Tag: hats

Charlie’s Room: The Red Hat

One year, soon after Charlie was born, Marianne gave Isaac a red knit cap for Valentine’s day. “Did you make it for me?” he asked.

“No, I bought it at the market. But it looks warm, doesn’t it?”

Isaac put the hat on. It was warm and soft and just the right size. “I love it!” he said. And he wore it often. February was still quite cold, so he wore it many times that year.

They also took pictures of baby Charlie sleeping inside the hat. The brim was pulled up near his chin, and he looked like he was in a tiny sleeping bag.

Isaac loved his red hat. He was careful with it, and didn’t loan it out to anybody. And yet, years and years later, the hat looked worn. It wasn’t nearly as red or soft. There were spots where the yarn was stretched thin and matted.

One morning, as Isaac was getting ready to leave, Charlie looked up at him and frowned. “You need a new hat, dad.”

Isaac put his hands up to hover protectively next to his hat. “I love this hat. It’s as old as you are, you know.”

“Yes, yes.” Charlie rolled his eyes. “I’ve seen the pictures.”

“It’s hard to believe you were that small, right?”

“I got bigger because I got older. Just like your hat got older.”

Isaac covered his ears. “I didn’t hear that.”

“Mom!”

Marianne came out of the kitchen drying her hands on a towel. She looked at Isaac and frowned. “You need a new hat.”

“See?” Charlie folded his arms across his chest and smiled.

Isaac stepped towards the door. “I really have to go now. Maybe we can talk about this later.” He opened the door and stepped outside. “Bye.” He closed the door and hurried to his car.

When he arrived at work, he left the red hat on his desk. It almost felt like he was sitting at the bedside of an old friend who had been given a terrible diagnosis. “Don’t worry,” he told the hat. “You have plenty of good years left. I’ll bring home a movie and some ice cream and they’ll forget all about this terrible new hat idea.”

The movie and ice cream distraction idea seemed to work. They had a fun evening, and nobody mentioned hats once. Isaac hid the hat under his pillow just in case.

He was pretty sure they wouldn’t get rid of his favorite hat without his permission, but he didn’t want to take any chances. There was that one time that his mom threw out his favorite boots just because there was a hole in the toe. For weeks before that he stuffed newspaper inside and his foot had stayed mostly dry and his socks were only a little stained by the newspaper ink.

It wasn’t that he had a hard time throwing things away. Not usually, anyway. But when something had enough good memories attached to it, it was hard to give it up.

Things that were well-loved had a certain glow about them. Miss Marta’s gray shawl had that glow. So did one of Mr. Johnson’s ties that was covered in tiny elephants, and Charlie’s lucky socks, and Marianne’s tiny green earrings. To Isaac his hat glowed brightest of all, but that might just be because it was his and he loved it best.

The next morning, when Isaac put the red hat on, Charlie frowned, but he didn’t say anything. Marianne stepped out of the kitchen to say goodbye. She looked at the hat and frowned. But she didn’t say anything about the hat either. Isaac relaxed. His hat was safe.

A month later, it was Valentine’s day. Isaac hummed happy birthday to his hat as he put it on. He was looking forward to an evening of pizza and board games.

Marianne and Charlie met him at the door after work. Charlie held up a lumpy present wrapped in shiny red paper and taped closed with what looked like most of a roll of tape. “I just finished your present.”

Isaac finished putting his coat away and changed out of his shoes. Then he took the present and examined it from all sides. “Let’s go sit on the couch. That looks like it may take a little while to unwrap.”

“You aren’t going to try to open it without ripping the paper, right?” Charlie tugged on the present. “I’ll open it. You take too long.”

Isaac kept a tight hold on his present. “It’s my present. Unwrapping it is part of the fun. Enjoy the journey.”

Marianne sighed. “Let’s go make cocoa. He’ll still be unwrapping when it’s ready.”

Luckily, Isaac discovered a corner where the tape was applied less densely, and soon enough he was able to slide out a soft, bright, red, knit something. “Is this a hat?” he asked. He wasn’t sure how he felt about a new hat. Could he really replace his old hat and all the memories it represented?

“Of course it is.” Charlie grinned. “I made it for you myself. Mom helped.”

Isaac looked down at his new red hat. It glowed even brighter than the old one. “I love it,” he said.

An Abnormally Good Hair Day

The week before her appointment, Brooklynn told all her friends about the haircut. She told them that the hairstylist was probably partly magical and maybe a little sparkly. She said that the hair salon was only visible to humans on the day after a blue moon. And most importantly, the hairstylist promised her a haircut too beautiful to be seen.

On the day after the haircut, her friends all waited at the park where they usually met to walk to school together. “What do you think it will look like?” Carrie asked.

“Like her hair is shorter.” Jane rolled her eyes. “That’s all a hair cut does. It just makes your hair shorter.”

Susan giggled. “But will it look nice?”

“I would never let anyone cut my hair. Too many things could go wrong.” Bella tossed her long blond hair over her shoulder.

Jane snorted. “Hair grows. Even terrible haircuts aren’t terrible for long.”

Just then, Brooklynn came around the corner wearing a giant hat. The hat covered every strand of her hair and was securely fastened to her head by a wide ribbon tied in a bow under her chin. It was impossible to see her new haircut at all.

“Is it really that terrible?” Susan asked. “You can show us, we won’t laugh.”

“No, it’s actually too beautiful to be seen.” Brooklynn patted the side of her hat. “It’s really the loveliest haircut you’ve ever seen. If I took my hat off, the sun would be so shocked by the beauty of my haircut that it would forget to shine. I really can’t risk it.”

Bella twirled a strand of her long hair around one of her fingers. “That doesn’t even make sense. Haircuts don’t make your hair prettier really. They just change how long it is.”

“Nope. Haircuts can make your hair look a lot better.” Brooklynn pointed at her hat-covered hair. “Yesterday you could look at my hair, but today it’s too beautiful to be seen. In fact, my hair is so lovely now that it glows. If I took my hat off, you’d have to squint because that’s how brightly my hair shines.”

“Real hair doesn’t glow. Are you sure the hairstylist didn’t glue a wig on your head when you weren’t looking?” Carrie leaned forward and pointed at Brooklynn’s hat. “Or maybe you’re just making this all up, and you’re embarrassed to show us that your hair looks exactly the same as it did yesterday. I bet you didn’t get a haircut at all.”

Brooklynn clutched at the edges of her hat and laughed. “Of course I got a haircut. I’m not a liar. I’d show you, but it’s really too beautiful to be seen. If I took my hat off, the ground would shake because the earth would be moved by how beautiful my haircut is. I’m trying to keep you safe, because we’re friends. Even if you don’t believe me.”

“I think this can be easily resolved.” Jane folded her arms and sighed. “Just show us your haircut, Brooklynn. You can’t wear a hat in school, you know.”

“You can if you bring a note. My hairstylist wrote me one. Honestly, my hair is really too beautiful to be seen.”

“Then what’s the point?” Carrie asked. “If no one can see it, it might as well be too ugly to be seen.”

Brooklynn shrugged. “I feel beautiful. That’s good enough for me.”

Suddenly Bella darted forward and tugged at the bow holding Brooklynn’s hat in place. Brooklynn grabbed the edge of her hat, but she was a moment to late. Bella tugged the hat away and stepped back.

The sky went dark. The ground shook. Streetlights flickered on, but their light was pale compared to the glow coming from the top of Brooklynn’s head. It was like trying to look at the sun.

Brooklynn snatched her hat back and put it on her head. The ground stopped shaking and the sun was shining once more. “I told you,” Brooklynn said crossly as she tied the ribbon into a bow again. “My haircut is too beautiful to be seen.”

The other girls blinked.

Bella wiped the tears away. “How long does it take for a haircut to grow out?”

“Weeks.” Jane squinted at her watch. “We need to get going. We’re going to be late to school if we don’t leave now.”

Brooklynn led the way, and her friends followed after her, still blinking.

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