“Murt, murt, murt, murt…” The sound of Mirjana’s alarm clock tore her from her sleep, and she couldn’t have been more thankful. “Ay de mi!” she said out loud to herself, “What a horrible dream!” She sat up, glad to be awake, and stretched. Her muscles were sore after the last few days of playing with the children, gardening, and helping with small repairs around the orphanage. Mirjana made her way down the hall to the bathroom, put toothpaste on her toothbrush, and happily hummed in relief to be awake from the nightmare.
But then, turning to look into the mirror, Mirjana froze in shock. Dark smudges ran across her chin and mouth. Nearly a whole minute passed as she stared in disbelief.
Finally, leaning in close to the mirror, she could see it was dirt on her face. Mirjana frantically turned on the water to wash away the soil, desperate to convince herself it was only a coincidence of some sort, that her nightmare was merely that. But when she bent over the sink to wash, she was met with another shock. A long, dark braid fell across her shoulder, intricately woven and adorned with sprigs of meadowsweet.
A shriek escaped Mirjana’s mouth and she to began rummaging through the drawers of the bathroom. “It can’t… It can’t be,” she stammered. Unable to find what she was looking for, she ran to the kitchen and pulled a pair of meat shears from the butcher’s block. In one quick motion, Mirjana lobbed off her braid and shuddered as she felt her hair unravel from its plaiting and brushing against her shoulders. With disbelief and confusion, she looked at her hands. In one she held the kitchen shears, and in the other her braid hung low, close to the ground.
Back in her room, Mirjana paced the floor and ran her hands through her newly cropped hair. It was getting hard to breathe, and her head was starting to spin. “It can’t be. It just can’t be!” She sat at the edge of her bed and began to concentrate on her breath, in through her nose and out through her mouth. “MJ, Are you okay? Estás enferma?” Mirjana looked up to see a pair of beautiful brown eyes peeking in through the cracked doorway. “You’re missing morning prayer,” the little girl continued with concern in her voice. “Gracias, mija. I’m fine. Just sleepy,” Mirjana unconvincingly tried to assure her. “Oh, your hair! You cut it all off? Por que?” the little girl asked. “I, um, I just needed a change. That’s all,” Mirjana replied, “Now, go finish prayers and eat. You’re going to need your energy today! We’re going to clean out the old shed and make it into a chicken coup.”
Read chapter two HERE and chapter one HERE.