Nora popped the leftovers into the microwave, entered the time, and pushed start. Her mom was working late and she’d have the apartment to herself tonight. Without the commotion usually caused by her mom and Joseph, the new boyfriend, who was decidedly wrong, Nora would be free to do as she pleased, which in tonight’s case, would be to dye her hair. She couldn’t wait.
She’d spent three afternoons casing the drug store, learning where the cameras were and how to avoid them. In her room she’d practiced again and again dropping a hair dye box into her overcoat pocket. She’d found the box and bottle in her mother’s wastepaper basket, had reassembled everything, filling the bottle with water so that it would match the real thing’s weight. She practiced until she could drop it into her pocket perfectly while pretending to scan the shelves.
She’d grown her thumb nail long to peel off the anti-theft device attached to the bottom of the box. The heist, as she liked to call it, had gone off without a hitch. And tonight, finally, she would dye her mousy brown hair “Midnight Blue.” Oh, how she hoped it would truly have some blue in it. Her mother would be floored – seeing her reaction in the morning might be the best part of it all, honestly.
The microwave beeped, signaling a job done. Nora brought the food to the table and took a too-hot bite of a tuna casserole. Inhaling to cool it off, she ceremoniously opened the box of Midnight Blue. Extracting each item from the box, she laid them carefully on the table, took a swig of milk, and then flattened the instructions next to her plate. She read them through three times while eating, making certain she understood the steps and times. She did not want to mess this up, like Cindy Armstrong had done.
Cindy’s hair was fine blonde hair to begin with, but after a botched dye job, it had turned a strange shade of orange, became brittle and broke off. Cindy looked like a prisoner whose crew cut was growing out awkwardly. There were even strange blistered bald spots where the dye had burned her skin. Obviously, Cindy hadn’t followed the instructions well, and her mother had been so livid that she refused to allow Cindy to wear a hat or wig, telling her she’d have to live with it. That seemed a little cruel, but it was also kind of funny because Cindy never followed directions.
Nora intended to avoid those pitfalls. Again, she read through the instructions, this time, highlighting the times for each step. Nora popped the last bite in her mouth, chugged the remaining milk, and stood up. She took one last selfie with her hair the way it would never be again, not if she could help it. She would do a before-and-after post.
Stepping to the sink, she arranged all the items she’d need around her, including the instructions. She pulled the rubber gloves onto her hands and began.