Three Short Stories
Sabrina stood before her bathroom mirror for hours methodically brushing her long brown hair, forty-one, forty-two, forty-three, counting each brushstroke, slightly aware that her ritual counting might just might be the first indication of obsessive-compulsive disorder (though she admitted to herself it was probably only a mild case), and while she dutifully obeyed her strange, calculative urges, she earnestly wished she were a giant tortoise of the Galápagos Islands, because, though the extent of her knowledge of Galápagos giant tortoises was limited to just a few minutes’ worth of a Discovery Channel program, as far as she knew giant tortoises were totally hairless and very rarely afflicted with O.C.D.
* * *
She was only seventeen but Lara carried herself with the elegant confidence of a woman twice her age. She was classically beautiful and a straight-A student. She’d traveled to Europe, Asia, and South America. She played the cello, danced ballet and tap, and even wrote poetry that wasn’t awful. She was on the swim team, the cheerleading squad, and the debate club. Most afternoons she worked part-time at a nursing home and on weekends she tutored inner-city youths. Whatever spare time was left she donated to fundraising for Greenpeace. But Lara went to the prom solo and left graduation with a yearbook signed by no one but Mr. Heinrich, her chemistry teacher, simply because she had extraordinarily hyperactive eyebrow follicles. The doctors told her it was hormonal and she would eventually outgrow it, but ever since puberty, her bushy brows grew so wildly they.required hourly trimming or else her vision would be obstructed. “Scorcese-face,” the boys called her, or “Dukakis-head,” until she’d run away crying, her tears clinging to her wild, scraggily eyebrows like morning dew on forest shrubs. Teenagers are cruel.
* * *
The Jazz in Upper Volta
All her life, Lenore dreamed of one day playing saxophone with a jazz band in Upper Volta. She didn’t know where Upper Volta was exactly, or if there was a Lower Volta, or even a just-plain Volta, or what the music scene was like there, if there were any skilled musicians around to form a jazz quartet with, or even a trio, but it didn’t matter because Lenore couldn’t really play the sax or even read music. But a girl can dream.