Otherwiseby Miriam N. Kotzin
Anna returns from her long-postponed haircut and finds her husband sitting in the dusk, a newspaper folded in his lap. When she turns on the lamp, he squints. She bends to kiss his forehead, but he doesn’t look up or speak. She’d forgotten how vulnerable she feels when her shoulder-length hair has just been cut short. “Aren’t you glad to see me?”
“Wild. Can’t you tell?” he says, his voice flat.
Jake raises the newspaper, taps it as if to show her something, then lets it fall. It slips from his lap to the floor where it lies splayed out like a gull with a wounded wing. Last night, again, Jake’s screaming nightmares had made it impossible for Anna to sleep. “I used to like your hair,” he says, as though trying to piece together the lyrics of a tune. “How long would it take...do you think...?”
Her hand goes to her bare nape. “For my hair?”
“For that too, Annie,” he answers. “For that too.”
Annie? Jake used to know that being called Annie, by him, by anyone, sets her teeth on edge. “I don’t know,” she says. “Hair grows back.”
She makes a rough calculation. Her hair will grow about half an inch each month. For her hair, at least year and a half, and as for the rest? She says, “It’s only a matter of time.”
A matter of time. She wishes it were otherwise.
* * * * *
Miriam N. Kotzin teaches creative writing and literature at Drexel University. Her collection of short fiction, Country Music (Spuyten Duyvil Press 2017), joins a novel, The Real Deal (Brick House Press 2012), and a collection of flash fiction, Just Desserts (Star Cloud Press 2010). She is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently, Debris Field (David Robert Books 2017). Her micros have been published in or are forthcoming in Blink Ink, 50-Word Stories, and Five Minutes.