‘The Light Sculptor’
Leah Sophia Dworkin
‘The Light Sculptor’
Leah Sophia Dworkin
Leah Sophia Dworkin
¶ After the year wasted on the last one and a few weeks of living in bed, I decided it was time to take it offline. If I was going to meet a strange man at a bar he was going to be all of three things.
- Someone with a magical sounding job.
I can’t really say why those three things are what they are. According to little old ladies, the wise elder moms, the heart wants what the heart wants– which in this case, coincidentally or not so coincidentally aligned with every fear my short-Jew-ex-boyfriend had vocalized when he imagined the man who might someday replace him.
Hello, He said.
Hey, I said.
You have amazing hair, He said.
At least online, I get this a few times a day.
Thank you, I said.
I’ve never seen hair like yours, He said.
I wanted to tell him that it was because the kind of people with hair like me were intentionally eliminated from his country's population. The reason he wasn’t used to things that looked like me was very much on purpose, but instead
Thanks :), I said.Whatever, he looked like a thick cut of freshly fried schnitzel, firm and breaded.
He looked like he knew how to fix things. I bet he could grout bathroom tiles, for instance. I bet he could install a beam, for instance.
Would you parhaps likee to git a drink sometim? He said. Okay he can't spell, but he's German.
How tall r u? I said.
Six foot seven inches. He said.
Okay. I said.
And that's how I made a date with the light sculptor.
Before I knew it I’d already come, twice, the hogtied ropes had been unwound from my ankles and he’d buzzed off all of the hair on my head. We were showering together, both naked, both bald, his baldness less intentional than my own, mine completely unexpected. We were aiming the water to wash away the stubborn trimmings that were all over my body, which gave him a better reason to do the thing he’d gone on the Internet to do in the first place, help me shower myself. Earlier he’d knelt down on the floor beside me, almost kindred, his oversized Germanic hand holding the buzzing clippers to my scalp. Close now, in the narrow shower stall, his upright tallness beautifully hogged the shower nozzle, and down on my level, the lower level, I stayed mostly dry beneath the protective upside down U of his shoulders. His body smelled so clean it was like all scent of human had been erased, the person just washed down the drain, the remaining structure only an empty, gigantic, looming umbrella of skin held up by a solid set of ribs, the water ricocheting off the sharp articulated bridge of clavicle onto the naked little me below him. From way up there his tongue swooped down like the tongue of a shrimping bird and it slowly licked the parts of my scalp that I’d never felt before. It felt insane. I could feel his tongue way down in parts of my spine. He tongued the space behind my ear, the knobby bone behind the fleshy conch, the newly discovered delve, that subtle gully that dipped to the right of my surprisingly solid crown.
The internet is great.
He finished off my scalp and shaved me clean and then we toweled off, as I lumped on the couch, fingering the strangeness of my own skull as his mouth went to work between my legs.
I left with my hair in a plastic bag. Took it with me across the expressway, held onto it as I passed the industrial doorways of the vacant warehouses, past the “health deli” with its gleaming refrigerators, assorted melons, generic flower pots. We went down into the throat of the subway tunnel to where there were others, all of us predictably delayed on the usual stretch of platform. The hassid, a lone rat below on the tracks, the kindergartner with his mismatched nanny, the regular assortment of dudes with earbuds.
I was so bald I felt cold blooded, more amphibian than mammal, like I required less energy to survive than I had before.
All the way home, on the packed train car that zipped us underneath the heavy river, through the avenue link and up the final flight of stairs, my hair and I walked ourselves out through the bright opening of daylight, which we’d come to understand as a usual entrance to our island.
On most mornings like this, when we come home after a night in a bed that isn’t ours, we go straight for a juice and a vegetarian sandwich of the egg variety. We bring it home with us, eat it in bed, hopefully have time to fall back asleep in the crumbs before we are required elsewhere. But something had changed. I didn’t want the juice. I didn’t want an egg sandwich. Neither did my hair. I didn't know what I wanted. I looked down at the hair, the visible mound of coils muted through the white thinness of the shopping bag, and asked it what do we want, as if talking to a small, warm, obedient pet. I didn't feel funny talking to her, she was someone I'd never made a decision without. My hair cuddled itself, safe in her plastic bag. What I wanted, what we wanted, was a fresh fig, and my hair agreed that a fresh fig was the only thing. I don't know why a fig, I guess a fig has a particular sensory nostalgia, and my hair and I had eaten one together just a few months ago, plucked it right off a low hanging branch in a friends’ backyard. It was so sweet and seedy you could taste where it had grown. You could taste the specificity of that particular dirt. So we went to search all of the grocery stores, and the Asian market, and the integrated co-op, the Latino market, the regular grocery. There are an obscene amount of grocery stores in our neighborhood, all of them chock full of rare fruits, plantains, the savory and the sweet, pluots, persimmons and lychee, yukka. But my hair and I didn't want a donut peach or a breadfruit. We didn’t want some stupid organic South American root that would predictably taste like a mediocre potato. A plethora of ethnic grocery stores and not one had a fig.
Defeated, with no hunger for anything else, my hair and I went home.
By the time we got back, figless, we went to the mirror to look at our face.
Ever since, we can't stop looking in the mirror.
The mirror is usually the last place I want to look but there's something about our face that won’t let us look away.
Hey gorgeous... He said.
It is 2:01.
I don't respond because I’m fingering the newly revealed plateau behind my ear, smooth as a newt.
In its bag, my nestling hair is still warm with guilt.
That was so intimate, He said.
It is 2:02.
So hot, He said.
It is 2:04.
Like Samson and Delilah, but changed...
It is 2:06.
I think by changed he means reversed, but his English isn't very good, I presume he doesn’t know the word.
When can I tie you up once more? He said.
It is 2:09.
I’m not sure what he wants since there's nothing left to take.
We look at our face.
Our eyebrows look like mistakes.
Leah Sophia Dworkin writes in New York City. She has published or is forthcoming in The Columbia Journal, KGB Bar Lit Mag, b(OINK), Connotation Press,The Ditmas Park Review, and Bomb. @frumperella