“I’m thinking about shaving my head,” Sadie said over the phone.
If Dana had not lived with her for three years – had not once seen Sadie come home at five in the morning looking like she’d been through the world’s wildest gauntlet scavenger hunt, had not come back to the apartment herself to a protest against overused plot devices that Sadie threw all by herself, had not known Sadie to spend a day researching military tandem bicycles, had not heard Sadie use the words polyglot, usageaster, and mamihlapinatapai in complete and mostly intelligible sentences – she might have spit out her coffee. Instead, she calmly finished her long sip as she walked down Sixth.
Gently, Dana shook her head while she swallowed, even though she knew Sadie couldn’t see. “No, you aren’t,” she said. At the corner, she glanced back to check the traffic lights, then crossed the street without hesitation.
“Uh,” Sadie laughed to conclude the syllable. “Yes, I am.”
“You’re thinking about shaving your head?” Dana asked. “Or you’re thinking about thinking about shaving your head? Where in the contemplative stages are you, exactly?”
“I’m standing in front of the bathroom mirror, holding a razor,” Sadie told her. Which explained the slight echo coming through the phone.
“Sadie, don’t shave your head,” Dana said.
The gray-haired man passing her on her right, twisted back curiously. Dana smiled, suspecting she’d just given him a good laugh to share with someone later.
“Not all of it,” Sadie said. “Just some of it.”
“We’ve talked about mohawks,” Dana said. “You were still in the middle of researching how to sleep comfortably in one the last time I checked.”
“Which is proving more interesting than you might think,” Sadie informed her. Something clattered behind her, adding to the echo. “Apparently the sane answer is that you wash out the glue before you go to bed, but we’re talking about people with mohawks here. One of them has to have shown the ingenuity to find a comfortable way to sleep in one. But I don’t want a mohawk today. I just want to take a little off the side.”
“Off the side?” Dana repeated.
“Off the side,” Sadie said, in the same even tone that she might use if she suspected that the cell signal was getting caught up somewhere. “A little edgy eighties, a little punk rock…”
“A little like you played chicken with a helicopter and turned away at the last second,” Dana suggested.
“Exactly,” Sadie said. “Like I’m the kind of person to play chicken and only pull away the second before blood is drawn. Why wouldn’t I want to advertise those kinds of reflexes?”
“I can’t think of a single reason,” Dana returned dryly. She shook her head again, took another long sip from her coffee.
“I think it would look cute,” Sadie said. “A little dangerous, purposeful, fun, strong, pretty, pretty different…”
“Are you bored?” Dana laughed.
“No,” Sadie said. She left it at that, and the single word held with something that seemed like honesty.
Dana slowed into her next step. She took another drink of her coffee, tilted her head, and considered everything Sadie had said. She shut her eyes lightly. “Purposeful?” she asked finally.
The phone stayed silent in her hand except for a sudden echoing rustle.
“As in the synonym for determined or the antonym of accidental?” Dana asked.
“Maybe the second one,” Sadie said.
“Did you do something to your head?” Dana demanded.
“There is no blood,” Sadie told her quickly. “And it did not involve scissors, fire, or a hot curling iron, I promise.
Dana narrowed her eyes. Slowing to a complete stop, she turned, and stepped back to put her back to the building behind her. She nodded to the woman who had been behind her, and looked away from the crowd. “What did it in involve?”
“A stapler remover,” Sadie said. Then very fast, “It’s a complicated story. We’ll laugh about it when you get home.”
Dana nodded to herself, almost laughing already. “All right,” she said. “So you’re thinking of shaving your head?”
“Thinking about it,” Sadie said. It sounded like she was shrugging, honestly still unsure, but enjoying the speculation. “You know.”
“Yeah…” Dana said.
“All’s fair in love and hair,” Sadie said.
“I promise not to scream when I come home,” Dana told her.
“Thank you,” Sadie said.