“Shh..be quiet!” My mother whispered to me intently.
The blue latex on her gloves was covered in black and her fingers squeaked across the strands as she ran her hands through my hair. The brush she used intermittently was thrown carelessly in front of me, covered in lost hair and gooped with thick dark liquid.
We have been on the run for three weeks since leaving our last home. I was sure that the Regency was no longer looking for us, but she was not convinced, and this was our last bottle of hair dye.
“That hurts!” I told her as she started to pull the sticky brush through my hair again.
“I know.” She said to me sympathetically. “I know.”
We had found this abandoned building only a few hours ago, and when we were sure no one had seen us enter, we began the dying process. It was something that I was accustomed too, I had been the subject of this routine since I was two, but it never got any easier, and I still hated every minute of it.
When she was sure that my entire head of hair was sufficiently covered with the goop, she began to vigorously rub my face, neck and ears with a rag to remove any of the dark residue. If my skin were discolored around my scalp it would be evidence of falsity and our rouse would be up. So in addition to the uncomfortable burning on my scalp, my face too, would soon feel raw, sore and sensitive from the scrubbing.
“Mom.” I said to her after about ten minutes.
“Mom!” I yelled at her as quietly as I could through clenched teeth.
“Shh!” She whispered back, finally acknowledging me and looking me in the eyes.
“That’s enough.” I told her and grabbed the rag from her hands.
“I have to make sure I got it all.” She told me as she tried to hold the piece of cloth back from me.
“It’s enough.” I told her, absolutely certain that there was not a trace or smudge or anything dark left on my face. My skin felt hot and swollen from the cleaning and I knew from past experience that there was not a mark left on me. She was very thorough.
“Ok.” She said to me weakly, grabbing me gently around my face and kissing my forehead.
As I sat and continued to soak in my mire and ooze she made quick work of disappearing the evidence. Finding an old metal container, she placed the bottle of dye, the box it came in and the paper filling that once held the gloves, into the canister and set them all on fire.
“Let’s get you rinsed off.” She told me once the flames began to settle and burn.
We had a couple of old milk jugs, several plastic bottles and two small buckets of ditch water we used to rinse my hair. It was cold, and dirty and it smelled bad, but it was all we had and it would have to do. It was gross but it soothed the burning on my scalp and so I focused on that.
Once my hair ran clean, she took off the gloves and threw them in the fire after wrapping my hair in a ragged old towel. She checked herself to make sure she wasn’t contaminated with any of the dark color and then used the rest of the water to clean the sink and the floor.
We gathered our things and flung our backpacks over our backs as we headed for the door.
The spot lights hit our eyes with blinding glare as soon as we opened the heavy wooden barrier.
“Freeze!” A deep demanding voice yelled at us.
“Run.” My mother turned and said to me. “Run!”
I turned and ran without hesitation, while she allowed herself to be caught, kicking and screaming, to give me a head start.
Through the back door of the building I busted out and headed for the dense forest that was there behind it. It was dark and cold. The air bit at my face and pierced my lungs with each draw of breath. Puffs of smoke escaped my lips and hot tears streaked down my face as I ran and kept running until my legs burned and I could no longer move.
After tripping and falling, I clawed the ground as I crawled toward bracken and bush to try and hide. I was hot and cold, sweating from exertion as my fingers and toes felt froze. My lungs burned, my side ached and my body felt weak and numb from exhaustion.
I could see lights from the hunters and hear their yelling and whistles as they continued their search and moved closer to me.
I knew I would be caught, but there was nothing I could do. I was lost and alone and I knew they would find me. But I hid and kept quiet for as long as I could, enjoying – with anguish – my last moments of immunity.
It is such an odd thing to be hated, hunted and discriminated against for something that you can not control.
I didn’t decide to be born like this. I never had a choice. This is who I am, for better or worse, I have no power over it.
After I was caught my hair was stripped of the dark falsity of color and I was exposed as the vile abomination that I was.
I was sold into servitude and denied basic rights and would never be looked at again the same.
“You disgust me!” A lady yelled at me as she hide her child’s eyes as I was paraded down the street.
“You people are unnatural!” Yelled a man before he spat at me.
“God hates fairs!” Read a sign as protestors lined the side walk that lead toward my departure vehicle.
“There’s a special place in hell for you freaks!” Was the last thing I heard before I was put on the bus.
I imagined the life ahead of me as I stared down the pavement from my side through the window.
We would be locked up and separated by group, and always isolated from the opposite sex, as to not procreate and bring more filth into the world.
Our food would be rationed, our clothes made of rags and we would work for the benefit of the others; the ones who condemned and damned us here.
We would never be allowed to marry, or have children, or fall in love. There will never be a light at the end of the tunnel.
We were a mistake in the race. A genetic malformation to be cursed and cast aside. A minority to be shunned from the rest.
“Don’t worry.” A woman sitting next me to me said once we were far from the city limits. “You have brown eyes. It won’t be as bad for you.” She said giving me a wink.
Brown eyes, I thought sardonically, my saving grace.
It was true, I did have it easier than some. I was only just blonde.
A savage, a freak, a stain born into a race full of dark hair, dark eyes and a rainbows worth of color in skin.
Blonde was sinister, unusual – different – and something to be feared. Something to be shamed and concealed and kept away from the rest of the world, as to not contaminate the normal people.
Blonde was not the hair color of the saviors son. Blonde was not a holy color written about it religious text. Blonde was unnatural and not from the holy land. Blonde was the devils work.
So tucked away I will live. Behind large walls and guarded gates never to be seen or heard from again.
Kept safely away.
Kept hidden and silenced and allowed to be hated for the comfort of others.