Around the Bend

About the Author
  SELECTED STORIES by Laura Beausoleil
The Fawn
Around the BendJessieA Happy ChildA Loss of Memory
Hair • A Deep Purple BeautyPoor FrankMeeting Henry MillerLes Mutiles
What Can We Do For You, Mrs. Ross?I Was Here But Now I'm Not
The Moustache HouseMexico


Of course he’s not a child anymore. He’s a young man. I know that. His voice is changing and he is becoming hairy. Speaking of hair, I saw the darkest of his, quite by accident, last week for the first time, and I thought about underbrush for days. As if I’d seen a particularly frightening spider. I told you about his hair and you wanted to know what my problem with biology is and of course I have no problem with biology, I have no problem at all, I simply told you that he has hair down there and that I know he’s not a child anymore. Yet, at the oddest moments, when I’ll be doing something that has nothing to do with biology, I’ll remember his hair.

You know how small our apartment is. There’s no room for his hair. We’ll simply have to move. There is room for dust and boxes and what else we’ve collected, but no room for that. It’s like an alien that ignores walls and doors. It is everywhere and there is no room for it.

I can explain this. It won’t take much time.

Besides his hair, it’s the way he looks at me. He looks at me like I’m some poor dead fish, a strange look of amorphous pity. I’ve given him no reason to look at me that way. None that I know of. I’m sure it has something to do with his hair. And if it does, then logically it should have nothing to do with me or anything that I’ve done. I know that.

He thinks I’m old. He’s told me so. He looks at my face for discolorations and wrinkles as if they were hills and valleys on a seismograph. He compares my shape to a manatee’s and calls my clothes dowdy. I talk too loudly, he says, laugh too much, and there’s not enough money in the house.

Sometimes when I ask him why he says these things he replies that it’s because they are all true. At other times if I ask him, why do you look at me that way, what are you thinking? he will say, what way? what are you talking about? with an expression of almost total incomprehension. He knows though. It’s been just him and me for too long. He knows how I think and what upsets me. Most of the time he even knows, I’m sure, what I’m thinking.

You’ll tell me to shrug this off, to not let it bother me. You’ll say that it’s just his age, that all young people act that way. The last time I asked him what he was thinking he said that it had nothing to do with me and it was really none of my business.

I guess it wasn’t. It’s just that it hadn’t occurred to me that what he was concerned about might have nothing to do with me. When I was taken aback, and it showed on my face even though I tried not to show that I was stunned, he looked at me again like I was a floating fish.

You don’t seem to understand. He’s all I have. I never thought things would be this way. No, I’m not being sorry for myself, I’m just stating a fact, that I never expected things to be like they are. I never imagined such loneliness. It’s because of his hair. When it was just him and me I never felt alone. We were always together. But now he has his hair.

I ask the boy only the necessary questions, where he is going, who he will be with, and when he will be back. I am not a time-keeper. I ask only to know that he will be safe. Sometimes he tells me and sometimes he doesn’t. He’s often late. The food grows cold and I with it. Life that is neglected grows cold. I know that.

He needs his father, that’s what everyone says, that a boy his age needs his father. I suppose it’s true. His father doesn’t live far away and the boy visits him often.

His father is a hairy man, with dark hair on his arms, neck and shoulders. I used to think that the tangled hair on his chest was like a field of soft grass. I put my head there. I rested against what was earth under his abundant hair. Breathing in next to him was like breathing in the green of hundreds of single stems and leaves. It never occurred to me that his hair might disappear, that time is a plow.

I’m not complaining. I have nothing against time. You asked how I am and I am telling you. I can be honest with you. When I’m not thinking about hair, everything is fine, just fine.

  © Laura Beausoleil, 2010  

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