# After the StormMature

Hailey sat in her room curled up under the covers. Her open laptop sat next to her, opened up to facebook. She watched her friends' status updates scroll by her, while her cursor blinked in the top corner of the "Write Something!" box. "Going to the beach this weekend. So Excited!" her friend Emily's status read. "I love you man! Are you coming to the party friday?" Alex had written on Sidney's wall. She felt like she was standing still in the middle of Times Square with all the world rushing around her, moving, spinning without her.

"I" she began to write, then deleted it. "Got a haircut." She deleted that too. "Goodbye world." She pressed the backspace button furiously on that one. She settled with, "Going to bed. Text it. <3" closed her macbook, and then slid it out from under the covers. She placed it on her bedside table next to where she was sleeping on top a tall pile of homework she hadn't yet completed. The stack slumped over with the weight of the computer, when Hailey noticed it sitting there. She slid it out from under her laptop, and stared at her math worksheet.

"Find the difference quotient for f(x)=6(x-4)+2" it read. Hailey just watched it, waiting for the answer to appear on the page like invisible ink with lemon juice. But nothing happened. The usually simple problems laid on the page like roadkill. This wasn't how it was supposed to work.

Hailey opened her binder and pulled out the answer sheet she was only supposed to use when she had attempted all the problems on her own. Carefully, she copied down all the problems to the original sheet. She pulled out her english syllabus. She was supposed to read pages 68-105 in Cat's Cradle. She looked over at the book laying on the fluffy purple carpet, looked back at her syllabus, then moved on to the next assignment.
She had a set of lens problems to do for physics. She ignored it, and the rest of her homework completely, curled up, and went to bed. When she turned the lights off, she noticed the time glowing green on the flourescent digital alarm clock. It was only 7:34 PM. She laid her head on the pillow, ignoring the time, and went to sleep.

***

Andrea sat in the kitchen in front of a sink full of dirty dishes and a table full of leftovers to pack into the fridge. She just stared. 'Something could really be wrong!' she thought. 'She cut her hair off? Doesn't sound like a phase to me.' She shook when Brian put his hand on her shoulder. "I'll help you do the dishes tonight, Babe," he told her, and leaned down to kiss her. He wrapped her in his arms. Andrea continued stressing about the dishes, leftovers, and her daughter. 'When will he let go?' she thought to herself, 'I have things to do.'

Brian walked over to the sink and began to wipe off the plates one by one. Andrea scrambled around scooping cheesy pasta chunks into a large tupperware container. She poured the broccoli into another, and lastly, covered the pie with foil. "I said I'd help," said Brian, "Not do them for you. Can you dry them for me?" Andrea sighed, shoving everything into the few empty spaces in the refrigerator. She dragged herself over to the sink and began to dry the pile of dishes that he had washed for her. Brian took each dry dish from her hand and placed it in the cabinet. "So," he said. "What's up with Hailey?"

Andrea scrubbed the dish like there was rust on it. "She thinks she's gay. Can you believe that?"

Brian laughed. "Actually, I can. She told me last week. I'm glad she trusts us enough to tell us."

Andrea dropped the shiny white porcelain plate. When it hit the floor, it shattered. Brian ran for a broom.

When he handed it to, her, her face was still wide. "What?" she asked him. "Why didn't you tell me this?"

"It wasn't my place," he responded, massaging her shoulder. She tensed up even more. "It's her job to tell you if she thinks it's worth saying."

Andrea stood still fists clenched, while brian swept around her. "But, it's wrong! Besides, I hear all the time about teenagers who go through phases like this. She better not tell anyone at school about this little idea of hers, or she'll ruin her reputation."

"Hold up, sweetie, you still believe the crap they taught you in church as a kid? We aren't even religious anymore, but you still think that gay is wrong?"

"Considering the household I grew up in, you're lucky I don't think that being black is wrong."

"Seriously? I thought you supported gay marriage."

"They can do whatever they want in the privacy of their own homes, but it's gross when they kiss on TV."

"Really?"

"And what's worse, it's my own daughter. It can't be somebody else's kid, it has to be mine. It's always my kid, my problem!"

"Honey," Brian said, coming over to rub her shoulders, "It might be a phase like you said. If not, she'll get through it. Things are different now than in our day. Just be supportive."

"Fine," said Andrea, still rigid. "But at least we have to do something with that hair."

***

Hailey was surrounded by beautiful girls and bright colors. She admired each one, and settled on a readhead wearing a beautiful green dress. She leaned in to kiss her, but she heard her mother call, "Hailey!" Everything got grey, and the girls turned ugly. Again, "Hailey! Get up!" She rolled over and pulled the floral blanket off her head. "We're going to the salon to get you hair fixed before school this morning. Get dressed. You have five minutes.

Hailey rolled out of bed and pulled off the jeans she fell asleep in the night before. She slipped into a skirt and a puffy blue shirt, grabbed a pair of ballet flats, and walked downstairs, through the kitchen, and into the garage where her mother was waiting.

"I called the lady who owns the salon last night. I told her it was an emergency, and she agreed to come in early to give you extensions."

Hailey reached out to turn on the radio. While scanning through stations she noted the time. 5:33.

She yawned, and leaned back in her seat.

***

The hot wax burnt Hailey's scalp again. She winced. "Stop moving!" the Russian hairstylist yelled at her. "If you hadn't cut your hair so short, your head wouldn't hurt, and I wouldn't have to be working at 6 in the morning!"

Hailey peeked in the mirror at her mother behind her. "Now, you're not going to be able to brush the roots," the stylist was telling her. Andrea was doing something on her blackberry, and wasn't paying attention. Hailey traced the wrinkes on her face with her eyes. They were little and hard to see. Andrea was beautiful.

"Okay, Missy? Are you listening?"

Hailey shook out of her concentration. "What?"

"You'll have to be careful when you wash it, and come back in a few weeks to get it redone.

Hailey looked at her hair in the mirror. It looked exactly the same as before. She sighed. "Mom! We're done! But we have fifteen minutes to get to school!"

***

Ben doodled a picture of Hailey's long blonde hair blowing to the left in the early spring wind outside.

The End