It’s been a week and as it turns out, I do have to remove the top double helix piercings—the two crescent moons.
“Do I really have to take out the ring?” I asked sadly.
“I don’t want to sound dramatic,” said the piercer. “But it just doesn’t look healthy.” This was a gentle way of saying no, you cannot keep it right now. “Your other ones seem fine though,” she added, thoughtfully examining them.
“Yeah, it’s just that one that I snagged with a hairbrush,” I muttered bitterly.
The site looked better than a lot of complications I’d seen on other people who eventually recovered, but nonetheless I slipped onto the chair to allow her to remove the crescent moon stud anyway, knowing I could not tolerate picking clumps of dried blood out of my hair anymore.
“I’ve removed both,” the piercer informed me as she cleaned. “The uppermost and the one directly underneath it.”
I had suspected she would, but my heart still broke for the second time. “Is that really necessary?”
It was. Even though the uppermost piercing was the only problematic one out of all four in the cartilage, the perfectly healthy helix piercing directly below it was close enough that it had grown upset with how weepy and bleed-y the piercing above was. Blood from the damaged piercing had been seeping into the healthy one directly below, interfereing with its own progress no doubt.
Great, I thought, every opening in my body is too empathetic to function.
If I’d known early enough to have acted more quickly, I might have saved the second in time. Now the design was …off. I had at least, the lower double helix, two white gems. All of the piercing on that ear (aside from the lobe, which I had when I was 10) were suffering from both the damaged piercing and my harsh attempts to salvage it artificially rather than letting it close.
“When can I come have it repierced?”
“I’d say no sooner than six weeks, but I’d have to look at it then, to make sure it’s completely healed and we’re ready to retry.”
“I won’t snag it this time,” I promised quietly into universe.
I’m rather stubborn. But out of a gentle (if devastated) deference for my body I was aware, as I left the shop, that my ear was singing with relief. The hypergranulation I’d induced the fateful day I decided to brush my hair roughly enough to practically yank out the ring had created a discomfort I hadn’t registered until it was removed.
Dear reader—you’re going to either laugh or marvel at my foolishness—I only ever comb my hair because brushing coaxes the curls to frizz, but that day, that day I’d found a brush so pretty—an iridescent dark green brush that transformed into spills of teal and purple when tilted, like an oil slick—that I’d run it, transfixed, through my dark hair …forgetting my pierced helix.
What else could a mermaid have done?
I’m spending time with a very close friend tomorrow—incidentally, with Inas, who coauthored this article—and I am glad for this fortunate timing because all I need right now is to lounge around her apartment in a curvy midi-dress.