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  • Hard-to-Reach Back Parts
  • Holly Goddard Jones
    Spring 2015

I can’t use a curling iron without thinking of my mother. As a girl I had stick-straight hair, and so for special occasions—Easter Sunday, kindergarten graduation, school pictures—Mom would sit me down on the living room floor between her knees, plug in the iron, and start giving me a look to equal the occasion. Even now, if you see me with [End Page 44] curls, you’ll know that I think the situation calls for a little something extra. Mornings like this one, I look at myself in the mirror and see a flash of that girl I was, even though my curled hair is spiked with grey and I have lines on my face.

I never curl the hard-to-reach back parts without wishing Mom could do it for me. What a soothing pleasure (occasionally punctuated with the surprise pain of a slip of the iron, so that it grazed the top of an ear or nape of the neck) to sit on a shag carpet in your bathrobe and have your mother’s hands in your hair. Even that burning hair smell—even that. Bottle it and let me take a whiff whenever I’m stressed out. Her legs brushing my arms and some boring Sunday PBS show on the TV and the whole house smells like bacon. Her whispered count to thirty for each curl. [End Page 45]

Holly Goddard Jones

Holly Goddard Jones is the author of the novel The Next Time You See Me and the short story collection Girl Trouble. Her work has appeared in The Best American Mystery Stories, New Stories from the South, Tin House, and elsewhere. She teaches in the creative writing program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and lives with her husband, son, and two rowdy dogs. Her novel The Salt Line will be published in September 2017.



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