A Little More off the Top

Posted: October 16, 2011 in family, fiction, Life, remembrance, storytelling, Writing
Tags: , , , , , ,

Originally published in 2010, I wrote this story in memory of my mom, lost to breast cancer in 2005. Here’s a remix in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (see the original version at “The Work I Do“). Ladies, if you haven’t been professionally felt up yet this month, get it done. The life you save may be your own. kt


by Kelly Thompson 

With her hair pulled straight back from her forehead, the Evie in the mirror was old, tired. She hastily shook the bangs back into place. I might not lose it at all, she reasoned. Some people didn‘t. It was the not knowing if she would and the waiting to find out that were driving her crazy. For Evie, patience wasn’t a virtue, it was an impossibility.

Mina stuck her head in. “Are you ready? They’re waiting.”

“Ready as I’m going to be. Do I look all right?”

“Same as you always do.”

“Just once, Mina, you should lie and tell me I look fabulous.” Evie ran her fingers through her hair one last time and pursed her lips at her reflection. “Let’s do this thing.”

The crush of bodies outside the door was startling. Making her way through the throng to the stage, she confidently strode into the spotlight. The screaming intensified, joined by piercing whistles and pounding applause. The lights warmed Evie to a sweat, and when she reached for the mic, the shifting backdrop of waving hands and floating faces erupted.

“Hello, Briarton!” Evie shouted. Hundreds of voices echoed it back. “Are you ready for a good time?”

They were more than ready; the pre-party had started an hour earlier.

“Evie! Evie! Evie!” the crowd chanted.

She stood below the draped banner with the two-foot-high hot pink letters reading “The Evie Weston Head Off Cancer Benefit” and waited. At a break in the din, she laughed and said, “Got your tickets?”

Five hundred strips of Astro Pink paper waved in the air. Evie nodded to Mina who started to crank the drawing drum stage right, turning the ticket stubs inside into a pink pinwheel. Evie began to talk quietly, and the crowd hushed to hear. “First, I want to thank you all for buying tickets. And second, thanks for coming. Guess you think you’re really going to see something tonight, huh?”

Laughter rippled across the room.

“There’s a lot of us out there, you know. Some are winning, some aren’t. When I got cancer, I decided to do what I could to beat it and if I could help others beat it, too, I would. No matter what it took. The $10,000 we raised tonight should help us put up a pretty good fight, don‘t you think?”

Evie led the applause and when the clapping waned, she said, “Now let’s get down to business. Mina, will you do the honors, please?”

The crank on the drum was stilled, and Mina opened its metal gate and drew out a ticket. When she handed it to Evie, the older woman smiled. “Bart Severyn, come on down!

A rounded, middle-aged man whooped near the back and the crowd parted as he came forward, his arms raised victoriously. He grinned as he crossed the stage and gave Evie a hug.

“Are you ready for this?” She asked.

“Are you?”

She nodded. Mina carried out the stool and placed it center stage in the beam of a soft pink spotlight. Evie sat and fastened a barber’s cape around her shoulders while Bart took the electric razor that was handed to him.

“I can’t believe you auctioned off chances to shave your head,” he said to the slight, gray-haired woman seated before him.

“It’s just hair, Bart,” Evie said softly. “But if it’s going to go, it should go for a good cause.”

The razor hummed. “So how would you like it, ma’am?”

“Just a little off the top, please!”

Minutes later, as the newly bald Evie stepped to the edge of the stage, Mina threw her arms around her and said, “Mom, you look fabulous!”

“Oh, you liar!” Evie said, and smiled as she walked out into the cheering crowd.

  1. I like this just as much as I did the first time! Happy Breast Cancer Awareness Month everyone, ; ) (and I did get my big squeeze/photo shoot appointment taken care of.)

    • Have to say I like this version better; little more streamlined from the original published edition. Thanks for sitting through the show for a second time and attagirl for getting the big squeeze!

  2. Kay Vallery Young says:

    Excellent, Kelly! I so wish your Mom’s outcome could have been as good as mine. I do feel like the luckiest gal in the world! Thanks for spreading the word and encouragement.

    • Same wish here, Kay. But when I feel sorry for myself, I think of all the kids who lose their moms to cancer when they’re still small children. At least I had 39 years with my mom (though not all the greatest) and that’s a lot of memories, lessons and love. Others are not so lucky. To your continued recovery (raising a glass to you here)!

  3. Renee Weatherbee says:

    What amazing courage for your Mom to do that to help raise funds for cancer research! I am sure she was taking her own personal stand against the disease, telling it that it would not win. That’s facing what’s uncontrollable with dignity and class. I admire her just from reading her story. And yes, I will get an appointment scheduled, thanks for the reminder.

  4. I need to clarify that the story is fiction but Evie is based on my mom. Her own head shaving was a bit more private – it took place at home and my husband actually did the honors. Good luck on the big squeeze and thanks as always for reading!

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