The first part of the story can be read here. Although, this can be read as a standalone.
With Elena’s hair cropped short on back and sides, there was no need to tie or pin it in whatever fashion. Almost 12days had passed since the day Marco took her to the barbershop and convinced her to go through the change, and she was glad for it. Her concentration was rapidly improved, and so were her punches. Inside the cage, as an MMA fighter, she was truly remarkable. The short haircut was slowly beginning to grow on her as she loved how low-maintenance it was.
It was a fulfilling Tuesday as she finished the practice for the day and headed towards the locker to take out her change of clothes when a familiar voice called out her name.
“What with the haircut, Elena?” Maria said with a mock grin dancing on her lips.
Elena shrugged. “It’s low maintenance and less distracting,” she admitted.
“You shouldn’t have done that, you know,” Maria said, stepping closer and twisting the short length on top of her head. “After all, it was the only thing that made you look like a girl.”
Elena recognized the unfriendly tone in her voice, but instead of picking up a lame fight she chose to ignore her. She took her hand away from her hair, dropping it. “I would prefer if you mind your own business, Maria. If you must pick up a fight, I suggest you beat me inside the cage like a fighter. Now, please leave my way.”
Maria’s own temper flared. “You bitch! Just because you managed to defeat me all through this week doesn’t mean you’re better than me.” Her hand instinctively went reared back to land a punch, but Elena quickly caught it.
Twisting her wrist, she held Maria in her grip. Elena could have attacked at the provocation, given her strength and talent, but Marco always taught her to use her ferocious MMA skills as a defense in real life outside the cage.
“It is never meant to attack or injure someone grievously,” he preached, and Elena followed every word of it.
“Fucking bitch,” Maria spat at her. “You fight like a brute. You know, someday people might mistake you as a boy. Look at those small tits. And now your hair is short, too. You look like a fucking boy!”
Elena let go of her wrist with a sudden jerk and pushed her back on her ass. “Don’t you dare…”
Maria angrily cut her in. “Ugly boy!”
“Enough!” A masculine, angry growl silenced the room.
Both the girls turned to see Marco standing at the doorway with his arms crossed over his chest. The anger was etched so prominently, it couldn’t have been missed. Advancing towards them, he demanded from Maria, “What is the meaning of this?”
Maria looked at him like a deer caught in the headlights.
Rising on her feet, she righted herself. “Sir…she…she attacked me!”
“Did she now?” Marco asked as one of his eyebrows lifted up.
“Y-yes,” Maria stammered. “She is vicious.” Elena didn’t utter a word as her defense in Marco’s presence as she knew peaking out of turn would be a blatant disrespect at that moment.
“And shaming another woman isn’t vicious at all, right?”
Dread filled Maria’s vision as she realized the MMA trainer heard and seen it all. “I..I was…”
“Your behavior is unacceptable, as a respectable lady, as a sportsperson, and as a human being. Calling names, picking up a fight with a vindictive attitude – I would not tolerate such behavior among my students, ever. Have I made myself clear?”
“Yes, Sir. I am sorry,” Maria’s angry hiss contradicted her apology.
“No, you are not sorry. You are nowhere close to being sorry, Maria,” his stern voice held steel and ice. “I suggest you find yourself a new trainer.”
“What? No, no, please. I am really sorry, Sir. I didn’t mean to…”
“I think you owe an apology to her,” Marco said, pointing towards Elena.
“I am sorry. It won’t happen again,” Maria quickly said to her.
“An empty apology means nothing without a penance,” Marco added.
“I just apologized, Sir. I really mean it. What else can I do?”
“You just ridiculed her for nothing. It’s only fair to step into her shoes. If you really want me to train you for the championship further, I suggest you show up tomorrow with a haircut just like hers.”
Maria gasped, shocked and frozen. “You…I…please don’t. I can’t…”
“I have no authority to force you, Maria. So, it’s your choice. But I will not budge from my point.” With that, Marco left the locker room, leaving her in a state of shock.
“I am proud the way you didn’t lose your temper, girl,” Marco said to Elena who was fixing her gloves.
Elena shrugged. “She’s just bitter. You don’t think she’d show up with short hair today, do you?”
“If she knows what’s good for her, she would. I am not backing down on my terms,” Marco replied determinedly.
The door opened and in walked Maria, which her hair in the same more-than-shoulder length. She approached Marco with a faux repentant look.
“I don’t think you’re here for a practice,” he said.
“I tried…I mean I did go to the salon and asked for a haircut like that.” She pointed at Elena. “My stylist said they don’t do such haircuts there.”
“In that case, I think I can help you,” Marco supplied strictly. “Come with me. And Elena, you too.”
Wordlessly, both of them followed him to the parking lot and sat inside the car. Elena knew well where they were headed while Maria was clueless. The car pulled up near the barbershop as Marco motioned both of them to step out. It was then Maria gulped in panic.
“And they know how to cut the hair short, unlike your preferred salon,” Marco finished the sentence for her. “Let’s get inside.”
Elena needed no encouragement having gone through the process almost two weeks ago. But it was Maria who needed the push. As three of them entered the shop, true fear gripped Maria’s bones as she stared at the big, sturdy barbershop chairs and different clippers hanging from the counter. Elena quietly sat down on the waiting bench.
“Al, this is Maria,” he introduced her. “She would be getting a haircut today.”
“Ah, I see. Up you go on the chair, young lady,” Al said and picked up the cape.
On wobbly legs, Maria gingerly strode to the chair and sat herself down. In a flash, she was caped, and her dark brown hair was unclipped from the tight bun, strewn across her the white cloth. She watched herself on the mirror being combed as tight knots started forming inside her stomach.
“And what are we doing today?” Al directly asked Marco for guidance, judging the situation.
“The same what you did for Elena, Al,” Marco replied.
“She had her hair cut here?!” The disbelief in Maria’s voice was evident, and Elena couldn’t stifle the chuckle.
“As a matter of fact, I did,” Elena said proudly, and then smiled at Al. “You are in good hands, Maria.”
Al picked up the clippers and gathered Maria’s hair with the other hand and asked, “Do you want me to turn the chair away? I don’t think you want to watch this.”
“I am fine,” she answered tersely, putting on a brave face.
“As you wish,” Al said, and unceremoniously turned the clippers as the metal teeth bit into the dark brown hair fisted in the barber’s hands. A matter of a few seconds and Maria’s hair was now roughly around a bob length.
“Oh, my God!” Maria gasped as her eyes glassed.
“Just getting started now,” the barber commented and quickly began to cut the hair at the back with clipper over comb. The comb plunged into her hair over the ears and methodically cut a chunk of hair exposing her ear on one side. The snipping movement sailed upwards as she watched in horror the hair being reduced to an inch in length. When the barber proceeded to shear the other side, Maria took out her hand from below the cape and touched the shorn portion on her head. Tears streamed down face as she sat there mourning the loss of her severed locks. Al worked quickly, and soon her haircut was reduced down to a longish boy-cut with an inch or so all over. He ran his finger, ruffling the cut to
“It’s over, it’s over,” she consoled herself, sniffing back the tears and feeling ashamed to be subjected to a punishment haircut.
She tried to stand on her feet, ready to leave the dreadful chair when Al’s firm grip on her shoulders pushed her back on the chair.
“I am not done with you yet, young lady!” he said with a measured toned of sternness.
“You heard Al, Maria,” Marco’s authoritative voice knocked all the air from her lungs. “You will only get up from the chair once Al says you’re done, and not a second before that.”
The barber clamped a hand on top of her head and pushed her chin down to her chest as the buzzing clippers mercilessly reduced her hair to a longish stubble at the back, followed by both the sides. He quickly wetted her hair on top and using a scissor-over-comb method, he reduced her the length on top to a very short crop.
Once her sides were tapered, hairline shaved, and style was set – Al released her from the chair. Maria looked at herself in the mirror, unbelievingly, and finally understood the penance of subjecting another person to her crude comments. She walked back to the waiting chairs, head bowed.
“Do you have anything to say to Elena, Maria?” Marco asked.
Sniffling, she apologized, “I am sorry. I shouldn’t have behaved like that with you.”
“It’s ok, I understand,” Elena told her.
“Next!” the barber called out.
Marco was about to say something, but Elena stood up bravely and faced him. “I think the two weeks are over, Sir. I would like that follow-up haircut now.” Marco smiled at her and nodded.
When she settled herself on that barber chair again and caped down quickly, Al asked her directly this time, “Do you want me to clean up the same way as the last time?”
She gripped the handles tightly and replied, surprising herself, “I would like something shorter this time.”
“Ah! Someone’s loving her short hair a bit too much,” Al laughed and told Marco.
Right on cue, Marco strolled closer to the chair. He ran his calloused fingers through the two-week growth on her head, assessing the cut. “Al, why don’t you take her down to the wood? It will be pretty low maintenance for the longest time,” Marco suggested.
“Excellent option!” Al chimed and proceeded to pick up the biggest clipper from the rack.
“Elena, would you be okay with that? It’s a pretty extreme cut, girlie. But I think you will rock it like a diva,” Marco told her, cupping her chin gently.
Elena had no idea what it means to be taken to the wood, but like always, she trusted Marco.
She smiled. “Yes, Sir, I am more than sure if you’re okay with it.”
“That’s a girl!” Marco praised.
When Al turned on the clippers, the buzzing sounded menacing to everyone’s ears. He turned the chair around so Elena would face Marco rather than the mirror and ordered her, “Close your eyes now.”
Once she did, he hooked a hand below her jaw to hold her and brought the clippers directly on her forehead. While Elena glanced directly at Marco, Maria’s eyes widened in horror, even though it wasn’t happening to her.
The clippers sailed through the middle of her crown, leaving behind nothing but a clean swath in its wake. Meticulously, it made pass after pass as mounds of short sable-colored hair fell on the cape and some collected near her feet.
“Oh, my God!” Maria whispered to herself – both in dread and thrill.
By now, Elena had a vague idea of how she was being shorn to nothing, but she couldn’t care less. Instead, she began to enjoy the vibrating clippers against her scalp and the gentle caress of hair tumbling down her face and to the cape. The top and front were reduced down to nothing as the barber pushed her head down and peeled away the last traces of hair on her head. Once he released her head, Marco took her hand and made her rubbed the coarse stubble on her head.
“Wow!” Elena mouthed – surprised and excited like a kid.
“Do you like it?” Marco asked.
“I love this, actually,” she said and faced the mirror. Her features stood out beautifully along with her courage. “It feels very light-headed. Sir, I would like to keep this cut so that I won’t have to worry about headache anymore.”
“In that case, I can buzz your head with a 0000 clipper every two weeks.”
“I’d love that!” She grinned.
Once Marco paid Al, and three of them left the shop, Maria came up beside Elena. “I am sorry for what I’ve said earlier. You are really brave. I don’t think I’d ever muster up courage for that. I can hardly believe that I received a haircut in a barbershop.”
“It does feel overwhelming at first, I agree. When Sir hauled me here, I almost lost my nerves and cried. But it feels amazing once you get used to the short hair, and you won’t like it long anymore.”
“Is that why you went…bald?” Maria whispered the word ‘bald’ like an omen.
Elena laughed. “I guess. I get a bad headache, and I don’t that to interfere with my practice sessions. It’s just a small sacrifice for boxing, to be honest.”
“That’s really bold of you, Elena.”
“Wait a couple of weeks, you might want to try out this,” Elena said with a wink.
“Oh, Gosh. I’d probably start crying.”
THREE WEEKS LATER
Three weeks later, Elena walked up to Marco at the breakfast table with her pleading doe eyes. “Sir, the hair…umm…it’s kinda weird now.”
Marco chuckled as he rubbed the grown stubble on her head which felt quite coarser now. “Set a stool in the kitchen, little girl. I will be joining you in a moment.”
Elena quickly did as she was told and when Marco strode inside the kitchen, he found her obediently sitting on the stool. He wrapped a white towel around her like a cape and picked up the clippers from the home-barbering kit.
SNAP. CLICK. BUZZ.
The sound, although familiar, made Elena squirm in her seat instantly.
“Sit still, little girl,” Marco ordered, and clasped a firm grip on her head and slightly wrenched it to the side. He ran the clippers deftly, beginning from one side of her head, and then made his way tightly towards the middle and then the rest of the portion. Small tufts of hair flew everywhere and also itched her sensitive neck. The first time it unnerved her slightly, but she loved the way how liberating it felt.
“There you go! Down to the wood,” Marco announced, switching off the humming clippers in his hands.
Awestruck, she ran her fingers over the shorn scalp, feeling the light stubble as Marco dusted off the snippets of hair from her neck.
“Thank you so much,” Elena said as she hugged her trainer-cum-legal guardian.
“Let’s keep you scalped every two-three weeks until you are okay with growing out your hair again,” Marco said, brushing away the small tufts of hairs around her nose and cheeks.
Elena was beaming. “Perfect, Sir.”
Please let me know in the comments below about your thoughts on the story.