Husband and I took a country walk; it led to the road near to Bella’s house.
We were heading one way on the path, Bella was heading the other, on the opposite side of the road.
I recognised her walk, I recognised her frame, I recognised her uniform – I did not recognise her hair. Husband and I crossed the road to greet Bella.
‘Thought I’d have a change,’ she said. Her hand lifted to her scalp; she rummaged through her hair. ‘I’ve got blisters on my head, the bleach had to stay on so long, the colour wouldn’t take.’
Husband stared past her, had seen and heard enough.
‘Do you like it?’ she asked. She directed her stare to me.
‘No, I don’t.’ Unlike my daughter; I’m not very good at untruths.
She pulled her hand away from her scalp, hitched her bag up her shoulder.
An emotion hit me like the slap of a hand, it was sadness, came to ride with me again. Why? Why does my beautiful daughter, born to good looks, unique looks, want to look like somebody else? I fought hard to bank the swell of tears, waiting behind my eyes, and failed. Out they fell, poured down my face. I looked away from her; my pain was so great.
‘What’s up mum, don’t cry.’
‘What’s the matter?’ husband asked, bemused.
I wanted to say – ‘look at her, who is she?‘ – but, I could not. Instead, I said, ‘I don’t like it, your hair blonde.’
She shrugged, and sniffed the air.