucked up and I can’t apologize enough, Eoghan looked like he was feeling like shit when I told him he better go and I guess he’ll be coming by to apologize in a few days. I’m so sorry.”
At least he was sorry, apologetic. It was hard to want to forgive him but I knew I would anyway before too long. He brushes his fingers carefully through my hair and I feel another shiver coming on. “There, they’re all out. I’m sorry.”
I stay still for another long moment before I finally sit up and turn around. He sees another ribbon that was hidden beneath my head and he carefully undoes it. I look down at him for a long moment, trying to rein in my tears, the wetness I still feel trying to trickle down my cheeks and I once more squeeze my eyes shut.
From my lips, the story of the bullies spill and I hear him catch his breath before he’s against me, just holding me and I stiffen for a heartbeat before I merely go lax and cry. It feels absolutely childish to be crying over something that had been so simple but I guess some scars run deeper than others and are triggered by simple things.
I don’t know how much time pass but I feel him kiss my cheeks, my eyes and my lips ever softly. “Come in, let’s put these in the fireplace and burn them to nothing but ashes. After that, if you’ll let me, we’ll just settle and rest. I know I can’t ask you to forgive me so easily but maybe in time it’ll come.”
Burning these to oblivion sounds like a good plan and I wipe my face as dry as I can. I’ll sleep deeply tonight, hopefully not troubled by visions of my past. That would just be pathetic and I’ve been pathetic enough for today.