By : Rhiana S.
The wind scoops up the leaves with a certain determination, thrusting them into the clear blue sheet above. Bold reds, warm yellows, and fiery oranges scatter across the ground in mounds that lay awaiting the satisfying crunch and crackle. My voluminous dark hair sweeps down my back in protective waves, shielding me from the biting wind. I skip, full of energy, kicking up the leaves as I go. A smile spreads across my face, green eyes bright with excitement. I continue joyfully, ignoring the dynamic laughter that follows. I know it’s aimed at me, but I also know why. They’re bothered by the parts that define me. The tangled locks that tumble wildly, my joy in being outside, the skips I take along a concrete road. Rather than attempting to slip into the moulds created, straying away from the un-originality of the images I’m surrounded by. I find my thoughts preoccupied with the rushing ocean and the smell of pine. The freedom of outdoors and doing what I wish, being who I want to be. Unbothered by the icy glares they aim at me; the jeering remarks and heartless laughter, I disappear along the path and into the distance ahead, humming contentedly as I go. Strong enough to hold myself high.
Drops of rain plummet from the sky tauntingly, as I knowledgeable of the defeat they’ve achieved. They shimmer faintly in the grey of the outside. Raindrops slide along the window, pausing for moments before plunging downwards in a suicide attempt. Stuck inside, I sit alone at my desk in the classroom. Laughter screeches across the room, and I can feel the heat of their laser-like eyes on my neck. I sit straighter and toss my head back, letting a waterfall of hair ripple down my back.
I hear my name, “Lola,” muttered by several people, followed by a chorus of hysterical laughter. Curious, I bounce over to the circle gathered by the blackboard. As I approach, the group parts messily and I wade through. In the centre is a boy. He tosses his head back and skips around the circle, wearing an idiotic smile that makes his eyes bulge. My stomach churns as the realization comes crashing down on me. I stumble out of the circle, brushing against people who jerk their shoulders to shake me off, my feet tripping over each other until I reach the edge of the circle landing flung across a desk. I look back. Seeing all the laughing faces, the girls who swivel their heads side to side. Neat bobs shaking back and forth before returning to their perfect shimmery form. At that moment, my confidence stripped away, I feel the pressure of being accepted forced down on me.
Walking home I place one foot neatly in front of the other, no bounce left in my step. Bright lights flash in every direction, people hustle past, their footsteps like assortments of metronomes that tick past me. I walk through puddles carelessly, feeling the water slosh around my feet, the cold damp feeling left on my toes. Trying endlessly to distract myself from my real troubles.
At the end of the street the bright lights of a sign capture my attention. Luminescent reds and whites surround the words, “Hair Salon.” My eyes fly to the large posters. Girls with shimmery perfect hair, arms linked as they smile in mid-laughter. I wonder what they had to do to become accepted. Were they accepted as they were, or did they have to alter themselves to fit in? I fish in my pocket for the crumpled bill I’d forgotten about weeks ago. I pull it out tentatively, watching it twitch back and forth under the force of the wind. I cautiously shuffle through the salon’s open doors and up to the front desk. A perky lady with choppy blonde hair records my name. I sit in the waiting room, crossing my legs to keep myself from running. I had lost my strength today. I’d fought the moulds for too long, and now it was time to fit.
“Lola,” the lady at the front desk calls. My legs shake and I struggle to sit down in the chair she gestures towards. Her preparations becoming a blur as I tell myself again and again. “This is what it has come to.” When asked, I motion towards the area of my hair above my shoulders, my arm falling back into place limply at my side. I wince at the sight of the scissors, glistening soft silver in the dim light of the small room. Their jaws clamp down on each individual lock of hair. The sight painful to watch as dark curls fall to the floor. I observe the transformation as the thick bush that hid my face disappears and shoulders and neck emerge, my face formed by short wavy wisps that end before they brush my shoulders. But, what I notice before any of this is the glint in my eyes, gone. I no longer glow with the confidence and freedom I once held.The next day at school, I walk in even steps through the front gates. I feel exposed, yet also as though I fit in more than I ever had before. When I approach the girls who’d only a day ago, taunted and laughed at me, they barely notice. They welcome me, slightly hesitantly at first. But, when they realize I have no intention of skipping through the schoolyard, or climbing the rough branches of the school’s oak tree, I’m accepted for who I have become. I never feel the freedom I once did. I know I’m not being seen as who I really am. Instead I am a fraction of who I could be. But, I hope that one day, the mould of the person I have changed to fit, will become who I really am. That I can be at peace with who I am now, and no longer yearn to be my true, unaccepted self.