In Marcia’s favourite book, Cinderella’s stepsisters had thin carroty hair. So did Hansel and Gretel’s mother, and the wicked fairy who wasn’t invited to the christening, but Snow White’s stepmother had rolling auburn curls. They gleamed. Her image, doubled by the speaking mirror, filled a page and made Marcia’s insides feel hollow. She looked so often that the book readily fell open just there. The aunt who’d given it to her was pleased.
Then in a magazine of Mum’s, left open, Marcia saw an ad for shampoo. Carefully she cut out the sheet of rippling hair, mahogany-red. In her small room she looked about. Where? Mum was always cleaning. The bookcase? The image slid into Chickadee, a gift from the other aunt.
In time all the back issues thickened with highlights, streaks, conditioner. Always there were more blondes and brunettes, even silvers, than redheads. Never enough.