The Father by Kutme
She was seventeen and considering very strongly to move out. He had asked her to. He’d explained about God, about happiness, about the sect.
Parents were getting on her nerves, especially her father – skirts are too short, blouses too tight, but most often of all – hair is too untidy. Repetitive words, no god, no happiness.
Her hair was a bit fine, but straight, black and shiny. She always wore it loose, letting it brush the tips of her young breasts when walking. It seemed to have a maddening effect on the opposite sex. And on her father, in retrospect.
He loved it. He said it was a gift from God. It was their special thing while they made love.
The day her father took her to the cabin she wore it loose, too. Shiny black hair in the autumn sun. A weekend with daddy – a treat. Or so she thought. No, no treat it turned out to be.
They arrived, car was parked, luggage unpacked. Darkness outside, fire flickering, throwing its shadows across the black shiny hair. They had eaten, and her father had procured a bottle of whiskey. How bizarre, she thought at the time, I thought he minded me drinking.
A glass, two, three. She was warm and giggly. Trusting. She did love her father.
He was sitting opposite from her, smiling at her, pouring the next drink.
They spoke about everything, it seemed; or was it only about hair? Dark hair, straight hair, blond hair, permed hair. What kind of hair did she like on guys? Which colour? About her girlfriends’ hair, and the hair of her math teacher.
How did it come to trimming? She didn’t remember. It seems he’d suggested it, and she’d tried to laugh it off, drunk though she was. “Chicken,” he’d said. Then there was a lot about trust, and love, parents and children.
The chair was placed before the blazing fireplace. She was wearing her underwear only – it didn’t seem strange at the time; this was her father, for god’s sake – the black, shiny hair spilling over her shoulders; jet black against the pale white of her cotton bra.
Trust. Did she trust him? “Daddy, of course I do.” No, she didn’t trust him. She had to prove her trust by letting him tie her to the chair. That was her mistake.
Sitting there, tied to that old wrought iron chair, the heat of the fireplace flushing her face.
First he combed; he combed for nearly ten minutes with slow, patient strokes. He used a comb, not a brush. She just giggled, enjoying the slight tugs at her hair, relaxing. How much had she drunk? This was fun.
“Just a trim?” he asked, looking at her inquisitively. The alcohol was clouding her mind. A trim? Yes, she could do with a trim. Even a little haircut. Little flashed through her mind and disappeared. She merely said, “I trust you, daddy.”
He was telling her he loved her – she was his daughter and he loved her, and she should keep that in mind – when he made the first cut. It was fast, abrupt and above her left ear. She shouted in drunken surprise. “It’s too late now, anyway,” he murmured. “Let me finish it. It will only look worse if you fight.”
She gazed at him through blue drunken eyes, in disbelief. Then she was crying.
The father was concentrating on his work now. He combed the hair forward, over her face, and cut a fringe. One inch long. She realised he was cutting into her hairline, into the hair over the temple. A long strand of shiny blackness was draped over one thigh. The father cut all the way around her head, at eye level, to the bone. She knew her hair stopped abruptly at that level, only to continue flowing down her back from that point downwards, but much thinner now. What a strange way to give a bowl cut, flashed through her mind, but then she remembered vaguely it was her head that was being sheared, her femininity that was being robbed, and she started crying. Stifled sobs, dry and drunk.
A straight razor. Where had he got it? He always used an electric shaver.
He pressed her head down, chin into the chest.
“I’ll cut you if you move,” he whispered while he was lifting the hair off the nape of her neck.
He dry shaved her. Tiny stroke by tiny stroke. Carefully placing the severed strands on the table beside him. First the back, then the left side, where the long hair had been cut off, then the right side, long soft strands of black.
She was hurting, the exposed skin was stinging; at some point she felt a rivulet of blood trickling past her right ear. She saw the scarlet drops splash on the cotton of her bra.
Her head had been sheared – like a sheep, she thought, like a mindless animal. A cap of black hair hid the top of her skull. A circular cap of shiny black, beneath it pale, vulnerable, hurting skin.
He was standing before her, staring at his work.
“Fine girl,” he muttered, “good girl.”
Lotion. Plain body lotion. He spread it between his hands and rubbed it into his sheared daughter’s scalp with slow, precise movements.
Then he untied her.
She stood there. The tears had dried and a tentative hand was exploring the shaven neck. Smooth. Soft burning smoothness. She ran to the bathroom.
Gazed at her image. Mutilated was the first word that came to mind. Her young beauty had been mutilated. The fringe made her face look square, the shaven temples made it look hard. Her puffy eyes were the most prominent feature. She could see the spot where he’d nicked her – above the right ear, the angry pinkness of the fresh cut looking like an oblong pimple.
She vomited, on one long painful heave.
He’d collected the severed strands off the floor and laid them next to the ones on the table. He was tying the hair with a pink ribbon when she walked in.
“Why, daddy?” she managed to sob.
“Good girls should have neat haircuts,” he explained with a clipped, military air. “I don’t want a whore for a daughter. I want a good daughter with a neat haircut. I don’t want you whoring about. This should keep you from whoring for a long while.”
How wrong he was.
Her mother screamed when she saw her. There was a long fight that night. She listened to them flinging reproaches at each other all night. No, not all night. About dawn they went to sleep.
She left then. She went to him. She knew he’d still want her. She went to him with an air of finality; a decisiveness she had learned while the straight razor was scraping across the nape of her neck.
He did not say a word, but laid a protective hand on the back of her head. The warmth was comforting. Arousing. They made love and she went to sleep, his fingers stroking the shaven skin.
She had joined him and his God, prepared to obey the laws of his sect, his laws.
Her parents never saw her again.