Alice & The Mad Hatter – Lewis Carroll
This quote is from one of my all time favorite books! I do not profess to be as great as Lewis Carroll himself but here’s my story anyway 🙂
‘Righto Stella, that’s you done; we don’t want to cook you now do we?’ Jenny lifted the blow-dryer off Stella’s head, and pulled apart the first roller on Stella’s forehead. The roller pulled free from its confines, and the hair sprung back in a delightful curl.
‘It’s taken lovely; I knew it would! That’s a new colour from Tansy’s hair products. ‘Warm Gold’ it said, and it looks like it’s a success. Come on then, we’ll put you in your favourite spot, and then I’ll brush it through. Do you want a cup of tea?’
‘Not just now, or I’ll be on the loo all afternoon. Just pass me that magazine will you? It has a lovely crossword inside; I’m nearly done finishing it.’
The hairdresser laughed and rummaged in the pile, handing Stella Now Weekly.
‘I’ll be there in a tick; just got to look at Mrs Parsons’s perm.’
Jenny moved over to a basin and started the usual hairdresser/client banter. Stella settled back with the magazine, flicking through the pages at random. There was the usual celebrity features; young lithe TV stars on beaches across the world, and an article called ‘How to up your veggie intake.’ Towards the back of the magazine, an article on ‘Dealing with disabilities and depression’ caught her eye. She settled down to read it, as a splattering of rain fell onto the salon window next to her. The awning that covered the salon doorway looked swollen and bowed, and a tear in the corner of the faded plastic had left room for water to drip onto the pavement. She glanced outside and watched the rainfall for a moment, as a figure pushing a wheelchair appeared on the path that led to the salon. The figures were distorted, weirdly shaped as the rain lashed onto the windowpane, but Stella recognized them straight away. It was Joe and his mum Wendy.
Joe was a cheery boy, some would say ‘slow’, but Stella hated that expression and always had time for the lad. The school had told Wendy that he would ‘never amount to anything,’ but he had managed to find a job for himself, and look after his mum in his spare time. There were many around here that wouldn’t bother; Stella knew that. She watched as Joe pushed Wendy up the small hill that led to the shops. He pushed her to the left, to the newsagents, and then they were out of sight. She knew their routine; it was like clockwork; a packet of Benson & Hedges for Wendy, and a comic for Joe. Wendy didn’t bother buying any women’s magazines, preferring to read them up at the doctor’s. She was a regular there anyway, ever since she’d broken her hip last year.
Stella flicked through the magazine until she found the puzzle page. The pages were used and in some parts torn, but she didn’t mind. It was better than paying for one. Someone had already filled in parts of the crossword that she liked, and she cursed to herself. She had been looking forward to doing that all morning! Just then,the doorbell chimed, and the door to the salon opened. A blast of cold air ruffled the back of Stella’s neck, and she shivered. Someone just walked over my grave! she muttered to herself. The cumbersome wheels of the wheelchair sat heavily on the mat as Joe tried to manoeuvre it inside. His face had became red with the exertion, coupled with the heat inside. The salon was too small really for a wheelchair. It was just the front room of a terraced house, with two sinks and mirrors on one end, and space for just three chairs under the window for waiting customers.Even pushchairs struggled, so the young mums usually went down to the trendy salon in the local mall.
‘Can we bring this old thing inside Jen? It’s only for a few weeks until I get my hip sorted. It’s a nuisance really, but my hair is in a right mess! It badly needs a perm.’
Jenny the hairdresser nodded. ‘Yes, I don’t mind Wendy; you know that. It’s just that I have no space in here. Can Joe just drop you off and come back? You don’t mind, do you Joe?’ She pushed a chair in front of the wheel chair, and Wendy sat down, with Joe’s help.
‘That’s it Joe. We’ll see you later then?’ She closed the door, as he tried to get the wheelchair back through the door. The handles slipped and squashed his hands on the door jamb, and he yelped in pain. Someone in the salon (Mrs Williamson, Stella thought) tutted.
Stella observed all this through the salon mirror. Jenny’s face was a picture; annoyance and politeness morphed into one. You could tell that her routine had been interrupted. Jenny could be a bit abrupt at the best of times.
She stuck her nose back into the magazine, and smiled.
Copyright Suzanne Bowditch, 2016