Jaden watched Blanche brushed out her hair carefully. She had the most beautiful hair she had ever seen, long and soft, and so pretty. When she hugged Jaden with her hair was down, it would fall around them, warm and heavy in a floral scented curtain. Her own hand almost absently reached up to tug at her own short and course locks where it barely reached her shoulders, feeling an uncomfortable weight in her chest.
When she first started going to school as a baby (at 12 and 3/4, she felt pretty mature despite what some people think, Dick. ) Jaden had had longer hair then she ever had before (or since), falling to a little past her shoulders. It had usually been left down to hang in unkempt mess, but sometimes her mom would braid it or put it in a bun with this hair scrunchie that had little white flowers on it. It had been her favourite, and she would beg her mom to do her hair up with it everyday. But then she started school, and first grade with it's classmates and lice.
The school usually had one or two outbreaks every school year, everyone standing in a line outside the nurses office where they checked for the horrible little bugs. She remembers sharply the embarrassment of being sent home in front of everyone when she had it, her mom annoyed and frustrated she had to come and pick her up and figure out a way to delouse her. She remembers the hysterics she put on when her mom had brought out the scissors, and only the threat of her old man had kept her in place as her mom cropped her hair close to her skull.
When she went back to school three days later, she cried the whole morning, because going back to school with her hair shorn short and uneven had been utterly mortifying, and she refused to set a single foot out the door. Eventually her dad had backhanded her and told her to shut up before he gave her a real reason to cry, before her mom shoved her out the door with a not totally unsympathetic reassurance everything would be fine.
While she didn't know so at the time, this would become an annual affair. Every year at some point she would get lice, and every year she would get dragged kicking and screaming into a hair cut.
Eventually she stopped caring so much about her hair, having more important things to worry about, like taking care of her Mom and figuring out where she would get her next meal. But living with Blanche, who was the most beautiful woman she had ever seen, who had this long, beautiful hair, brought back all those feelings, making her chest feel tight and uncomfortable. She desperately wanted to be like Blanche, who was elegant and kind and beautiful and just knew everything as far as Jaden could tell.
Blanche, who was probably aware Jaden was staring but was gracious enough not to say anything, put down her brush and began to pull her hair into a simple three strand braid. Jaden watched intently at the way her fingers deftly wove in and out, never stumbling. When Blanche finally tied off her braid with the elastic around her wrist, she turned to look over at Jaden and smiled. "Would you like me to brush out your hair? It's a bit short for an English braid, but I might be able to manage a French braid." Blanche offered softly, like she didn't want to break the companionable quiet they sat in, the crackling of the fire in the background keeping the room from total silence.
And Jaden, regardless of how self conscious of her hair she was, desperately wanted that. She didn't know what the difference was between the braids, or even that there was more then one type, but she wanted Blanche to braid her hair so badly it surprised her. She hesitated only a moment before saying in a rush "Yes! I mean, yes, please." She bit her lip as Blanche patted the floor infront of sofa where she sat.
As she sat where Blanche indicated, she began to talk as she worked through her hair with the brush, her calloused hands gentle, and her voice filled with a warmth Jay wanted to bask in. "You know, my Mother would do this for me every night. After my bath, we would sit in my room and she would comb out my hair, and braid it before bed so it wouldn't be an unmanageable mess come morning. I loved it, because she would just sit with me, and give me her her undivided attention for 15 minutes, just the two of us." Blanche, at the end of her words leaned down to brush a kiss to the top of Jay's hair, setting aside the strange looking brush she used. She started to deftly braid her hair, and Jay kinda never wanted this to end, the soft tugs on her hair feeling wonderful. It was nice, almost like Jay was her real daughter and not just some charity case she took in out of pity or whatever.
"My mom, Catherine, she would sometimes do my hair before school when it was long. Not that it was long or nice like yours," Jay adds hastily, feeling a bit self conscious but pushing on anyways, "but I liked it." Blanche tugs a hair tie into place around the end of the braid, before pulling out her phone and snapping a quick picture of her hair. Then Blanche carefully touched her shoulder to pull her around so they could face one another.
"Jaybird," she said, placing a rough hand gently against her cheek, "I think your hair is lovely. I hope I'm not overstepping, but if you want, I could do your hair for you. Like my Mother did for me, or yours did for you." Somewhat awkwardly, and with that small crooked smile she had, held out her phone with the picture she had just taken open on the screen. "Here, what do you think?" she asked.
Jay didn't know what to say, and even if she did, she was worried she might start crying like a baby if she opened her mouth. So instead, she stared down at the picture for a long moment, at her short hair that usually only fell a little past her jaw woven in a pretty, fancy looking braid and nodded. Soundlessly, she hugged Blanche, tucking her face into her neck, breathing in the delicate flower scent and just melted as her foster mom wrapped one arm around her while the other petted her hair.
Jay and Blanche stayed there a long time, wrapped one another, taking a quiet comfort from one another, the fire crackling merrily in the background.