If I ever kill a man, my hair will give me away. Clotted to the wall, clumped with matter and biology on the floor, adhered to wet wounds and inside out organs. Or just resting peacefully atop the body, as if floated down from the head of an angel.
My hair has been betraying me since I was born.
Or, should I say, since it began its crawl past my ears and took its first steps below my chin. When it made me a girl. Though my body remained a boy’s, flat and straight as a cookie sheet, it was the hair that told, that invited the hands and the hot sour breath. Everyone knows this.
Yet everyone acted shocked when I chopped it, briefly, at twenty-one. Joke’s on me. By then my body had fallen in line.
Worst were the trails I left, each strand a breadcrumb through my life. The dusty nests caught in chair wheels. Loops inside saran-wrapped bowls. Clusters beneath the hoarding couch cushions. The clogged sweepers. The Drano bottles. My own mouth, a silky piece creeping down my throat while still hanging off my lip and the sharp tickle as I pulled it out, like a magician with her scarves, her swords. Even when my hair was no more than an inch and a half long, the bits coalesced into darkness in the corners.
Nine years ago I married. We had been old fashioned about it and didn’t move in together until after the wedding. It was a good decision. It was a beautiful time.
The noises through the air were precious, thrumming with the other’s presence, as if no one had ever experienced it before. After it had been so still. We endeared ourselves to each other through our small grievances.
Like: His never remembering to unball his socks before throwing them in the hamper. I never caught them so out they came from the dryer, half rolled and wet. Laundress! He would call. Charwoman! You’re going to get fired! He would laugh and pinch my hips.
Like, too: My not-small collection of tiny stuffed dogs, rubbed smooth from childhood and newly vagrant because their basket now held our mail. He acquiesced and a few found a home on our dresser. Geppetto, who had crossed the ocean with my grandmother, held the limelight — a white mutt with brown tipped ears often found engaged in the suggestion of some lewd behavior with the after-shave bottle.
And, of course: My hair. The fall out rate had accelerated by year three. Hormones. How can you lose so much hair, he would ask, feigning disgust at finding strands clinging to the shower, in the sink, hairballs attached to our flannel sheets. I would say, you should be pleased to find them. They should remind you of me and make you smile. I would laugh and kiss his nose.
The days passed and we continued moving each other’s air. The socks stayed balled and I took to rolling unrolled ones myself, so that no sock fully dried and he went to work in the morning with damp feet.
One of the last Christmases, I woke early to find Geppetto hung from the fireplace by a noose of my own hair, next to my stocking. It turned out my husband had been collecting for a while. There was love in that, too, I suppose.