‘What’s all that about?’ I asked, glancing briefly to the far end of the salon.
‘We do video shoots sometimes’ Janine replied. ‘Just a little side-line the owner has’ she added.
She saw my puzzled look.
‘He makes haircutting videos’ she clarified.
‘Teaching videos?’ I asked as she fastened the grey gown around me.
‘I’m not sure who they’d teach’ she replied.
I looked at her a little askance.
‘They do pretty short haircuts mainly. Not the sort of thing you’d see everyday.’
‘So who are they for?’ I asked, intrigued.
‘I don’t know. They sell them online, so you don’t actually see people coming in for them.’
I was fascinated by the sight of a young woman who still had evidence of shoulder length hair on one side of her head, in stark contrast to the side of her head where the stylist was currently wielding electric clippers with gay abandon. How could a woman let someone do that to her?
Janine was obviously more used to the idea and was eager to keep to her schedule. She led me away to get shampooed, but she couldn’t rinse the image from my mind.
That poor girl. What would her friends say when they saw what they’d done to her? But it wasn’t as if she was tied down. She was doing it of her own freewill or for the money or something. By the time Janine took me back to the styling chair, the deed was almost done and the formerly long-haired girl was now strikingly crop-haired, partly-bald, quite different from the everyday girl that I could make out when I first glimpsed her. I wanted to see her closer up, just so that I could take in every detail. I chastised myself for being ghoulish, wondering who would be interested in me telling them that I’d been in the hairdressers at the same time as another woman got her hair cut. That put it into some sort of perspective.
Janine was never the chattiest of stylists, but it dawned on me that she’d been less talkative than usual, when her voice intruded on my fascination.
‘I can introduce you if you want’ she said.
‘Er, what?’ I replied, disturbed from my own world.
‘I’ll take you over and introduce you, you could model for them. You certainly seem fascinated by what’s going on.’
The model was just being brushed off when this distraction came.
‘No, sorry,Â Â no, I…er…no, I just wanted to see what they did. It’s not every day you see films being made’ I replied, flustered.
‘Or see someone get so much hair cut off’ she added.
‘No’ I said, although I’m not sure what I was responding to now.
‘I’m sure they’d love to talk to you’ she said, combing though my damp, mousey hair. I looked at they way it broke over my shoulders, thought about how Janine had cut it the past few times, how she’d probably taken five or six inches off in the time that I’d been coming to her. What was that, nine months or so? It hadn’t been a deliberate plan, not on my part certainly, it had just turnedÂ Â out that way. I didn’t mind though, it was less to care for and less time for me to get ready in the morning.
‘I’d have to talk to my boyfriend first’ I replied, resorting to the obvious defence.
‘What would he say?’ she asked, pausing from her combing.
‘I don’t really know, he’s not one to say much’ I replied. I wondered what Jack would say if I went home and said that I wanted to be a model in a film. He’d probably laugh his head off. I wouldn’t consider myself model material, but I wouldn’t say that I was bad looking either. I was just a normal girl in her late twenties, mostly happy with the way she looked, who’d love to lose a couple of pounds, but who could still attract interest on the beach.
‘You could always surprise him’ she said, putting the comb down.
‘I wouldn’t want to be in a film’ I replied.
I watched as her hand moved towards the hook on the side of the shelf in front of me.
‘I can do it for you, if you want. No film, just you and a new hair-do’ she said.
‘I’d have to talk to him’ I replied.
‘That’s not a “No”, Lucy, that sounds like a “next time”‘ she said with a laugh.
‘It’s a “not this time” I chuckled in response. Why didn’t I just say “never in a million years?’
She hadn’t actually picked up the clippers and was now as I would expect to see her: standing behind me working away with her comb in one hand and scissors in the other. I’d come in for a trim and that’s what I was getting. I hadn’t got a direct line of sight to where the filming was, but I could just make out in my peripheral vision that they were packing up. I could hear laughing and joking without being able to make out what was being said. I’d wanted to see the finished article, but it looked like she’d be gone long before I was done. It was back to reality for me.
I hadn’t been aware that I’d been so distracted by the goings on across the salon, but by the time I was “back in the room”, Janine was just bringing the line of my trim round to the front. It was a more generous trim than what she’d done the past two or three times I’d been there. My hair on the left-hand side was barely touching my shoulder any more.
‘That was sneaky’ I said.
‘What?’ Janine asked, trying to act all innocent.
‘Chopping a bit more off’ I replied.
‘Don’t be such a baby, I just thought that it’d sit better like that’ she replied.
I said nothing. I was looking at myself in the mirror, agreeing with her silently. It was just a surprise that she’d done it, even if it was only two or three inches.
I wondered what the model girl felt when she saw most of her hair tumbling to the floor.
‘You’re right. It’s not as if I’ve just got properly chopped like that girl over there’ I said.
‘You’re still thinking about that?’ she asked.
‘Just wondering what would make someone do it, that’s all.’
‘Money, for some. Boredom for others, who knows?’
‘So do they just ring up and say they want to have all of their hair cut off?’
‘As far as I know, they just reply to an advert for hair models. If they seem up for something drastic, they’re offered this. Some of them just ask for something new and leave it up to the stylist.’
‘But they agree what they’re getting first?’
‘Sometimes. Sometimes they just have to wait and see.’
‘Would she have agreed to that?’ I asked, still fascinated by the difference that losing a couple of inches was making to my appearance.
‘I think she was one of the ones who rolled the dice’ she replied.
‘What do you mean?’
‘They have a list of haircuts, you just roll the dice to see what you get.’
‘Wow’ I replied, mulling over the whole concept in my head. I went back to watching Janine putting the final touches to my new cut, trying to work out what it was. A long bob? Possibly. Maybe it didn’t have a name. It was just my longish hair, a little bit shorter.
When I went to the counter to pay, Janine told me to wait for a moment. She went back into the salon, but was back before I knew it. She heldÂ Â out her hand, her
fingers balled into a loose fist, fingers uppermost. She uncurled her fingers, revealing a pair of red dice. I looked at her.
‘I know you’re wondering. Go on, see what you might’ve got’ she said, proffering the dice. I looked at her and shrugged. I hadn’t been wondering in that much detail. I took them anyway and rolled them along the counter, memories of childhood board games skipping through my mind. I rolled a three. She was brandishing a small card in her other hand and looked down to consult it. I waited for the verdict.
‘Three. That’s pretty much what we’ve just done’ she said.
‘Nothing to it’ I said, rolling them towards her nonchalantly. I put my bag over my shoulder, ready to go.
‘Don’t you want to know what that is?’ she asked.
‘I had what the dice said’ I replied.
‘Some of the models roll two or three times’ she replied.
‘I need to be going’ I said.
‘Not even a little bit curious?’
‘It’s a bit lateÂ Â now.’
‘You could come back when you’ve done what you’ve got to do’ she replied. There was something in her tone of voice that made me wary.
‘Not unless I know what it is first’ I replied, knowing that whatever it was had to be shorter than my hair was now, probably much shorter. Was I ready for that?’
She looked at me, pausing for dramatic effect.
‘That’s short. You okay with that?’ she asked.
‘It depends’ I replied, tightening my grip on my bag. ‘I thought you were my friend, anyway’ I added.
‘Just call me a friend who’s here when you need her. You’re going to go home and think about that girl, wondering what it feels like. You’re going to wonder about what the dice have just decided, that’s all.
‘What if I don’t like what the dice decided?’
‘Start fresh, roll again’ she replied. ‘But we’ll do whatever the dice say. Right now’ she added, with what could only be described as a wicked smile.
‘I’ve got things to do’ I replied.
‘Do them later’ she countered.
‘I’d need to talk to Jack’ I replied.
‘Call him’ she replied simply.
‘I don’t know what to say to him. I don’t know what I’m asking’ I replied hesitantly.
‘Roll the dice, then you’ll know.’
‘Why do I feel like I’m being backed into a corner?’ I said.
‘You’re not. Not at all. Look, it was just an idea. I won’t mention it again’ she said defensively.
I reached out and touched her arm.
‘I didn’t mean it like that, honest. Friends?’ I said.
‘Friends’ she confirmed.
I walked down the street, with so much going through my head. All that I’d seen, getting a bit more cut off than I would normally. The whole dice thing. The tension with Janine. I really felt bad about that. I stopped in a coffee shop to gather my thoughts. I did have stuff to do while I was in town, but nothing that couldn’t wait. I dug my phone out of my bag.
‘Hi Jacky-boy’ I said when he answered.
‘What’ve you bought?’ he asked.
‘You only call me that when you’ve done something.’
‘I haven’t done anything.’
‘You’re about to, though?’ he said tentatively.
‘I was just thinking.’
‘What’ he said, his impatience barely hidden. I took a deep breath.
‘Would you still love me with short hair?’ I managed to get out. I wanted to have a sip of coffee, but didn’t trust my hand to be steady enough.
‘What have you done?’ he asked in a tone normally reserved for naughty children.
‘I haven’t done it yet.’
‘I thought your appointment was at ten?’ he said. I was impressed that he knew.
‘It was. It is. They’re running late’ I said, unsure why I’d made that up.
‘It’s your hair’ he replied.
‘Don’t you care how I wear my hair?’ I asked, sensing a fight coming. It had been a mistake to do this on the phone.
‘It always looks good. You know what’s best, what suits you’ he replied, rescuing himself quite well.
‘The hairdresser suggested that I’d suit short hair’ I said.
‘I thought you hadn’t been in yet’ he replied. I couldn’t get anything past him today.
‘Last time, she mentioned it last time.’
‘So why are you only asking me now?’
‘I’d forgotten about it. I only remembered on the way here’ I replied, getting deeper into the lie. I needed to put an end to the conversation.
‘So you’re not that serious about it then?’
‘I am, but I won’t if you don’t want me to.’
‘I’d have to see it.’
‘It’s a bit late then, don’t you think?’ I replied.
‘Give me an idea’ he said. I could hear pages being turned. He was getting bored.
‘I don’t know. I’ll see what the stylist has in mind, but if you set a limit, I’ll tell her not to go any shorter than that.’
‘Christ, Lucy, I don’t know. It’s your hair. Do whatever you feel comfortable with.’
‘And you’ll be okay, whatever I do?’
‘As long as you don’t have a perm. I hate fucking perms. You’d look like a 1970’s footballer’ he said.
‘Okay, no perms, I promise. But you’re okay with anything else. You won’t shout at me?’
‘No I won’t shout at you.’
‘What if you can’t pull it when you fuck me from behind?’ I whispered, hoping that I was far enough away from anyone else. I knew that he loved it when I talked dirty to him, but tried to ration him. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to deploy it.
‘You like having your hair pulled, so I think I’m safe enough there’ he replied.
‘You could pretend you’re fucking someone else’ I added, unable to help myself.
‘I hope you’re somewhere where no-one can hear you’ he said.
‘Just in the bank’ I replied naughtily.
‘That’s okay then’ he replied.
‘So you’re definitely okay with it?’
‘How many more times? Yes, I’m okay with it.’
‘Make sure you’ve got your best undies on when I get home’ I said.
‘Too late, I’ve just sorted myself out’ he replied.
‘Bastard’ I said playfully. ‘Just for that, I’ll get it all cut off’ I added.
‘Up to you’ he replied. ‘See you later.’
That was it. I wondered about what he’d said. Off work, home alone, pages rustling. No, that was so old-fashioned. Who used stroke-mags anymore? The turning of pages was surely confirmation that he wasn’t having a quick one on his own. I took a gulp of coffee and got up.
I spotted a florists across the road and bought a lovely bouquet. The florist smiled as I paid and I headed down the street. I got to the salon and opened the door, smiling at Janine as she looked to see who had come in. I held the flowers towards her.
‘I’m sorry for being grumpy’ I said.
‘You don’t need to do that. You weren’t grumpy anyway. Well, no more than usual’ she chuckled.
‘I’m sorry anyway’ I repeated.
‘Have a seat while I find something to put these in’ she said.
‘I wasn’t stopping. I just wanted to give you those.’
‘Hang on’ she said, disappearing through the doorway to the back room. I looked around me, looking aimlessly at the various pictures on the wall.
‘So what did he say?’ she asked just as she was coming back into reception.
‘Your boyfriend’ she added. ‘You rang him, didn’t you. That’s why you’re back.’
‘I wanted to bring you the flowers’ I replied.
‘Okay, well I’ve got something for you’ she said, reaching down to the shelf behind the counter. It was no surprise when she laid the dice on the counter-top. We looked at each other. ‘I thought I need these before too long, so I held on to them. Hopefully you can change your plans’ she said with a smile.
‘Possibly’ I replied. I reached for the dice, but she covered them with her hand.
‘Only if you’re prepared to go through with it’ she said firmly. I held out my palm in a gesture that said “give them to me”.
‘No backing out if you don’t like what you throw’ she said.
She took her hand away and I rolled them in silence. They came to rest. Two.
‘Lucky’ she said, making as if to come out from behind the counter.
‘What’s a two?’ I asked.
‘Come on and I’ll show you. It’s nothing to worry about.’
‘Should I try again?’
‘You want it to be something dramatic, don’t you?’
‘Something to make it worthwhile, at least’ I replied.
‘You know the score. Whatever you roll is what we’re doing’ she cautioned.
‘I know, but I’m curious.’
‘Don’t blame me if you don’t like what you get’ she said, hands raised, a smile on her face. Someone came in to ask about a consultation. It disturbed the mood, but gave me a chance to think about what Jack had said. He said he’d be fine with whatever I did. Would he though? Janine handed the intruder off to another stylist and returned her attention to me. She looked at the dice.
‘Sticking with what you got?’
I picked up the dice and rolled them.
‘Eleven’ I said.
‘Eleven it is’ she confirmed.
‘How bad is that? Same as last time?’ I asked, thinking back to the roll of the dice when I was in earlier.
‘Shorter’ she replied.
‘Very short’ she confirmed.
‘Trust me to get one of those’ I replied, trying to put a brave face on it. My mind went to the girl in the salon earlier. Was that really going to be me in a few minutes? I thought about what I’d said to Jack about him pulling my hair. It didn’t look like that was going to happen again for a while.
‘Luck of the draw’ she said sanguinely. It looked like she wasn’t exactly relishing what she was about to do and she wasn’t even going to be the one in the chair. I looked at her hair. Collar-length, nicely cut, shiny, feminine. What would the next few minutes hold for me?
‘So what is an “eleven” exactly?’ I asked.
‘It’ll spoil the surprise if I tell you, don’t you think?’
‘You’re going to do it anyway, so where’s the harm in telling me?’
‘No harm, but isn’t it more exciting when you don’t know?’
‘It’s not so much the excitement, it’s wondering whether I need to find somewhere else to live’ I smiled.
‘You didn’t seem to mind my taking an extra inch earlier on, you didn’t expect that’ she said.
‘I did actually like the way you just did it without telling me. There was something about it…’ I said, realising that I was about to share a bit too much with her.
‘So now I’m going to do something else and not tell you what I’m going to do, isn’t that even more exciting?’
Not in a way that I could admit to, I thought!
She made a beckoning motion with her index finger. I watched for a second as she started to walk into the salon area and then followed her. My stomach was doingÂ gymnastics. What was I doing? What would Jack say? Seeing that girl getting her hair cut made me curious. Janine cutting my hair a bit shorter than I had expected had intrigued me, talking to Jack had excited me, but none of that was very significant now that I was faced with the reality of actually doing something drastic rather than thinking about it or talking about it. Janine was standing by the same chair that I’d been in not so long ago. The woman who’d come in for the consultation was being shampooed at the other end of the salon. I hoped that she wouldn’t be sitting too close while she was getting hers done.
I was standing next to Janine, the styling chair turned towards me. I could still walk out if I wanted to, but then I’d always be wondering what would’ve happened. Would I have liked super-short hair? Would I ever be able to recapture the excitement that I knew was building somewhere that it shouldn’t in public?
‘No backing out, that’s what we said, isn’t it?’ Janine said.
‘We did’ I confirmed.
She looked at the empty chair, her meaning clear. I sat down, almost immediately captured in the swirl of a gown.
‘It’s not going to be something wacky like that girl had is it. I don’t want to faff around styling something to make it look okay.’
‘This is definitely wash’n go, low maintenance’ she replied.
‘Jack’ll be pleased.’ He hated me standing in front of the mirror trying to get my hair to sit just the way I wanted it before we went out. My stomach acrobatics were in full flight. I was nervous and more than a little bit turned on! I thought about Jack peeling my knickers off when I got home. Maybe my state “down there” would distract him from whatever Janine had planned for higher up.
I could tell that she was eager to start.
‘Before you do anything, have you always wanted to do this to me, every time I’ve been in here?’
‘Never crossed my mind. I’ve done a couple of the video shoots and enjoyed them, but I don’t spend my time wanting to shear people’s hair off. A couple of awkward customers maybe, but not one as lovely as your good self. If someone shows an inclination, well, that’s totally different. That brings out the Sweeney Todd in me!’
‘So what did you do in those videos?’
‘This, pretty much’ she replied, reaching forward for the same clippers that she’d teased me with earlier. This time there was no teasing, no way out. I really had made my bed, now it was time to lie in it. Janine was fiddling around in the little vanity drawer, then found what she was looking for. She took up a position behind me, the sudden, electronic hum signalling her intent. I felt the gentle touch of her hand on the back of my neck, felt the slight pressure suggesting that I tilt my head forward. Then I felt a different sensation on my head, felt it sweep up from my nape, all the way to my crown. It was really happening and all I could do was to sit there and wait for it to come to an end, whatever that end was to be.
The clippers came round from the “dark side” to where they could be seen. They ploughed up the side of my head and across the top, marauding over my scalp at will.
I looked at my reflection in the mirror and reacted the only way that I could think of: I laughed. not quite as maniacally as I wanted, but a good, hearty laugh.
‘Don’t hold back, let me know what you think’ Janine said, unable to contain a smile.
‘I look like my three-year-old nephew when he’s just woken up’ I said.
‘No you don’t, you look so much better already’ Janine said.
‘I’m not so sure’ I replied, bringing a hand from under the cape to feel what was left of my hair. It was odd, brush-like, half an inch long or so. I looked at the mass of fallen hair that lay on and around me. ‘I was quite attached to that’ I said, smiling at my feeble attempt at humour.
‘You’re better off without it’ she said.
‘You think so?’
She pulled the nearest styling chair towards me and sat down, leaning forward earnestly.
‘I know this started as a bit of a game, but I think we should do something different’ she said.
‘Not go as short as I was meant to, you mean?’ taking another look at my shorn head in the mirror. What was Jack going to say?
‘On the contrary. I think you should go shorter than the dice decided’ she said, pausing for the idea to have a chance to take root. My eyes expressed my surprise.
‘How much shorter was I going?’ I asked.
‘That’s a number four. You were meant to get a number two on the top and a one for the rest.’
‘So the plan was to go half as short as this?’. Fuck, I thought. What would Jack think about his girlfriend as a proper skinhead? ‘And you think I’d want to go shorter than that?’ You must be joking, love, I thought.
‘I think you’d be stunning if we stop at the number two. Seeing you like that just makes me realise how beautiful you’d look if you went all the way.’
I took a breath. Was she really suggesting what I thought she was suggesting. I glanced across the salon to where the other stylist and customer were. I didn’t want to make a scene, but I was shocked at what Janine had just said. Me, beautiful? Me, bald?
‘You’re saying that I should shave my head. That I’d be beautiful?’
She nodded. ‘The more I look at you, the more I’m convinced you should. Trust me, I’m your hairdresser’ she said, patting me on my knee.
I took another deep breath.
‘How many beautiful, bald women have you seen?’
‘A few. I’ve taken some there myself, watched others do it. It’s a big step, but so worth it. Definitely for you.’
‘And what do I say when I get home?’
‘Give him time to get used to it, but he’ll love it. I know of a couple of our models who weren’t enthusiastic about doing it, but they’ve stayed shaved.’
‘So they rolled the wrong number too?’
‘One did, but one just said she was up for anything, not realising that we’d take her at her word.’
‘You’re just saying that’ I objected.
‘Not at all. I can show you the videos if you want.’
I raised my eyebrows. I still couldn’t believe what she was saying. I still couldn’t believe that I was this aroused without a man being anywhere near me. I ran my hand through my brush again, watching as the disturbance in the surface of the cape caused several hanks of hair to tumble to the floor.
‘What do you say?’ she said breezily, patting my knee again. She got up from the chair and pushed it back to where it had come from. She picked the clippers up again and slid the plastic thing off them.
‘Don’t worry, I’m not going to do it unless you want me to. I really, really think you should, but you have to want to do it, otherwise you’re not going to glow the way that you should’ she said.
‘I just keep thinking about Jack. How can he take a bald girlfriend out for dinner?’
‘You’d be surprised. We sell a lot of videos and it isn’t generally women who buy them. There’s a lot of men who’d think they’d died and gone to Heaven if their lady came home the way that you should be going home today.’
‘So you’re saying that there’s loads of women spending time and money on hair that their man would rather see shaved off?’
‘Your Jack might be one of them’ she said with a jaunty smile.
‘Don’t think so’ I replied brusquely, remembered sensations of having my hair pulled at crucial moments coursing through my mind.
‘Maybe he doesn’t realise that he’d like it’ she said.
‘You’re determined to get me to do it, aren’t you, you wicked so and so.’
‘I think you should, but you need to think so too. I’ll do your make-up for you, show you just how fabulous you can be.’
‘What else would you suggest?’
‘I think you’ve got to go to a number two. Probably bleach it.’
‘I tried going blonde once when I was at college. It didn’t work very well.’
‘You probably did it yourself or got a friend to do it. I’d do it properly. Take you white blonde. You’d look like a model.’
‘You’re a hairdresser, not a magician’ I replied with a smile.
‘Careful or I’ll make it disappear’ she smiled, waving the clippers at me, with a nod towards what was left of my hair. Everything told me to ignore her suggestion.
‘Okay’ I said quietly.
That was the moment for her to ask “are you sure?”. It wasn’t the moment to flick the switch on the clippers and run them across the top of my head. I’d never realised that there was so little anchoring my hair to my scalp, at least that’s what it looked like as the clippers slid through what little remained. It seemed like a split-second had passed and there I was looking at myself with a hairless stripe down the middle of my scalp. Shit! What had I done? I’d expected one last chance to reconsider, expected one last sales pitch to convince me that I wouldn’t regret what I was about to do. That chance hadn’t come. Instead I was launched on a ski-jump, where there was no possibility of going back. All I could do was to follow the rapid slide to baldness. Me, twenty-nine and bald. Attractive enough with hair, but without hair? My mind started to fill with ideas of push-up bras, low-cut tops, anything to draw attention from my head. I smiled at the thought of displaying my boobs like that, in a way that would make them look like the top of my bald head. I needed to grow-up, for whatever reason, I was now going to stand out in a crowd and I would just have to get used to the idea.
Janine seemed intent on stripping me of my hair as quickly as she could. There appeared to be no thought that the first swipe had pushed me towards the inevitable, it was just a push for the finishing line. I wasn’t unhappy with that. I wanted to get out of the chair and find somewhere to cry, to work out how I’d tell Jack. She was going over my scalp in a different direction now, touching me lightly, looking for strays. I wished that she wouldn’t do that, I felt bad about enjoying her touch!
The clippers went quiet. I felt alone with my thoughts. My hair was on the floor and I had enjoyed it in some twisted way. I couldÂ understand now why the girl who’d been in the film had let them cut all her hair off, it was liberating in a way, but there was more to it than that. I started to think about it from aÂ practical point of view in thatÂ I wouldn’t have to worry about conditioners or blow-dries for a while. But then the new sensation on my scalp surprised me. Janine was spreading gunge over my scalp. Shaving foam.
‘Do you have to?’ I asked, knowing what the answer would be, even before she told me that it would give me the perfect finish. I wasn’t so much interested in a perfect finish, I was more interested in when I would have a meaningful head of hair again.
‘You may be thinking that now, but give it a few days and I think you’ll start to feel the benefit. You’ll appreciate the freedom of not having hair to worry about, appreciate the attention that you’ll get.’
‘You mean people will stop and stare. That’s all I need!’
‘You’d be surprised. I think you’ll find that you’ll get a lot of appreciative looks.’
‘We’ll see’ I replied, pleased at the lack of real sensation from the razor going over my scalp. If only I could do my legs with the same level of skill, I’d do them more often.
I watched the other client leave the salon, taking in every last detail of the woman who was having her head shaved. Would she come back now that she knew what
sort of thing they did to their customers? Janine didn’t appear worried and she’d told me that they had repeat business from at least two women that had shaved, so maybe I wasn’t such an unusual sight in there. A few seconds later I was conscious of someone approaching. I looked away from my reflection with its residual patch of shaving foam to see that the woman who’d just left had come back. She bent towards me slightly.
‘I wish I’d got the guts to do that. You look wonderful’ she said.
I was nervous about moving my head, ever-conscious of the continuing razor strokes. ‘Thank you, you’ve no idea how pleased I am to hear that’ I replied.
‘Just say the word, Mrs Collins’ Janine said with a chuckle.
‘My husband would divorce me’ she replied. ‘Hang on, maybe that’s not such a bad thing’ she said. ‘Anyway, I just wanted to tell you that’ she said and turned on her heel.
‘What did I tell you?’ Janine said.
‘I bet you gave her a freebie to say that’ I replied.
‘I’d shave her for free, that’s for sure’ Janine laughed.
I watched the final couple of razor-strokes and felt mildly disappointed. I’d actually quite enjoyed watching Janine shaving me, appreciating her skill and touch even though what she’d just done had opened up a world of explanations for me. She patted my scalp lightly with a towel and then she was applying another finishing touch.
‘I can’t believe you’re actually oiling me up’ I said, wondering just how much of an oily scalp massage it would take before I allowed the first moan to escape my lips.
‘Wouldn’t want you drying out now, would I?’ she said.
There really was no danger of that, I thought.
I sat there, glistening under the salon lights, while Janine observed me like a doctor looking for symptoms of something.
‘Well, what do you think?’ she asked eventually.
‘I look like a woman with no hair’ I replied.
‘You look like a sexy woman, full stop. You’re every bit as stunning as I thought you’d be.’
‘You’re just saying that so that I don’t go round to your house and kill your pets’ I said with a smile, wondering where I’d dredged that up from.
‘I don’t think there’s any danger of that. I think it’s more likely that you’ll be back here in a couple of weeks begging me to shave you again.’
‘I’m not so sure about that’ I replied.
‘Next one’s free’ she said, turning to tidy up the implements that had just robbed me of my hair. I sat and looked at myself long and hard.
‘Do you want me to do your make-up before you go?’ she offered.
‘No, I think I’m okay, thanks. I don’t do a lot of make-up really. I’ll work it out for myself.’
‘Lots of emphasis on the eyes. Really bring them out’ she said.
‘There is one thing you could do for me though, if you don’t mind’ I said.
‘You wouldn’t take a picture of me would you?’
‘Preparing the ground?’ she asked.
‘Possibly’ I replied.
She took my gown off and showed me a good place to stand so that the flash wouldn’t bounce off all the mirrors. She handed the phone back to me and I flicked to the
picture. Not that much different from all of the other pictures of me on my phone. Except that I was completely bald. I needed to go.
I paid and thanked her.
‘Good luck’ she said as I left the salon. I’d need it. I walked away briskly, senses primed for any looks directed towards me, ears pricked to pick up the barbed
comments that would doubtlessly be hurled in my direction. I saw a group of school kids up ahead and considered crossing the road to deny them the opportunity to poke fun at the bald lady. I didn’t and they didn’t. Maybe I wasn’t worthy of the attention that I thought I was. I stopped and pulled out my phone. I typed a message to
Jack, reading it a couple of times before I pressed ‘Send’. “Went a bit shorter than planned. See you soon.” I’d typed, with latest picture attached, of course. I started to walk again, only to stop after a few paces by the “ping” of an incoming message. The end of a four-year relationship. The beginning of hairless solitude.
It was brief, “Didn’t know you were good with Photoshop” it read. Typical.
“Only went in for a Brazillian’ I replied.
He fired straight back: “Always fancied one of those.”
“Can’t you be serious? It’s not Photoshop” I replied.
“Fuck” came back almost immediately.
“Ditto” I replied.
I put my phone away. I wondered whether to wander round the shops or just bite the bullet. I’d have to do it sometime, so I headed for home. I sat on the drive for what seemed like ages before screwing up the courage to go in. I’d been trying to decide the tone of that last reply. Was it surprised, resigned, angry? I didn’t know.
I opened the front door and went in.
A face appeared round the lounge door. Jack stared at me. I started to cry.
I knew that he hated to hear me cry. I think that it annoyed him on the odd occasion when I did it, but his response was good this time. There was no sigh, no expression that said “pull yourself together” or anything like that. He held me and let me sob my heart out.
‘I’ll get a wig’ I managed to say as the crisis subsided.
He squeezed me. He kissed me. His grip loosened, his hands gravitating to me backside. We hadn’t done this for a while, not outside the bedroom anyway. Clothing was being loosened, buttons undone.
‘Either I’m the sexiest man on the planet or you’ve had a head-start’ he said, his fingers gripped by the elastic of my knickers. I gave him a teary smile.
‘Shut up and fuck me’ I said, pressing my mouth to his.
I wasn’t sure whether to be disappointed or pleased that our frantic coupling only lasted for a couple of minutes. Thinking about it, it would have been a bad sign if he’d been grinding away for an eternity without getting anywhere near the end. As it was, I’d barely had time to find a comfortable position when he was rearing up and bucking like I don’t know what. I kissed him on his cheek and actually said “thank you” before heading upstairs for a shower. It was probably a bit rude to up and run like that, but I wanted a shower, wanted to feel the water on my bald head.
It was an amazing feeling. It made me feel more alive then I’d felt for a long time and I just stood there letting the water beat its rhythm on my scalp. I wondered if Jack would join me, but he left me alone. I wondered what he thought about my new look, but took comfort from the fact that he clearly didn’t find me repulsive. What if he’d been one of those guys that Janine had talked about who liked bald women? How weird would that be? I finished my shower and dried myself off, staring at my reflection in the lightly-fogged mirror. I stood there naked, looking at myself. I was very different, but I was still me.
I wandered out into the bedroom and wondered what to do. I knew that I wanted a glass of wine, even though it was disgracefully early for that. I decided that I’d earned it. I reached for my robe and swung it round me before having second thoughts. This called for something different. I rummaged in a drawer and then headed downstairs. I heard the TV on and went into the lounge to see Jack sprawled on the sofa, a little dishevelled.
‘I was worried that it makes me look masculine’ I said, trying to draw his attention from the golf. His head turned, his expression was priceless. I was standing in our lounge wearing just my highest heels and a pair of hold-up stockings with lacy tops. I cupped my bare boobs, ran a finger as seductively as I could around a nipple and let it trail down my body to my mound. Shaved bald like my head. I parted my legs and traced the line of my lips with my finger tips.I’d never done anything like this in front of him before and was amazed that I felt so at ease. I licked my finger slowly and deliberately.
‘What do you think?’ I asked.
‘You couldn’t move to the left a bit, I can’t see the TV’ he said.
I walked over to the sofa and swung a leg over him.
‘Still want to watch TV?’ I asked, lifting a leg across him. I was straddling him, not entirely comfortably, but straddling him nonetheless. I pressed my pussy into his face, giving him the general idea as to what I thought he should be doing. I spotted the remote and turned off the TV.
‘I was watching that’ he said, his words slightly muffled.
‘Just think of it as working on your own approach shot. No need to worry about any rough. You’ve got a clear line to the hole, now all you have to do is…aahh’ I said, feeling his tongue slip inside me.
Over the course of the next week, I became used to more attention than I’d usually get, most of it positive. There were a couple of inquisitive, pitying looks, but for the most part they were complimentary, admiring even, in some cases. My doubt about how I would be received as a baldie proved unfounded, which allowed me to enjoy myself. It had certainly kicked my relationship with Jack into life. My baldness wasn’t the focus, it had just led us to re-discover each other, show more interest in each other. I’d even got to the point where I could look in the mirror and not even register that I didn’t have any hair.
About a week later, I met Jack in town after work to buy him a new suit, something that he wasn’t allowed to do unaccompanied. He’d done it once and all he ended up with was a suit that he never wore. I had no idea what he was thinking when he choose it.
We wandered from shop to shop without much success. Then we walked past a hair salon and for some reason, I reached up and stroked my head. I’d become aware of the inevitable re-growth over the past couple of days and thought nothing ofÂ Â it. It was the first step on the way to having hair again, to being a conventional-looking woman after my brief flirtation with baldness. I hadn’t given the slightest consideration to staying bald, but now something in me realised that I liked the way my head felt. I really liked the way I looked without hair.
‘I said, where are we going?’ Jack said, interrupting my thoughts.
‘Sorry, I was miles away.’
‘So where are we going. There’s no suit shops down here.’
‘I just want to pop in to make an appointment with Janine while we’re down here’ I replied.
‘Can’t you just ring her?’
‘It’s just here’ I replied, a few feet from the door. I opened it and walked in, Jack following dutifully behind. I smiled at the receptionist as she took in my apparent lack of reason for walking in to the salon. She hadn’t been there last week. She composed herself quickly and asked what she could do.
‘I just want to make an appointment with Janine’ I replied.
‘When for?’ she asked, turning her attention to the computer on the desk in front of her.
‘Has she got a lunchtime slot in the next couple of days?’ I asked.
I was waiting for the mandatory “and what’s it for?” question when a voice said ‘I’m free now, if you want.’ Janine popped her head round the door to the side of reception, where they keep the supplies, I think.
‘Hi Janine, I wasn’t expecting to see you.’
‘I’m not sure I was expecting to see you either. You look lovely’ she replied.
‘I don’t think I like this stubbly stage’ I said.
‘Can’t do much about it if you’re going to grow your hair again, but I can sort it out for you now, no problem’ she replied, her gaze turning to Jack.
‘Sorry, I should have introduced you. Janine, this is Jack. Jack, this is Janine.’
Quick “hellos” were exchanged.
‘I hope you don’t hate me’ Janine said to Jack.
‘Not at all. It was a bit of a surprise, that’s all.’
‘Hopefully you like having a head-turning girlfriend’ Janine said. He looked at me and smiled.
‘It’s okay’ he agreed in that fulsome way that all men have.
‘Right, we haven’t got all day. You, miss, can come with me. Annie hasn’t got anyone for a few minutes, so she can take you, Jack’ she said, looking first at me and then at Jack.
‘No, he’s not here… we’re not here for him, it’s just me’ I said. I hadn’t even considered the possibility of Jack having a haircut here, but then I hadn’t been planning on getting mine done just then. We went to separate places for haircuts. I came to Janine, he’d go wherever he didn’t have to wait.
‘You might as well, while you’re here’ she urged, looking at him. He looked at me. I looked at Janine. The past week or so had been about me, about my hair. I hadn’t given a second thought to Jack and his thick, dark hair. He wore it short, but not clipper-short, always the same for as long as I’d known him. I only noticed it when it started to go over his collar and look a bit scraggy, but he would usually go and get tidied up round about then. I looked at him again.
‘What do you think, we could be a matching pair’ I said jokingly.
‘Let me just get Annie’ she said, walking into the salon. Jack looked at me intently. I shrugged.
Janine came back in a matter of seconds, accompanied by a young woman who looked like she could make a living as a model. Early twenties,