Side Part

Leaves He followed her gentle sway to the back of the salon.  As she walked, her fist dug into the curve of her back and he focused his attention there, willing away her pain, wondering if she’d jump at his touch.  Anna had come to him every six weeks for the past four years, but this time she’d rescheduled and he hadn’t seen her since spring.

She flopped into the seat and Myles draped a towel across her shoulders and helped her ease down into the basin.  Her eyes were closed in trust before he’d even warmed the water. His gaze lingered on her face and he felt a rising heat.  She spoke then, a mumbled settling sound, a reaction to his fingers in her hair, and he watched her hips nestle into the cushion.

His fingers moved with the sullen gait of the blues trio fogging the room through overhead speakers.  Myles slipped thumbs down the familiar cove at the base of her skull and grinned at the change in her breathing.  He stayed quiet, knowing she’d open up and talk when she was ready.

On Anna, Myles used a special treatment, a product they didn’t carry in the salon. He wanted a smell just for her, and she never asked what it was. He applied the thick cream and wrapped her hair in a steaming towel while the potion did its magic. Her neck exposed, he examined her skin, seeking shadows of bruises or scars, but there were none this time.  She still wore the ring.

Myles was looking at her hands when Anna opened her eyes.  He recovered, checked the timer, and finished the treatment and rinse.  She extracted herself from the seat without his help and towel-dried her hair on the way to his station.  He wanted to ask why she’d been away so long.  He knew she hadn’t been to someone else. This was the longest he’d ever seen her hair. It suited her, and he told her so, half expecting her to remind him, “Jake likes it shorter.”

Anna rewarded him with a laugh and a shake of curls. “At least get rid of the summer stripe!”  The ends were beginning to dry, evidence of days in the sun. Their eyes met briefly in the mirror and he pushed her head forward to work on the back of her hair. Brutal snips of sunshine fell to the floor, but he still left it longer than Jake preferred, tempting her to protest.

He worked quickly to the front and began to part her hair down the middle.  Anna spoke up, “Part it on the side this time.  You used to say it would look best that way. Let’s try.”

“Okay,” he agreed, “let’s!”  Her smile made him feel like a co-conspirator.  Myles completed the cut and pumped gel into his hands.  He separated the curls and twisted them round his fingers, giving each curl his attention and springing them into place. He didn’t want to imagine an angry Jake.

“Myles, do you have…someone?” The question surprised him.  She had never asked about his personal life.  Usually Anna rambled on about a job that made no sense, or marriage he understood even less.  Sometimes she was silent. One time she cried.  But she’d never asked him about his own life.

“I’m single,” he risked, “why, you trying to hook me up?”  Her look was curious, but she didn’t reply.  Anna switched her attention to the mirror, her new look noticeably different, softer somehow.

“I love it!” No mention of Jake.  Myles unfastened the drape and helped her out of the seat.  He walked her to the front of the salon, his palm spread across the curve of her lower back.  He didn’t remove his hand when she stopped at the reception desk and turned, his hand now on her hip.  She squeezed it and stepped closer for a moment before releasing him with a whispered, “See you in six weeks.”

This post is an exercise for Three Word Wednesday.  The words this week were: Brutal, Sullen, and Trust

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