“Two Cats” by Noa Sivan

two-cats-11-16
“Two Cats, 11-16″ by Pat Zalisko, 65″ x 48”, acrylic on canvas

One morning my hair started to fall out, just like they said it would. I needed to shave my head, so I got up and went to the hair salon down the street. It was supposed to be a quick operation, except a beautiful Norwegian woman—clearly of Viking descent, but hunched back like she’s ashamed of her lanky body—arrived at the same time for her appointment. There was some mix-up with the schedule and the hairdresser didn’t have time to attend to the both of us.

I was about to give up my turn. Not because she was beautiful, but rather because of some sense of fairness, as she had claimed to book her appointment a week before. I just called that same morning and told the hairdresser it was time.

But this is Granada, Spain. Things have a way of taking care of themselves. A man, supposed to be after me, dropped by to cancel.

So the hairdresser, a Swedish pixie in her forties, who has lived here longer than any of us, the misfits who failed their families according to northern European standards, encouraged me to stay. She’s sorry about all the mess. It was her fault, really. Her boyfriend absolutely begged her to take another day off. Apparently, they don’t have enough sex. Can I imagine that?

The Norwegian woman got settled in the chair. Now what are they going to do with that thin, blonde hair. The hairdresser touched her head and moved it from side to side, looking for answers. Then, she embraced her shoulders, shaking them gently to make her smile. A solution was found.

The hairdresser hovered to the back room to mix some color to dye the blonde hair even blonder. On her way she took down a book from the shelf and gave it to me. It was a photography book about nature in Andalusia. I slouched on the couch and flipped through the pages.

With her back to me, looking at me through the mirror, the Norwegian woman asked if I wanted to adopt two cats.

She’s hardly spending time at home, two months on and two weeks off, and she’s got a couple of dogs, too. Her circumstances have changed in so many ways, do I get the picture? The dogs are fine with their regular dog-sitters, but the cats are suffering.

I put the book face-down on a double spread of a lake just an hour away from Granada. I’ve been there once and I wanted to get back to that page.

The Norwegian woman continued: it’s a catering job, oil drilling rig in Norway. She was lucky to have it, they just keep making cutbacks.

Every two months she lands in Oslo and a helicopter takes her to a drilling rig in the middle of nowhere. She looks after the 118 workers who live on it. There were 120, but two of them drowned in their sleep; an explosion, god rest their souls—their nook just fell into the water. But there’s no need to worry, it rarely happens.

She has three shifts a day: prepares the food, serves it and cleans afterwards. It used to be easier, but now the catering company is so stingy, it’s ridiculous. They laid off half her staff.

It’s only two hard weeks every two months. Still worth the money and the long vacation in between. She recovers pretty quickly, but the cats make it more difficult than it should be.

She looked helpless in that black gown, tight around her neck. A floating head with no body, just awareness. I promised her I would think about adopting the cats. She nodded: poor cats.

The hairdresser came back with the color and wore her latex gloves. She assured the Norwegian woman it’d be amazing. I returned to the book. Andalusia’s nature is breathtaking, but what’s the point of having it around if you can’t go there.

When it was finally my turn I hopped on the chair. The Norwegian woman touched her new hair, beaming. She looked so pretty. The two women kissed each other goodbye and she waved at me. She’ll take my number from the hairdresser; maybe I can meet the cats.

I ran my fingers through my hair for the last time. Thick red strands fell on the floor, defeated. I didn’t want to shave my head anymore. I wanted to take those two cats and name them after the two rig workers who drowned in their sleep. I wanted my circumstances to change in so many ways. Then, the hairdresser took the book out of my hands.

 

 

Noa Sivan was born and raised in Israel and is currently living in Granada, Spain. She is a graphic designer and a writer. Three of her pieces were published in 2005 in an anthology edited by award winning Israeli author Yitzhak Ben Ner. In 2013 Sivan published a digital book of micro stories called “Semantic Satiation,” that was translated into English by Yardenne Greenspan. In 2016 she started writing in English. Her stories were published on the Jellyfish review, Eleven Eleven and FRiGG. Sivan’s first story, “Plaza Trinidad,” was nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

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