Roll and Curl
by Ingrid Jendrzejewski
It’s a small town, so when a call comes through from Amber Groves for Mrs. Philips, you know it can mean only one thing: either her husband or her sister has passed.
“She’s under the dryer,” you say and pop your gum. You think you’ve made your point but end up having to add, “Well, you can come on down and talk to her yourself, or you can wait until I’m finished with her wash and set. We’re in the middle of things here.”
You put the phone down and look over at Mrs. Philips. She’s under the hood dryer reading a magazine, lost in her plastic gown. She’s shaking a little and at first you think she’s crying, but then you see she’s laughing. She has some lipstick on her front teeth.
When her timer dings, you remove the hood and check her hair. The gel has set, so you wheel her to your station and take out the rollers. You run your pick through what’s left of her hair, teasing enough to make some volume, then combing the rest over the top to create the shape she likes. You form her bangs into curls by hand.
Then, you get out the hairspray. Mrs. Philips smiles, squeezes her eyes shut and lifts her chin. “This part always feels like spring rain,” she says as you begin to spray.
You carry on for nearly three minutes; you carry on until you’ve used up the whole bottle. You spray until her hair is as hard as a combat helmet, until that smile is fixed on her face like a shield. Then you give her some tissues. You tell her they’re for her teeth.