ALL ACCOUNTS AND MIXTURE: "The Birth of Venus, c. 1486" by Hadley Griggs

The Birth of Venus, c. 1486

by Hadley Griggs

The autumn after I broke up with my boyfriend, I cut my hair. Ropes of curls dropping to the floor, strings of protein I would never see again. Cut hair and it falls softly, surrendering without feeling like you’ve cut off a body part, but burn it and it still smells like burning flesh. When my mom was a teenager working at McDonald’s, her hair was always sticky with french-fry grease. A coworker with a lighter got too close—singe hair and it smells like singed woman. Even here, ocean-side, a candle held to the tips of Aphrodite’s hair lights up like a fuse, wraps through her fingers and around her back and leaves her crowned in flesh-smelling flames. Are you sure? the stylist asked me, her acrylic nails curving over the grips of her scissors. It’s so pretty long. Later, my old boyfriend would send me photos, always the same: his open palm, a solitary bobby pin. Found this in the carpet. Or, This one up against the floorboard. I hadn’t touched a bobby pin in months, and my hair now tickled the bone at the top of my spine—and here, does Aphrodite crave this feeling, the hairs wisping down below her collarbone, down between her thighs? On autumn Saturday nights, the check-out girl at my grocery store has a dark, messy braid that hangs over her shoulder. It casts shadows on her neck, makes her jaw look like a crisp country road. I hand her my crumpled bills and think maybe I miss the feeling of a braid draped over my own shoulder, so that I could say I too, I too, I too. And on your own quiet nights, Aphrodite, reclining nude on the beach, do you look out at the water, remember the drops of blood and the sea foam, the way the red marbled in the bubbles like the afterbirth, or like needlework on Northern drapes, or like red hair tangled—permanently, painfully—among the rocks and shells and fish spines?

About the Author:
Hadley Griggs just graduated in English and likes to write stories about sad people. This is her first publication out of college. She's also a level 14 rogue in Dungeons & Dragons.

About All Accounts:
All Accounts and Mixture is an annual online feature celebrating the work of LGBTQ writers and artists. For this series, we seek work from authors who self-identify as "queer," while acknowledging that this designation is subjective and highly personal. Our goal is to provide a forum for writers whose voices might be mis- or underrepresented by the literary mainstream. Submissions open May 18th and run through June 19th. Poetry, prose, visual art, reviews and interviews will all be considered.