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Edible hair dye and pink flamingos
Question: What color are flamingos?Answer: Flamingos are gray!
Perhaps you only know pink flamingos? Gray flamingos turn pink because they eat pink shrimp. (Mostly brine shrimp, also known as sea monkeys.) And shrimp turn pink when cooked because they eat caroteniod-producing planktonic algae. You see the food chain in action every time you look at a pink flamingo.
Eating your way to a new color is nothing new to the animal kingdom. Cardinals are red because they eat tasty berries containing carotenoids, and finches metabolize these same carotenoids into yellow. If you keep them in captivity and feed them a diet without the tasty red berries, their colors will fade after a few molts, and you will no longer have vibrant birds. Similarly, zoo keepers and salmon farmers have to supplement diets or else their pink flamingos and salmon will revert to dull gray.
Melanin pigments our human eyes, hair, and skin, and the amounts and ratios of the different types of melanin determine whether we are blue-eyed blondes, mysterious brunettes, or ravishing redheads. This is generally controlled by genetics or Lady Clairol. But Lady Clairol has a ways to go to catch up to nature! Box colors and spray tans can take hours, color contacts rip or fall out, and as soon as you stop the applications, you too will revert back to your normal color.
[See pink hair on my Sci-Fi Robots board on Pinterest.]
In the science fiction future, I think we will definitely control our colors with more fun and ease. Leloo in The Fifth Element discovered a makeup device that applied perfect color with one click, and the receptionist for Mr. Zorg spent hours instantly changing from one nail color to another.Even now, cosmetology and technology change all the time, whether it is the recent discover of shellac “Gelish” nails that harden under UV light and last for weeks, or the discovery of paint that will never fade.
I like the idea of changing hair color by eating. (I like food!) On the run from pursuers, my characters in Liberation’s Kiss go under cover like flamingos and cardinals: by popping melanin pills.
His confidence filled her with confidence. They had already survived this long against incredible odds. She filled her belly with the delicious protein noodles, then watched him testing the water in the shower. New exciting thoughts shivered through her. Him, naked. Washing her, equally naked. And then, touching…
“Um, what are you doing in there?” she asked. Her voice sounded too loud for the small room.
He shut off the water and returned with a brown bag. Putting away her leftovers into the delivery cart – keeping it fresh and warm for later – he drew out cosmetics for changing her appearance. She swallowed a slow-acting melanin pill and a second pill that directed some of it to the stroma of her irises, to increase the Rayleigh scattering shifting her eyes from blue to green.
He held up a tub of Bruisease. “This has to be kept away from water. I know it’s going to hurt, but how about changing the rest of your appearance in the shower first?”
She swallowed the sudden dryness. “You’ll need to help me.”
His eyes remained steady as a rock. “Anything.”
She rotated her feet to the ground and then eased out, putting slow pressure on her heels. Pain shrieked up her legs. She sucked in a breath through her teeth.
He eased an arm around her bare shoulder blades and helped her to stand, supporting her into the tiny room. She shivered on the cool tile. He adjusted to a comforting temperature and detached the nozzle from the wall. The stream eased down her sore back like a warm caress.
She rested her hands on the tile while he rinsed her body, then had her lean forward, hands against the wall, and scrubbed the depiliatory cream into her scalp. Her hair dissolved like a color; she watched it disappear down the drain, careful not to get any splashes on her brows or lashes. Gentle hands stroked her head, tracing the soft lines of her bare skull, sensual. Under his relaxing ministrations, hair regrowth formula adhered to her scalp, and he rinsed the layers away, revealing the first bit of fuzz. She touched it tentatively. Red. In a few hours, it would grow as long as her finger tips, and in a day, it would reach her shoulders. She swallowed a calcium tablet and an E supplement, trusting him as he remade her into a new person. Without those minerals, her new hair would turn brittle and break away, fragile as strands of spun glass.
His eyes traced the fuzz as his hands did, an odd expression on his face.
“You’re sad,” she guessed.
He flashed to her in surprise. She had been correct. “I like you as you are.”
“It’ll come back,” she said. “In a few days.”
His thumb stroked her cheek. Absent, like he didn’t notice. “Real hair takes so much longer to grow.”
She swallowed. “Then you’ll just have to wait with me until it’s all back.”
His eyes skipped up to her scalp again. He rubbed the softness, pressed her briefly to his chest – making a wet print on his flight suit – and shut off the water, allowing the warmth of radiation to dry her naturally and fully. Her chemise and panties puffed out, made fluffy by the warmth. He scooped his arm under hers and helped her back to the bed…
– From Liberation’s Kiss, available July 1 (Pre-order now for a special price 80% off!)
If you could change something about yourself with one easy pill, what would you change?
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