May 2nd, 2011

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Objects have a story too....


This is a rescue piece I wrote a while back.
I'm still tweaking.

This is what happens when you tell me:  "Write a story about a common household object, like a hairbrush"


HAIRBRUSH

I brush my hair, a hundred strokes before bed.
In front of the mirror, I brush my hair like my mother did, like many women of my family did before.
I brush my hair with their hairbrush. It is a beautiful piece. When I was a child, I used to run my fingers over the minuscule birds, fig leaves and flowers engraved on the polished silver.

  In the real world, I’m in a motel room with ugly prints on the walls, nicotine-stained curtains and a faint smell of bleach and mildew. But, as long as I brush my hair, I am safe.
I can feel how bad the abyss wants me.

   Once upon a time, 200 years ago, a branch from a Mediterranean oak tree was carved to make a hairbrush. This brush was decorated with silverleaf, engraved and sent to join the matching comb and hand mirror in their silk-lined red leather box.

A foreign gentlemen bought it from an elegant shop in Rome and took it home as a present for his goddaughter, who was fifteen and had already decided to start a collection of hairbrushes. It must have been fashionable for wealthy girls at the time. Her new Italian silver piece quickly became a favorite . There is a portrait of her in some dark room right now. My mother told me that my hair is the same shade of auburn as that girl’s.

   She was seventeen when she fell in love. By custom, marriage was a business contract, but her chosen one had the position and wealth that made him acceptable to her family. And he liked her too. But, just when the fairytale was going so well, the girl’s pretty cousin got in the way.

   

I’ve always imagined her as an exuberant character, with a flashier beauty and a worldlier wit than the auburn-haired girl. She charmed the prince charming. It couldn’t be allowed. One evening, the auburn-haired girl offered to brush her sweet cousin’s hair. When she had her on the chair, she hit her on the head with her favorite hairbrush, the hardest one, until she was dead.

   Then she pushed her down the stairs and went back to her room to wait. She was wearing a dark blue dress. Carefully, she wiped the hairbrush on it and placed it in the glass cabinet where she kept her collection. Then she picked another brush and put it on her dressing table. Washed her face. Scrubbed her hands. When she heard the screams, she ran down the stairs and made sure to get blood on her hands and clothes while she cried by the body. That tidied up all the incriminating details.

   The auburn-haired girl married prince charming and lived happily. It was only on her deathbed when she told the story of the hairbrush to her youngest granddaughter, who later inherited the collection. Since then ,the secret has been passed on from mother to daughter with the brush itself. My grandmother died soon after giving birth to my mother so it was up to my great-grandmother to bring up the baby.

   

My mother was seventeen when she got pregnant .Rebellious teenager that she was, her reaction to great grandma’s suggesting an abortion was running away in the middle of the night and never going back. She stole the hairbrush that night.

   I brush my hair.

Hair is a curious thing. It doesn’t feel pain when you cut it but it keeps growing for a while after you are dead, as if it was an independent being. More dead and more alive.

Hair for black magic. Hair keepsakes that last forever.

   Six months ago, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. It was too late, the beast had crawled through her vital organs. She refused treatment. It would only give her a few extra months in a hospital bed.

‘I don’t want to waste precious time’ she said’ above all, I don’t want to see my hair coming off in handfuls on my grandmother’s silver brush’

   Well, that didn’t happen. Her hair was as beautiful as ever on the day she died.

I brush my hair.
I got a letter last week. My family wants to meet me. The motel room is almost exactly halfway between mum’s flat and great grandma’s manor.

   This hairbrush is going home.