An Innocent Online

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What is it with people? Before the advent of social media, the only opinions you tended to hear were those of people you knew. Now anybody and everybody feels that they have the right to say whatever they want to whomever they want. Who cares what they think?

I admit to using social media and to being fairly naive about technology. Maybe I should familiarise myself with labyrinthine privacy policies and settings, but why should I have to? Surely the default should be that you’re out until I let you in, not the other way round.

I made the mistake of getting a haircut and putting a little video on a well-known video site so that my friends could see me. I took the view that it was a haircut, of no interest to most people and probably of no interest to my friends either, even if they did make the effort to make polite noises. Wrong!

Somehow the parasites can sniff out the profile of an attractive woman and descend en mass to unleash their torment.

Some of the comments were polite. Most weren’t. Some were downright creepy.

Why should they care how I wear my hair? What do they get out of telling me it’s not short enough? What do they expect me to do when they say I should shave my head?

I did the only thing that I could. I took the video down.

Then I cried.

Then I closed my account.

I’m a forty-two year old woman. Divorced for seven years, single for three. I’m old enough to know better, to be able to deal with stuff, but not that. Not from strangers. Whatever happened to traditional perverts who whistled at you in the street, if you took their fancy? Suggestive whistling got banned, perverts got the internet. Perverts were unleashed!

I went upstairs to get dressed, ready to face the day.

I stood in front of the mirror and slipped my gown off my shoulders, revealing myself in all my “middle-aged” glory. I think I’ve done pretty well, on the whole. A selection of exercise DVDs have done wonders and spared me from joining a gym. The downside of that though, is that the chances of meeting a hunky man in my living room aren’t good, in comparison with a gym and its surroundings. Despite that, I’ve managed to keep my stomach in check, my boobs roughly where they’re supposed to be and am able to wear a bikini during the hours of daylight without embarrassment.

The hair that’s at the heart of this crisis is short and a rich chestnut colour (chemically assisted). It’s a sort of longish pixie, but much shorter than I’ve been before. It was a bob that brushed my collar, but my stylist talked me into trying something new to give me a bit of a boost. Note to self: don’t ever make even the slightest reference to your relationship status to your hairdresser! I couldn’t see any reason not to, and let her talk me into going properly dark from a sort of dark-blonde mediocrity and that’s when the trouble started. I was just too eager to show my friends.

The shower invigorated me, cleansed me of the negativity that had spewed from the internet. When I’d finished, I did my make-up and went downstairs in my bra and knickers. Because I could. It’s my house and I do what I want. Actually, that’s not strictly true. I wanted to be hugged and fucked, but had to settle for a second cup of coffee.

Salvation came when I checked my phone and saw a text from my friend Emma, asking if I was okay because she’d noticed that my online profile had disappeared.

I gave her a brief summary.

“Fuckers!” she texted back.

We agreed to go for lunch.

It was good to see her, good to be told in person that I looked like a million dollars (not that that’s worth as much as it used to be!). Emma and I are at ease in each other’s company, have been through our respective divorces together, hers more recent than mine. She’s a couple of years younger than me and got straight back in the saddle. I’m not sure that she didn’t have him waiting in the wings in the first place, but maybe she’s just lucky. And younger than me and more attractive than me. I needed to stop that. We chatted for a while, trying to avoid my withdrawal from “public life”, but knowing that we’d get there eventually.

‘Don’t take any notice of them’ Emma said, displaying a little of my outrage.

‘They might have a point though’ I ventured.

‘Who?’

‘The ones telling me to go shorter. Even I think that I look better with my hair shorter, so who’s to say it wouldn’t look better if I went a bit further?’

‘You don’t really think that, do you?’

‘My previous look didn’t exactly work did it? Fast track to shrivelled-up spinsterhood, that’s what it was’ I said dejectedly.

‘Jane! You can’t think like that!’

‘That’s what it feels like sometimes.’

‘Give it chance. You’ve only just had that done. Get yourself out there, let the world see you now!’

‘Yeah, who knows who could be waiting for me in the frozen-food aisle.’

‘You can do better than that. Take yourself off for a break. Go to a spa or something. There’s bound to be some buff executive who hasn’t tied his robe properly.’

‘That’s what I’ve got to look forward to? A quick shag in a leisure facility?’

‘Call it testing the water, if you like. Just a quick confidence boost. Go there, choose someone and get him into bed. That way you can say that you called the shots.’

‘So that makes it better, does it? Not quite so slutty, if it’s me that makes the first move.’

‘Not as slutty as just sitting there with a sign round your neck saying “Will fuck for food.”

‘You’re terrible, you know that!’ I chuckled.

‘Aren’t I, just!’

‘Maybe I don’t want that though. Maybe that’s why nothing’s happened for me since Colin.’

‘Colin. There’s a name to set your heart racing!’

‘Emma! He was very good to me ‘ I said, thinking back to the last guy that I tried to rekindle some romance with.

‘And where is he now? Married with a kid, no doubt.’

‘And what’s wrong with that?’

‘Nothing, if that’s what you want.’

We went round in circles for a while, going over old ground. It was good to talk to her, get some perspective on things. Considering she was the one who went from being married to being shacked up, almost without a pause for breath, she was proving quite an advocate for just doing what you want, and everyone else be damned.

‘Looks like I’m back to having that sign around my neck’ I laughed.

‘Why not just go wild for a bit?’

‘I’m not twenty anymore.’

‘Exactly. Just go for it, get it out of your system, why not?’

‘Because I’m a middle-aged woman?’ I objected.

‘So what? Just do it’ she urged.

‘Okay, I will’ I said. ‘All I have to do is define “it.”‘

‘Well, when you find the answer, let me know. Maybe I’ll want to give it a go.’

I raised my eyebrows. Perhaps all was not well in Emma’s world. I didn’t dig.

I left the restaurant much less agitated than when I’d come out, so it was a successful meet-up and a very pleasant lunch into the bargain. I wondered whether Emma had been talking about me all of that time or whether there was a little bit of projection going on. Did she want to have a last hurrah?

The shops held no interest for me. I’ve got more than enough clothes as it is. I strolled through town, watching people rather than anything meaningful. I made up little stories about them, based on appearances, expressions. Some you could tell were on a mission, head down, focussed. Some were just strollers, passing their time, waiting to meet a lover for lunch? A young woman came out of a shop in front of me, looked at her watch. Quickened her pace. She was my next subject. What could be so pressing? Where did she have to be? Who was she going to meet?

She wasn’t meeting anyone. She stopped outside a hair salon and opened the door. That’s why she was looking at her watch. A three o’clock appointment. I walked past, her image fresh in my mind. She had light blonde hair just below her shoulders. What was she going in for? Just a trim? A symbolic post break-up cut? Did he like her hair and she was cutting it off to spite him? How short would she go? As short as me?

I put a hand to my own hair and looked around. Nobody else was remotely interested in this dramatic microcosm. Nobody cared what she was about to do. I did. There was a coffee shop just across the road. I could sit in there and wait for her to come out, get a definitive answer. That was stupid. I carried on walking, but after meandering for twenty minutes or so, turned round and walked back to the coffee shop. At least now I wouldn’t look like a stalker. Forty minutes or so should see her close to being done. I ordered coffee.

I sat where I could see the salon door and pretended to be looking at my phone, rather than being engaged on a covert mission. A woman came out. Not “my” woman. This one didn’t look like she had an interesting tale to tell. I’d finished my coffee before the blonde came out. The break-up cut theory bit the dust. I struggled to see what it was that she’d had done. Looked like a waste of money to me. I ordered another coffee and just sat.

My mind turned to the comments on my video. At least the blonde wouldn’t be putting up a video of her hair cut. If she did, she’d deserve all the abuse she got, just for wasting people’s time. There’d be nothing worse than wasting a pervert’s valuable time while he looks at a video with a promising title, that actually delivers nothing of the sort. At least my hair cut was significant. I’d probably had more than half of my hair chopped off. My neck was exposed for the first time since I was a kid, not that anyone who didn’t know me would be aware of that. But it wasn’t enough for some of them.

They wanted me to shave my head. Why? What was in it for them?

It was time to go. There’s only so much coffee that you can drink.

I was just opening the door to leave the coffee shop when I saw a woman walking along the other side of the street. She went in to the hair salon. That wasn’t remarkable in itself, it was the fact that she’d got the shortest hair that I’d ever seen on a woman. In real life, that is. We’ve all see models and actresses who cut their hair off, but you don’t see it on real people. Not in my part of the world, anyway. If only I’d taken another couple of minutes over that last cup of coffee, I could’ve waited to see her come out. Too late.

I walked up to the end of the street again, thinking about that brief glimpse that I’d had, trying to get as much information from the memory as I could. She was neither young nor old. So not a punk and probably not age-related. She was well-dressed, confident, attractive as far as I could tell. She certainly had a decent figure, that much was obvious. I wondered if she’d fallen foul of the cyber-perverts!

I turned earlier than before, heading back towards the centre of the action. I couldn’t go into the coffee shop again, so I took great interest in the window displays of the shops opposite. I couldn’t see her in the reflection. It was too dark to make out much detail in the salon at that distance. It would alert me to someone coming or going, but that was about it. Again, I had to move on, for fear of raising suspicions. I’m not sure of what, but it starts to look weird if you stare at the same display for too long. I’d worked my way down to the end of the row of shops and turned to come back on the salon side, walking towards it. Before I’d gone too many steps, I saw the woman again. Looking exactly the way that she had when I saw her go in. What sort of salon was this? Somewhere that catered to the indecisive and the not-very-adventurous?

She was clutching a purse and went into a shop a couple of doors from the salon. My new destination! In another few yards I could see that it was a bakery. I had a sudden hankering for something sweet. I quickened my pace and went in. There were several customers ahead of her in the queue. For once, I was happy to wait. I looked at her more closely, looked at the back of her bristly head. It was so short, like a dark animal pelt. I’d been right about her figure. She was slim, curvy, good hips. My eyes went to the back of her head again. I wanted to see the front. What was she doing, going in to a hair salon and coming out again after a few minutes looking exactly the same? Did she? I tried to find evidence that she’d had even a light trim, but the hairs on the back of her neck suggested that it had either been a while since she’d had a haircut, or her stylist hadn’t trimmed her neck. I discounted that idea, which left only the first. It had been a while since she’d had a cut. How short had it been when it was fresh?

The answer hit me suddenly. She wasn’t a client, she was staff. It was so obvious!

She was being served. I watched. She paid and turned to leave. She was facing me, standing to one side, putting her change away in her purse. She was quite striking. With very little hair to distract the viewer, all attention fell to her features. Strong cheekbones, bright eyes. But then there were the watchers like me who’d only been drawn to her by her short hair. I could see her name badge. “Eve. Senior Stylist” it informed me. That told me all that I needed to know. She walked past me, tall, confident. That would be the heels.

It was my turn. I bought the wickedest looking cake that I could see. Something to look forward to when I got home. Not that I’m in the habit of piling down cream cakes, of course. I walked past the salon, memorising the number, repeating it under my breath like a lunatic until I could stop and key it into my phone. I sat on a bench to catch my breath. If I ever decided to change salon, I’d give them a call.

I’d been with Jeanette for several years. That’s why I trusted her when she suggested that I should go for something different and why I trust her to go further, if and when the time came.

I saved the number in my contacts. “Blades salon” I keyed. I looked at it. I hit “Save”. I looked at the screen. I hit “Call”.

‘Hello, “Blades”, how can I help you?’ the bright voice came out of the little speaker. I looked up guiltily. Could they see me sitting on the bench, phone to my ear?

‘Hi, sorry, I wanted to make an appointment please.’

‘Who do you normally see?’

‘I’ve not been to you before, but I was wondering if you could put me in with Eve, if possible.’

‘So someone’s recommended her? Great, that’s what we like to hear’ the voice said. That saved me the trouble of an outright lie. A minor deception is always best, if possible.

‘When were you thinking?’

‘Anytime from now. I can juggle things around to suit you’ I replied, ever accommodating. It was too late in the afternoon for her to have anything today, so I could always cancel it. Just the thrill of making the appointment was enough for now.

‘If you are able to make it, she’s back from her break in five minutes. She could take you then. It is just for a cut, isn’t it?’

That wasn’t what I expected.

‘Yes, just a cut, that’s it’ I replied.

‘I thought that one would be too soon’ she said.

‘No, I could do it’ I said quickly.

‘Really? That’s great’ the girl said. ‘You know where we are?’

Yep, I’m looking at the shop right now, I thought.

‘What’s the name, please?’

‘Jane. Jane Lee’ I said.

‘Right Jane, if you want to make your way to us, Eve’ll be right with you. See you soon.’

‘Thanks. Bye’ I said.

I looked down at my phone. What had I just done? I put the phone in my bag and got up. The bag containing my wonderful cake went into the bin to the side of the bench. I could hardly take it with me. I’d been looking forward to that! I set a course for the salon, walking slowly. As slow as a condemned man, walking to the gallows.

I opened the door and went in, to be greeted by the same bright voice that I’d just spoken to. Young, pretty, casually dressed in a stylish way. Exactly the sort of thing that every such establishment should have on the door.

‘Hi, I’m Jane. We just spoke’ I announced.

‘Hello there, welcome to “Blades”‘ she chirped. ‘Eve’s just on her way’ she added presciently.

I smiled my response.

Eve appeared, looking exactly as she had a few minutes ago in the bakery. If you hadn’t known that she’d just scoffed a cream cake with her tea, you’d be none the wiser.

‘Hi Jane, I’m Eve. Would you like to come on through’ she said. Her voice was warm, welcoming, enticing.

‘Thanks’ I said with a glance at the receptionist.

I followed her, admiring the way that her jeans clung to her, wondering how she could stand on those heels all day long.

‘Yvonne said that you’d been recommended’ she fished, stopping by a styling station.

‘I think she assumed that I had, because I asked for you by name’ I replied. She looked bemused. ‘It’s a long story, but I was in the bakery. I saw your name badge’ I said. She still looked bemused.

‘It really is a long story.’

‘You’d best sit down then’ she chuckled.

‘The short version is that I posted a video online of my new haircut last week. I got all manner of comments, some good, some not, some just plain weird’ I explained.

‘Don’t tell me…they told you that you should shave your head?’

‘How did you know?’

‘I’m a hairdresser. I look at stuff online to get ideas. You’d be surprised how many times that comes up.’

‘That makes me feel so much better.’

‘There’s an online community. They like that sort of thing. Some of them get a bit carried away. They’re not too popular with the others, because it’s like breaking cover and they’d rather that you didn’t know that they’re there.’

‘Ah I see.’

‘They’re harmless, as far as I know’ Eve replied.

‘It’s just a shock when you see something like that. I thought “how dare you!” when I saw what they’d written.’

‘That doesn’t explain why you’re here though.’

‘I’ve done the “locking myself in my bedroom” thing. I tried to think of what they could get out of it, why they do it. That led me to think that if I cut my hair again, but didn’t post it online, that I’d have won.’

‘I’m not sure it works like that’ she chuckled.

‘Well, that’s what I thought. And then I saw you.’

‘So you’ve rushed in to get your hair cut off, is that it?’

‘I suppose it’s got something to do with where I am with my life at the moment, but that really is a long story. Let’s just say that seeing you made me realise that they may have a point.’

‘Which is?’

‘Super short hair can look really good on the right person. I was hoping that you could tell me whether I’m one of them.’

‘So are you saying that you want to do it, or are you just looking for a consultation?’

‘That’s up to you’ I replied.

‘Well, if you want a lengthy consultation, I’d say you’re in the wrong place. I’ve seen enough already to know that you can carry off going shorter, so that’s what I’m going to do, unless you get up and leave’ she said.

‘So how short do you think would suit me?’

‘How short do you want to go?’

‘I don’t know, that’s just it.’

‘What’s stopping you? she asked. ‘Husband, boyfriend, girlfriend?’

‘Fear of ridicule, I think’ I replied.

‘Okay, well that’s four things we don’t have to worry about. There’s no significant other and no-one’s going to laugh at you, because you’ll look gorgeous.’

I’d fallen into the trap of disclosing too much, but an answer like that made it all worthwhile. I took a deep breath. Eve reached for a gown to cover me.

‘That makes it look like it’s happening’ I said, watching the gown settle around me.

‘It is.’

‘So what are you going to do?’

‘Well, there’s two ways that we can do this. You can tell me what you’d like me to do. Or…’

‘Or…’

‘I’ll just do what I want. Do what I think will look best for you. How does that sound?’

‘I like the idea of you deciding what’s best. I’d like to know what you think that is though, before you do it.’

I watched her reflection in the mirror. She looked pensive.

‘Okay. How about we say that I’ll tell you what I’m going to do, but you can’t back out. Otherwise we can just do this the normal way and you tell me what you’d like.’

‘Wow! That’s different’ I replied.

‘You’ve no idea what a dull day I’ve had. Everybody wants a trim. That’s what drove me to the bakery just now. I needed some excitement before the end of the day. If only I’d known that you were coming, I wouldn’t have had that eclair’ she joked.

‘If you hadn’t gone in there, I wouldn’t have seen your name badge and you’d just be on the come-down from a bakery-high.’

‘You’re right. Anyway, you’re officially the second highlight of my day, that’s why I think we should have a bit of fun.’

‘I’m pleased that I can be of service. If I can just get this straight though. I can either tell you what I want, or I’m at your mercy. You’ll tell me what you’re going to do and then you’ll do it, whether I like the sound of it or not.’

‘I think you’ll like it, if I’m what brought you in here.’

‘Promise?’

‘I can promise that I’ll like it, how about that?’

‘You’re not the one who has to live with it though.’

‘I could buy you a drink afterwards. That way I’d have to reflect on what I’ve done. How does that sound?’

‘If a man said that to me, he’d understand in no uncertain terms what I thought of his proposal.’

‘Is that a “yes”?’

‘I think it’s two “yesses”. To the haircut and to the drink afterwards. Some might say that I need both. I just hope that both turn out enjoyable.’

My mind was running ahead of me. What was I doing? What was I agreeing to? Was she going to make me look like a lesbian and then take me for a drink to celebrate a “conversion”? Truth be told, a “come-on” from a suspected lesbian was more than I’d got from anyone in quite a long time. It certainly promised a more enjoyable evening than Emma’s suggestion of booking in to a spa and jumping the first available guy.

‘Tell me’ I added.

She smiled and looked at me with those eyes of hers. They weren’t the lusting eyes of a man, they were kinder, full of promise, full of the unknown.

Well, just so that we’ve got something to look forward to, I think I see a bottle of wine in your future’ she said.

‘You’re such a tease’ I said, hoping that my impression of being in a secluded part of the salon was correct.

‘I hope so’ she replied.

‘What are you going to do?’

‘I’m going to make you into someone that I’d like to share a bottle of wine with.’

‘Which is?’

She reached down to the side of the styling station and unhooked a set of clippers, bringing them up slowly and deliberately, so that I could see them for what they were.

‘I’m going to shave your head’ she said in a tone of voice that has no place in a salon. It was sexy, alluring. Its message was anything but.

‘You’re just playing with me’ I said.

‘Not yet. Patience’ she said in a similar tone.

‘I don’t want to. I can’t’ I objected.

‘I think you want to. That’s why you’re here. Anyway, didn’t we decide it’s my choice?’

‘But like yours?’

‘Like I have mine for special occasions. Or for special people’ she purred.

‘So you go shorter than it is now?’

‘I’m going to start with these’ she said, holding the clippers up where I could see them. ‘And then I’m going to cover your head in shaving cream and shave you properly. And then I’m going to do it all over again, just to make sure that you’ve got nothing left’ she promised.

‘You do that yourself?’

‘Not all the time. But I’ll do it if you ask me to’ she replied.

‘I don’t think I can do it. I can’t be bald.’

‘You’ll be beautiful.’

‘I had hair to my shoulders last week’ I said, exaggerating slightly. Well, it was within touching distance of my shoulders.

‘And then you cut it. And now I’m cutting it some more’ she said, clicking the clippers into life.

I’m not really sure what I felt in that brief period while I watched the clippers approach. Certainly a good proportion of fear. Reluctance. Compulsion. Excitement. This was foreplay, even though neither of us had used that word. She’d been quite clear that she was coming on to me. She was taking me for a drink when we were done here. She’d made no secret of the fact that she was looking for more after the drink.

I thought back to when a guy had blindfolded me and tied my arms to the bedposts with silk scarves. He’d seemed like such an ordinary man, but he’d become a different animal once we’d been to bed the first time. I was nervous at being helpless. I had to lie there in the knowledge that he could do anything to me. Thankfully his imagination was limited, but even so. I was vulnerable, helpless and very turned-on by the whole thing. That was the last time that I saw him, so I never got to experience it again. Now here I was, restrained by an understanding with Eve. Our words had bound me, I’d given her control.

Time had slowed down while I watched the approach, but now it appeared to have sped up. The clippers swooped in, creating their own landing strip as they travelled across my head. Eve brushed her fingers across the path that she’d just cut, leaning in to me to blow the severed hair away. She blew gently in my ear.

‘Please just do it’ I begged quietly.

I couldn’t believe that this was happening in a salon where anybody could be watching.

‘I want you to remember this’ she said quietly.

‘I don’t think there’s much danger of me forgetting today’ I replied. ‘It’s not every day that I get my head shaved and propositioned by the woman who did it.’

‘You’re going to get more than propositioned, I promise you that’ she said, looking at me in the mirror.

‘You know that I’ve never done anything like this before, don’t you?’

‘That’s what’s making me so wet. Just thinking about what I’m going to show you’ she said.

There it was. Just in case there’d been any doubt. I looked at myself, half-shorn, precious hair tumbling with every movement. Much of what I could see was just dark stubble now. A sort of suede effect. I wanted to stroke it, just feel it, but was encased in the gown. I wondered what my ex-husband would say if he could see me now, being inducted into a different lifestyle. He’d liked long hair, a realisation that I only came to when his diminishing interest seemed to coincide with my decision to chop a few inches off, leaving my hair above my bra strap. He left me for a girl who had hair down to her mid-back and that told me everything. Maybe doing this would be the ultimate kick in the teeth for him, if only he cared.

Eve turned the clippers off. I looked at myself, as much skin visible on my scalp as hair.

‘That’s a number one. Your “new normal”‘ she said.

‘I thought you said you were shaving it’ I said, surprised at how I was clinging to the thought that this dusting of hair would be the end of the ordeal.

‘I am. I just wanted to show you how I want you, if we decide not to shave you sometimes.’

‘You’ve got it all planned out, haven’t you?’

‘Since I’m your new stylist, I like to let my clients know my vision for them’ she said.

I knew what was coming. She’d armed herself with a safety razor and a can of shaving foam. I closed my eyes at the first touch of her foamy fingertips. The sensation was fabulous. I just wanted to put my hand down my jeans. I could only guess at what she’d do to me when we were somewhere private. I opened my eyes. She was leaning over me, looking into mine. She smiled.

‘Now I’m going to shave you’ she said softly.

At that moment, I wanted nothing more.

I can’t really describe the sensations as she stroked the blade across me. I’m not good enough with words to do the experience justice. It was wonderful, even with the knowledge that she was stripping me of my hair, the knowledge that whatever happened, I’d have to face the world as a middle-aged woman with no hair. People’s perceptions of me would change, I wouldn’t be the Jane that they knew. What happened if this thing with Eve became more than a one-night stand? What would they think if I turned up at a get-together hand-in-hand with the woman who was right now turning me to liquid? I let the sensations wash over me.

Eve was true to her word and shaved me a second time, even though common sense said that she was wasting her time. What did I know? The sensation was just as wonderful, so I sat there and let it happen. The next treat was the dance of water jets over my scalp when she rinsed my head. I’d glanced at the pile of hair on the floor when I’d moved over to the basin. It meant nothing to me. Any regret was already gone.

‘I’d normally let the junior do the basin work, but I’m not sharing you’ she told me, letting the water caress my scalp. The softness of her fingers was replaced with the softness of a towel which she used to pat me dry. She was treating me as gently as if bathing a new-born, swaddling my scalp protectively.

She took the towel away and led me back to the styling station. I sat down and she stood behind me, a hand on each of my shoulders.

‘Meet the new “you”‘ she said, with a gentle squeeze of each shoulder. I brought a concealed hand up underneath the gown and made contact with her hand through the fabric barrier.

‘Hello “me”‘ I said.

‘Do you think you’ll like the new “you”?’

‘I need to get to know her. I think she’s going to be very different from the old “me”.’

‘Maybe we can get to know her together.’

‘I think I’d like that. I need that drink though’ I said.

She unfastened the gown and left me sitting there, looking just as I had when I’d first sat down, except for the fact that I was completely bald. I put a hand to my scalp, resisting the urge to recoil at the alien sensation. This was as strange as it was unexpected.

‘I can’t go just yet. Another twenty minutes or so, is that okay?’ she asked.

‘Maybe I’ll get a better offer in the meantime’ I replied with a smile. She frowned at me, putting her sad face on.

We exchanged phone numbers and she led me back to reception to pay. Stylist and client, nothing more. I saw surprise register momentarily on the receptionist’s face before she managed to suppress it. She took my money, complimented me and smiled. Eve was swallowed once more by the depths of the salon.

I took my first steps onto the street, moving away from the salon quickly, not wanting anyone to know that I’d just had it done. I was out of the protective cocoon, different, slightly uncertain. I took a deep breath, held my head up and stared the world right in the eye.

Eve met me by the bakery when she was able to get out. She didn’t stop walking, just closed the distance on me and took my hand, as if it was something that we did every day.

‘Hello, gorgeous’ she said.

‘You’re not so bad yourself’ I replied.

‘I thought you said you’d not been this side of the fence before.’

‘That doesn’t stop me appreciating a good thing when I see it.’

I’ll skip the “get to know you” part, in a corner of a quaint little pub. I’d been a bundle of nerves when we went up in the lift to Eve’s flat, but now I was luxuriating in her bath, all was well with my world. It was only a rental, but she was clearly someone who liked nice things. I’d checked for evidence of anyone else and having been assured that her previous squeeze had left a couple of months ago, I’d relaxed. Right now, I was relaxing in her large tub, leaning back against her while she held me. Her hands wandered, her fingers teased a preview of what was on offer when we got out.

She stood naked and dripping to let me look at her, let me get my head around the idea of what was in prospect. If anything, she was more impressive without any clothes than she’d been when I’d first seen her. Full boobs, hour-glass figure, flat stomach giving way to a manicured landing-strip, which yielded to bare pussy lips. She, in turn, was looking at me, mysterious, plotting. She smiled and turned away.

She opened the wall cabinet and took out a set of clippers, which were humming, even before she’d turned back to face me. There was that smile again and then the clippers were at the top of her pube-strip, pushing it downwards. It hadn’t been as wide as the clipper-head, so was swallowed in one go. The strip of hair became barely-there stubble, reducing the contrast with the perfectly-hairless flesh of her lips. She ran her index finger across the mown patch and then put the finger to her mouth, pensive for a moment. She turned to look in the mirror and without hesitation, ran the clippers across the top of her head.

I must have taken a sharp intake of breath, because she turned to me, clippers paused.

‘Don’t you want me bald?’ she asked.

‘I just want you’ I replied. She held the clippers out to me. I took them from her and looked at her. I wouldn’t be doing anything that she hadn’t already started. I tried to work out the best way to approach the job. Her sitting down, on the edge of the bath maybe? That would be no fun.

I moved behind her, indicating with a hand on her hip that I wanted her to face the full-length mirror. I pressed my body against hers, put an arm round her and with the other, raised the clippers to her head. I hoped that the clippers were designed so that they couldn’t cause injury, because my free hand was roaming and that was of more interest than finishing what she’d started. I widened the hairless strip with one hand while my other explored, enjoying her flat belly and then cupping her boobs in turn. Tentatively at first, and then squeezing, teasing her nipples. She was pressing her backside against me, but still fully aware of the need to position her head at critical points to make the job easier for me. My inquisitive hand left the relative safety of her boobs and moved downwards, through the harmless plateau of her middle and down into the badlands where I didn’t belong. Soft skin gave way to the slight roughness left by the clippers. My fingertip told me that it had encountered her slot and that it was going in. The terrain was getting soft, wet. My mind was telling me to draw back, at the same time as another part was telling me to press on into the undiscovered country that lay ahead.

I halted progress, leaving my hand moulded around her pussy, while I concentrated on finishing with the clippers. I didn’t think that I could wait if there was going to be a razor and shaving cream involved, but I did want the temporary finish to be as good as possible. I looked at her reflection to see her taking in everything that was going on.

I went over and over her scalp, concentrating on getting the angle right. The last thing I wanted to do was to gouge a chunk out of her scalp. I ran a hand over her head, trembling slightly at the change. The soft cushion had gone, to be replaced with a hint of what had been. I turned the clippers off and passed them forward to her, their work done. I looked over her shoulder at our reflection. It was almost as if I wasn’t there. If I angled myself just right, there was just this magnificent naked woman with a dark shadow on her head. At her groin, a hand that wasn’t hers shielded her from the curious.

‘You’re pretty good for a beginner’ she said.

I wasn’t sure if she was referring to my hairdressing skills or my attempt to explore her.

‘I like you without hair’ I told her.

‘Work doesn’t really like me doing it’ she said, running a hand over her head.

‘You didn’t have to.’

‘I wanted to do it for you’ she replied.

‘Thank you’ I said quietly.

She turned to face me, my hand losing its hold on her as she did so. She ran a hand over my head, looked deep into my eyes and sank gently to her knees. She was still for a moment, just looking at me, down there. She ran a finger over my shaven skin and leant in to kiss me. Her tongue touched my lips and my sojourn from everything that I knew was beginning.

I didn’t go home. I didn’t want to go home the next morning, but decided that I had to. We texted during the day like a couple of kids in the first flush of romance. I felt more alive than I had for years.

For a fleeting moment, I regretted not having access to social media. I wanted to tell the world, wanted to update my relationship status to ‘looks promising’ or whatever the nearest thing is. I texted Emma and arranged to meet for coffee. I gave her no advance notice of anything that had happened since we last saw each other. I’m sure she was wondering what we could possibly have to talk about that we hadn’t talked about the day before. She agreed to meet anyway.

I couldn’t get parked, so when I got to the coffee shop, she was already there. I’d texted to let her know, and our coffees were already sitting on the table when I walked in. I saw her from the door, engrossed in her phone. I took a deep breath and made my approach. She was still looking down.

‘Sorry I’m late, I don’t know why it’s so busy’ I said, sitting down.

‘Don’t worry about it’ she said, just putting the finishing touches to a text. She put the phone on the table and looked up. She stared at me. ‘OMFG!’ she said, a hand to her mouth. ‘Jane!’ she said.

‘I’m only a couple of minutes late. It’s not that dramatic’ I said with a smile.

‘Your hair! You did what they said.’

‘I didn’t do it for them’ I said.

I gave her an edited version of what had happened. In this version, I’d found a salon, told the stylist that I’d wanted to try something radical and this was the result.

‘But do you like it?’ she asked.

‘Yes’ I said, running a hand over my scalp. ‘It’s so liberating.’

‘You certainly seem much happier than yesterday. If that’s all it takes, I might have to give it a go myself’ she joked.

We drank our coffee and chatted for a minute, before she changed the subject.

‘It isn’t just your hair. There’s something else. What aren’t you telling me? You’ve met someone…’

‘I can’t hide anything from you, can I?’

‘Tell me. Tell me everything. Who is he? Where did you find him? Have you, you know, yet?’ she demanded with a broad grin.

I looked at her, tight lipped. I smiled at her, her frustration mounting. I took my phone from my bag and chose a picture. Just looking at it made me horny. I passed her the phone, watching for the moment when she saw the picture, watching for her reaction.

She looked up from the picture. Looked at me.

‘You sly old devil’ she said with a smile. ‘Looks to me like you’ve found somebody to make you happy at last’ she said.

I put a hand over hers.

‘Thank you. You’ve no idea how much that means to me.’

Emma questioned and probed, determined to find out as much as she could about what had led me to be sitting opposite her bald and with a girlfriend.

‘I don’t know if she is my girlfriend’ I said. ‘It’s early days.’

‘But you want her to be your girlfriend?’

‘I want to see her again, see what happens’ I replied.

‘What happens if a guy comes over and asks you out?’

I looked at her.

‘I don’t know’ I replied pensively.

‘You wouldn’t turn him down flat?’

‘I don’t know’ I replied.

‘So when are you seeing her again?’

‘Tonight’ I replied with a shy smile.

She looked deep into my eyes. ‘I don’t suppose she has a friend, does she?’ she asked, laughing.

It was my turn to return the gaze. ‘Had enough of Ian?’

‘The grass is always greener’ she replied.

‘You can’t seriously be thinking…?

‘I think he was a mistake. A rebound thing, you know. Seeing you so happy like this…’

‘You can’t throw everything away, just because I look happy.’

‘I think he’s got someone else’ she said, suddenly very serious.’

‘Emma, no’ I said, reaching across the table to take her hand.

‘I’ve known for a while, so this isn’t a sudden thing.’

‘What are you going to do?’

‘Kick him out. Start again’ she said calmly.

I squeezed her hand.

‘I’m so sorry’ I said.

‘So, if your new squeeze has any unattached mates, I’m ripe for conversion’ she chuckled. ‘Men! Can’t live with them, can live without them!’ she laughed.

‘I’m not sure that it works like that!’ I chuckled.

We talked around her situation for a while, forgetting all about the change in my life. I hugged her more tightly than I’ve ever hugged her when we parted. I wished her well and left her back at her car.

Eve picked up an my despondency when I went to her flat later and looked suitably concerned when I told her about Emma. She hugged me and Emma’s troubles slipped into the distance.

I kept in touch with Emma, mainly by text over the next few weeks. They traced the disintegration of her relationship and her tentative steps into a life without Ian. I tried to keep a distance, feeling guilty in a way that my new-found happiness seemed to trigger disaster in her life. I was also wary of any negativity from her life contaminating mine.

Eve and I seemed to go from strength to strength. I had embraced every part of my new life with her and found the confidence to tell the world that I was going to deal with it on my own terms. That meant that I was bald, had a girlfriend and was proud of both. I’d done enough moping around for the past couple of years, trying to find contentment within what was expected of me. Now I just did what I wanted and was never happier than when I could look down to see Eve busy between my legs. The salon relaxed their stance a little and whilst they said that they preferred Eve not to be bald, they were happy if she went shorter than when I first met her. She pushed the boundaries, taking the top right down and the sides as close as she could, leaving just enough to allow her to argue that she still had hair. I liked it, although not as much as when she was completely smooth. She gave me the choice of whether to grow mine out or not, but I just loved the whole experience of her shaving me so much, (and what came afterwards) that I resolved to stay bald.

It was probably six weeks since I’d “come out” to Emma before I saw her again. I was wary, trying to suppress the new-found “happy-go-lucky” aura that I revelled in these days. She’d sounded more positive in the recent texts that I’d got from her, but you never knew what someone would be like when you actually met them.

We met in the same coffee shop and clicked immediately. It was as if the recent uncertainty hadn’t happened.

‘You look happy’ I said. “Happier” would’ve been a better word, but I wanted to be positive.

‘Early days’ she replied dispassionately, before spilling the beans about the new man in her life.

‘I’m so happy for you’ I told her, reaching across the table to give her hand a little squeeze. I saw her take a breath.

‘There’s one thing’ she said hesitantly.

I formed an expression that told her that I was interested, and that she should tell me without further ado.

‘He wanted to know about my friends, so I showed him pictures on my phone. He saw your picture.’

‘So?’

‘A recent one.’

‘Okay.’

‘It was obvious that he liked it.’

‘That’s good to hear’ I said, all the while trying to guide her to the point of what she was trying to tell me. She took a breath.

‘He wants me to do it’ she said, with apparent relief. She sat back as if exhausted from the effort. Anyone would think that she’d just given birth.

‘So? Are you going to?’

‘I don’t know. That’s why I wanted to talk to you. I’m not sure if I like him THAT much.’

‘So don’t do it then’ I said, looking at her expensively-styled short ash-blonde hair.

She stared at me.

‘You look so good without hair. So confident.’

‘There’s no reason why you won’t too.’

We went in circles for the time it took to order and drink another cup of coffee. The conclusion? “New man” was history. The “Dear John” text composed and sent while we were sitting there. His resigned acceptance followed hard on the heels of Emma’s text.

After a respectable pause, a text from my phone made an appointment with Eve, who was between clients.

Emma looked worried.

‘Come with me? Please?’

‘Eve’ll look after you. I’ll be right here when you’re done.’

She looked at me intensely.

‘I can do this. I can do this’ she repeated quietly.

‘You’ve just broken up with your boyfriend, just think of it as an old-fashioned “break-up” cut’ I urged.

‘The haircut is more dramatic than the break-up deserves. That’s got to be the wimpiest break-up ever!’

‘I’m sure he’s heartbroken’ I said, without conviction.

‘He obviously couldn’t wait to be rid of me’ she chuckled.

‘Well then, off you go and get that man right out of your hair’ I instructed.

A final deep breath and she was gone, leaving me with empty cups and a sense of anticipation that surprised me. If I didn’t know better, I’d say that the thought of my friend getting her head shaved was rather arousing. I gathered my things and hurried out of the coffee shop.

By the time I got to Eve’s salon, Emma had gone through. Eve hadn’t been lying about being free right away. I smiled at the receptionist whose name I could never remember and went through the archway into the salon. My heart did a little jump when I saw Eve standing there with a hand on Emma’s shoulder, in animated conversation. She turned to look to see who was approaching and flashed me her killer smile. I returned it, feeling a little thrill to see her in her natural habitat, her short stubble coloured a rich mahogany, rather than the blonde that she’d sported in recent times. I still wasn’t sure what colour I preferred her, but the beauty of keeping your hair clippered was that anything you did with it was short-lived.

‘Hello you. Emma said you weren’t coming.’

‘I changed my mind. I thought that something as momentous as this just has to be documented for posterity’ I explained.

‘Better get your camera out then, because I’m raring to go’ Eve said. She gave Emma’s shoulder a squeeze, waiting for me to get them framed properly. Eve looked at me one last time and then flicked the clippers into life. Clippers that had given me so much pleasure.

I watched entranced as Eve lifted her left hand and ran it backwards from Emma’s forehead, sweeping her pristine blonde hair out of her face. Her right hand moved as if tethered to the left, bringing the clippers up and across the top of Emma’s head. Cherished, pampered tresses shifted backwards and tumbled onto Emma’s shoulders. I saw a little spasm move through her body, a little sob being stifled perhaps. I wanted to put my arm around her, but took my duties as recorder of history too seriously to do it. There’d be time enough afterwards.

Eve was ruthless, replacing glossy hair with bare scalp at a rate of knots. Over and over she went, possibly enjoying herself a little too much. I’d have to have words with her about that later. That said, I would’ve struggled to convince anyone that the dampness that I’d become aware of was unconnected to what I was seeing on m little screen.

I did my best to hold my phone steady, even as Eve was spreading shaving foam across Emma’s bare scalp. That was a feeling that I knew so well and I was only too well-aware of the pleasure that Eve got from doing it. There was something different about watching her do it for someone else, someone that we both knew so well. Was Emma able to enjoy it, despite the shock of being stripped of her hair? I hoped so. I also hoped that Eve would hurry up, because my arm was starting to ache from holding the phone. If only we’d planned this a little better!

When the shaving was finished, I had to lower the phone for a rest. I picked up developments when Emma was being rinsed off at the basin. Reclined, at the mercy of a beautiful lesbian. Oh! How I’d tease her when she’d had time to dwell on today’s events. It probably wasn’t fair to do it when the split from her boyfriend was less than an hour old.

I found this part of the process more arousing than the shaving, although there is something captivating by seeing that first cut, the leap into the unknown. An attractive woman almost fully reclined. Another leaning over her. The next obvious step is to get a leg over, but maybe that only happens in movies of a certain kind. I reminded myself that I was looking at my girlfriend and my best friend. That didn’t help.

Thankfully, Eve didn’t draw out the rinse process. Emma was right-way up again, curiosity and apprehension probably assualting her in equal measure. She stood up, pausing to be inspected by Eve, before turning to me.

‘You didn’t think I’d do it, did you?’ she said chirpily.

‘Neither did you’ I replied.

‘Well, if Eve had asked me if I was sure, I’d have run for the hills!’ she laughed.

‘You look good’ I told her.

‘Good enough to eat’ Eve chipped in with a smile.

‘Steady on’ Emma chuckled.

‘You know what she means’ I said.

‘I know exactly what she means and if you weren’t here, I might take her up on it’ Emma countered jovially.

‘Okay, ladies. I’ve got someone due in shortly, so if you’d like to take this outside’ Eve ushered.

‘Thank you’ I mouthed at her, brandishing my phone at her to confirm that I’d just made her a star in our world.

I gave her a little wave as I turned to follow Emma back to reception.

Once we were outside again, Emma turned to me and took both my hands in hers.

‘Thank you’ she said, leaning in to give me a peck on the cheek.

‘Where do you go from here?’ I asked.

‘Anywhere I damn well want. I’m bald and horny. I want to get used to the first one, I want to do something about the second. The sooner the better’ she laughed.

‘It really does suit you, you know’ I told her, trying to restore some decorum.

‘Why didn’t we do this before?’ she asked, unable to resist stroking her scalp.

‘I don’t know, but I can’t see myself ever having hair again.’

‘I can understand that now’ she said, fingertips still exploring her head. ‘I don’t suppose…I don’t suppose you and Eve can take me to one of your clubs?’

‘One of “our clubs”?

‘You know, where your sort go to hook up’ she said.

‘I so hope that you’re joking’ I said, not sure whether she was being serious or not.

She broke into a wide smile and nodded.

‘In that case, since you’re now “one of us”, I’ll have a word with Eve and tell her that there’s some fresh produce for this weekend’s meat market’ I said, returning her smile.

‘Wonderful, now let’s go and show the world what it’s been missing.’

 

One response to “An Innocent Online

  1. I really enjoyed this story. I liked the sexual awakening part, almost as much as the haircuts and shaving. I put myself in Jane’s shoes as I read this story, although I never had the courage to go glass bald, I’ve certainly come close. Well written and the concept is fresh and exciting.
    Claire (aka Dreadlocks)

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