This flash story was previously published in Beyond Words (Berlin, Germany) in February 2022. Copyright is held by the author.
MY DAUGHTER’S hair is falling over her eyes. Enough for a man on the ferry to notice. He tells me how beautiful she is, how lucky I am. Asks if she can see. I laugh. He’s not joking. The terminal clock counts down. The journey is short across the River Ij. Blink, and you’re on the other side.
“I can cut it if you like.”
He tells me he’s originally from Syria, not working now, but cuts hair.
He has a kind face and soft eyes. I don’t want us to be moving when this happens. My daughter is sitting on the back of my bike. She doesn’t like to be strapped in. The man opens his rucksack, unrolls a cloth pouch containing scissors and two combs. He seems happy. I’m happy too. The other passengers cradle their unease, as he runs his fingers through the girl’s hair.
“It’s OK,” I say. He begins combing, takes the scissors and starts cutting. He gathers and cuts, gathers and cuts. Curls tumble silently to the floor.
Suddenly, an alarm starts to screech, warning people to stand back from the closing ramp. We’re about to set off. The man makes use of every precious second.
“Put all your worries in your hair.”
He clips and snips, cuts, and aligns. His eyes well as we judder in reverse. But this feeling soon turns to pride, when he dusts off her shoulders, and “beeps” her button nose.