Hair, Tara Isabel Zambrano

Tara Isabel Zambrano

Originally published in Bop Dead City (Fall 2015) 

The girl has been losing hair for days, a red scarf over her round head. She worries about not looking pretty; in fact, she knows that men look at her more often than they should. As if she is a bird with broken feathers. Perhaps some of them even think that her chipped front tooth is charming, now that her jawline is more prominent than before. Or maybe they laugh at her failure, their lips pursed in a closed mouth smile.

There is a wig shop at the corner of 5th and K Ave. Blonde, brunette, redhead – she can try them all. She wants a color that will match her blue-grey eyes, probably red. She should ask the store owner, Maggie, to help her. Maggie puts on new wigs every week. Some of them work, some don’t. But she looks the best when she is without the artificial lashes and eyebrows, with a cap on her head. The way she is supposed to look, free and relieved. Like a real, breathing woman.

You have big eyes, her mother says, and they look bigger without the hair. The girl looks down and tugs on her apron avoiding her mother’s sharp look. She knows she has mother’s eyes. Inside, her small bones twitch in anger, steam rises from her skin. She runs her fingers over her head; the sharp dig of new hair almost feels good. She imagines a soft pad of hair with shaggy bangs and curls that will bring out the angles in her face. Something that will make her look fierce and prove to the world that she is trying. Trying very hard to be one of them.

Tara Isabel Zambrano works as a semiconductor chip designer in a startup. Her work has been published in Tin House Online, The Southampton Review, Slice, Bat City Review, Yemassee, PANK and others. She is Assistant Flash Fiction Editor at and reads prose for The Common. Tara moved from India to the United States two decades ago and holds an instrument rating for single engine aircraft. She lives in Texas.

Read more of her work on her website, She’s also on Twitter, @theinnerzone.