I wrote this story for a flash fiction contest. It wasn’t shortlisted, and so I regained the rights to publish it here. 🙂
Let It Grow
I stand in front of the mirror, surveying the person I have become. The August zephyr enters my bedroom, ruffles my shoulder-length hair gently, as though questioning the change in my appearance. I don’t tell the warm breeze what he told me. “I am not asking you to grow your hair. But, you will look better if you do,” he once suggested. One month after he confessed to have run out of love, two weeks after I found about his new flame, I decided to bid adieu to my pixie-cut, read myriad of articles on beauty and fashion, and experimented curious methods to look ‘feminine’. I wanted to save my marriage.
“Colour your hair. Wear a push-up bra,” a friend advised. “Get rid of black and grey; wear pink and purple.” My discussions on how to look womanlike always garnered responses which wrestled with my reasoning. However, I made my sanity rest for a while, and bought a pink bra and red lipstick, hoping that he would love the polka dots on the bra and this woman who wore all of it sheepishly only to win back the man she had already lost.
His slender torso was on my naked wide hip, when he said, “I wish you could get rid of these love handles.” He pulled it naughtily, tossed me around on the bed, and entered me from behind. Maybe, he didn’t want to see my saggy abdomen. But, I am glad I didn’t see his eyes when he was on me. Although my face was buried in the pillow, I still knew that his eyes were void of love and care. That night I skipped dinner. 30 nights after that, I had lost five kilograms.
My old, faithful mirror throws a genuine reflection now. My hair is long. My pink push-up bra almost makes me breathless, narrowing the crevice between my breasts. The floral tank-top flatters my waist. The love handles have gone. Beneath the plastic appearance, I see a woman. She is battered. She is cringing. She wants a sword to cut her hair short. She wants to go bra-less forever. She wants to fill her wardrobe with all things grey. She wants to eat to her heart’s content. She wants to breathe a whiff of fresh air. After all, she deserves it.
I return home from the stylist’s. I throw a heap of shopping bags on the sofa, and sink in it heaving a sigh of relief. I run my hands on the newly-bought black t-shirts, and my face wears its brightest smile. Also, the pixie cut is unusually flawless.
I trot into the bedroom, and stand in front of the mirror. I recognise this woman. “Hello! welcome back!” I whisper. I laugh derisively, “He’s gone. So, I am back.”
Every part of my body seems to belong to me now. But, there is one foreign thing on my body. My toenails, which were painted as an attempt to look ladylike for him, still bear the pink coat. I am not going to buy a remover to wipe-off the last evidence that reminds me of my murky past, my mindless attempt to revive a corpse, and my desperate choices that sabotaged my morale. I tell myself, “Let it grow.”