Author: Alana Mohamed

Alana Mohamed lives in Queens, NY. She is an editor at The Coalition Zine. She can also be found on Tumblr and Twitter.

Things Your Mother Couldn’t Teach You

Maya sweeps in to my room and slams the door behind her.  “Take it all off,” she demands.  Her chest is rising and falling.

I get confused because my parents are just downstairs, but I start to pull off my skirt anyway.

Maya moans. “Kiri, I mean my hair.” 

I stop taking it off and leave my skirt at my feet.  I feel stupid and horny.  I should have known.  When I was younger I dismembered my dolls and cut off their hair.  Now I trim Maya’s every three months, cut dry, three-quarters of an inch off, per her mother’s request.  I usually do it with a ruler, because her mother scares me.  Once, when we were five, she caught us playing doctor under the dining room table and slapped me with her rolling pin. 

Maya’s holding her head in her hands.  She looks like a stick figure in distress.

“So you want me to take all three-quarters of an inch off?”

“No I want it all off.”

“The whole inch?”

“No, I mean all the inches.”  Maya tries to rip her hair out with her fingers, but it’s too thick.  She just grunts a lot.

I grab her hands and kiss her knuckles.  I speak to her like she’s a small child with a  bruise.  “Why would you want me to do that?  I know this isn’t what your mother wants.  She loves your hair.”  What I mean to say is, “I love your hair.”

But Maya is funny in that way and says, “Everyone loves my hair, but I feel it weighing me down.  I can barely hold my head up at all.  My back hurts.  It’s like having big breasts, but no cleavage.”  As she says this she rests her head on my shoulder and, true, I do find it difficult to stand upright.

I try to explain to her.  “Holding your head high is never easy, it shouldn’t be.  Besides, it’s the hand you’re dealt.  It’s probably big boobs or big hair and if I cut yours, you won’t have either.”

“I hear it’s liberating.  I want you to liberate me.  Maybe I can do the same for you.  It will be so romantic.”  She says it like I should want it.  I sit her down on my bed.  She immediately flops back; there is a thud.

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