Your hair is the first part of you I see as I push you into the world. Amidst the euphoria and pain I am surprised to see a little head covered in black. Sure, it is messed in little curly strands, mixed with blood and fluid, but when the nurse washes you and hands you to me wrapped in a shawl as soft as fairy down, your hair is a halo of black fuzz. As I gaze at you I fall in love. I hold you close and kiss you and blow soft puffs of air across your head, catching my breath in wonder.
Art is blonde and I'm a redhead. Go figure. But I love your black downy fuzz. It goes so well with your bright red wrinkly just-been-born skin.
I'm ready to leave the hospital when I get a huge shock. You’ve gone bald. My God! Your beautiful black hair is no more. No one warned me about this. How can this be? To go from fuzzy black to bald overnight. Obviously I hadn’t read the baby books closely enough. Is there something wrong with you? No, I'm told. This is quite normal. Normal, I huff, no one told me I was going to have a bald baby. I hug you close, mourning the loss of your baby locks. It looks like I’ve given you a zero cut with Art’s clippers. It’s ok, I'm told, she won’t stay bald for long.
And blonde it remained, except when you were sixteen and you and your friends decided to go goth at a pyjama party. When I picked you up, there you were, one of six gorgeous girls with charcoal-black hair, thrift-shop black overcoats and black Doc Martens, laces trailing like old spaghetti. My mouth was open, ready to tear strips off you, when I realised that you hadn’t gone black, you were…
…red, see Mum. I wanted to be a redhead like you. Whaddayathink?
It’ll grow back, I say, a bit at a loss.
The redheaded phase only lasted a few months, then the blonde was back but with a red tinge. I wondered why you didn't go black like your friends who kept their black hair, their overcoats and Docs, then added piercings, tatts and attitude, but I was pleased you didn't take it all on board.
How I loved your long strawberry-blonde curls. You were a Botticelli angel come to life. My heart did somersaults just looking at you, lying there in your dark room at night, clutching your red teddy bear, your hair wavy on the black satin pillowcase with its single red rose.
Art was beside himself, terrified every time you went out at night. He'd pace the floor, look at the clock, look out the windows.
Art always hated your friends, especially Jack with the black mohawk, stiff as a weapon. You were Art's little angel. He never wanted you to grow up.
He got his wish.
Who would have thought that you'd be caught between Jack and Art's hatred? Who would have thought you'd take the fatal blow? Oh, Art...Art...Angel...Angel...
Here you are, lying so close to me on your four-poster bed with its black drapery. But tonight your beautiful strawberry-blonde hair is hidden from me. Except for one curl, caught in the zipper of the slick black body bag.
Black is no longer my favourite colour.
©Denise Covey, 2010