she said and I did. I looked into the mirror. Behind me, in front of me (mirrors are like that), she opened a drawer and removed a pair of scissors. In front of her, too, was a mirror and there we stood, back to back in the slippery world; I could, if I tilted my head just right, see her back and her face, depending on which reflection held my attention. I’ve been wondering, lately, about the nature of attention, reflecting on the way things appear in its focus and where, or if, things are when they don’t appear. If a tree. But here were we, over and over, infinite, all in an instant, stopped. Me, wondering to what end she held all those scissors, numberless, dizzying, too many to count.
she said and I didn’t. She had been called by the hair, out of control, on the back of my neck to remedy the situation. The scissors’ cool metal on my skin made me shiver but the extent of this shivering, considering the circumstances, was excessive. It was akin to the experiences of being watched in a public place, déjà vu, the jarring realization that you will one day die, the sudden emergence of a pristine childhood memory, being drunk, the shudder of orgasm, and the sneaking suspicion that you are somehow always more and less than what you are. The shiver rippled. That is to say the whole room trembled and nothing was certain. The edges of things—called into question, forgotten. The cool metal of the scissors came together with the heat of her focus on the back of my neck to create a balance that conversed with the earth and sky, sun and moon, this, that—
“I won’t cut you, baby,”
she said and I believed her, though I closed my eyes and counted my breath. Here, in this bathroom as she slowly and carefully cut the hair on my neck, I felt the etching of what would inevitably be an indelible memory and a knot of jumbled thoughts knocked against my teeth.
I wanted to say things like I know this sounds weird but I have always been so miles away from everything, you know? Like, for instance, a coffee cup. I could grab it, sure, bring it to my mouth and take a drink but, still, it’s so ‘out there’ like everything else, everything, out there, and me ‘in here’, alone, really and truly alone, you know? Cut off, from everything, especially people. Sometimes, rarely, I would, you know, try to explain this to someone and they would think I meant lonely, like I had this feeling that would pass but, no, I’m talking about being ALONE, all by myself, always, and—I’m sorry if this isn’t making sense, but—right now, here, I don’t feel like me. Like I, me, am not me, as if those scissors cut away the distance between me and things and me and you and everything. It’s like I am. It’s like this is. The whole thing, you know, is maybe what people call—I don’t know—‘love’ and this, right now, isn’t me talking but, instead, maybe it’s the stars mumbling in their own awkward way about illumination and the shining that lights the way and—
I wanted to say things like that but I didn’t. It was just scissors on my neck and her concentration.
And freely cut hair, reflected endlessly, held aloft for a moment by the entirety of the world.
Until it began its infinite descent to the steady tile and things resumed their clarity and distance, supported now upon a foundation of selflessness and intimacy.