About a Girl

You would’ve liked her — everyone did. She had soot-black hair that hung down to her lower back. If I close my eyes, I can still see that hair. Because boys, you see, love long hair.

Don’t believe any who say otherwise.

I was miles beneath her — along with four million other freckle-faced toads. We all vied for her attention and never got more than a smile. Though a smile was good enough. Those were simpler times.

She was going to be a doctor, a lawyer, or a teacher. There aren’t exactly many choices in a small town. She was smart as the guts of a calculator, and pure hell on the volleyball court. Basketball too.

I only heard her sing once, at a wedding. “Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Thee.” She had the ability to make men weep like willows, and young boys sob like men.

And then she fell apart.

Folks used the C-word, said it was a mass on her brain. But most said things like, “It’s a damn shame about that girl.” And it was, too.

Her friends packed her room so full of flowers the greenery threatened to burst her windows. And she had more Hallmark stationary than a drugstore aisle of greeting cards.

On the day she died, her mother was beside her. She swears a cold wind blew through the room.

“It was like someone left a window open,” her mother said. “And then her eyes went out like lightbulbs. At the funeral, the preacher told everyone she had ‘gone with the wind.’ I liked that.”

I’ll bet.

“But,” her mother went on. “She didn’t die that day, it happened long earlier. She died the morning the nurses shaved head. Oh, it killed us all. Her hair was her favorite thing about herself. And this world took it from her.”

Well, I don’t know a thing about life, and I don’t know where her soul went off to. The same place we all go I guess.

But wherever she is, I know she’s got her hair.