Paper Cuts

Her daughter was achingly beautiful, a delicate loveliness like a paper lantern, illuminated from within. Her long hair separated into fine ringlets, like curled Christmas ribbon cascading down her back. She was the kind of child that made strangers smile and take pause—the kind of child that made other mothers envious.

The mother was not so much shunned as politely excluded. Excuses were made, apologies provided, but invitations were never extended. She volunteered for school functions, opened her home to fundraising brunches, and purchased extravagant holiday gifts for acquaintances, all without receiving gestures of gratitude.

She exaggerated her own ordinary features, forgoing makeup, leaving her hair unwashed for days. She wore mismatched clothing and removed her wedding rings. None of her efforts to elicit pity served to lessen the jealousy. Her daughter’s radiance only shone brighter, her extraordinary hair the source of more disdain.

The mother closed her eyes, held the scissors, and cut.

View this story's 18 comments.