“Lovers find secret places
inside this violent world
where they make transactions
I am leaning over the bathroom sink, fighting the ache in my arms as I go through the repetitive motions. Weave in, tuck under, weave out. I tie off the five-inch braid with a tiny elastic band and pin it to my head. The bobby pins pop out in mere seconds, the true thickness of my hair defiantly revealing itself. For those brief seconds, though, my chest fills with a strange mix of emotions: pride (I have not braided my hair since I was six years old), but also an unfamiliar contentment. Satisfaction. Correctness.
I undo the braid and comb out my hair until it’s straight again. The contentment fades. I leave the bathroom unsettled.
He puts His hand over my heart, and I am undone.
I am leaning back in my stylist’s seat, concentrating on stillness as her shears roam my head. She’s cut my hair short (and shorter) for the past five years, and when I tell her I want to grow it long, she reassures me it will be long in a year. I don’t tell her why, though, and she doesn’t ask. She knows better than to ask.
While she works, she whispers me a spell: regular trimmings, daily supplements, plenty of sleep. She leaves me with my head mostly intact.
I wonder if I can wait a year.
We walk together down a grassy hill, a wide river snaking in the distance, its surface glistening with sunlight. He carries a round shield on His back and a sword at His hip. The cool breeze ruffles my hair.
Then I remember the purpose of my visit. “Did You talk with Anubis?” I ask.
Tyr looks over His shoulder at me. Suddenly, we are sitting on the grass of the riverbank, a modest lunch spread between us. He is gnawing thoughtfully on a piece of jerk meat, and I hold a half-loaf of bread in my hands. His shield and sword lie within easy reach. I take in the change in scenery, then repeat my question. Tyr looks over at me again, this time with a guilty, apologetic kind of smile.
I understand. “He said no,” I observe quietly.
“He said no.”
Three days after Midsummer.
I am sitting in a small café, a hot mug of chamomile tea cradled in my hands. Across from me sits an elder in my faith, a woman with granite hair that falls long down her back, swept away from her face and tied off at the base of her skull. We talk about ourselves — our pasts, our practices, our families, and our gods. When she brings Him up, I bite my tongue before the words come out. I could tell her. I could tell her about the jerk meat and the bread. The quiet laughter and the subdued joy. The sword in hand. The dark hay-color of His hair in the sunlight.
When we part ways, she leaves none the wiser.
“I love You,” I whisper.
He looks at me, and through me, at whatever it is gods see and mortals can never comprehend. All parts of me lay bare before His eyes.
I pull a rune. Jera. Peace, happiness, and reward after a period of great patience and effort.
Smiling, I add more pictures of cute braids to my Pinterest board.