Haircut by Michelle Christophorou

The thing about Connor is his smell. Like meadows, and autumn rain, and something elusive I don’t even want to describe, that makes him feel like home and walking through the forest at the same time. When I lose him to the holidays, I hold on to something: last Easter a red sweatshirt, flung in a corner of his room.

It’s also his hair. I’d crawl naked through the Sahara for hair as thick and straight and smooth. And, oh, the whisper of it on bare skin. ​

Now Connor’s had a haircut. It’s 1996, he says. Long hair’s not fashionable. I don’t say that he no longer looks like Jesus. I didn’t think that mattered, before. But now, he looks normal.​ And his smell: that something indefinable – was it really just shampoo and someone else’s tobacco? – a base note of that has fallen away. ​

Connor says, “I didn’t tell you because it’s my hair.”

He has a point.​

Later, at Cathay Garden, I relearn his face. Still bloody handsome. In a normal kind of way. Connor leaves the prawn toast for me – sesame gives him a rash – so I should go easy on the spring rolls. His eyebrow lifts, somehow more prominent now, as I crunch into my second. The filling sears the roof of my mouth.​

Back at mine, Connor says he loves me. His words don’t pierce my navel, don’t tweak my pelvic floor. ​

“Coffee?” I reply.​

I bring in the mugs as Astral Weeks starts up from the turntable. My cue to pretend to seduce him. I don’t know how, but it’s become a thing, my initiating. Connor waits till halfway through ‘The Way Young Lovers Do’ before making his move. When he bends towards me, the veil is gone.​

Michelle Christophorou has been writing flash fiction and short stories for just over 18 months. In an earlier life, she practised law in the City of London, and lives in Surrey with her husband and son. She tweets occasionally @MAChristophorou.