Trapped in the Sheen of Her Hair
Mommy always combed my hair right before she put me to bed. One hundred strokes. We counted together, the stiff brush dragging the knots. She believed that many strokes would make me beautiful. And that’s what boys like. She was always concerned about boys and what they liked.
Me, I didn’t care so much about boys. I drank up her attention, the one time in the day when I had it. Undivided. She sat me on the low stool of her vanity, and I watched the brush through the tunnel of the three-way mirror that set on top. The way she took each of my blonde curls and worked the brush from scalp to ends, keeping one hand near my head so she wouldn’t pull.
I never talked those times. She didn’t like me talking. There in the quiet of her room was her time to get herself ready. The last few minutes with me were a balm to her nerves. Whatever that means. Mommy talked about her nerves.
Maybe it was all her concern about boys that shot her nerves. She liked boys. She spent most of her time entertaining them. That’s what she called it. Entertaining. Sometimes in our house. Other times, nice cars would pull up out on St. Philip or Bourbon, and she would get in the back seats of them. I assumed the boys were driving, but I never saw.
I only meant to think the things about Mommy and boys, while I watched her brush the knots out of my hair. Little girls aren’t supposed to say bad things about their mommies, especially TO their faces. But, I did. I said she probably shot her nerves entertaining boys, and her face got a funny look right before it drained of color.
She hauled off and pulled my hair.
Welcome to Mommy Dearest, a series of fiction. The one where I try to write in the voice of a nine-year-old girl. I am terrified, because I personally haven’t been nine in a long time.