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If there was one thing Annie was an expert at, it was clean up.
Antoinette was all wild hair, which normally wouldn’t have been a problem, what with Annie being who she was and all.
But the thin layer of hair that sprouted along her legs, back and forearms after she came back to herself always seemed to put Annie ill at ease, and as soon as she sewed all of her torn t-shirts back together, Annie took a dip in a warm bath to loosen any stiff muscles and unwanted hair follicles she’d gotten from another wild night in the forest.
Armed with a fresh razor, Antoinette would use whatever latent yoga skills she had to get ever pesky inch that bothered her off of her, like she did while navigating the prickles of the thorn bushes she had to pee in every other week.
This was easier in high school when Antoinette had some time to herself while her mother was out sharing a six-pack with the bums that hung around the porch, and bathroom time in an apartment that didn’t include four other people.
But this was college, and privacy was found more in stranger’s houses than her own dorm, and being a brand-spanking new adult meant Annie had to learn to deal with her hair around other people’s schedules’.
Annie didn’t mind, having lived with other people in her own house after all. But these were all white girls, skinny and pretty and basic in that homogenous way that pretty white girls can be, used to being doted on and taking up space and nosy as hell as Annie tried to get herself back together on after-moon days.
A werewolf roommate, wasn’t it wonderful? The guys they brought over sometimes would always be curious enough to take a look and would be disappointed to just see a puffy-headed, dark-skinned black girl sitting there, instead of anthropomorphic wolf beast.
Mornings could be the worst.
“Wow, how does your hair get so big?” the blonde roommate would ask.
“Gravity” Annie would reply, sneaking her razors into the bathroom and locking the door behind her.
“Soooo, do you consider yourself more human, or dog?” the redhead said, reaching out to reach a kinky tendril that Annie had just twisted out.
“Neither. I’m a werewolf. It’s kinda me all the time.” Annie would say, subtly smacking her hand away as she went back to highlighting her textbook.
“How’d you get your tan like that?” the brunette asked, as Annie shaved her legs over a garbage can full of shaving cream and water.
“I’m Afro-Latino,” Annie replied, rinsing her razor off in the water and shaving into another line, going about her business. “I think my parents are from the Bronx, but my moms moved to Jersey City cuz the rent was cheaper and there was more forest nearby for whenever she turned. Thanks for noticing, though.”
It sucked more when it was the morning after. Why did Annie have to feel embarrassed for spending a night killing squirrels and shit? Not for not killing squirrels, but for sneaking back into her dorm with leaves in her hair, and covering up the holes in her shirt as her roommates’ were high as fuck daintily ogling at the dark brown of her boobs peeking through Annie’s shredded shirt?
White girls love to experiment with drugs and dick and shit like it was new, and Annie had to stop an intruding hand from coming up on her bed at the three in the morning (more than a few times), and despite their many spirited attempts (“Aww, cmon! It’s not real if it’s a girl”), Antoinette had rejected any amorous advances of the people she was sharing a living space with. Outside that living space…
Jared was nice. They came from an old vampire family, so Annie knew they came from some kind of money. It showed in their car, and their ability to pay for their own streaming services, and ability to pay for clothes and textbooks without having to dig through old online coupon services.
Annie had met Jared in a figure drawing class, and Annie had to hold back laughs as Jared whispered “Yeah, I’ve seen better” as the models posed and postured on the podium.
Jared was one of those mixed kids who loved to blend themselves between their ethnicities. Some kind of Puerto Rican. Some kind of Brazilian. Reddish hair and milk white skin making them exotic enough to be called a dish if brought to white family’s table (“Oh, I love your accent!” ) .
However, Annie was armed with her mother’s Afro-Spanglish, so she didn’t hold to Jared’s cutesy bullshit…all the time.
And Jared liked her more for it. Annie’s rough shirts and scarred legs showed the smudges of hood life that Jared was never really privy too. They had only ever heard a gunshot once when driving past the projects last year, and that’s because the family’s nanny was taking them to a fast food place for dinner. Dating a were-girl was certainly to enough to write home about, but fucking a hood chick…well, they could tell stories. There was one problem to get around, though…
“Babe” Jared messaged, and Antoinette was in the middle of a drawing when she got their text.
“Hey, what’s up?” Annie texted back, hands alternating between pencil and keypad.
“How does this dress look on me?” Annie gave a quick glance at Jared in the simple red, strapless number and replied with, “Lovely, honestly, truly”, her sharpened nails tapping against the phone screen like raindrops on a leaky rooftop.
“LOLOLOL, thanks, baby. Hey! What are you gonna do with your hair for tomorrow?”
Annie stopped sketching her dragon’s head to type back, “What do you mean?”
“Well, my parents want to meet you, I was wondering if you were gonna, yknow, do something with it?”
Annie ran a hand over her twist-out with a frown. “What’s wrong with it now?”
With a quick bloop of her phone, Jared messaged back “Well, it’s a little bit nappy. I mean, I know a lot of girls are going for the natural look, but I don’t want them to think you were still picking cotton or something”
Annie paused, focusing on her dragon’s wings as she heard her phone bloop again. “Still there?” Jared texted.
And at first, Annie wants to write back with a “FUCK YOU”. At first, Annie wants to turn off her phone and just finish her goddamn dragon her goddamn commission so she could pay for her books for her goddamn art class. But then she heard her roommate phone-fucking her whatever guy in the next room, and Annie decided she needed to get out more than she needed to stay in.
The full moon was passed anyway, might as well, right?
Better a bum in a nice SUV than on bums on a porch, right? Right?
“Ok, what did you think I should do with it?”
After a long day of Jared texting about her hair, Antoinette could say with some certainty that she was almost ready.
Shaving took 3 hours, flat-ironing, one.
It took Annie a good forty-five minutes to find the strappy heels that went with the only pretty dress she could afford at the warehouse store, and though Annie winced at the fire and the pain from her legs to her head, she was happy to get out for a bit tonight.
Her roommates giggled as she stumbled in with her one-night boyfriend out of her bedroom door.
It was the redhead, and Annie heard her chirp, “Oh! Annie, are you going out?”
“Yeah”, Annie replied, rubbing the dark lipstick over her lips as her roommate went on.
“I love your hair! It looks pretty down and straight”
And with the bloop in her phone telling her Jared was outside and the disgust in her gut as she adjusted the fancy belt to the blue dress she was wearing, Annie said, “Thank you” before stuffing her only non-shredded purse, turning off her flat-irons and walking out the door, free of her own wild hair and beautiful in her own discomfort.
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