Black Petals Issue #95 Spring, 2021

Scalp Cleanse
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Blue Meet-Fiction by George Aitch
Dark Alleyways-Fiction by Adam Phillips
Iris' Vanity-Fiction by Tristan Miller
Scalp Cleanse-Fiction by Kajetan Kwiatkowski
The Muscus-Fiction by Alice Stone
The Wrong Place-Fiction by Ante Caleta
Things That Happen-Fiction by Guido Eekhaut
Tidal Horror-Fiction by Sal Braden
Two Martinis In-Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Vampire-Fiction by Gene Lass
Hypnic Jerk-Flash Fiction by Vismay Harani
Speed Dating-Flash Fiction by Alexander Condie
Step Out-Flash Fiction by Ed Nobody
The Packing Bay-Flash Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Trophy Kill-Flash Fiction by Eddie D. Moore
Occupational Hazard-Flash Fiction by Doug Hawley
The Definition of Crash-Poems by Paul David Adkins
Ghost: A Working Definition-Poem by Carl E. Reed
Vampiric Threnody-Poem by Carl E. Reed
Leelanau Lake Monster-Poems by Richard Stevenson
Ballast-2 Poems by Angelo Letizia
Pit Bull-3 Poems by Pete Mladinic
Shadow of Sleep-Poem by Teresa Ann Frazee
Microcosmus-3 Poems by Daniel Snethen
The Higher Dimensions-Poem by David C. Kopaska- Merkel

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Art by Darren Blanch 2021

Scalp Cleanse

by Kajetan Kwiatkowski

 

“Basically darling... I want those maggots out of your hair.”

Lena hunched over the glass table, both hands flat on its surface. She stared into her daughter’s eyes, searching for the child she remembered raising, the one before the piercings, metal implants, and cobalt hair dye.

Samantha stared back unblinkingly, irises dark and red. “Well mom, I respectfully disagree. It’s an acceptable fashion trend and I intend to follow it.”

Lena’s hands smacked the glass surface, harder than she intended. The impact sent vibrations across the water jug and peanuts. “Well, I don’t think it’s acceptable to turn my house into a fly-ridden dumpster. I think you should finally grow up.”

The counselor, sitting between them sipped from her glass. “Now Ms. Hawcroft, your daughter has already explained that her accessories will not fly about your home.”

“They’ll only follow me,” Samantha said. “My scent.”

“Your daughter is entitled to embrace her own personage however she wishes. Don’t you think you could make some compromise to accept her appearance?”

Lena, who had tried to be the progressive kind of parent who would pay for this sort of counselling session, now realized her mistake. The experts promoting the emotional health of single-parent families seemed to be under the strange, ever-expanding misconception that youth should be pardoned for anything and everything. Lena had to draw a line.

 “Look, I don’t care what clothes Samantha wears, what tattoo’s she’s got, or even what feed raves she goes to,” Lena leaned on the table again, “I think I’m being very reasonable, the only compromise I want, as a parent, as a cohabitant—is no flies in my daughter’s hair.”

“They’re called Faunas mom.”

“Ms. Hawcroft,” the counselor set down her drink, “Fauna’s are a cosmetic accessory. They’re a sterile, non-pathogenic fashion trend across all age groups. Surely you saw our secretary with butterflies across her headband?”

Lena rolled her eyes. “Yes.”

“I have a friend with honeybees that follow her wherever she goes. There are children who opt for ladybugs. Not to sound like a spokesperson, but I think Fauna’s are a very healthy way to maintain our ties to nature here in the upper cities.”

Lena looked at her reflection in the table and could see the disgust in her own eyes. “Can I at least request that Samantha switches to something more presentable? I don’t want house-guests to see hairy green horse flies filtering through our flat. They’ll think something’s dead.”

Samantha turned to the counselor, who seemed unbothered by this revelation.

“This is not a question of what animals you find repulsive,” the counselor said. “It is a matter of you accepting your daughter. I think people are very tolerant of any variety of fauna.”

Lena stared blankly at the woman’s plucked eyebrows. It was a paradox how such a reticent, normal-looking professional would have no reservations with her vampire child. Couldn’t she see that Sam needed some pushback? Some degree of adjustment for the real world?

“Do you know anything about the social scenes or pressure that your daughter might be under?” The counsellor asked.

“No.” Lena leaned back into her chair. “Clearly I don’t.”

There was a pause where the counsellor made direct eye contact with Lena, as if imparting a counsel too profound for simple words. “If I may be blunt, Ms Hawcroft, this all stems from a direct lack of interest in your daughter. Your apathy, at least up until this appointment, has driven her to make the decisions she has.”

Samantha sat up, brushed her bangs.

“Psychologically speaking, the gothic and dark subcultures of feedraves are born out of a lack of attention. They’re a rebellion. If you want Samantha to ‘grow up’’, you need to start by opening a channel of communication based on support for her interests.”

Lena took a moment to exhale. She looked at Samantha’s bangs and imagined a fat fly crawling across them, buzzing about. “So you say the bottom line is... she keeps the bugs.”

“No. The bottom line is: spend more time together. That is the compromise you must both make.”

 

*

 

After an awkward shuttle back to their apartment, Lena agreed that a better connection with Sam was the solution to many of their disputes.

Anything was better than the constant silence they exchanged, the dead glances with no communication. They needed to start bonding together, however incrementally.  Although Lena had no desire to seek the new anarchic state of music, she was starting to suspect that if she joined Sam to a feed rave, that could be the first step towards something. A conversation. A hello. Anything. If I have to do it -god help me- I will. Lena thought. I’ll go to a feed rave.

Later that night, Lena approached the band posters hung on her daughter’s door and knocked on the face of a crimson-eyed vocalist. He was the lead singer of a band called ‘All Dead, All Gone.’

“So what do you think Sammy, can I join you tonight? I think that counsellor did have a point.”

The door opened, revealing a tired-looking Samantha with wet, soapy hair. She wiped foam from under her red eyes, a few piercings were temporarily removed. “It’s alright mom. It’s fine.”

“What did you do?”

“I rinsed my hair. I’m not getting the Faunas.”

Lena instinctually lifted her hands, wanting to inspect her daughter’s head, but soon resisted, forcing her palms back down. “So. What made you change your—”

“—Just please don’t come to any of my rave stuff. Okay? That’s all I ask.” Her daughter gazed imploringly, seeking some kind of acceptance.

Lena was unsure if this counted as a victory or loss. Would the counsellor see this as progress? “Okay. Well. Just be home before morning.”

“I’ll try.”

The door closed, and Lena was left standing alone again. She tried briefly, as she usually did, to decipher the collage on Samantha’s door. The post-apocalyptic band names, the photos of feed cables stretched into guitarists —was this the cause of Samantha’s acting out? Or just an expression of it?

Lena observed the posters and came across a cadaverous singer with see-through skin, organs fully on display. Above his head hovered a crown of thousands of gnats, fanning outward like a black flame. It must have been the look Samantha was going for.

Lena inspected the singer’s eyes and wondered what pigment they had been before he dyed them so dark and red. Did his mother know he now looked like this?  Had she tried to stop him?

 

 

Ever since playing Sim Ant on Windows 98, Kajetan Kwiatkowski has had a lifelong obsession with arthropods. He’s fine when a fly falls in his soup, and he’s fine when a spider nestles in the side mirror of his car. In the future, he hopes humanity is willing to embrace such insectophilia, but until then, he’ll write entomological spec fiction to satisfy his soul. You can visit his website: www.EclosionStories.com and follow him @Kajetkwiat on Twitter

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