After we get off the train, we walk through the ticket office together. He walks with me across the parking lot to the steps that would lead me to the road in the direction of where my home is.
When we get there, before I open my mouth to say goodbye, he stops walking and he asks, “What are you doing tomorrow? We should meet and you can show me around.” He smiles faintly. “I am new to the town and have not yet seen the sights.”
I turn toward him and I wonder if I should. I know I do not want to be at home when my dad fetches his things. I do not want to live through another fight. I do not want to see him walk out with all his worldly possessions and be left behind like an unwanted carpet. I say, “Okay, where do you live, north side or south side?” Here everything is determined by north or south.
“On the north side.”
I think for a moment where I should meet him. “We could meet at the mall. It is about halfway in between, I suppose.”
He smiles a pleased smile and it dazzles me. “At ten?”
“Ten is perfect. I better be off then.”
He turns away from me, hesitates and then turns back. He says, “Heather.” His voice sounds imploring, almost like a prayer.
I look back at him curiously.
“Your hair suits you. You are beautiful.”
I gulp and smile widely. Turning away from him, I can feel his eyes burning into my back as I walk away feeling elated. Why would a boy telling me I am beautiful bring such blissful ecstasy to my being? I have had many boyfriends. Some I have pursued and caught, and others have made their advances at me first and I had fallen for them. This is not the first boy who has shown an interest in me, but I have never told a boy I love him and I have never gone all the way. Boys think I am easy because I am usually so happy go lucky, but they discover soon enough there is no pot of gold waiting for them at the end of my rainbow. I am waiting for that boy where I will feel the love bubble out of me. Where I will be able to say I love you spontaneously, without having to wonder if I should. Now, though, with me realizing there is no such thing as everlasting, forever love, this will never happen. For-never will I find true love.
That evening when I walk into the kitchen, my mom looks up to greet me with her usual, “Hi. How was your day?”
She looks back down at the newspaper, not expecting a reply. I actually see her hesitate and her mind rewind. She looks up again and pulls her eyes together as if the harsh kitchen light is playing tricks on her eyes. A deep frown furrows her brow, as she asks carefully, “Your hair?”
My hand comes up to my hair. I love the way the ends brush across my fingertips. I say nothing though, as I wait for the explosion of fury.
The night before, I was already in my room when she got home and the one time when she looked into the room to ask me if I already had dinner, my room was dimly lit, so she did not notice my drastic hair transformation.
She stands up from her chair and walks closer to me. She lifts her hand and takes a strand of my hair between her fingers. As if touching it will confirm her suspicions it has gone from light brown to midnight black.
“Why Heather? You had the most beautiful hair. You cut it as well!” She exclaims as if she just notices it.
“I felt like a change. Black suits my mood now.”
She clicks her tongue. “Silly girl. Do you know how difficult it is to get black out of your hair again? I’ll have to take you to see Anna tomorrow.”
Anna is her hairdresser and gossip buddy. They meet every second weekend so my mom can get a touch-up on her roots and a catch-up on her gossip.
Trying to avoid going to see Anna and have her change my hair, which I have grown to love, I say without thinking, “Dad is coming tomorrow.”
Her face drops instantaneously. Her eyes cloud over with sadness, as she pulls her shoulders square and steps away from me. “Oh, yes. I forgot about that. How hungry are you?”
She dishes up our dinner and then for the next few hours I pretend this Friday is still the same as it always used to be. My mom and I are watching Gossip Girl, our dinner plates balancing precariously on our laps while we eat silently. My dad is working late as usual.
It is still dark outside, when I wake up. I turn onto my back and notice a dark shadow hanging in the top corner of my room. Opening and closing my eyelids rapidly, clearing the sleep from my eyes, I squint my eyes and look up at the corner again. The shadow is still there.
I reach my hand toward my bedside lamp, not moving my eyes away from the dark gloom. I click the light on and the shadow disappears. I sigh with relief. Probably just the dark in the room playing tricks on my eyes or the tension and stress from my parents getting a divorce is making me see things.
I slide out of bed and tiptoe to the bathroom. I take a quick, hot shower, washing my hair as well and I wonder if I will be able to dry it as dead straight as Angie did.
When I am back in my room, I pull on a pair of black jeans and a black sweater, with a sharp V-neck. I sit down in front of my dressing table and then I start the process of drying and styling my hair. It takes me forever and when I finally give up, I realize hairdressers must have a magic wand or wrist. My hair is as straight as I will ever get it. I will have to invest in a decent hair-straightener.
I clasp my new necklace around my neck and when I look back at myself in the mirror, I finger the cross softly. The symbol of the Celtic cross dates back to pagan times. Thousands and thousands of years before the establishment of Christian churches. It is a cosmic symbol, a tree of life, connecting heaven and earth. The vertical arm symbolizes spirituality while the horizontal arm signifies the earthly dimension. The cross is often placed within a circle, which represents the sun and eternity. Together they symbolize the earth and the revolution of the four seasons. The Celtic cross is often used for luck and as protection against many forms of natural magic. I need luck right now.
Looking back at the clock next to my bed, it broadcasts the hour is nine. If I did not leave soon, I will never make it to the mall before ten o’clock.
At the front door, I unhook my new black coat from the coat hanger. It feels warm and luxurious. It was an extravagant purchase, but in my opinion well deserved.
My mom calls from her room, “Heather?”
I call back, “Yeah?”
“Are you not staying for when your dad gets here?”
“No. I have to meet a friend at the mall.” I hesitate and then say, “Sorry.” I really am feeling sorry suddenly for leaving her to deal with it all on her own.
Pulling the door open, I call up to her, “Okay, bye. I’ll see you later.”
I wait for a few seconds, but she does not reply. I pull the door closed until the latch catches and push once to make sure it is locked tightly.
It is a bright day, but there is a nippy chill in the air, so I pull the belt of my jacket tightly around my waist.
When I get to the mall, Kieran is waiting for me at the entrance to the mall on the main road. He is wearing a dark cobalt pair of jeans with a very light grey, almost white sweater. It fits snugly around his shoulders and chest and then hangs loosely around his waist. He is staring deep in thought at the church across the road.
I touch his forearm briefly and say, “Hey. Sorry I am late.”
He looks down at me startled, and then a smile lights up his face when our eyes meet.
Casually he takes my hand into his. This gesture surprises me, but his hand feels warm and holding it does not mean I am making a commitment to him. It feels nice anyway.