"The clock above the sink read five minutes later than his watch. Panicking, he ran to the bathroom to retrieve his daughter’s hairbrush. She was finishing her croissant and fruit cocktail at the kitchen table, humming and swinging her legs.
“Hurry up and finish breakfast,” Todd snapped, dragging a chair out. The wood wailed and Todd cringed as the sharp edges of the chair legs scratched the floor.
Serena wiped the crumbs from her lips with the sleeve of her t-shirt, watching her dad’s knuckles turning white from gripping the chair so tightly.
He took a swig of lukewarm coffee and set the hairbrush against her scalp. Black hair knotted the bristles as he tugged, and Serena watched the stringy strands of hair sail to the wood and meander out the French windows, falling like cobwebs on the tree branches and bike seats lining their suburban street corner. Squirrels and birds would turn her hair into little pillows and take them back to their families: mothers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, and cousins, preparing for the eventual cold.
Serena held her head straight, feeling her scalp crack like an egg with every pull as the sun caressed her forehead and sweat pooled at her temples.
“If you’re still, we can get this done faster,” Todd said, holding her chin in his palm and pulling the brush through. Ripping out his daughter’s coarse, corkscrew curls sounded like tires on gravel. Her hair, he thought, was so much like her mother’s. She twitched, and Todd barked at her to hold still. She was such a restless kid, he thought."