Shiny Black Hair
By Laura McHale Holland
My niece Emma’s a little different. She’s never been the same since a family rafting trip turned tragic when she was twelve. Her mom, dad and brother all drowned when the raft overturned. Emma was found downstream badly bruised but very much alive hours later.
When she came to live with me right after that, all Emma could talk about was how one of those Bigfoot creatures had plunged into the rapids and saved her. I did my best to bring her down gently to the reality that it’s fun to tell stories about Bigfoot sightings around campfires, but only crackpots believe they actually exist.
Emma never did accept my point of view on that, though, or on much of anything else either. And when she finished high school she went off to live in the woods way up north in Humboldt County instead of going to college. Like I said, she’s a little different.
Last week I got phone call from her. She asked if she could come for Thanksgiving. I said yes, of course. Then she said she’d just had a baby girl, Caroline, with her boyfriend and she was bringing the baby, too. She said her boyfriend wasn’t coming because he hates to travel. Well, I didn’t even know she had a boyfriend, let alone a baby. But that doesn’t matter. I was thrilled to see her and the baby when they arrived this morning. Little Caroline was all wrapped up and sleeping, though, and Emma was tired, too, so they went to take a nap in Emma’s old room.
A little while ago I thought I heard Caroline cry and decided I should take her so Emma could get more rest. So I tiptoed into the room and saw the baby had kicked off her blanket, and where there should be soft baby skin on her face and hands (the only parts of her that aren’t covered by her jammies), I saw shiny black hair, just like in those Bigfoot pictures Emma used to have plastered all over the walls in her room. I ran out pronto, and my heart is still racing at the sight.
Now, I know Emma’s different. I accept that. But what kind of mother would glue hair to her little girl’s skin like that? I mean, that must be what she did, right?