Flash Fiction: Slipping (365 words)

Senka had never dyed her hair before, but it looked simple enough – mix the powder with water until it was thick paste, then smear it all over your head. The girls she’d seen do it before had all ended up looking like they were wearing shining, slick helmets while they waited for the dye to set. She looked more like a porcupine that hadn’t slept particularly well, her hair sticking out in odd curls and spikes. She’d run her hands through her hair so many times, making sure that all her dark brown was covered over in red. She couldn’t risk anyone seeing the old color. She couldn’t risk anyone recognizing her.

She should have been making for another city, fast as her feet could take her. That’s what she usually did after she got caught nicking something. It had been such a stupid slip, but then, slips were always stupid. It didn’t bother her near as much as the fact that she was still carting the package around, tucked under the back of her shirt, while she waited to hear where she was supposed to leave it. Waiting to hear when she would get her pay. She’d been squirreling around the lower streets for three days. She could have been sinking into new dirt, with a brand new name dancing off her tongue by now. Instead, she was hiding, finding new ways to not be seen.

She rinsed the dye out of her hair and knew she’d made a mistake. The dye had bled onto her forehead, covered her ears, made a jagged streaks down her neck. In her hair, it was perfect: turning her dark hair light and just subtly red, but on her skin, it was scarlet. It looked like she had been out in the burning sun for a long day. It looked like someone had tried to take her scalp and she’d fought back. It looked like someone had lit her ears on fire.

Flicking her hair around, Senka tried to cover it over. The dye came off in her hands and turned her fingers pink. She stared at it. Then she bit down on a laugh. Another stupid slip.

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