06 February 2010


Lisa went to the hairdresser this morning, although she was bright and early for her 8am appointment, the morning was reluctant to leave the dark behind and clasped shreds of mist to itself.  The spire of the abbey was nearly visible, the pale yellow of its walls almost the same whited out colour as the clotted fog behind it.  The market was coming to life, the fruit and veg stalls already set up, stall holders making routine conversations with regulars; the rumbling sound of it entered her consciousness, but the words did not.  The cheese stall already had a queue, although only four people long; waiting for service here was a social event in itself.

When she sat down and saw her mutable reflection in front of her, she wondered at how different she had looked at home, when smoothing down her hair with a wet brush in the bathroom mirror.  She'd decided it made no sense to have a shower that morning, as she would anyway have her hair washed for her.  The rough attempt to tidy it up, smooth it down wasn't in evidence by the time she sat in the chair with the cape around her, back-to-front so her arms lay trapped under it in her lap.  Today, she asked for "the same again", to have the roots redone, and the length trimmed.  It was unusual for her, normally she changed something; lighter or darker, thicker or finer streaks, and every now and then a complete switch of colour.  She wondered if she was afraid of being stuck with a style, of having a recognisable snapshot, so handy in case of police investigations or headline writers, never changing from that picture again.

Parallel mirrors around the salon allowed for discreet people watching.  The woman directly behind her was fully groomed, subtle but noticeable make up, carefully styled hair.  She hadn't been given her cape yet, she wore an ivory coloured blouse with a string of pearls at her throat.  There was an animated conversation about the womans desired new style, it involved two hairdressers and the large sample book, fake strands of hair held up to the womans scalp, much nodding.  
Lisa wondered how early the woman had got up to be so arranged, and why?  How much did her appearance matter to her that she thought it was necessary to have on her public face, even while the artifice of her hair was being renewed.  She would still have to go to the basins to have her hair washed, to have her head pulled back, exposing the old skin of her neck to the world.
"But perhaps it's me that's wrong," Lisa thought.  When her hair was done, it flicked outward pleasingly, giving her a faintly kittenish, tousled look.  It framed her face and the melding shades of colour in her fringe drew attention to her eyes.  She thought she looked a bit more like herself, but still the reflection wasn't really her. 

It was still misty outside as she walked back through the market square, the queue at the cheese stall had grown to its usual proportions, with people meeting and greeting each other, catching up on the gossip of the previous week.  Lisa turned her head as she walked, and suddenly there, a blur refected in the shop window,for a second was the person she was.  Only a glimpse, but the fleeting movement was her, the static images seen so far this morning like a parade of postcards, could only be an approximation. 

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