It was too late to run away. My mother scooped me up in her arms, though I kicked, flailed, yelled for her to let me go. It was too late to wish for something I could remember, but never could have again.
Riding in a car made me feel sick. My parents always gave me the stomach medicine that churned and twisted inside of me, every time the car doors opened. It was about time that I got rid of the booster seat that I was strapped to, to keep me safe if there was an accident. All this time, in the car today, I wondered if, when an accident did come, if you would rather die free, or be strapped to a car seat, just awaiting your fate.
In the shop, I frowned at the grimy tiles.
"Mia, come here. If you don't want to do this, we can cancel the appointment." My mother, voice like honey dripping off of a tree, slowly saying words I so wanted to hear. But I was not about to chicken out.
"This isn't about me. It's about Christine." Christine. Cancer. Christine. My sister. It was too late to wish.
"Mia Lancaster, we're ready for you." A short woman, shorter than me, smiled and patted my shoulder.
"Ready?" My mother and I turned to each other and we hugged fiercely. This was not about me, yet it felt like I needed this, needed a chance to show her what I couldn't when she was alive. My sister.
Sitting in the stool, I spun myself around, pausing to look in the mirror every spin. My beautiful long locks, a pretty sight to even my almost blind grandparents. They said I had the gift of beauty, that I had the gift of perfect eyesight, the gift of a healthy life. Christine didn't have those gifts. The woman, whose name was Sandy, washed my hair with the shampoo my brother always called perfume for the hair, and then gently rinsed it. I almost fell asleep, but then I was led back to the spinning chair, and Sandy brought out the razor. Black hair, brown skin, eyes, my dad said, like pearls found by the sea. Would I still be me after this?
The razor cut through, slashing, sending hair all over the place, getting everywhere. It didn't stop until all the hair was gone. My beautiful black hair, gone. Only skin, skin, and more skin. First, I was saddened, but then my mother held me chin close to her face.
"Because of you, one kid will get another chance, like Christine never could."
I looked down at the mess of hair, chopped up into bits, and I asked Sandy for an envelope. All three of us, not saying a word, picked every little bit of hair and put it inside.
Three weeks passed, and school was starting in a couple of days. My dad was cool with the haircut, and often rubbed my bald head lovingly, but I was unsure how my friends would react. I didn't even want to step out of the house, and my mother was getting worried. We sat outside of the house, looking at pictures of Christine together. My dad cracked jokes the whole time, and it was awesome. I even let my mind relax and built a rover that moved in the sun, using solar energy that came in a special science kit. I was doing fine, but I wasn't sure who I was without my hair,
One day, she took me to the shop again, without a word of explanation. Sandy and all the staff were awaiting me. Nobody was there. My mother smiled and pushed me to a computer, where there was a message, and a link.
A girl, bald, like me now. She was holding a wig, made of my hair. In the next picture, she was wearing it, looking like a rock star. I read the message.
I understand that you have donated your hair to the Children's Foundation of Cancer Society, and has helped young Dara get a brand new wig. We don't usually write to these donors, but you are special. You had a sister who had cancer, and it takes a lot to face those memories again for someone else. But I reached out to you to let you know, you have some magical hair!
Ceo of Children's Foundation of Cancer Society
It was then that I realized, looking at young Dara, that I was proud of myself.
My mother smiled at me lovingly.
"Are you going to follow through yourself next time?"
I just laughed. Of course I would follow through. I was not going to be scared of something I didn't know the outcomes of.
When I was inside my house, I looked at our picture wall, full of pictures of things we wanted to achieve, pictures of us, as a family, pictures of travel locations we were dying to visit. And then there were pictures of Christine, and me. In some pictures we were playing, making silly faces, fighting and screaming. She was the best 5 year old in the world.
I printed out a picture that day and taped it to the wall. Two people, holding hands, for whatever reason they decided to unite. They were helping each other overcome obstacles, and I wanted to do the same thing when I grew up.
Help out. Make a difference.
My parents came up beside me and taped up a picture of me before, me after.
"Look sunshine. We made it, right."
It took me a while to realize my parents were talking to not only me, but to my sister. We made it, we finished, we completed our journey. After all, I was Mia, the one with the Magical Hair, the one who could do just anything she wanted to.
I touched the picture of our whole family, holding hands, and clasped my mother's, then my father's, and felt Christine's very essence of nature living in me. My hair, my breaths, my actions.
I was going to be myself, my own truer than true self.
Me being Mia.