His mother always cut his hair. From the time he was very, very little to now, when he was a determined and energetic six year old who would fight dragons in the back yard with a wooden sword crafted by his father.

But his father was gone now, and James didn’t understand. He didn’t understand the yelling and screaming that he’d heard from Mommy and Daddy’s bedroom the last several weeks. He didn’t know who “Sandra” was, because that wasn’t his mother’s name. Her name was Annie.

He sat still now in the kitchen, gripping the edges of the tall chair where he always sat for his haircut.


His mother hummed a tune James did not recognize as she spread out a red dishtowel on the counter.

“What,” she said, not looking at him.

James considered not asking the question as his mother placed all her crafting shears on the dishtowel, like a surgeon before operating.

“Is Daddy still coming over today?”

“Mmm-hmm,” his mother said through lips pressed tightly together.

“Is he going to stay here tonight?” He hadn’t, not in weeks, and no one would tell James why.

Mommy did not answer. She continued humming.

James squirmed in the chair. His nose itched, but the white zip ties around his wrists prevented him from scratching. He managed to rub his shoulder against the itch.

James looked down at his wrists. Mommy had never done this before.


She finished organizing the scissors on the dishtowel and brushed her hands as if to free them from dirt. “What.”

“How come I can’t move my arms?”

“You move around too much,” Mommy said. “You need to stay still.”

“I will. I’ll stay still.”

“No, you won’t.”

She walked out of the kitchen. James listened to her go in to the garage and open Daddy’s big red tool chest. He knew the sound well. Daddy always used the tool chest when fixing the car or doing some repair around the house. He always asked James to help, which James delighted in. He even knew the difference between a flat head and a Philips, which made Daddy so proud.

If he wasn’t going to stay tonight, who would fix the holes Mommy put into their bedroom walls with her feet and hands over the past few nights?

Mommy returned with a green nylon cargo strap. Before James could ask what that was for, she dropped a loop of it over his body so it ran across his chest. With a series of brass clicks, she tightened the strap so his body was held rigid against the back of the chair.



“What are you doing?”

“I told you, you move around too much.”

“I won’t, I promise. This hurts.”

Mommy stopped answering. She went to the counter and picked up her heavy steel Fiskers scissors, the ones she used to cut cloth. The others she used for all sorts of crafts: pinking shears that made little triangle cuts. Detail scissors for snipping little bits off paper or cloth. Others.

“Where is the shaver?” James asked.

“We’re not shaving today.” She snipped the Fiskers in the air. The blades caught the overhead light and glittered. Snip snip!

She turned to face him.

“Daddy sure does love you, doesn’t he, James?”

He didn’t like the way she asked it. But, not wanting to upset her, he said, “Uh-huh.”

“He sure does,” Mommy went on and took a step closer. “Your hair is the same color as his, isn’t it, James?”

She gestured with the scissors. Snip snip.“Yeah,” James agreed. He didn’t like how his heart was beating so fast. It was very uncomfortable.

“And you have his chin. With the little dimple?”

Snip snip.


“And of course, you have his pretty blue eyes.”

James shrank back as Mommy drew nearer. Mommy looked very, very different than usual. Even from when she was angry. She was smiling, but not like a good smile.

“Y-yes . . .” James whimpered.

“Yes,” Mommy repeated, now standing right in front of him. “You look just like Daddy.”

She raised the scissors.

“Let’s fix that.”

Snip snip.


Wow, that was messed up, I’m sorry. Not really, but sort of. Man. Well, if you enjoyed that, you might enjoy my horror novel Now You Don’t – a horror novel