Dora Šustić: Two Madonnas in a Hair Salon

Born in Rijeka, Croatia, Dora Šustić (1991) obtained her BA in Political Studies, International Relations, at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana, in Slovenia. In 2012, she moved to Prague, where she currently studies screenwriting for an MA degree at the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts (FAMU). Her poems, fiction and non-fiction have been published in several international journals (GUTS Magazine, Hourglass Literary Magazine, Bosphorus Review of Books...). She has written and directed several short films and is currently finishing her first feature film screenplay, Virgins of Pomegranates.

Read her short story, Two Madonnas in a Hair Salon, below. The story was written in English.


I love my every skin pore I love how everyone in the salon can smell the price of the perfume he bought me I love how my skin smells as if I was a 20-year-old virgin and I do look like I’m 20 and all these menopaused pauses in the female evolution can go fuck themselves, my pores are lovely their vaginas are saggy, thousands of wrinkles on such a small part of my face, how did I end up so old, how did I end up in this shithole, if she fucks up my hair I will destroy her salon –


A deaf hairdresser with an orange curly perm and a mustache was cutting the strands of Leila’s golden hair. Leila watched herself slowly dying as she counted the wrinkles. Each wrinkle was a minor defeat in the soon-to-end struggle of human endurance. Each wrinkle was a reminder that she was mortal and that beauty was fiction. She cursed in a hoarse voice, her eyes filled with desperation while the deaf hairdresser caressed Leila’s damaged hair with nothing but affection. Humbleness was a gift given from the saints to balance out her deafness.


The sacred hairdresser with a pair of golden scissors

A godsent hairy Madonna


I would rather sweep the floors in hairdresser salons for the rest of my life and be exposed to these pitiful women while waiting for a hair dye to dry than become a phony bimbo with conceptual make-up, an artsy slut, the kind my husband would fuck, my pores speak the truth of my wisdom every grey hair speaks of my experience the lesions on my back are consequences of my inner yelling – during the moments of a grand hysteria, women are the ones who learn how to control their sorrow and how to turn their sickness into a sensual charm, men slip into a frivolous aggression while women internalize it and become shattered from the inside, rotting on a monthly basis, flaking like a cherry – you’re a cherry no more, sweet Leila, putrid vulva and shrinking fertility, you are a walking reminiscence of what you used to be, poor Leila, you are a slave to your mind, slave in the factory of a post-modern family, puking after breakfast at the age of 45 while the kids wait in the car, pitiful but brave, everyone will say, each attempt of puking is a cry for help, but a victim shouldn’t pay attention to the others feeding off her misery, I could slice my wrists with the hairdresser’s scissors and abandon my children leave them to praise their depressed mother as some kind of martyr Madonna –

I don’t want to die before I talk to him before I’m sure my death would mean something to him – I don’t want to die, I don’t want to dye –


The old hairdresser massaged Leila’s head pressing her fingers gently into her skin. She rubbed her scalp and started to weep. It must be the toxins in the hair dye pinching her eyes, the hairdresser cried as she held her palms above Leila’s scalp. As tears were gushing out wetting Leila’s shoulders, she was putting color on the strands of her hair with a brush, covering the grayness of Leila’s age, masking the truth so Leila can blush – the scalp was burning and her skin became red but she will get her man back once she gets new hair.



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