If she just kept her eyes down, and stayed still, maybe they would forget about her.
“I like her long hair,” whispered one boy.
“Yeah, I’d like to take a handful of that and…” said the other.
She shut their voices to the very fringes of her awareness, focused again on the papers on her desk and wondered if the other students or teacher were hearing the exchange behind her. And why they stayed silent. She asked herself why she stayed silent. Why couldn’t she stand up and protest, make a scene in that basic math class she took in place of the calculus one her senior year.
She could envision how the two boys would be lounging back in the hard plastic seats. Nodding and smirking at one another between comments. Though they had all spent the majority of their days in the same buildings the past dozen years, they never had much cause to interact directly. What had she done to either of them to deserve this dressing-down?
Her earthy brown, gently curling hair was enough.
She had loved how it made her feel beautiful. It was her one thing, her one feature she could love because it felt so distinct from herself. Now, it was a shameful weight against her back.
Never mind her grungy white over-sized sweater. Or her brother’s hand-me-down-jeans. She should have been safe hiding in that camouflage. She tried to get a grip on the anxiety. Her mind forced up the fear of the bus ride home from kindergarten and the sensation of a boy trying to push up her favorite red-and-white striped sundress… of the time a babysitter’s son tried to talk her into the bathroom with him before she ran downstairs.
It didn’t matter how she dressed. Or how she was always aware and never alone with boys. hair…
Her parents insisted she reconsider. But as graduation neared, she unknowingly knew it was a tangible way she could try to rid herself of herself–that shy frightened mouse of a girl who let boys be boys to enjoy their innocent fun–or maybe it was just another way to hide away. So she compromised with her parents. She would wait until after graduation, the next morning anyway.
just take it off at the shoulders