Black Hair Magic

[This story is taken from a book I’m self-publishing called ‘Impossible Things.’ The genre is magical realism. Thanks for reading! Full book coming soon. ❤ ]

A short story

By: Ashley Tiara Lilly

Black Hair Magic

It was a hot summer day but the air conditioning was cool. Abigail sat on her bed, flipping through a copy of her favorite magazine while eating from a pack of peach-flavored mints. She was wearing a new pair of denim shorts with her favorite white top that was decorated with lace.

She paused when she saw a picture of her favorite popstar, Daphne Moon, and circled it with a blue pen. Daphne wore red lipstick, a golden, glittery dress, and her smile was bright. What really stood out, though, was her hair, slicked back but still showing off her beautiful curls. Abigail snapped a picture with her smart phone and sent it to her best friend, Jayla, typing,

“Ugh she’s so perfect. Why can’t my hair look like that????”

There was a knock on the door and her mother walked in, carrying a brown box. She shook the box to get her attention, its contents rattling inside. As soon as Abigail heard it, she knew exactly what it was. She hopped out of bed and took the box in her hands, holding it to her chest like a long lost treasure.

Her mother dusted some flour from her floral apron. She never wore much makeup, just a touch of mascara and some lipstick the color of sangria. Her hair was straight and silky from her perm, stopping just before it touched her shoulders. If it got any longer than that, it only distracted her.

Scents from the kitchen made their way into the room. It smelled like spaghetti sauce and fresh crepes. In the other room, the youngest sibling could be heard laughing her head off. She was probably watching cartoons.

“Thanks Mama,” Abigail said. She kissed her mother on the cheek and went to go open her box.

“Dinner is ready in half an hour; make sure your sister washes her hands.” She said she would and when the door closed, she found a pair of scissors so she could open her package. There was a large, white sticker on the box that read “Black Hair Care” in big, bold letters. It was the first of twelve from a subscription box she had ordered, each one containing hair care products for Black women and girls.

She opened it up and it contained a variety of goodies: a guide with hairstyle ideas, a wide tooth comb, a coconut oil conditioning mist, a deep conditioning hair mask, and a little plush doll with curly hair. There was even a pack of gummy candy. But what really stood out was a jar of grease that read “Black Hair Magic” in gold letters.

A ping came from Abigail’s phone. There was a text from Jayla that read,

“Daphne is flawless, but so are you!!!!”

She rolled her eyes and typed back,

“I’m SO not. But thanks. I don’t know why I ever decided to go natural. On the plus side, my hair care box came today. 🙂 ” She hit ‘send’ and went over to the mirror with the jar of grease. It was perfect timing, too. She had just blow dried her hair this morning and it was a big, puffy mess. It was impossible to know what to do with it sometimes, especially when most of the girls at school didn’t have hair like hers.

“Okay hair grease, work your magic,” she said to herself. She dipped her fingers into the jar and started working it into her hair. It smelled good, kind of like coconuts. Closing her eyes as she massaged a bit into her scalp, she imagined looking as beautiful as Daphne Moon.

She also thought about the things bullies from school said when she first started wearing her hair natural. They called her a freak and said her hair was nappy. It was tempting to just start getting perms again, but she didn’t want to, not for the wrong reasons. No, she decided she wanted to have healthy, natural hair and she wasn’t going to let anyone get in the way of that.

When she opened her eyes, she furrowed her brows because she was not looking into the mirror anymore, she was looking at the wall. It took a moment to register the fact that her feet weren’t touching the ground, but that they were several feet in the air. She was flying! Squeezing her eyes shut, she thought to herself, ‘This isn’t real this isn’t real this isn’t real.’ Her eyes snapped open again, but she was still hovering in the air. Her heart began to race and she whipped her head around, trying to figure out how to get down.

Panicking, she reached toward her bed to try and grab her phone, which sent her flying toward the other side of the room. She shielded her face with her arms and was somehow able to stop before she crashed into the wall. There was so much tension in her body that she curled her toes, but she took a deep breath, trying to stay rational. There had to be a logical explanation, right?

The jar of hair grease was still clutched tight between her fingers and she read the label again. Below the words “Black Hair Magic” there was a message written in teeny tiny font that read, “Side Effects May Include: A Boost In Confidence, A Craving For Ice Cream, and the Ability To Fly.”

WHAT?!?!? She reread the label, and then read it again. She turned the bottle around until she found another message written next to the ingredients: “Side Effects May Be Countered By Using Our Coconut Hydrating Mist.”

Resting on the bed, the brown box seemed so far away. But she took a breath and focused, knowing that she could do this. Not taking her eyes off the box, she focused all her energy into hovering toward it.

She moved closer and closer to the box until she was able to grab the bottle of mist, clinging to the bed frame so that she wouldn’t fly toward the wall again. It was a struggle to get the bottle open with one free hand, but she finally bit the cap off, checking this bottle’s label to make sure there weren’t any other side effects she needed to know about.

“Dinner is ready kids!” her mom called. Crap. She sprayed the coconut mist all over her hair, coughing when she accidently sprayed it into her face.

Please let this work, please please please,’ she thought. When she opened her eyes, she felt the weight of gravity again, and she had never been so happy to feel her bare feet touch the soft carpet. A huge sigh of relief escaped her lips and she plopped down on her bed, savoring how safe it felt to be grounded. She placed her hair care products back into their box and shook her head at the impossibility of it all. Her phone pinged again.

“Awesome! How are the products??” the text said. How could she even begin to respond?

“They’re like nothing else I’ve ever used,” she typed. She picked up the bottle of hair grease again, examining it, unable to believe that moments ago it really made her fly.

“Don’t forget to wash your hands,” her mom called again.

“Coming mom,” she said. She closed up the box of hair care products and tucked them away into a drawer.

“Black Hair Magic indeed,” she said to herself. She decided she’d get to the bottom of this stuff after dinner. For now, she’d go help her sister wash her hands so they could eat. But as she headed toward the door, she decided to go to the mirror to see what her hair looked like.

Maybe it was the least of her concerns in this moment, but she did use those products and was super curious. She went to the mirror and, surprisingly, she liked what she saw. Her curls were more defined, the frizz was more tamed. Maybe she wasn’t as perfect as Daphne Moon, but it was close enough.

She went looking for beauty and what she found was some crazy, impossible magic.

She went to go help her sister get ready for dinner, and as they went downstairs, she really hoped they had some ice-cream sandwiches left in the freezer.

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