Toupee You | Caitlin Farrugia

Charlie wants to break free.

Toupee You

Caitlin Farrugia

The Taupe Toupee Award

Twelve workers in matching button up uniforms hovered over a mystery toupee, unblinking, mesmerised. There hadn’t been anything to amuse them in life so far, never an inspiring conversation other than topics of reality television and note taking on the weather over cups of milky tea. It was as though their days were dyed in greys, whites and blacks, no attendance of colour, no splash of light pink lining lips, no vibrant blue against a wall, bestowing verve to a room, not an ugly green mark on a dirty mustard brick down a spray painted side street. The wig looked pretty almost, thrown on a workbench, twisted strands in tableaux of dance, the brown hair appearing almost auburn from the skylight. Charlie ignored their fierce concentration, relishing the rare silence. Sitting over a cut peach, she thought of the silence akin to a crystal, clear, pure, beautiful in its natural design. A co-worker’s hand shook holding a sweaty palm over the toupee, as though to persuade it to life. Placing it on his fist, stimulating a laughter that disrupted Charlie’s solitude, he started using the wig as a puppet. Thankful for the seventeenth hour of the day, Charlie left through the backdoor of the warehouse, strapping herself onto a red painted bike and pedalling home. Clouds redirected themselves in the sky, as though two magnets needing to be joined, hugging in safety of the bitter storm they were about to release.

It had been just another Wednesday since the appearance of the toupee. The matter discussed endlessly. Workers would whisper in its presence, as though it were a foreign entity, a fervent beast that would pounce if aggravated. Rain rattled the window, creating a sonata of wilderness. Charlie processed paperwork, pulling the dim lamp closer. She pushed her gold panelled glasses up her bony nose while loose loops of hair irritated the soft skin on her neck.

The weather permitted dourly as weeks slid past. In a staff meeting, Charlie couldn’t focus on the drools of language that spilled from her manager’s mouth. As though his tongue were a long wet rag that licked invariable nonsense. She saw from the window of the conference room, the lost and found, the toupee on top. She felt an instant twinge in her middle. As though the conversation of the wig had become tiresome, only almost still a taboo, only now ignored, its purpose fading with the impact of uneducated opinion. Isolation brushed over Charlie’s arms, creating peaks of skin.

The power off and in Charlie’s bathroom, the candlelight made the rain glitter on the window as the panes fogged. She felt weighted with exasperation, depletion, yet this shadowed privacy was somewhat nurturing. She tugged on wisps of hair, almost maddened that it made her appear just so. And with that, she sheered her locks off with a razor. Threads of hair falling to the floor, laying a rug of strands at her bare feet, she felt cathartic.

It was clear now that her naked skull was the property of rumour. She’d catch whispers from a corner, a condemnatory stare. The seventeenth hour pushed itself around the clock again. The sky dark, an elegant anger bellowed from its higher self. Charlie had always felt something, a relentless nagging of a mothers echo, an infuriating, incessant itch. Charlie had been born into the wrong body. To only crack open her skull against the cold, unsympathetic concrete. Skin shedding open like a woven rug unbinding, flesh becoming gaping holes. She placed the wig on her head and rode home through the storm, aquaplaning.