"This is not an act of rebellion, Aunt Cecelia," I groaned, gripping the banister and swinging my body around to the steps. My ears recognized the sound of my heavyset aunt tromping through the kitchen, only a precious few yards away from my presence. My plan to sneak into this disgustingly cozy house and sit on my bed behind a locked door had gone awry. Instead of wasting the next few hours on bingeing on the best of Netflix's alluring smorgasbord, I would have to paste an apologetic grimace to my face and subject myself to Aunt Cecelia's thousand reasons why sporting a bright blue pixie cut was in direct conflict with the Ten Commandments.
My ankles popped as I sprang onto the first step. Apparently, however, Aunt Cecelia had grown spry in the past few hours, because I had made it up only five and a half steps before she had waddled herself into the room, those green eyes of hers spewing judgment the moment she'd spotted my new hairdo. Defeated, I lolled my head over my shoulder and raised my eyebrows. "I didn't cut and dye my hair to make you mad. I swear - "
"Swearing is not becoming of a Christian, Danielle," Aunt Cecelia retorted, chest heaving as she shook her finger at me. "James 5:12." I couldn't tell if it was the taxing walk through the house or the agony of her wayward niece's rebellious new haircut that made a drop of sweat snake down her cheek and drop unceremoniously from her chin to the hardwood floor. I was tempted to remind her of what she'd always told me about water on wood ruining the varnish, but I figured that smart-mouthing my already rabid aunt was not the best way to go about making amends.
Sinking my butt onto the steps and accepting the fact that I would not be getting away without hearing a lengthy sermon from my aunt, I replied morosely, "I'm not trying to argue with James, Aunt Cecelia. And I'm sure there's something in the Bible that reprimands me for getting a blue pixie cut, but I have craploads of homework to do, and...well...do you think you could save the lecture for a little later?"
I would have savored the unmistakable auditory pleasure of hearing my aunt's lips drop a swear word, which I was sure she secretly would have enjoyed, but Heaven forbade her to utter such blasphemy. I filled in the shocked silence by muttering the forbidden word that "dang" euphemizes, which only resulted in my aunt protecting herself from my evil ways by crossing her chest in the same way all religious folk do when I pull off some profane stunt. During all the rocky years I had spent with my Aunt Cecelia, I had enjoyed poisoning her perfectly Christian life with my perfectly anti-God one.
"Can't you at least dye your hair some natural color?"
"If the demons come knocking at our door because I've invited them in with my new color, I'll be sure to take the brunt of the punishment. Don't worry." I bounced my heels against the backs of the steps, wanting nothing more than to curl up in my ever-welcoming bed and let my laptop screen eke the life out of me.
Aunt Cecelia responded with a pained, badly-restrained cry of hopelessness. "I thought you getting your nose pierced was stretching it, but what'll you do next? Get a tattoo? Oh, I shouldn't have even mentioned it."
Right. As if I had not already planned on filling my skin with tattoos. No, the nose piercing and the short blue hair were only the beginning steps in the transformation. I snorted at my aunt's naivete.
"What would your mother say, Danielle?"
"I don't know. But at least she'd be saying something." Unwilling to undergo any more of my aunt's dreadful, hyper-religious nerves, I hopped to my feet and raced toward my room, which promised me the freedom of apathy and privacy. Let my aunt cope with my Jesus-hating 'do on her own, anyways.