The day before she cuts it, Lessa does her first infiltrating work.
It’s quite easy, really, when you don’t care about the consequences. At the time, she didn’t care about anything. Just knew she couldn’t stand the brush of her hair on the back of her neck, the complete and total lack of love she feels. But she needs those scissors.
They didn’t let her have any, because they knew what she would do. Slit her own throat, let the blood pour out, sing herself softly to sleep. See mama and papa and Rina again. She remembered fighting them, begging them to let her. But she doesn’t really care. Not any more. Now she understands that they would feel badly. So she doesn’t beg any more.
She finds the scissors in an orderly’s desk. Walks in, shuts off the cameras, and grabs the sharp scissors. She promises to return them, promises to thin air. There’s been a lot of that lately. But Lessa doesn’t think she’ll bloody the tool tonight.
No, she just stands in front of a mirror and cuts her hair off.
Long locks of her silky red hair fall around her feet, cutting, cutting until there is barely anything left. Just choppy hair a few inches long. She looks with dead eyes at her reflection, and she feels a stirring of relief that she no longer carries a reminder around with her wherever she goes. Not gladness. Never gladness. Not any more. She stares at her gaunt cheeks that say she hasn’t eaten for days and her short hair and dead eyes and looks away, feeling something almost like shame.
She kicks the fallen hair to the side—it’s almost pooled, like blood—and follows the directions written on her hand. The ones that one of the nurses gave her—gave her with an infinitely sad smile and a pat on the shoulder. It takes her all night and it’s seven AM when she gets there from across the station, but no one bothers her. There’s one gang that draws close when they see a seventeen year old girl walking alone straight through the lower parts of town, but they stop when they see her face and the split scissors in her hands, one blade in each fist. Because right now she would kill them. Kill them without a thought or pang of regret.
But she does make it to the station where the man sat at the desk and told her her hair was too long to join the Alliance. He just gave her an excuse to cut her hair, and an excuse to himself to refuse her. He is just sitting down when she walks in the door, dropping the broken scissors as she goes. He seems shocked when he spies her hair, almost two feet shorter than the day before. He understands though, when she says her name, because who doesn’t know about the most recent attack on a human colony, only a system away? But he takes her name, her blood, and her picture, and says to come back in three hours for physical exams.
She nods and walks out. There are plenty of things she can do in three hours.
Maybe she’ll have something to eat.