Kayla Spirito

Jenni

Jenni was the one who shaved my head. Moments after I met her she held a pair of scissors to one of my pigtails. Don’t you want to be new? She asked. Hair nobody has touched? If you shave your head now, everything that grows after is yours. If you shave your head, you’re free.

I thought back to each time my hair had been touched. Each time I wished a hand gone as it removed the hair from the back of my neck before tying a necklace, or pulled it tight before bringing three parts together in a braid. I thought of Terry gripping a handful as he pushed my face in the mud, and Mom searching for lice as she picked at my scalp with a comb.

Much later, you will cut my hair with meat scissors in front of a mirror hung by two chains above the sink where we washed vegetables and the dog. Nobody will say you did a good job, and you will laugh and tell me I look like a soldier. When I grow it out once more I will strip it of color and bleach it white, only to then paint deep purple to the ends. You will bury your face in it as you sleep, use it to drag me up the basement stairs and out the front door, smell it on your sheets long after I am gone.

Jenni helped me with the buzzer, tied a towel around my neck and on the floor, smiled at me through the mirror like a tiny saint. When she was done she gathered all the fallen pieces and shoved them to the bottom of the trash like a secret. She was the last person to have touched it.

Kayla Spirito is a writer from New England. She received an MFA in Fiction from Columbia University. Her poetry has appeared in Stanford University’s MANTIS. She currently resides in New York City.