By Meghan K.

“You’re kidding me.”
I stared incredulously at my reflection, the peachy coral tones that now dominated my hair glaring back at me like a neon sign. This absolutely had to be a joke; there was no way that dye could’ve turned my hair coral.
“Okay, that was not how I expected this to go,” said my best friend Pearl.
“I’ll say,” I replied. “This has to be some sort of nightmare!”
“Are you absolutely sure you lightened it enough?” asked Pearl, scrutinizing the jar of hair dye to make sure she didn’t forget anything. “You’re naturally red, right? Red hair bleaches to a yellowy gold sometimes; that would do it.”
“Absolutely positive!” I replied. “I had the lady at the salon go the whole nine yards, as platinum blonde as you could go! I actually scared the living daylights out of myself when I looked in the mirror because I was so incredibly blonde!”
“Then it has to be the hair dye,” Pearl guessed, shaking her head.
She turned the jar over again, and gasped.
“Oh man,” she mumbled, and then added, “Yeah, this is completely the wrong color. Look, Ruth, I am so sorry. I should’ve double checked before I told you that this particular color was the best shade of pink on the planet.”
“It’s entirely not your fault,” I replied. “I got a little suspicious when I saw the color was called ‘Coral Cupcake’ but I guessed that you probably knew better than I did, so I didn’t say anything about it.”
Pearl bit her lip and looked as though she was about to cry.
“Hey,” I said, putting a hand on her shoulder, “maybe it’ll grow on me. My mom always says I look good in coral and I’ve been looking for a shade that’ll really jazz up my life; maybe this’ll become my new favorite hair color.”
“Maybe,” Pearl replied, obviously unconvinced.
“And if it doesn’t, we’ll regroup in about a week and you can help me think about what to do next, okay?”
“Okay. Once again, Ruth, I am so sorry.”
“It’s really no big deal,” I insisted. “I needed to jazz up my life anyway.”
We went downstairs, my coral hair repeatedly falling down into my eyes and reminding me that I’d been going for cotton candy pink, and we watched Star Trek reruns for about three hours before Pearl finally blurted out, “Is your mom going to be okay with this?”
“She let me bleach my hair, didn’t she?” I replied.
“Yeah, but you bought this hair dye and now you’re never going to use it!” Pearl exclaimed. “Won’t she be mad?”
“I fully intend to use it,” I answered, “so no, she won’t be mad. A little shocked because this isn’t the color she was expecting, but not mad.”
“I’m so sorry,” Pearl repeated.
“It’s not your fault.”
My mom was indeed shocked; after all, I had told her that Pearl and I were dyeing my hair cotton candy pink, as bubblegum-y and rosy as you could get. Basically, I had promised her the truest shade of pastel pink. But no, she was not mad.
Now I just had to make this hair color grow on me in a week. Nothing to it, right?
I woke up the next morning, and when I looked in the mirror, I didn’t recognize myself for a second. Why was my hair coral? But then I remembered Pearl and the hair dye, and a sort of disappointment settled over me. I’d been so looking forward to pink; now I was going to have to settle for Coral Cupcake and just pretend that it was the color I wanted.
I was going to see Pearl at drama tomorrow night; we were supposed to talk about re-dyeing my hair a week from now, sure, but there was no way I could make this color work for me.
I spent the whole day avoiding mirrors. Platinum blonde had only been weird; coral just made me feel like my whole face looked sunburned. And when I blushed? Oh man, it was the most mortifying thing ever; my face would go the same shade of pink as my hair and I felt like curling up in a hole.
The next day, though, something in me wanted to try again. Sure, my hair was the same shade of pink as my face turns when I sunburn it, but maybe I could make this work. Maybe, just maybe, I could make this happen.
I’d been avoiding the sage green dress in my closet for about a month now. But as soon as I put it on, the awkward feelings I had about my hair vanished. I parted my bangs down the center (something I never, ever do because it’s always looked weird on me), and I slid a black headband into the short, messy waves I called my hair. Somehow, it actually looked okay, like maybe this odd coral mess on my head actually belonged to me.
When I arrived at drama that night, the first person I went to talk to was Pearl.
“Hey, Pearl,” I said. “I think I might be able to handle the color.”
“You actually kind of rock it,” Pearl agreed. “How did you do it?”
“I don’t really know,” I replied. “I just kind of wanted to make something out of this. I didn’t want to regret going coral.”
“So you’re not mad at me?”
“Why would I be mad at you?”
“I spent all of yesterday worrying that you’d be furious because I messed up your hair.”
“It’s just hair. It’s no big deal.”
“Yeah, but your hair is your identity.”
“No it’s not. My hair is basically protein growing out of my head; the color of it doesn’t matter. My identity is how I see myself. It’s not my hair color or the clothes I wear.”
“You sound like a Disney movie.”
“That’s my job.”

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