Waves Of Grace

The hair beneath her fingers was incredibly soft and baby fine. She pulled the comb through the silvery white strands, carefully working out knots, taking care not to yank or press too hard on a scalp made tender by age.
The powder of the dry shampoo she’d used was worked out as she combed, leaving a dingy snowfall on the bright pink towel she’d draped over thin shoulders.
As she worked, she hummed an old hymn under her breath, sparking a rare flash of memory.
“You gonna sing in church on Sunday, Grace?” the shaky voice asked, pale blue eyes meeting hers in the mirror.
Her name wasn’t Grace – that name belonged to the woman’s daughter, gone almost fifteen years now – but she smiled and nodded anyway, and kept humming.
Strands of hair were worked over soft foam curlers. Hard plastic would have worked better, but they left bruises on a scalp that was easily damaged and long to heal.
The conversational dam had been breached; words flowed freely, if not always coherently. The nurse in the corner had told her that the woman was silent every other day of the week, so she enjoyed the sound of the light voice even if she couldn’t always understand what was being said.

She sprayed a watered-down setting solution on the curlers and moved to sit in front of the woman, gently taking each hand and working lotion into the parchment-paper skin while they waited for the solution to dry.

When the timer dinged, she rose to remove the curlers and comb out the waves into a style the woman had favored over sixty years ago.
“Am I beautiful now?” the woman asked, peering into the mirror.

She kissed the wrinkled cheek. “You’re always beautiful to me, Grandma.”

This post is my response to a prompt from Write On Edge to write about hair.  This is a fictional story – coming off 30 days of fast and furious writing for NaNoWriMo, it was nice to settle back into the stricter craft of a short story!

Thanks for stopping by…and please let me know what you think in the comments!


16 thoughts on “Waves Of Grace

  1. Nerdy, Amber, and Jackie – thank you!

    Idiosyncraticeye – it's an absorbent powder, used most often in nursing homes where leaning someone back over a sink would be a very bad idea. Used to smell vaguely of petroleum, but they've improved it. I recently saw a TV ad for a spray by a big shampoo company (Vidal Sassoon maybe?), that is effectively the same thing. It absorbs oils (and the dirt trapped there).


  2. I love the way you've woven so much story into the cleaning, brushing, and curling of her hair. It's a fantastic example of using the prompt in addition to being tender and beautifully written.


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