Shine Not Burn
Author:Elle Casey

I shook my head as I walked to the bathroom. “I’m not going to say a word. I’ve seen how sharp her scissors are, and I like my ears the way they are.” I was happy to let Candice have her way with my hair. Why not enjoy a mini vacation and a mini spa treatment too while I’m at it? I never pampered myself like that at home. I was always too busy.


As I wet my hair, I realized this haircut wasn’t really about needing a trim. It was more symbolic than anything else. When I was finished and my hair was up in a towel, I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket and re-read the text from Luke, trying to give myself some inspiration.


Have a nice life.


I shut the phone down and put it on the counter, staring at it like it was a snake. Deliverer of bad news. Traitor. I took a deep breath and let it out slowly, trying to center myself. It was time to cut some of the dead wood out of my life. Take control. Do things a little more boldly and powerfully for a change. I was a bulldog in the courtroom, never letting go until I had wrung every last argument out of an issue. Attorneys feared going up against me, even when they had rock solid cases. But when it came to my personal life, I was a mess. A lamb to every man’s inner lion. They chewed me up and spit me out, and like a total wienie, I just let them. Luke was just the latest in a string of really bad relationship decisions. Really, Kelly’s One-Ball would be a step up for me.


I took the towel off and ran a brush Kelly had brought through my wet hair, staring at my reflection as I considered this little impromptu vacation. I was on a girls’ night out, very far away from home. Maybe tonight with a new look I could walk out into the hot Las Vegas night and be a different girl. Even though it would only be for one night and a day, the idea held an almost magnetizing appeal. I was almost in a foreign land, where no one knew me. I could do whatever I wanted, and as long as I didn’t get arrested, I’d be home free, back in the office being a kickass lawyer on Monday.


And single. I’d be single, but that could change. I smiled tentatively at myself. I have options; I’m not some ugly spinster that has nothing but a life of solitude and loneliness to look forward to. I leaned in closer to the mirror, evaluating my assets: greenish-gray eyes, brown hair with natural highlights, high cheekbones, decent chin, perfect nose or so my grandmother had always told me - not too small and not too big. My boobs aren’t as big as Candice’s but they’re all mine, home grown. And I’d been told by most of my boyfriends that my best asset was behind me. I turned around, trying to get a look at it. My big, heart-shaped butt. I looked at my naked body in profile. Curvy is how I’d describe myself. I’d spent a lot of years when I was a teenager wishing I could be shaped more like a model with long legs and a well-muscled tummy, but lately I’d come to admire my more feminine silhouette. I nodded at my reflection and faced the mirror again. If a guy can’t appreciate what I have to offer, he can just keep on walkin’.


I had some time yet. I was only twenty-five. My plans were still on track, even if Luke wasn’t on board with them anymore. Junior partner by beginning of next year. Married by the year after. Babies a couple years after that. And then full partner at the firm. Bam. Done with all the hard stuff by thirty-five, and then smooth sailing from then on out.


I looked at my wet head in the mirror and shrugged, my hair several inches past my shoulders and grown-out bangs tickling my eyes. There are plenty of fish in the sea. There has to be one out there who’d want me and who’d find my lifeplan appealing. It was the perfect plan, I was sure of it. I’d carefully developed it and worked towards accomplishing it for over a decade. It was a life journey a million guys would love to be a part of. Now all I had to do was find the right guy. The one who would stick. I ignored the specters that tried to rise up out of my past to haunt me with the misery I’d worked so hard to leave behind. Not today, bad memories. Today, I am invincible and I will have fun.


I walked into the other room, noticing that Candice and Kelly were both out on the balcony with drinks in their hands. I joined them, my breath momentarily taken from me as the intense heat of the day hit me full force. It felt like walking into an open oven set at four hundred and fifty degrees. I took Candice’s drink from her hand. “Don’t drink and cut hair, that’s my motto.” I took a big swig of it and nearly gagged, the alcohol setting my throat on fire.


Kelly laughed before lifting her glass in my direction and taking a long sip of her own cocktail.


“Holy crap,” I said, my voice severely strained, “what was that? Lighter fluid? Did I just drink lighter fluid?” I breathed out several times loudly and held my hand up as a caution. “No one light a match. I’ll blow up or combust or something.”


Candice waved my concerns away. “That only happens if you hold in your gas. Come sit down.” She gestured to the chair in front of her.


My hand froze in the middle of putting the glass to my lips again. I pulled it away. “Uhhhh, what?”