Perfect Cover

By Jan Elman Stout

I bloomed late. And as soon as my breasts started to grow my hair fell out. In clumps. Exposing a smooth, shiny patch of scalp resembling a beached Man-of-War. Mom never noticed my boobs. Honey, you’re beautiful. What do you think of these? She flipped through a designer hat catalogue, the models’ manes bushy, radiant as dripping honey. I tapped a red beret with pearl embellishments. Days later, a plain coffee-colored beret, same shade as my chestnut hair, graced my place at the dining room table. I plunked it on my head. Mom angled it, lifted the crown so it poofed. Perfect, she said. I wore the beret to school. Olivia flicked her hand and my hat sailed. Kids squealed and several gasped. I pushed Olivia into the lockers and the principal called Mom. That night my dresser was adorned with wigged mannequin heads. A shag. A textured bob. Long outward curls. A variety of ponytails. Even spikes. Their painted eyes stared blankly. Hurry down, Mom yelled upstairs in the morning. I swept my arm across the dresser and bound downstairs, unfastening the two top buttons of my sheer lace blouse.


Jan Elman Stout’s fiction has been published in Literary OrphansJournal of Compressed Creative ArtsShotgun HoneyThe AirgonautJellyfish Review(b)OINK, Crack the Spine and elsewhere. She was finalist in Midwestern Gothic’s 2016 Summer Flash Fiction Contest. Her flash was nominated for Best Small Fictions 2017 and 2018. She is a reader for SmokeLong Quarterly. Jan lives with her husband in Washington, DC.

Digital Image by Lesley C. Weston

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