“I’m going to style your hair,” Bea’s little sister said. “Let’s play beauty shop.”
Bea loved when someone brushed her long, blonde hair. Particularly when the hairbrush bristles tingled her scalp. It tickled a little behind the ears, but she didn’t mind. This must be why dogs shook their hind legs when someone scratched their ears, she thought.
She sat cross-legged on the floor and waited for her sister, Dora, to return with the brush and elastic hair bands, which their mother left on the bedroom dresser.
“Want some gum?” Dora asked when she walked in the den.
“Where did you find gum?” Bea wanted to know. Their mother forbid them from having any sweets in the house.
“In Jill’s room,” Dora answered nonchalantly.
“What were you doing in there?” Bea whispered. Their eldest sister forbid them from entering her room when she wasn’t there.
Bea and Dora were forbidden from doing many things.
“Looking for hair bands,” Dora said with ounce of guilt. She didn’t care about anyone’s rules.
Bea took a block of Bubblicious from her sister. Grape. She loved grape. After popping it into her mouth and crunching down on the chewy square, she relished the fruity sweetness coating her tongue as Dora brushed her hair. Life didn’t get any better than this.
“I’m going to make your hair look so pretty,” Dora told her.
In a relaxed daze, Bea purred, “okay.”
After a while, Dora set down the brush and began styling her sister’s hair. Dissatisfied with the hair bands, which failed to hold Bea’s silky straight hair in place, Dora impatiently tapped her foot on the floor and tried to remember how Jill did her own hair before she went out in the evening. What was the gooey, sticky stuff she dabbed on her head? That’s what Dora needed now. Something sticky. Like gum.
Dora’s mother used it to stick posters on their walls. Maybe it helped hair stick together, too. Without giving it a second thought, she pulled the wad of gum from her mouth and stretched it apart. As she wound Bea’s hair into a coil and wrapped it around her head, she jabbed a piece of gun at the end and smushed it onto Bea’s scalp. Over and over she repeated her process until her sister’s head was a mass of hair loops held together with gum.
“You look so pretty!” Dora exclaimed.
“Lemme see,” Bea said, rushing to the bathroom.
“Dora, how did you get that to stay in the place?” she asked, examining the bird nest atop her scalp.
“It’s a secret,” Dora replied. “A beauty shop lady never reveals her secrets.”
At that moment, their mother walked by and noticed the girls gazing at the mirror.
“Bea, what happened to your hair?”
“Dora styled it. Do you like it, Mommy?”
Her mom bent down and peered at Bea’s head.
“Dora!” their mother shrieked. “Is that gum in your sister’s hair?”
Dora didn’t answer – she had already bolted for the front door.