Closing Up the Beauty Parlor

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They came like cars today: a traffic jam of girls with flawless faces, hopeful faces, faces flashing smiling teeth that danced through bursts of breathless speech about their dates, their plans for prom, their racy dresses with awkward shoes and jewelry borrowed from their moms.

But now the piles of hair are swept, and now each apron’s folded. She turns the lock, and now the lights are out. Behind the deer-brown clapboard walls, she’s standing, wrapped in roaring dark and acetone, to watch her sign that’s flashing OPEN, siren-like, in red and blue.

And now she only thinks about the accident— the clumps of hair across the windshield, bits of teeth and jewelry on the road, her daughter folded, face-down, against a ditch, her daughter’s face, her daughter’s face— and prays to God she’ll never see another face.

                                                       Prestonsburg, KY 1983