#74 I, Isabel Scheherazade, explain a remarkable thing that happened. It involves combs, curls, and, yes, crying.

by storytellerisabel


Since Mom’s died, no one’s done my hair. I wash it–of course!–pull my fingers through, maybe put a scrunchie in, and forget it. Not like when Mom was alive.

We had a ritual. She sat on the couch next to our bucket of barrettes and brushes. I plopped down on the rug between her knees and leaned back a little for a hug.  Then Mom combed. Every morning. Of my whole life.

Somehow, at Mimi and Pop’s? Well, my hair hasn’t been on our schedule of to do’s. (I think Mimi just hasn’t thought about it. She didn’t have daughter, and her hair is way short–she gels it to stick up.)

But one morning, recently, Mimi looks at me and says, Oh my goodness! Isabel! Your hair! 

I put my hand up to touch my hair. Wow! It’s big today.

It looks just like your Mom’s. Mimi comes over and pats my head.

I look at Mimi, a lump in my throat, and think, I know.

So, I’ll fix it for you. I found a comb. She sits on her ottoman with her legs to one side, and I sit on the floor in front of her, facing away so she can get at it all. Okay?

I nod. Mimi takes a deep breath and starts. Right away the comb snags a snarl. My hair pulls. I let out a yelp like a dog whose tail’s been stepped on.

And then it’s like this dam bursts. I start crying like I’ve never cried in my life.

Oh, dear girl, what have I done?  Mimi is on her knees hugging me and stroking my head. I hurt you! She keeps hugging, leans back to look at me, and then goes back to hugging as I keep crying. Did I hurt you that badly?

Nope, I sniff. It didn’t hurt that much.

Not that much?

It’s just that–I’m ambushed by another avalanche of shudders and tears. I mean I was NIAGRA FALLS!

It’s that it’s not your Mom combing, right?

I nod and blow my nose on some tissues that Mimi’s pulled from her pocket.

And that’s that. It’s like I’ve suddenly gotten a burst of fresh air by crying and sobbing like there was no tomorrow. I come alive in a way I haven’t since Before.

I tell Mimi the story of the sunfish under the ice.

You’ve been oxygen-deprived, do you think? Mimi’s eyes are twinkling through her tears.

Right–and the snarl?

It hooked you to the aerator?

Mimi gets it.

Not bad for someone with short gelled hair.