Olga Amigo-Horcajo



Olga Amigo-Horcajo is an educator and writer from Barcelona. Currently working on a historical fiction novel, she lives in Georgia where she teaches Spanish at UGA.

You can find her on twitter @Olga_Amigo_

Alejandro’s love for hair was a secret badly kept in his barrio. A love that started in his childhood, when he would tiptoe in his sisters’ room, braid their dolls’ hair and comb it for hours. If his dad wasn’t home, Alejandro took the dolls to the bathroom and washed their hair with delicacy, talking to them softly, making sure they were comfortable.

Later, he did his sisters’ hair. “You’re the best brother we could ever have,” they would whisper, making sure their dad didn’t hear.

In high school, he pretended to play soccer for hours, only to sneak to his girlfriends’ houses to do their hair. He studied fashion magazines with passion and soon tried dyes and extensions. On the weekends he worked at the Flea Market to buy all the beauty products he could.

Alejandro kept his passion for himself and hid the magazines and the products under his bed. When the magazines disappeared, he assumed his mother took them, but he didn’t ask. Maybe she was just protecting him from his dad. 

One day he told his mother he wanted to enroll in hair school.

“Papi won’t like this,” she said.

When he told his father, the old man turned purple like an ear of blue maize. Alejandro thought his purple veins would pop.

Menuda pendejada!” he roared. “You should be a barber or a mechanic like me. Un hombre con trabajo de hombre, carajo.”

Alejandro stared at his feet. He should have known better.

His senior year, Alejandro worked as a mechanic in his father’s shop, and the next summer he married a woman whose car he’d fixed. She had the longest, waviest, most velvet black hair he had ever seen. It was the touch of that hair that he loved, what he really married.

For years he hated the grease in his fingers, the stench of oil. His only reward was coming home and doing his wife’s hair.

One day his wife had a haircut. In a salon.

Alejandro should have seen it coming. Soon after that, she ran away with another mechanic.

Then his dad passed away. His mom needed someone at home, and Alejandro moved back in. The years went by. El barrio changed. There were new families, new stores and a new school. Hair school.

“You are too old. Un aprendiz tardío,” his mother said.

So? He was fifty and proud of being a late bloomer.

He read the application form three times. It didn’t say anything about age. Not a word.

Alejandro started hair school, surrounded by seventeen-year-olds.

He embraced hair school, a wondrous palace, from the very first day he stepped in the door. The fragrance of shampoos, dyes, and ointments pampered his senses. The murmur of driers, like surveillance drones, gave him the peace he had never felt before.

 Alejandro took the subway every day during rush hour, where other fifty-somethings waited in their suits and ties with their sleepy and grim faces, their cheap newspapers in hand. Alejandro glowed with the excitement of a schoolboy on a summer day on his way to the beach.

Every day he put on the apron that transformed him into a magician apprentice, a hair-whisperer. He’d learn not only to massage, wash, comb, dye and cut, but to bring beauty, hope, and glamour where there was dandruff and gray. Wasn’t that the best thing he had ever done?

His mom passed before he finished school. Nobody would call him tardío anymore. Nobody would stop him from converting his dad’s shop into a salon. His salon.

Alejandro was cleaning the shop when he found his dad’s toolbox. His dad never allowed him to touch it, protecting it like a precious treasure chest.

As he opened it,  Alejandro recognized his dad’s drill, his dad’s hammer and under his dad’s wrench, a stack of magazines. Maybe the old man read in his free time. Alejandro gave a half shrug. If the old man liked to read, he made sure nobody saw him doing it.

He was about to toss them when the cover of his old magazines stared back at him.

The same magazines that had vanished from under his bed years ago. The same ones he thought his mother had thrown away.

Magazines stained with grease. Dog-eared with care. Smeared with black fingerprints.

His dad’s fingerprints.




© The Acentos Review 2019