Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Hair (07/04/19)
TITLE: A Brush With Love
By Rachel Burkum
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It had been like this since I could remember. I had long hair for a little girl, and a very sensitive scalp. For years, my mother tried to coax me through brushings and combings. She even bought the magical spray that’s supposed to remove all tangles in an instant. It never worked with me.
My nose scrunched up, creating a ridge of wrinkles. I kept silent this time, even though she hit another knot. I knew better than to scream - I was too old for that now. A whimper or two may have slipped out though. Swimming in the pool always made such a mess of my waste-length mane, and I just didn’t have the patience to try and straighten it out myself.
My mother still rolled her eyes at my abhorrence for this task. But even with it being such a battle each time, she did it, determined to help me have clean, untangled hair.
Today she was using a different brush. The special, vintage brush for a special occasion, I suppose. As I sat in front of the mirror, scrutinizing my white dress, my eyes drifted up to my mother standing behind me. I’ll never forget the expression on her face. She was so proud. So happy. This might very well be the last time she would ever brush my hair.
I wasn’t whimpering or whining today - thankfully I had outgrown all complaints, even if my scalp was still sensitive. Today I was more intrigued by the picture in the mirror, and I wished it to be imprinted on my mind forever. What I saw was love - a kind of love I’d never forget. A kind of unconditional love born of a godly woman instilling these principles into her daughter.
Things were different this time. The hair sliding through the dense bristles was silver gray. But it wasn’t mine. I stood behind the cushioned chair, using gentle strokes. My eyes fell to my mother’s hands in her lap. They were gnarled and thin, creating a visual of arthritic pain that now kept her from so many tasks I took for granted. Like brushing my hair.
It seemed like just yesterday I’d been five or six, expelling melodramatic shrieks. My mother silently enjoyed this special treatment, which only served to stir up feelings of guilt within me. I’d been such a brat.
The wails reverberated in my head. I flinched at the plea to stop. Heaven, help me. I was determined to keep my cool - just like my mother had always kept hers. I might not be able to resist the temptation to cut my own daughter’s hair short, though. On my knees to be at her tiny level, perhaps it was the most appropriate posture for the situation.
In spite of my frustration, I wished my mother could see me now. There were so many things I tried to do, to follow in her footsteps. So as I battled the messy mop of hair before me, I smiled, and maybe even laughed. I embellished the story of Samson, who must also have fought the dreaded tangles. And hopefully, through it all… I also passed on some of the unconditional love that had been freely gifted to me all those years - and complaints - ago.
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