The Picture of Brunette

Calista Labrador, Contributing Writer

Her hair. The “Jennifer Aniston” of our third-grade class. An array of styles that differ every single day; unfamiliar braid patterns, half-up-half-downs, perfectly parted pigtails. Does her mother make time before her office job each morning, perhaps 5 A.M. on the dot? Does she have her own personal stylist secretly trailing behind like a Disney Channel child star?

My thin black hair that hasn’t changed since kindergarten swirls with the seasonal fog as I stand opposite her, tetherball pole and hand-painted white lines on the concrete separating us.

Thwip! The worn-out ball is soaring, towering over me just like her height. Bam! Another strong strike, she’s forevermore the athletic one. Pow! She’s done it, rope fully wrapped around the now rattling pole. The crowd of boys cheer wildly.

“This is why I don’t play sports,” I peek down towards my somehow bruised palms.

Grinning, the silver of her braces sparkle directly at me, “That’s why we practice! Let’s go, recess is almost over.”

… 

I left the suburbs years ago. Not to be mistaken, I full-heartedly miss being next door to the city of cinema and all things pop culture, but I know my past peers would kill to be on salty shores.

An emotional dagger pierces right through as I flip through photo albums of our trifecta. Hopping at school dances, dressing in costume for fall festivals, inevitable small fights of “which pair is closer friends.” Yet as I compare the picture-perfect version of her to the new her on socials, something has shifted. The same, but different. She attempts to keep the youthful glow undying by having the exact shade of brunette pulled slick back, yet the sparkle has disappeared. It comes with maturing, for all of us.

I’m left reminiscing on the wasted hours daydreaming of french and fishtail braids. I run a hand through my silk hair.