Story: Erika Soliven // Illustration: Chris Zajko
There stands the object of my affection. Her hair starts from a beautifully contoured scalp, erupting into thick waves that cascade around her face. The heavy brown strands gather and spiral to the lengths of the ground below her feet. Her hair wraps around her face and body like the most magnificent and elaborate ribbon of a birthday present. Shining like the sickest diamond, my fingers feel too callous to run through this most natural thread. But, they are drawn to it. This ribbon needs to be undone. The beauty that must lie beneath this thick auburn mane needs to be revealed.
I made it my mission to see what these pretty ringlets obscured. Nervously I reached for her hair. In response, a few strands gently wrapped around my finger. It was delightful, and as silky as I had imagined it to feel. A lock of her hair glided along my hand, over my arm, reaching around my shoulders, and tickling my neck before sliding down my chest. Goosebumps covered me as I began to swim in her hair, and her hair swam around me. My blood rushed through my veins, pulsating through my skin in its hasty movement. I was close to her. I could feel an intensity of thousands of heartbeats!
“Who is that?” I felt another warm body next to mine.
“Eh. It’s another one.”
Someone lit a match, revealing hundreds of men. Some bored, some hopeful, some exasperated. They lined a corridor that faded into darkness.
Lightheaded, I leaned against a wall, soft to touch but unrelenting in its build. I ran my fingers along the wallpaper of strands and strands of gorgeous auburn.
I felt it, her hair, faintly but distinctly exhale in satisfaction. Then the small little fire attached to the matchstick wavered one last time.
Four short stories of heartbreak and amour
by Erika Soliven
I fell in love with my tall, dark and handsome boyfriend. Dark features can always be manipulated. Handsomeness is in the eye of the beholder. Height, however, is indisputable. And my! At 8 ft, was he tall! We were together for a while, and I never questioned his odd quirks, like how he never took his pants or shoes off when we made love. Or how he would never let me tickle the back of his knees. I decided it didn’t matter in the end because this tall, dark and handsome man had stolen my heart. On his birthday, I came over to his house unannounced to surprise him with a cake. He had just gotten out of the shower and was changing into his clothes. There he was, without pants, and carefully applying the straps of his stilts. He looked at me, and his eyes started to water. Without the stilts he stood below my waist. “You still love me right?” he stammered. I took a deep breath, said “No.” I left the cake on the floor, turned my heels, and never looked back.
But I did allow a tear to trail down my face.
My girlfriend left me. She was so terribly pretty that I cried. I couldn’t take sitting in my room alone so I walked out into the living room. My sobbing bothered my roommate, so I left for the park outside our apartment. A young mother and her child were so frightened by my wailing that I brought myself a few blocks further. When my cries of lamentation shattered the glass, patrons of a busy café craned their necks to observe the commotion through the broken frame. Their concern left me no choice but to bring my feet to trudge through the heavy traffic. Cars on the highway swerved left and right as I spun and howled my anguish to the skies. The messy highway led me to the seaside where the tide receded, anxious to move away from my shrieks of eternal hell.
A tidal wave reached Japan – a requiem for my girlfriend’s pretty face. The prettiest face I ever got to kiss.
She had dyed her hair Russian Red. It was a beautiful red that I could get lost in, thaw in and live in – far away from the cold and dead platinum locks of girlfriends past. I wanted her to keep this red hair forever. One afternoon, we were walking through the city when I noticed her roots beginning to show. Panicked, I ran to the store and stole a box of Russian Red dye. Weeks later, again. And again. And again. One morning, while she had her head bent over a delicious French toast breakfast, I caught sight of the roots encroaching her locks. I ran as fast as I could for the closest Russian Red, and in my haste, paid little attention to the storeowner. He caught me lifting the package of hair dye and rushing past the cash register. The shopkeeper wouldn’t believe that my beautiful girlfriend needed Russian Red to survive a harsh reality of blonde clichés, and AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. But when she came rushing in to look for me, and willing to reimburse whatever costs, the clerk told us to wait. He rushed to the back of the store and returned with boxes overflowing with boxes of Russian Reds.
I think I am allergic to cigarettes. The very stench makes me dizzy while simultaneously making my stomach wretched. The fumes of a fag will my lungs to explode. And the sight of a fresh-faced young lady holding a cigarette between her soft fingers tugs at my heart. My girlfriend loves her cigarettes. I tried to tell her once, or twice, that it really bothered me whenever she lit up a Marlboro. Or a Camel. Or those Lucky Strikes. And she loves me so much that a plea for her to cease smoking stressed her out greatly. The mere sight of my heaving with a heavy chest and a heavy heart hurts her too much that she would light another one up. Once she was dressed in the prettiest frock, about to meet an important person. The details were vague, or at least lost in the cloud of smoke. But I did hear her worry over the stench and where the ashes would fall. I told her not to fret because I would inhale the cigarette’s fumes, while holding out my hands for her ashes to fall onto. And when she met this handsome gentleman in a hug, and a kiss free of pollution, I still couldn’t exhale the toxics, or dust the cigarette ashes off my hands for fear it would soil her dress.