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The Wig This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Mrs. Lynn was a frail, translucent lady. When she played piano, the bones of her hands would play across her papery skin. Her hair was a myth, and it moved of its own accord.

“I think it's a wig,” my sister confided in me one day. I laughed at the word. Later, I realized I didn't know “wig.” Language was still an endless universe in which I, with my telescope, could only find a few stars at a time; and so I asked my sister a few weeks later, wig? She replied, “fake hair,” and I thought George Washington and was content.

Some days we marched into Mrs. Lynn's house like clumsy soldiers, encased in boots and piled with scarves and tufted hats. Frosted window light fell across the floor in long, oblique frames. My sister and I invented a game there. We would stand against the heater, paying no heed to its stern tsk-tsk-ing, and then race to the couches and sink into them, feeling the heat of our pants flare against our legs and thighs. When my sister was having her lesson on the piano, I would pursue this game alone, pushing the boundaries, daring to wait an extra minute against the heater. The pendulum of Mrs. Lynn's metronome would sway back and forth, and I would ricochet from heater to couch to heater, and it was impossible to tell whether my sister was playing to the pendulum's motion or mine.

One day, we stumbled in from the cold, breathing clouds of silver mist. There was a bird in Mrs. Lynn's bed. Its hair was thin and wispy like an eagle, and its skin was wrinkled like a naked blue jay, surrounded by its quilted nest. When we burst through the doorway, the bird started with a soft “Oh!” It quickly donned Mrs. Lynn's hair and thick bifocals, and wrapped one of Mrs. Lynn's thick jackets around its thin bed-gown.

“I didn't know you were coming,” said the cloaked bird, and we walked silently to the piano room and began our lessons. We knew to forget that this impostor was a bird without feathers; we knew to pretend she was our Mrs. Lynn.

The next week, Mrs. Lynn was back and the bird was nowhere to be found, and when we left her house on the thin, stepping-stone walkway, my sister told me, “I swear Mrs. Lynn wears a wig,” but it was still speculation. Secretly, though, between slow notes of “Für Elise” or when my hands learned to play of their own accord, I would stare at the empty music pages and see beyond them, see the bird lying naked and vulnerable in Mrs. Lynn's bed.

In sixth grade, long after we had switched to a new piano teacher and language had been reduced from a universe to a hatchet, we attended Mrs. Lynn's funeral. Her glass-eyed husband greeted us, hunched over a walker as if he was already peering over the edge of their nest. We found Mrs. Lynn in a box, like a broken shard of glass. What of the impostor bird, I wondered. Had she taken flight?

We knew few people there, and my mom mingled among a group of white-headed strangers until we quietly departed, like feathers falling from an overhead flock.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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RidleyF said...
Feb. 28, 2012 at 6:00 pm:
That was beautiful! Thank you for sharing such a well writen and vivid story!
 
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