by Yong Takahashi
In your first few months, your mother brushes your down-like hair and your locks coil as if they know to hide from the world. Years later at recess, your pigtails tighten as the bullies pull them and you think the school year will never end. Little do you know this is nothing compared to what will come. You think you have survived all the hurt in the world then your high school boyfriend sweeps your tear-tinged bangs out of your swollen eyes as he tells you he can’t handle a long-distance relationship as opposed to what he said when he took your virginity. Fresh out of college, your boss tells you to tie your hair up because it distracts the male employees. He says perhaps you should stop being so sexy. On your wedding day, your mother-in-law demands you put your hair in a fancy bun so you will look more respectable. She is allowing you into her bloodline against her better judgement. You shave your head after the third mistress in a two-year period calls the house demanding you let him go. You go to your husband’s office and throw clumps of hair in his face. He says you humiliated him in front of his colleagues and fights your request for alimony. You pack a small suitcase and let your hair grow wild in the mountains of Spain. No one tells you how to look, how to feel. You finally are free.
Yong Takahashi is the author of four books of fiction and poetry. Her shorter works have appeared in over 80 publications. She was a finalist in The Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing, Southern Fried Karma Novel Contest, Gemini Magazine Short Story Contest, The Writers’ Mastermind Short Story Contest, and The Sexton Prize for Poetry. Yong’s YA dystopian novel, Camp Detroit, will be published in 2023. She is currently working on a fantasy trilogy. Her website is https://linktr.ee/yctwriter.