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This is the first post by author Diana Wallace Peach...and it is a short story, and for those of you (us) who sometimes get into a bit of a dither, it is very clarifying…..
Image Pixabay combo
Betsy over at Parenting is Funny was recently musing over a bottle of clarifying shampoo (yes, it’s a real thing). Her blog is a hoot, and I encourage you to visit. Her post popped a story into my head. I hope you enjoy.
Clarifying Shampoo by D. Wallace Peach
Clara was born a Libra. Not the normal kind of Libra with a smattering of other signs in her chart to balance her scales. She was an anomaly, an astrological case study, solid Libra from her Sun all the way across the galaxy to Pluto. She vacillated like a seesaw and simple decisions were intolerable with all the second-guessing.
Worst of all, she was the epitome of annoying. Potential friends stopped calling after a week, and romantic relationships unraveled before they had a chance to knit. She frustrated counselors. Even her mother had stopped answering the phone.
Clara had to do something, and the only thing she hadn’t tried was consulting a psychic.
Madam Bea’s Fabulous Fortunes occupied the basement below a hair salon. She specialized in Tarot, but the handmade poster on her sandwich-board advertised results, and that was exactly what Clara needed. Results.
At the bottom of the concrete steps, a peeling door led into a tight space cordoned off by red sheets tacked to the ceiling. A disorienting combination of odors—garlic, mildew, and sandalwood—assaulted Clara’s nose. A card table separated two folding chairs, complete with a sparkly glass ball on a plastic stand.
Madam Bea, a beak-nosed woman with painted eyebrows, sat at the table finishing off a pizza. She waved to the unoccupied chair while munching on the crust, and then tossed the pizza box behind the makeshift curtains.
Clearly, Clara had made another mistake, but she accepted the seat and laid out the saga of her peculiar horoscope complete with runny mascara—another miscalculation. She should have applied the waterproof variety.
The fortune teller listened intently while picking her teeth with a ruby fingernail. “I have joost the thing,” she said and disappeared behind the sheets. When she returned, she placed a half-empty bottle of shampoo on the table.
“Shampoo?” Clara frowned.
“Clarifying champoo.” Madam Bea’s eyebrows arched higher than already arched. “Trust me. I give you discount. That be fifty dollars.”
Clara forked over the cash with a sigh and drove home. Before dropping into bed, she washed her hair.
In the morning, she shuffled to her closet and ruminated over what to wear. Slacks or a skirt? Maybe a dress. Or slacks in case the office is cold. But what if it’s warm? A dress with a sweater? Although a skirt…
The lavender suit.
Clara froze. The whispered voice seemed to originate from somewhere above her head. She glanced up and then peeked over her shoulder. Alone. Was the voice real? Inside her head? She backed up and sat on the edge of her bed. Should she make another counseling appointment?
Ivory blouse and low pumps. Pearl studs but skip the necklace.
Clara jolted up with a yelp. She rifled through her closet and wriggled into the lavender suit. Studs in her ears, she dashed from her apartment to the sidewalk, the low heels a wise choice with all the running.
She inhaled a lungful of sunshine to calm her racing heart, shoved the morning’s weirdness from her thoughts, and wavered over whether to walk to work or take the bus. Or drive. Or walk. What if she got blisters? And then there was city parking…
Walk. It’s a nice day. You need the exercise.
Clara frowned and casually swept a hand over the top of her head. Was her hair giving her instructions?
“Clarifying?” She wrinkled her nose. “Why? But what if—”
Clarity never hurt anyone. Now, no time for waffling or you’ll be late.
Still suspicious of her hair, Clara set off for work, and for the first time in three years, she arrived on time, a fact noticed by Harry, the tall, dark, and hunky cubical-occupant across the aisle. Her hair urged her to have tea instead of coffee and to check her emails before returning calls, decisions that would have taken an hour.
By the time the clock struck noon, her lips curved into a relaxed smile, the day’s decision-making handled entirely by her hair.
Harry cleared his throat. “Clara, would you like to join me for a quick lunch?”
“Oh, er, hm.” Clara didn’t know. Should she? What would she order? Maybe she shouldn’t. But then he might not ask again. So, she should. But what if she did, and he ended up being a creep, and then he’d ask her every day? She might have to quit her job. Or he could be nice. “Um, I…”
Gah! Just say yes!
“Yes,” she blurted.
Eighteen years later, while Clara unpacked her shopping bags, her daughter, Elizabeth, sauntered into the kitchen, phone in hand. “Mom, there’s a bonfire at the park tonight. Chantelle and I were planning to go, but her mom needs their car. Can I take ours? I’ll be home by nine.”
Clara wanted to say yes, but driving after dark… And what if there was beer? And boys? There would be boys. Was Elizabeth old enough? Should she say no? Eventually, she’d have to trust her daughter’s choices. She could drive the two of them. But that might be humiliating. Was it worth a fight?
She’s a responsible kid. She said she’ll be home by nine.
Clara sighed. “All right, you can go. I trust you to make good choices.”
“Awesome, mom. I have to hurry and hop in the shower.”
“Oh!” Clara perked up and searched through her bags. “I bought you some shampoo.”
© D.Wallace Peach 2019
About D. Wallace Peach
I didn’t care for reading as a child – I preferred Bonanza and Beverly Hillbillies reruns, Saturday morning cartoons and the Ed Sullivan show. Then one day, I opened a book titled The Hobbit. Tolkien … literally changed my life.
I love writing, and have the privilege to pursue my passion full time. I’m still exploring the fantasy genre, trying out new points of view, creating optimistic works with light-hearted endings, and delving into the grim and gritty what-ifs of a post-apocalyptic world. Forgive me if I seem untethered in my offering of reads. Perhaps one day, I’ll settle into something more reliable. For now, it’s simply an uncharted journey, and I hope you enjoy the adventure as much as I.
A selection of books by D.Wallace Peach
One of the recent reviews for Sunwielder
If you would be granted the ability to travel back in time and redo some of your life choices, would you take it?
What if strings were attached?
Without giving any spoilers away, I loved the way D. Wallace Peach handled the plot and the magic she instilled in the time-travel charm as well as the twists she put in the past being relieved. The worlds she created were fascinating and very well developed as well as full of political intrigue. It was amazing to discover how Gryff’s new life options affected those involved and the heartache he went through was gripping, well balanced by lyrical descriptions.
I found it hard to put it down, so many chores were put on hold until I finished the book…
Sunwielder is a page turner with a super clever plot, highly recommended.
Read the reviews for buy the books: Amazon US
And Amazon UK: Amazon UK
Read more reviews and follow Diana: Goodreads
Connect to Diana
Blog: Myths of the Mirror
Facebook: Myths of the Mirror
My thanks to Diana for this delightful story and next time I have a decision to make I will make sure to listen for any advice from my hair… thanks for dropping in and we would love to hear from you… thanks Sally.