Anew

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“I messed up. I’m sorry.”

Victoria sighed as she pressed send, immediately tossing the phone onto the coffee table. She crashed back into the couch, shielding her eyes with her palms in shame. She didn’t even know if it was going to work— she just knew she had to get it out somewhere, and this was the closest thing she could get to.

After what seemed like an eternity she heard the message tone, and she almost instantly bolted up. Wiping a tear off her eye, she cautiously picked up the phone, expecting the worst.

“What happened this time?”

Victoria bit her lip when she saw the text, muddled in its coldness. Perhaps she had to be thankful there was even a response.

“It’s over. Tristan and I broke up.”

Three days ago, to be exact— but Victoria didn’t think the details mattered too much, at least for now. She waited with bated breath as her phone remained on the chat window, watching for any movement. She sniffled a breath, holding it as the “Typing” signal came on.

“Do you want me to come over?”

“Yes, please.”

Victoria heaved out her relief, at least heartened that her desperation could bear some fruit. After a miserable three days of lying in a rut, maybe things were going to start looking up. But she knew this was going to come at a cost. 

It didn’t take long before Victoria heard the knock at the door. She speedily cleaned up the loose tissues that were strewn all around, shoving them into the bin before trying to stand tall for her guest. With a deep breath, she reached for the handle.

“Reese,” Victoria greeted the woman.

“Victoria,” she returned the greeting in a lukewarm manner.

It had been a while since Victoria had seen her, but she still seemed like the same old Reese— still with her black, edgy bowl cut, clad in her black leather jacket and skinny jeans, and forever with her trusty Doc Martens. There was a comfort to it, knowing that Reese still had the same vibe she always carried.

“Come in,” Victoria nudged her head, beckoning Reese in.

Reese gave a light nod as she ambled into the apartment. She gave the apartment a quick scan as Victoria shut the door behind her. 

“My god, this place is a me-“

Reese gasped as Victoria crashed into her with a tight hug. She awkwardly stood there as Victoria clutched, holding on for dear life. “I’m so fucking sorry,” Reese heard the muffled apology from her shoulder.

Reese let out a sharp sigh, then slowly embraced the hug. “It’s okay,” she assured with a few pats on the back. 

“I should’ve listened to you. I should’ve seen it. I fucked up. I don’t know why I thought it was ever going anywhere with him,” Victoria continued through tears.  

“I told you I had bad vibes about him from the start, and I’m never wrong about it,” Reese chided. “No self-respecting partner would ever try to stop you from seeing your friends.”

“I know, I know. I never should’ve listened to him.”

“There there,” Reese gave a few last pats before slowly detracting. Victoria’s eyes were swollen with regret, and Reese couldn’t help but feel a tinge of pity. “Here, I got you your favourite,” Reese said as she fished out a little paper bag from her tote bag. “Raspberry Jam, from J.Co. Unless Tristan made you change your favourite donut too?”

Victoria grinned through the sharp remark, meekly accepting the donut. “You remembered. Thank you,” she said as she slowly sat down on the couch to take a bite.

“Of course I do. That’s what friends are for— remembering favourite donuts and being thrown aside,” Reese coldly shot as she took a seat beside Victoria. “What was the final straw?”

“He said me doing postgrad’s a huge waste of time, and that I should just drop it and find a job.”

“Ooh, yeah, if you didn’t see that one then I really wouldn’t know how to help you,” Reese expressed.

And so Victoria spent the next hour or so just pouring out— detailing the last few months and how it just got from bad to worse with Tristan. Reese listened attentively as she helped to console her friend. Peculiarly, she realised that Victoria wasn’t exactly crying over Tristan. She seemed to be more upset at herself— upset that she ever went down such a path, and that she had wasted so much of her time seeking love from someone that was going to give her so little. Victoria wasn’t miserable with sorrow, but regret.

“Now that you’re not together with him I have every excuse to say everything I hated about him, right?” Reese slotted in after Victoria seemed to have poured out sufficiently.

Victoria looked on apprehensively for a second, then nodded.

“Great, because my god, what a bland ass straight man that wanker was. ‘Oh, look at me, I’m Tristan, I’m mildly attractive, I’m such a nice guy, but please ignore the fact that I’m an asshat to your other friends’,” Reese mocked. Victoria was taken aback as she stopped munching on the donut. She knew Reese wasn’t a fan of Tristan, but she didn’t think she loathed him the way she seemed to be right now. 

“You remember when you told me about how he didn’t really like that you were dressing really queer at times?” Reese asked rhetorically. “My god, the way my blood boiled. The way he simply tolerated you being bisexual just because you were pretty to him. Don’t get me started on the biphobic shit he’s said. Fuck, he could never understand our struggles.”

Victoria’s lips became a thin line as she listened. As awful as the things Tristan did sounded, there wasn’t a single lie coming out of Reese’s mouth. Victoria had put up with all of it— the cumulative rounds of manipulation, the side remarks of disapproval, and of course, the flat out dislike of the company she had. Victoria had wanted to please him, and even tried to distance herself away from Reese just so he wouldn’t complain. Why in the world did she give up so much for just that one guy?

She’d been so smitten, wanting to do everything just to make it work out. Tristan was her first, and there was just something about it that made Victoria want it to be the one so badly. Everyone always talked about the disaster that was their first love, and Victoria didn’t want to be one of those. Maybe she wanted to prove everyone else wrong, or show them she could persist through. And through her stubbornness and the bridges she almost burnt, in a majestic stroke of irony, her failed relationship joins the collective of terrible first loves.

Every single shot Reese fired at her had been deserved, and Victoria could only grin and bear through it.

“How can I make this up to you?”

“Hm?” Reese’s eyebrow raised.

“I mean it,” Victoria said as she placed a hand on Reese’s arm. “I’ve done you so fucking wrong. I never should’ve left you aside. Let me make it up to you,” Victoria pleaded.

Reese looked right into her old friend’s eyes, scanning the desperation out of her. Truth be told, being tossed aside by her best friend for some pasty, straight boy had hurt. Reese was never the type to hold grudges, but what Victoria did stung badly. But it was over now, and Victoria was now the one at the mercy of her. She wanted to be angry, to be spiteful— but something wanted her to believe that this time it was going to be better. She had to make sure that this was going to be better.

“I’m going to make a phone call,” Reese simply said, rubbing the back of Victoria’s hand as she excused herself to the kitchen, far enough out of earshot. Victoria fiddled with her fingers as she waited, wondering what could possibly be on Reese’s mind. Who could she be calling? 

Her head almost immediately turned when she heard Reese’s footsteps come back into the living room. This time there was a small smile on Reese’s face. “You will make it up to me, and I know just the thing. Go get dressed. We’re going out. Make sure you wear something pretty.”

 

**

They’d been on the road for less than ten minutes, but Victoria was getting anxiously restless. Where could Reese have been taking her? With how determined Reese seemed to look, Victoria didn’t think this was going to be some fun shopping trip or a meal. This seemed… serious.

“Where are we going?” Victoria hazarded an ask.

“You’ll see soon, don’t worry,” again that smile appeared on Reese’s face with its sinister pinch to it. “Also, I love your top.”

“Thanks,” Victoria shyly said as she tucked a lock of her brown hair behind her ears, glancing down at the red-black vertical stripes that flamboyantly adorned her shirt. “Wait, you bought this shirt for me, didn’t you?”

“And Tristan didn’t really like that shirt, did he?” Reese shot back, clearly satisfied with the amount of Tristan hate she was able to offload that day. “Gay culture is so hard to be appreciated by the hets, I swear.”

“I know,” Victoria admitted in a whisper. She knew it was going to take some time for Reese to let out her frustration, but as the association with Tristan started fading away she thought joining the hate train didn’t seem too terrible.

Victoria remembered the first time she showed a picture of Tristan when the two had started dating, and the huge eyebrow raise she made. “Really? Him?” Reese was never one to hide her loathing for men. Fast forward about a year, and Victoria felt the same way— of all the things she changed so much for, it was for just him? 

“And here we are,” Reese soon announced as she pulled up into a parking spot by the street.

Victoria followed Reese’s line of vision to see what was outside the window. They’d parked at a street that Victoria recognised to be one that was not too far away from her university— if she recalled correctly there was a popular pizza place somewhere down the end of the street. It took a minute of her scanning the rest of the street to realise what had been right in front of the car window.

“Wait… isn’t this the place you get your hair done?” Victoria started piecing the plan together.

“Yep. And today, you’re getting yours cut there too,” Reese cheerily declared.

Oh, what?” Victoria looked at her friend with a dropped jaw. This was the atonement? A haircut? “Wait, didn’t you say the place is like a barbershop? And also, it looks kinda closed right now,” she tried to bargain.

“Oh yeah they’ve closed for the day. But lucky for you I’m great friends with one of their barbers, and she’s agreed to stay a while for your haircut. And yes, it’s a queer barbershop. It’s meant to be haircuts for anyone, so don’t worry too much,” Reese simply explained.

“I see,” Victoria could only say just as her hand instinctively began running through her straight, brown hair. 

“If there’s one thing I absolutely hated about Tristan, it’s that he made you grow your hair out,” Reese somberly said. “You haven’t had your hair cut at all ever since you started going out with him, right?”  

Victoria sighed, then nodded. Tristan had made plenty of remarks about liking girls with long hair better, and Victoria naturally took it to heart and skipped out on her usual salon visits. Her hair now reached just past her mid-back— the longest she ever had her hair in her life ever, though she had to admit it wasn’t in the healthiest state. She was hardly used to taking care of much longer hair.  

“I mean, you look great with any length of hair— but  long hair just isn’t you,” Reese continued. “After you grew out your bob that flame in you just seemed to… extinguish. That signature look just wasn’t there anymore. You literally could just be some girl next door.

“And so this is how you’re going to make it up to me, and also help yourself at the same time. You’re gonna ask Juliet to cut your hair the way it was before you got together with Tristan. That way I know you’re done with him, and hopefully it helps you get rid of the memory of him. Deal?” 

Victoria heaved a deep breath as she stroked her hair. She had to admit that Reese was right— her hair had lost the spark that it used to have. Growing it out just to look ultra feminine for Tristan had been such a pain, but that was all over now. It made sense to let go, but she didn’t think it was all going to be so sudden. “Deal,” she finally agreed.

“Great. Let’s go, I’ll introduce you two,” Reese remarked as she undid her seatbelt. The two left the car and headed straight for the door of the barbershop. Reese helped herself to opening the door despite the “Closed” sign that was already hung. The little bell on the door chimed as Reese held the door open for her friend. 

The barbershop seemed like one of those more modern ones Victoria had seen around the city, though it still had its charms of a classic barbershop. There were three vinyl barber chairs on one side of the room, each with wall mirrors affixed in front of them and a small dresser beside them. On the opposite side was a waiting bench, and the wall above it had all sorts of hairstyle posters. Straight ahead at the end was a counter with a cash register, and just beside it was a shampooing station. If there’s one thing that stood out to Victoria, it was the smell— there was no harsh scent of chemicals wafting about like in the salon she used to go to. Instead it smelt powdery, with a flowery hint to it.

“Juliet? You here?” Reese called out.

Almost instantly, a figure popped up from behind the counter. “Reese! Sorry about that, was looking for a product that’s buried down here,” the woman greeted before heading away from the counter.

As she moved closer, Victoria could get a closer look at Juliet: she wore a maroon long-sleeved turtleneck, along with a pair of black jeans and loafers. But what really stood out was her black hair— she sported one of those wavy shag mullets that had its longest layers to her chin, which gradually got shorter to become a wavy set of bangs that framed her face. Victoria had to admit— Juliet was stunning. 

Juliet and Reese got into an embrace, giving each other cheek-to-cheek kisses. “And you must be Victoria,” Juliet eventually said as she turned to the prime subject in the room. “I’m Juliet,” she introduced with a warm voice, extending a hand.

“It’s nice to meet you,” Victoria said as she shook the woman’s hand, being careful not to blush.

“I guess I’ll leave you two to it for now. I’ve gotta go make a long phone call to a client,” Reese notified. “Remember what we agreed: just like your old hair was,” she whispered to her friend. Victoria smiled, waving her friend farewell as she was left alone with the pretty barber lady. 

“Come, why don’t you have a seat and we can chat about your hair,” Juliet invited as she motioned her to the chair closest to the counter. Victoria accepted, lowering herself into the big, black chair. There was a foreign comfort to the chair, with its thick padding that salon chairs never had. She was now faced with her reflection, taking in the last few moments of seeing her hair being so long.

“So… let’s just say Reese told me a tiny bit about what’s going on,” Juliet started. 

“Did she, now?” Victoria hazarded a smile, knowing her friend’s tendency to spill a bit much more than she should. 

“I’m sorry about what happened,” Juliet expressed, making a pouty face.

“Thanks. It’s alright, really. I’m just… trying to move on now,” Victoria wistfully said, controlling her breaths.

“And a good haircut is a great way to start anew,” Juliet remarked as she tore off a piece of neck tissue from the dresser. 

She gathered up her customer’s hair, lifting it up and securing it with a claw clip. Juliet wrapped the neck tissue snugly around Victoria’s neck— something Victoria wasn’t used to. Juliet then went to unhook a clean, white cape from the wall. She shook it out before flinging it artfully over Victoria, letting it settle comfortably on her shoulders before securing it behind her neck. 

“So how would you like me to cut it today?” She asked the momentous question as she undid the claw clip, letting her customer’s hair spill behind her. Victoria didn’t know if this was meant to be a trick question— surely Reese must’ve briefed Juliet? Or was this meant to be a test of faith for Victoria? 

“I, uh, want it short,” Victoria started, the words not really rolling off her tongue so smoothly, “like how I used to have it. It was a sort of short bob, kind of around here?” She continued, gesturing to about just below her earlobes with her hand.

“Wow, you’ve grown it out quite a lot. Was it a sort of a-line bob that got shorter towards the back? Or just a simple all in one length type?” Juliet sought to clarify as she ran a comb through the locks to get a feel of it.

“One length, with…” Victoria trailed off, almost forgetting such a key part of her old look, though unsure whether she wanted to go back to it.

“Bangs?” Juliet seemed happy to say such a word, drawing a straight line across Victoria’s brows with a finger.

“Yeah,” Victoria sighingly said, remembering she had a deal to uphold fully. 

“One fun makeover, coming right up,” Juliet announced with a pat on Victoria’s shoulder before heading to the dresser. 

Juliet glossed through her tools, settling on her steel scissors and a set of hair clips. She returned to the woman in the chair, getting to work sectioning off her chestnut brown hair. Victoria watched as she secured the top layers with a few clips, while leaving the sides and back down. Juliet pushed the layers in the sides forward past her ears, leaving the back section as her primary focus.

“You ready?” She asked as she combed out the bottom layers, paying a brief glance to the girl in the mirror.

“Yeah,” Victoria tried to say resolutely, forcing a smile back to Juliet.

Victoria heard the opening of the shears as they were positioned around her neck, ready to kick off her transformation. Without delay, Juliet dove right in.

Snip snip snip snip

The sound filled the room in a steady harmony— a tune Victoria hadn’t heard in so long. She felt the hair being severed right off as Juliet combed down the loose hairs, spilling them onto the floor behind the chair. She unpinned the next layer at the back, aiming once more before continuing her stride.

Snip snip snip snip 

There was a calm rhythm to how Juliet worked— snipping away so much hair so gently before moving to the next section. She kept repeating this till the back was just about even, setting the benchmark length that the sides were probably soon to follow. Through the mirror, Victoria could hardly see much of a difference, save for a few loose locks that were caught visibly on her cape-covered shoulders. But there was definitely a hefty weight that seemed to have lightened off her head— a weight she dreadfully carried for over a year. 

When she was satisfied, Juliet moved on over to Victoria’s right. Just like the back, she started with the bottommost layers— laying it down as she aimed slightly above the jaw. Only this time, it was all in clear sight for Victoria. 

Snip snip snip

Victoria bit her tongue as she watched those chunks of her brown locks falling lifelessly onto the cape. The hair that was left behind was now just shy of her earlobes— just like it was before. Juliet kept at her work as she unpinned the next layer, continuing her patient snips as she slowly sculpted Victoria’s hair back to its original state. 

Victoria couldn’t help but feel a slight tinge of nervousness in the pit of her stomach— she’d gotten so used to her long hair that the thought of seeing her face so much more exposed was terrifying. But she had to admit that being in Juliet’s chair was… therapeutic. She didn’t know what to expect out of her first experience in a “barber’s” chair of sorts, but Juliet had been nothing more than welcoming to her. She was patient and gentle as she did her work, always so careful that she didn’t tug at Victoria’s hair uncomfortably. If anything, she seemed so much more professional than her previous stylist. 

Just as Juliet started working on the left side, Victoria knew she could leave her trust with her pretty barber. As the melodic snipping sounds continued through the air, Victoria couldn’t help but shut her eyes. For the first time in a long while, she felt at peace. Through the flurry of the breakup and the heightened emotions she had gone through the past month, there was finally a sense of serenity. Almost as if through chopping off her hair, she was shedding the pain that had built up in her, and it could finally be released.

Reese couldn’t have chosen a better form of atonement— this was one that just felt more right the longer Victoria sat in the chair. She had to become the best friend she once was, and letting go of the past year was the only way. Victoria quirked up a soft smile, thankful for Reese. Through the ups and downs of their friendship, Reese was always right— and for once Victoria was more than grateful for her being so right. 

Victoria abruptly opened her eyes when she felt the comb tugging down the section of hair in front of her face. Juliet was up close in front of her now, starting on that fateful last section. Her face was in full focus, and Victoria could only sit mesmerised as her barber began from the centre.

Snip snip snip

She skillfully blunt-cut the bangs as Victoria’s curtain was slowly peeled away. Every snip was careful and deliberate, and Victoria was in awe of the way Juliet worked. After what seemed like an eternity of enthrallment, she combed down the finalised bangs.

Then smiled.

“I can see why you’d want to go short again— it looks really good on you,” Juliet complimented.

She shimmied to the side to reveal the final look, and Victoria had to hold back her embarrassment when she realised she had been blushing at the compliment. 

What she saw in the mirror was her— that version of her from exactly a year ago before the drama and the fiasco. Just looking at that beautifully cut bob with the perfect bangs that framed her face— it felt as if that fire within her was reigniting again. 

She got a hand out from under the cape, running her fingers through her locks. It all felt so familiar— like she was coming back to the old self she once was. Victoria turned from side to side, absorbing in that mirror that seemed to have transported her back in time.

And then she sighed.

Was this what she wanted— to go back? Did she go through the tumultuous thunderstorms of the worst year of her life, only to want to escape back to an older time? She was looking at the spitting image of her old self, wondering if she was just going to end up back at square one. It was all a familiar sensation.

But it didn’t feel right.

“I know that look,” Juliet interrupted her client’s pondering, leaning against the wall beside the mirror with her arms crossed.

“What look?” Victoria wondered if Juliet secretly could read minds. Or maybe Victoria was just too readable. She hated how she seemed like such an open book at times (Reese’s words)— even if it was just the little ways she reacted. 

“Don’t worry,” Juliet assured as she returned to her position behind the chair, rolling up her sleeves determinedly to the elbow. She placed a hand on her client’s shoulder, giving a soft squeeze.“I know exactly what you want.”

Without another word, Juliet got her comb and scissors out once more. She combed out the section on Victoria’s right, lifting the hair out horizontally. She held them with her forefingers, just a couple inches shy from the scalp. 

Snip snip snip.

Victoria’s jaw dropped as she watched bundles of her hair simply severed, tumbling onto the cape as it joined the rest of her hair. Juliet didn’t spare a moment of hesitation— she repeated the same motion: combing out another chunk of hair, before decisively snipping right off

Victoria watched, completely transfixed. She was well aware that she never asked for this— but there was some inhibited part of her that felt that this was what she wanted. What she needed. Her hands went back under the cape, deftly clasped on her lap. There wasn’t a single part of her that wanted to stop Juliet.

There was a jump-started vigour to Juliet as she worked this time. She moved faster this time, but with a rawer energy to her. Victoria quietly observed as Juliet shaped the hair to her vision— swiftly moving across the sections and removing the bulk of what was left.

Her movement felt so… deliberate— as if she wanted Victoria to truly herself shedding her hair. Shedding the past year. And even shedding the older her. 

As her bob was snipped off so quickly, the image in the mirror evolved into something more foreign. Her ears were starting to get exposed, and her cheekbones were becoming an asset to be flaunted. This version of her was nothing like ever before— but she was excited to meet her. She closed her eyes once more, leaving all her trust in Juliet, and preserving the last surprise.

Juliet switched gears once the bulk of the bob was gone. She attacked the sides and back in a sweeping scissor-over-comb fashion— leaving the hair shorter on the bottom layers while keeping it longer towards the top. The snips were louder now being so close to Juliet’s ears, but they felt so addictive. 

Snip snip snip snip.

Victoria couldn’t remember when was the last time she felt this sort of excitement during a haircut. There was something about how Juliet just took over almost wordlessly that made it all so electrifying. 

After Juliet shaped the sides and back to her liking, she began combing out the hair on the crown. She combed out each section, leaving a generous few inches between her fingers and the scalp before routinely snipping away. Victoria could feel the little tufts of hair raining all around her, but nothing fazed her enough to want to open her eyes just yet. It was all going to be worth it. 

Juliet gradually moved from the back of the crown towards the front, and Victoria was curious to know what she had in store for the full bangs that still sat proudly above her brows. Soon enough Juliet was back in front of her client, combing out that last, crucial section. This time, instead of just leaving it down, she combed it upwards. With a few expert pointed snips, she began removing the bulk of the bangs whilst adding some artful texture to the final look. 

After the base look was done, she went back over the sides and back with her scissors— being extra sure that the final look would be nothing short of a masterpiece. Then Victoria heard a loud, high-pitched whirring coming to life.

“Clippers,” she thought as her nervous pit clashed with her excitement. But she kept herself steady— still with her eyes shut as Juliet finished her work.

The clippers ate at the hairline as Juliet manoeuvred them with precision— starting with the sideburns before holding down Victoria’s ears to shape around it, and finally the neckline. It felt like a vicious vacuum cleaner to her— tickling as it almost munched on her skin. 

The clippers soon came to a halt as well, and Juliet started ruffling through what was left of Victoria’s hair. “I… didn’t go too far, did I?” Juliet asked a little guiltily.

Victoria took that as the queue, and proceeded to open her eyes.

Her mouth went agape, looking at this completely different version that seemed to stare back at her. The sides and back of her hair were cropped so short, yet were so beautifully tapered as it went up. The top was a little longer, and her blunt bangs had given way to a cute, textured fringe that was about an inch above her brows.

She calmly got a hand out from under the cape, indulging her curiosity as she began running it through her hair. 

“Oh my god,” she whispered faintly, absolutely delighted with the way it felt on her hand. It had only been her first trip to Juliet, but Victoria knew she had outdone herself. But somehow she didn’t seem to know it.

It was almost as if the vigour within Juliet completely drained out when she finished— she seemed to be teetering as she watched Victoria inspect the final look. Like she was worried how she would feel about it. Victoria was just about to actually say something— to comfort her barber.

Ring

“My goodness, y’all wouldn’t believe the gall some clients have when they- oh my fucking god.”

Reese’s stark voice joining the room had alarmed the two girls— but it definitely wasn’t as much shock as what Reese had to be facing. 

“That’s… a lot of hair on the floor. What… happened?” Reese was now looking between the two of them, finding some sort of answer. 

Juliet still had that guilty look on her, and she seemed like she was about to confess to her scissor-happy-ness.

“I wanted it really short,” Victoria quickly spoke up.

She studied herself in the mirror, and she knew she wasn’t lying— even if it was a hindsight comment. This was a look she could get behind— not that long hair she had been keeping just for someone unworthy, and not the bob that was just another naive version of her. This was the new Victoria— the Victoria that had grown through the pain.

“We discussed it, and I let her have free reign,” she half-lied, giving a reassuring look to her barber through the corner of the mirror, who was cautiously smiling. “And I love it.”

“You do?” Juliet was shocked.

“Mhm,” Victoria fervently nodded, feeling super weird that her hair wasn’t long enough to bob along with her head anymore.

Juliet quietly let out a sigh of relief— trying to keep the cover of their little lie while Reese was still there. 

“Well, I love it too,” Reese happily complimented as she made herself comfortable in the adjacent barber chair. “I never thought you were one for really short hair, to be honest.”

“Me neither,” Victoria admitted, sparing a sneaky smile to the woman behind her that had started her down the path.

“Let me get this off you first,” Juliet said as she undid the cape and neck tissue. With a neck brush she dusted off the loose hairs that still clung to the skin, and Victoria couldn’t help but chuckle at how ticklish it felt on her neck. Juliet whisked off the cape with a flourish, sending the throngs of hair slithering down to join the rest of the severed hair below. “Let’s get you washed up, then I’ll style it for you,” Juliet invited with a pat on the shoulder. 

Victoria followed her to the wash basin by the counter, taking a seat before Juliet slowly guided her head back into the sink. She twisted the sink knob, and the warm water began flowing out— and goodness, was it divine on her scalp. 

Victoria lied down in pure bliss, enjoying that preview of her future showers. She surrendered herself to Juliet’s tender touch as she started massaging the shampoo in, being very careful not to let a single bit go close to her eyes. For her first experience with a barber, Victoria was definitely not expecting it to go so well. If anything, she was cherishing it so much more than those salon visits she used to do. 

She hadn’t even left the shop, but she was already looking forward to her next visit to Juliet.

The water was eventually shut off to her dismay, and maybe she pouted a little too obviously. Juliet wrapped Victoria’s head with a soft towel as she gently lifted her neck to let her sit up. After a minute of towel drying, she guided her back to the chair and got out the hair dryer. Victoria sat patiently as she watched Juliet carefully fiddle with the settings, then meticulously ran the heat through her partially wet hair— which she had to admit, actually looked really slick and cool. 

Juliet rubbed some product in as she finished up— tousling the hair here and there, and eventually deciding on just a simple left parting for the fringe. 

“How does that look?” Juliet asked as she stopped the hairdryer, a hopeful look in her eyes.

“It’s amazing,” Victoria wholeheartedly said. “It’s like you do magic,” she added, trying her best to make the other woman feel better after taking such a huge risk .

Oh, it’s nothing, really,” Juliet was all blushes now. After a few minor adjustments, she gave a rub on Victoria’s shoulders signaling to her she was all done.

Victoria slowly got to her feet, hanging onto the armrest as she remembered how lightheaded it was going to feel. She spent a few moments staring at herself in the mirror, turning from side to side as she ran her hands through it all. It was such a weird feeling, but she’d never felt so good in so long.

“I’m sorry it’s not exactly the way we planned initially,” Victoria made a cautious face as she moved towards Reese. “But it still counts cos I cut even more off, yeah?”

“Oh, definitely— this is way better. It really suits you,” Reese was all smiles.

Victoria immediately got into an embrace with her best friend, and this time Reese didn’t hesitate to return the gesture. “Thank you,” Victoria said, though she wasn’t sure if anything she did would ever be enough to show how much she was grateful. There were the friends that stuck with you through thick and thin— and then there were those like Reese that would physically pull you out of the mud no matter how tough it was. 

“You’re very welcome,” Reese said as she retracted. “So have you asked her out?” 

“I- what?” Victoria was taken aback. 

“What- you thought I just brought you here for a haircut? No no no, this isn’t over yet,” Reese had a determined look on her face. “She’s single and she’s perfect for you. Now go, ask her out,” she commanded. 

Victoria sighed, completely unprepared. She turned on her heel, clenching her teeth to summon that confidence as she faced the woman that was still sweeping up the loose hairs. She took a deep breath, realising she’s never actually been the one to make the first move before. Perhaps today was truly a day of change. 

“Juliet?” she called out to the pretty barber as she got closer. 

“Hey, what’s up?” Juliet turned to face her with a curious look. 

“Listen- uh, did you ever want to, maybe, uhm, have dinner sometime?” Victoria was surprised that the words could even escape her mouth that coherently. She’d say it was a C+ in terms of execution. 

Oh,” Juliet’s eyes widened, but in that sort of adorable surprise type of way. “I’d love to.” 

The butterflies fluttered more than ever in Victoria’s stomach, and she wasn’t sure if she would ever recover from this feeling. “I’ll call you,” Victoria said as nonchalantly as she could after they exchange numbers, sparing a smile before walking back to her best friend.

The two left the store, but they weren’t so quick to get back into the car. “Where are we going now?” Victoria asked a little annoyedly, wondering what else Reese was schemingly up to as she was being dragged by the arm. 

“We gotta find a spot with some bomb ass lighting,” Reese said, peering all around the area for a good background. “You need a nice debut picture of your hair. That’ll be the best ‘fuck you’ picture to post for Tristan to see.” 

 

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