Recently I had the pleasure of reading an excerpt from an upcoming novel written by a talented Houston, TX, woman I know who goes by the name of Yara Carson. I liked it so much I wanted to share it with you. Take a read and let me know what you think.
The guys were still laughing when the door opened. Marilia walked in and looked around. She made eye contact with Andre and walked over to his station. “Good afternoon. I need you to cut my hair off.” He eased off of his stool and walked around her. When he saw her thick, sandy-colored locs, at least twenty inches long, his brow wrinkled. “Miss, I can’t cut all this hair off.”
“Why not? This is a barber shop, right?”
“Yes, but… That’s a lot of hair. Is this somethin’ you thought about before you came in here, or is it spur of the moment?”
“It ISN’T any of your business, but yes I’ve thought about it, that’s why I’m here. Now are you going to cut it, or do I need to speak with your manager?”
Andre was taken aback by this woman, barely five feet tall, and telling him off in little more than a whisper. At any given moment in the shop, you could barely hear yourself think, but everybody had gone completely silent. Ears were pricked like a room full of Dobermans.
Andre smirked at Marilia. “This one of them ‘Waiting to Exhale’ moments? Your man did you bad, so you gon’ get rid of the hair you kept long for him, just to spite him?” A few of the guys chuckled quietly, and Andre was glad to have the upper hand again. Marilia stared at him for a long time. Long enough for him to become uncomfortable.
“I have been a widow for thirty-seven hours. My entire life stopped thirty-seven hours ago. I was married to an intelligent, kind, hardworking man, who made it his mission to make me happy. He loved this hair.” She absent-mindedly began to twist a single loc at the root as she looked toward the ceiling, willing herself not to cry. “He tugged on it to make me smile. He would play in it, would lay in it when we made love. I do not want anyone else to touch my man’s hair. I’m not having it cut to spite him, I’m having it cut to honor him. And you clearly are not the person to do it. Ass.” With that, Marilia turned on her heel and walked out of the shop. Andre was stunned. A customer mumbled “Fucked that one up, didn’t he?” No one admonished him for cursing, a common rule in black barber shops. They all knew he was right. Andre ran his hand over his face, and jogged toward the door to try and stop her from leaving.
When he found Marilia’s car in the parking lot, he felt sick to his stomach. She was sitting in the driver’s seat with her head on the steering wheel. Her tiny shoulders were heaving violently, and he could tell she was sobbing. He tapped gently on the window and her head snapped up. She stared furiously at him as the tears continued to roll down her cheeks. Andre pulled at a few of his own short twists, and motioned for Marilia to let down her window. She shook her head.
“Miss, please roll your window down. I need to apologize.” Reluctantly, she complied. “I am so sorry. I really am. We was havin’ a wild… we was all clownin’ in the shop before you walked in, and I was still feelin’ the… you know… the testosterone levels were high an’everything, and it don’t excuse my behavior, but I’m really sorry, for real. That whole thing, that wasn’t regular me. Please come back inside and let me cut your hair.” Marilia considered his apology. She knew from working at the firm that any otherwise sane and rational man could turn caveman with the right audience. She sucked her teeth and reached into her purse for tissues. After wiping her face, she opened the door and followed Andre back to the shop.
The men inside got quiet when they heard the bell ring and saw Marilia enter. She sat in Andre’s chair with her eyes closed while he prepared his station for her. He picked up his scissors and a clean towel, and asked, “Are you ready?” When he saw her nod, he wrapped the towel around Marilia’s locs and secured a thick black rubberband around the middle. Then he began cutting at the base of her neck. All of the men were watching Marilia’s face. She remained stoic, occasionally wiping a tear from her cheek. Andre walked slowly around her as he cut, trying not to make eye contact. The experience was affecting him, and he was having a hard time controlling his own emotions. As he neared her face, Marilia looked up at him and smiled gently. He smiled back and cut the final loc, quietly asking, “Do you want to keep them?”
She bit her lip, and then replied, “Yes. Until I decide not to keep them.”
Andre rummaged around in his drawer and found a rolled-up shopping bag. He placed Marilia’s locs in the bag and handed it to her. Then he spun her around to look at herself in the mirror. For the first time in thirteen years, she saw her face unframed by thick layers of hair. She pulled at the fuzzy curls that remained on her head and said, “Cut it lower. Almost bald.” In the twenty short minutes since Marilia had first walked into his shop, Andre had learned very well not to question her. He clicked on his clippers. Marilia jumped slightly when she heard the buzzing sound, so he waited a few extra moments before he began to trim the rest of her hair. When he finished, he unclipped the towel around her neck, and she reached into her purse.
“No charge,” he said quickly. Marilia smiled and thanked him. Andre smiled back and offered his card. “I’m not sure how long you plan on keepin’ your style like that, but I would be honored if you would let me help.” He was still feeling bad about what he said earlier, and hoped she would understand his sincerity. She looked at the card, thanked him again, and strolled out the door.
Yara Carson a science teacher and loves her rescue dogs, but all the mild manneredness isn’t a theme in her writing. Carson avoids social networking at all costs (students and Facebook aren’t a good combo) but she is a celebrity on the message boards. If you have any questions or want to get more info on her work, Carson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Lemon Sunrise (Artofmanliness.com)