Prairie bonnets with frills

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The sun was high but cool wind blew the breeze in a sway. Mary Jane was reading a book under a willow tree. She hummed herself a merry tune as she turned the page. Everything was right with the world at that moment. Her drifted off the page and onto the dirt road behind the fence that bordered her family’s property. The teenage girl could swear that she saw a figure coming up the road, running.

”Mary Jane! Mary Jane!”the wild figure called when jumping over the fence. It was Harper Lee, Mary Jane’s best friend. The girl was panting heavily as she perched herself against Mary Jane at the tree.

”What, Harper Lee?”Mary Jane smiled up at her friend.

”There’s a woman down the road”,Harper Lee said breathlessly,”She makes your hair curly, very curly”

Mary Jane was intrigued. Since she was a little girl, she wanted curly hair. What Harper Lee said sounded like a miracle.

”How?”Mary Jane asked.

”She puts an elixir in your hair”,Harper Lee went on,”And like magic, your hair is curly”

Mary Jane’s eyes sparkled as she imagined herself with luscious, curly hair. All the boys would give her everyday if she had curly hair. She had to have curly hair.

”Where is she?”Mary Jane asked.

”Just down the road”,Harper Lee pointed south,”Come on, let’s go”

For a second, a moment of dear thought, Mary Jane looked back at her family’s home. What would her family say? Maybe she ask them for guidance? That moment dissipated quickly as Harper Lee grabbed onto Mary Jane’s hand and the two started to run down the old, dusty road. They must’ve had run about five miles before the two girls saw an interesting and peculiar sight.

An ancient, rustic traveling carriage was parked just off of the dirt road, near a fresh water spring. A lady in a modest dress and undid hair was taking in the air from the comfort of an old, rickety chair that seemed to be made of willow. There was a sign posted on the carriage door: Missy Ross’ fantastical miracles and inventions.

”Missy Ross”,Harper called to the woman, causing the woman to turn her head,”This is the girl I was talking about earlier. Her name is Mary Jane”

Mary Jane curtsied anxiously for Missy Ross as she walked up to the two girls. Her eyes drifted past Mary Jane’s pretty face, the girl could see that, and to the girl’s chestnut hair that was secured by a red bow.

”Your hair is very beautiful”,she said.

”Thank you”,Mary Jane blushed.

”So you were the one that wanted a perm?”

”Yes, ma’am”,the girl nodded eagerly.

Missy Ross nodded. She went, grabbed the chair that she was sitting in previously, brought it back and placed it front of the girls, and invited Mary Jane to sit in it. The girl graciously took a seat in the chair. As she sat, Mary Jane watched as Missy Ross placed a case right beside the chair. The woman clicked it open and inside were tiny rods. Both girls marveled at the new oddities, barely taking their eyes off them, as Missy Ross grabbed a sheet of cloth from her carriage.

Walking back to the girls, especially Mary Jane, Missy Ross tossed the sheet around the sat girl’s body. She swaddled the girl in the cloth cape and pinned the cloth in the back with a clothespin.

“Are you ready?”Missy Ross asked.

“Yes”,Mary Jane nodded assuredly.

”Alright”,Missy Ross said,”It’s time to work my magic”

Harper Lee watched as Missy Ross took the red bow out of Mary Jane’s hair. A wave of chestnut spread out from behind the chair. That luscious, chestnut hair was combed out thoroughly by a fine-toothed, wooden comb. A collection of strands from Mary Jane’s hair was raised up and without warning or fuss, Missy Ross snipped a majority of the hair off.

Mary Jane stiffened, that snip she just heard must’ve been her imagination. She tried to stay calm but as snips rang in her ears, she blurted out a,”What are you doing?!”

”Oh”,the woman replied, following it with a sort of laugh,”My elixir requires you’re hair to be short for it to work”

”Uh…”Mary Jane stammered,”Harper Lee, how short is she cutting my hair?”

”Don’t you worry”,Missy Ross responded instead,”I assure you that you will look beautiful when I’m done”

Reluctantly, Mary Jane stayed in the chair and watched her hair fall onto the cape and ground. The woman cut girl’s hair very short before she was satisfied. As the woman walked back to the carriage to grab something, Harper Lee touched Mary Jane’s short hair.

”You look beautiful”,Harper Lee tried to console her friend. Mary Jane just watched as Missy Ross came back with a towel and a bottle. She secured the towel around Mary Jane’s shoulders, rolled up the girl’s short hair in the rods, and secreted the elixir into Mary Jane’s scalp conservatively. When she was done, Missy Ross covered Mary Jane’s head in a hair-net.

”Let’s give it ten minutes in order for the elixir to set in”,Missy Ross stated,”And then, your hair will be curled to perfection”

”Great!”,Harper Lee tried to lighten the mood with an exclamation.

Mary Jane sat in that chair, praying to god that her parents would come save her. But no one came running. After ten minutes, Missy Ross removed the net and started to remove the rods. As the rods came out, Mary Jane’s hair was tightly curled.

”There we are”,Missy Ross said as she began to take off the towel and cloth sheet,”You’re all done, Mary Jane”

The girl felt her scalp. All her hair was short and curled. This didn’t feel like her own hair. Missy Ross put everything back in the carriage and brought back a mirror for Mary Jane. When she saw herself, Mary Jane couldn’t believe it. She had hair like the little boys who went to the schoolhouse.

“No, no, no”,Mary Jane rose from the chair while looking at herself in a panic,”This can’t be real. What are my folks going to think? What are they going to say?”

Before all of this, Mary Jane was an obedient girl with flowing, long hair in the color of chestnuts. Now, she had very short hair that tightly clung to her head and to each other in a curl.

”I-I… I have to go home”,Mary Jane picked her long, brown dress and she started to run the miles back home. If she was focused, she would’ve wished that nobody was on the road to see with such short, curly hair. When she reached the border of her home, Mary Jane heard the voice of her mother,”Mary Jane! Where are you!”

Stealthily, Mary Jane avoided the her mother’s voice and entered the house without being detected. The girl quickly ran up to her room. She searched her room in a hurry for anything to cover up her short hair. A bonnet caught her eye and she put it on. It was not on there tight but Mary Jane couldn’t fix it as her mother came into the room.

”Mary Jane”,she reprimanded the girl,”Where have you been? I’ve been looking all over for you”

”I-…”,Mary Jane’s mind drew a blank for her.

”Why are you wearing your bonnet”,her mother pressed.

”I was with Harper Lee and we went down the road”,Mary Jane explained.

”For what?”

”I-I-I…”,Mary Jane saw no way out and so she removed her bonnet,”I had my hair cut and curled”

Her mother stood. She looked at her daughter for a long moment. Her lips didn’t purse as she did when she was mad. Her didn’t squint or widen.

”Well”,she said,”I hope you learned your lesson”

”Yes, mom. I did”,Mary Jane hung her head in shame as her mother caressed her short curls tenderly.

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