“I want you to cut my hair.”
I can see every moment passing by the inside of my eyelids like shadow pictures on a wall, flitting past me as my head spins. The day I dropped my bags off at Tim’s, expectant and unaware of the future. Finally meeting Tina and Bette, and suffering my awkward embarrassment after having caught Shane and some girl in their pool the day before. I was so naive, I almost feel like I’m suffocating from shame. I knew nothing when I came to this town; I was a little fish in a huge, sexually-confused pond, and no one wanted anything to do with me.
Come to think of it, I’m still not sure if anyone really wants anything to do with me. With all of what Bette and Tina are going through, and Marina… I wouldn’t hold it against anyone if they want to ignore poor little Jenny Schecter.
But then I open my eyes and she’s still standing in front of me, a beer bottle in one hand and the other running through her messy shock of hair. Her shirt clings to her, and I try and look up at her face. She looks slightly incredulous, as though I just told her I won the lottery.
“What?” Shane’s doing her half-smile thing again, and I pause. I can feel a childish smile sneaking up on my face, like it always does when I’m trying so hard to be serious but my emotions get the better of me and I just end up looking like an idiot.
“I want you to cut my hair. I want it short.”
Shane laughs under her breath, and brushes her hair away from her face. She seems almost nervous. I try to hide another stupid smile that has crept, unbidden, onto my face. Her deep, confident voice dispels the sense of tension that’s now tangible in my chest. “You sure about this?”
“Yes,” I say simply, almost irrationally. I don’t want to have to explain to her why I am making such a rash decision. It isn’t surprising to me that I would be so careless about something that had defined me for so long; I terrify myself sometimes with my potential for chaos. Like Tim. And Marina. And… shit. I’ve really messed up, haven’t I? For all of Sarah Schuster’s temptations and missteps, I don’t think anything Sarah’s ever had to deal with anything that could compete with my real life.
I don’t want to have to explain all of this to Shane.
Shane pulls the chair across from me around with a senseless grace that I might never be able to grasp. She reaches for her scissors and comb that always sit either in front of her mirror or on the kitchen table, depending on what mood she is in. I always know if it’s going to be a good day or not by the placement of the comb. If it’s at her sink, she’s in a bad mood and wants to change her hairstyle. But, if it’s on the kitchen table like today, she’s in a good mood and is feeling creative.
Shane skillfully spins my chair around so that I’m facing her. She leans down and runs her hands through my brown hair, causing tendrils to tickle my face. I look at her eyes as she studies my face and my hair. Her eyes are blue, like mine, and right now she looks as focused as I’ve ever seen her- with that little smug half-smile perpetually making my stomach squirm, for reasons I don’t feel comfortable thinking about just yet.
I’m not a liar.
The thought hits me square in the chest as I watch Shane and feel her hands in my hair. I don’t want to be a liar. In fact, I try not to. I try to be as brutally honest as is humanly possible… and that’s why I usually get labeled as the crazy one of the group. But I just have too many thoughts and ideas floating around in my head like half-crazed manatees in heat that I can’t keep them all in my head for fear of self-destruction. But if there’s one thing I’m not, it’s a liar. I wouldn’t lie to myself and I wouldn’t lie to Shane, of all people.
Up until this point, how much of what I’ve said has been a lie? Has all of it been a lie? Are there facets of myself that I’ve been hiding from no one except myself, and that is why everyone calls me crazy? It must be. Tim, who blamed my actions on my self-centered ego and my imaginative dream world, must have known the darkest parts of me that I don’t even want to show myself.
I can feel myself screaming.
I can feel Shane’s hands running, gently, through my now-tangled hair. She’s turned me around so that the back of the chair is between me and her. I don’t think she can see the streak of red skin on the back of my neck that I know is forming as I recall my embarrassment and my shame from my mistakes in the past few months. I feel that sinful butterfly shiver of desire as I remember spotting Shane in that pool, the first day I arrived here. I can feel the echo of Marina’s lips on mine as she cornered me in that bathroom when I was still innocent and too insistent upon my identity as a straight woman. I feel the ache of losing what I thought I had with both of them, Tim and Marina, as I finally came upon the disastrous reality that I couldn’t have what I desired and what I felt I needed at the same time. I can still feel the fury that built up inside me the moment I understood that Tim only woke me up as he left so he could feel as though he owned me, one last time. I can feel a lone tear falling down my face as I try to decide what is truth and what is a lie. I’m not sure if I’m crying for the loss I am experiencing as I shed my old shell, or for a fear of the future that I’m so unsure of.
I’m only hoping that this new identity, as my hair falls down around the chair and makes a circle of dead locks around me, will be an awakening for me. I can only hope that once I take on this new persona, that I will finally understand who Sarah Schuster- no, Jennifer Schecter- is. Stories are deeper than reality, you know, my old professor used to tell me. But I’m beginning to think that I don’t want my stories, I don’t want Sarah Schuster, to be deeper and more real than my reality. My reality has already cut deep enough into my life that I don’t think the scars will ever heal. My reality has already jarred my mind enough times that I’m not even sure what reality is anymore.
Everybody’s a liar, dear.
I hope my hair ends up looking like Shane’s. I don’t know why, but the thought crosses my mind as I feel the weight lifting off my shoulders while Shane continues to cut away at my former identity. I hope my hair looks as carefully disheveled as hers.
I want you to cut my hair.
I’m not a liar. I’m not. I don’t want to be one, least of all to Shane. She doesn’t need to see inside the labyrinth that some call my mind. She doesn’t need to be a part of the shame I feel at the part I’ve played in this twisted game of Life. She doesn’t need to see that I might be even more broken and hurting than she thinks she is.
I hope my hair ends up looking like hers.