About onlyfragments

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#1879

This is a love letter to my sidecut.

When I was a kid, I had a mane of wavy hair that reached my butt. I never brushed the dark mass unless my mother held me down and did it for me, resulting in many tears on my part and frustration on hers, so it was always a rats’ nest. When it came time to wrap it all up in a bun for ballet, or trap it with a bow for choir, so many bobby pins were enlisted that some would never be found again. Despite how much I hated tending my wild hair, though, I never considered cutting it. I just had long hair, the way I had two arms and two legs, and therefore had to deal with the tangles and tearing (and two really unfortunate cases of lice) that came along with it.

When I was in high school, I chopped the whole thing off and adopted a classic bob that I thought made me look mature and edgy. It really didn’t, but a bob was much easier to care for than four feet of snarls. Still, I spent as little time as possible caring for my hair – which over time caused me to resent even the bob style for its reliance on a brush and straightener. My wavy hair just didn’t conform perfectly and immediately into the sharp, straight bob I imagined, so mostly I thought fuck it and did nothing.

When I was in my sophomore year of college, I had my friends shave off my bob in our dormitory kitchen. My father had died only a few months past and I was grieving through minor bursts of much-delayed rebellion. Over the next few years I wavered between a shaggy pixie cut, poorly styled faux-hawk, and a close shave that left me sunburned on my scalp for the first time in my life. I loved having hair that couldn’t tangle, dried fast, and required very little thought. While I knew, deep down, that my hair never looked great (okay, it often looked BAD), I didn’t care; I only cared that I didn’t have to fuss over it.

By the end of college, though, I grew tired of not knowing how to rock a pixie cut and looking more like an awkward baby-dyke than the stylish warrior woman I wanted to emulate. I grew out my bob and kept it around for a couple years because… uh. I don’t know. Somewhere along the line a bob just became my default hair, the way “super long” had been my default style as a kid. I thought I liked it well enough, but it didn’t make me feel anything. I had a bob because it was a socially acceptable haircut that didn’t look too bad on me. I washed it, dried it, brushed it before work, and never thought about it otherwise…and in between, I mooned over pictures of girls with sidecuts. They looked so cool, so fierce, so edgy and dangerous, and I wanted desperately to look like them. I knew that wasn’t how it worked, though. I hadn’t looked like a badass with a pixie cut or a faux-hawk or an asymmetrical bob. I wouldn’t look like a badass with a sidecut either.

Finally, though, after agonizing over the decision for months, I took the leap. I shaved half my head and walked out of the salon feeling like the whole world had turned a different color. Everything felt ridiculously, unaccountably different, and I was sure I turned heads everywhere I went – not because I was attractive, but because I was bursting with Me-ness. I felt like I stood out in a way I never had before, simply because every part of me was in total, perfect alignment. It sounds silly to talk like this about a haircut, but it’s the truth. Somehow that minor alteration made me click into my whole body like I never had before. I didn’t think a haircut could feel so right.


I’m going on two years with this look, one side shaved and the other growing longer by the day, and that initial feeling hasn’t lessened. This is me, I think every time I look in a mirror. I am fucking rocking this. I still have my usual body image issues – nothing can make those go away 100% – but somehow the sidecut overshadows them so much that they don’t have the same power they used to. This thing feels magical, almost spiritual. It feels like armor and defiance and comfort and truth and holy-shit-it’s-me all at the same time.

If I’ve learned one thing in my life, it’s that hair grows back. To that same point, clothes can be donated, tattoos can be removed, and piercings can heal closed. Life’s too short not to experiment with trying to make who you feel like match who you look like. I’ve gone through some truly atrocious fashion phases in my life, but they’re all worth it because they got me to this place where I feel so very me. That sounds simple, but it’s a long, hard journey for most of us. So if you’re looking for a sign to get something cut, pierced, tattooed, or dyed, this is it. Go for it, friend.

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Basically the only selfie I’ll ever show anyone ever. Pretend I look like this all the time.

 

#1878

Conversely, there are rare times when he craves confinement, when nothing but the tightest, darkest space can contain the rising hysteria. Thus morning finds him in the unlit bathroom, hunched over on his knees between sink and toilet, hands pressed to his temples as if physically holding in his sanity. It doesn’t make sense for someone like him, who so fiercely guards his freedom and must always have an escape, and yet it does. Even the most crazed, feral beast recalls the safety of the den, even if that instinct is buried beneath years of madness. Like an animal knows to go to ground when injured, so he seeks a place to hide himself away when at his most vulnerable. If he cannot run, if he cannot fight, then he must have somewhere to hide where nothing can possibly reach him.

#1877

Your hunger astounds me, specter. Does it surprise you as well? In my dreams your hunger is bottomless, boundless, a trembling, ravenous craving, a wild thing which can neither be contained nor restrained. With mouth and hands and body you devour him, but no matter how many times you make him yours, it is never enough. You are never sated. You who want nothing, you who need no one, consume him with a desperation that betrays you. Does it frighten you, to learn of what you are capable? Your lover carries shame and guilt in equal burdens, but in you the hunger leaves no room for any other emotion or thought; instinct, the need to covet, to possess, supersedes all else. Worry not, dear ghost. You fear such desire makes you human, but in reality you are still the feral beast dominating and taking what is his.

#1876

The facility has been closed for years; the only ones who seek shelter in its halls now are drifters and runaway teens. Tanim stands outside the sagging front gate and stares up at the weathered edifice, trying to imagine what it looked like before the weeds and graffiti took over. Stripped of its junky decoration in his mind, the place still isn’t impressive. It looks like every other low-budget, government-run institutional building meant to convey competence but not compassion. He isn’t surprised it was left to rot when its funding dried up – no amount of remodeling or landscaping could hide the building’s first and truest intention.

Tanim slips through an opening where the fence has been torn from its post and emerges onto a short walkway, the lawn to either side riddled by tall weeds and piles of trash. Even the cement itself has cracked from years of weathering and determined plant roots, and he must watch his step carefully as he makes his way to the front doors. A “No Trespassing” sign and a loop of chain around the door handles bear evidence to the half-hearted attempt to deter intruders, but a few minutes’ searching brings Tanim to a side door hanging wide on its rusted hinges.

Inside, dead leaves and syringes crunch beneath his shoes. Tanim peers through broken windows and into darkened rooms, but each is empty and reveals little about its former purpose. No inch of wall remains untouched by graffiti, and as he walks he can’t help but read the most legible of it. “State-assisted suicide” reads one line. “Don’t go down the rabbit hole,” says another. “The dead do not rest here” and “In the basement” seem to have been written by the same hand, as has “The Devil made me do it”. Freshest on the wall, someone has scribbled codes that seem to indicate Bible passages. At the dead end of a twisting hallway, Tanim finds the phrase, “yet I was not alone, for The Angel watches always”. 

Despite the creepy aura, nothing remotely eventful happens and Tanim emerges back into the afternoon sunlight unscathed. On the sidewalk, he glances back for a last look at the hospital. All that can be read of its old sign are a few faded letters, but he manages to just make out the name “St. Anthony”. Later, when he imagines how the place must have looked in Daren’s youth, he sees it with the graffiti superimposed on the stark white walls.

#1875

Dear Polite-Mormon-Boys-Knocking-On-My-Front-Door,

First, let me just say you look adorable in your little white dress shirts and slacks, and I appreciate your dedication to professionalism and aesthetic. I know you had to traverse the unlit, sidewalk-less roads of rural Washington to get to my door, most likely through wind and rain and loose dogs, and the fact that you’re still genuinely smiling is quite admirable.

I should say, also, that this letter isn’t solely directed at you. However, given your notoriety, you serve as a good proxy for all major religions which strive to spread their word to all the people of the world. You just happen to be exceedingly persistent at this.

With that out of the way, let us get to the point of my letter.

I understand you brave the elements to come to my door because you believe, deeply and honestly, that I deserve to experience your deity’s love. You want to share the life-changing awesomeness of God’s love, acceptance, and forgiveness. You want me to feel the same support in times of darkness that you have felt; you want me to experience the same sense of community you found in the church. In short, you want all the goodness in your life to also be mine.

That is a wonderful sentiment, it really is. But here’s the thing. You knock on my door so confidently because you 100% believe your god is the only one who can offer these things. No matter what beliefs I may claim, you will refute them all and feel true sorrow for the emptiness in my life. You will remain convinced that I cannot possibly experience the beautiful things religion has given you unless I seek them through your god.

You are mistaken. Well-intentioned, but still mistaken. I do feel those things. I do experience love, acceptance, forgiveness; I do find support and community when I need them most. I remember the life-changing awesomeness of that moment when you realize you are not alone, that something out there more immense and ancient than yourself loves you in all your human fallibility. I promise you – all the wonder, awe, compassion, protection, and understanding God has made you feel, I too have felt and feel often.

See, I have a deity that loves me unconditionally, too. Her name is Bast. I feel Her presence at my side when I need it most; She guides me when I stumble or lose my way. She is a light in the darkness, a word of encouragement or solace, a reminder to seek joy and ever strive to be a force of good in this world. She makes me try every day to be a better person, even though I know She loves me for my weaknesses as much as for my strengths.

I know you believe your god is the one and only. Please try to remember, however, that you’ve no more evidence for your god’s existence than I do for mine. What we both have is the knowledge, deep within our hearts, that what we experience is real. The feeling is inexplicable; we can only say we know it is right because we feel the rightness of it. That’s okay, though. We don’t need to prove to anyone whether the gods we follow are real. We know they are, and that is enough. Or it should be.

I say all this not to question your worldview, but simply to lend it flexibility. When you meet someone who believes differently than you, do not pity them. Do not question them. Smile and be content in knowing they feel the same wondrous things you do, albeit from a different source. You do not need to believe in another’s god to respect their belief; you need only to believe that they are the ultimate authority on their own experiences. The world is such an unfathomable place – don’t you think there is room for all of our gods to live in peace?

With sincerity,

The-Pagan-Girl-Whose-Door-You-Continue-To-Knock-On-And-That’s-Okay-But-Still

#1874

It is very much like a ritual – the coins, the candles – and this brings him a sense of peace. He locks the front door. He walks clockwise through each room, starting in the kitchen. With one hand he anoints; with the other he lights the candles.

He arrives last at the bedroom, and upon entering he closes and locks the door. Within, only moonlight gilds his path, yet he would need no light at all to see in this place. He undresses in the dark, folding each article of clothing with care and setting them to one side. Naked, he walks to the right side of the bed and removes two silver coins from the nightstand. These he places gently on the closed eyelids of the man laying on the bed; in the moonlight they shine just enough that he seems to be alive.

Taking up the third coin, Tanim walks around to the left side of the bed. From the nightstand drawer he removes a revolver. He leans over and places a kiss on his companion’s cold lips, then lays down at his side. The coin he places on his own tongue before threading his fingers through Daren’s. With his left hand he raises the gun to his temple. For just a moment he closes his eyes and pretends the body at his side is still warm, the hand in his pulling away with characteristic disdain, and then he pulls the trigger.

Sometime later the first of the candles burns down to its base. As the wick sputters, a single spark lands on the gasoline-soaked carpet. Flames burst into life and follow the trail of fuel through each room, consuming as they go, until finally reaching the bedroom door.