Blossoming

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“Hello. Just one ahead of you.” He stops snipping as he regards me, flashing a brief yet welcoming smile. I see the little nametag on his black apron— ‘Harvey. He/Him’. “Hannah will probably be taking you,” he continues, gesturing to the other workstation before returning to his scissor work on the middle-aged man in his chair. 

She turns at the mention of her name, acknowledging me with her serious eyes. “Okay,” I affirmed, throwing a smile a little too late just as she returned her attention to the chair. I made my way to the waiting bench, taking a seat beside a young man who seemed more engrossed in his phone than my entrance. I heaved a sigh as I settled in— more than anything, just glad that I was away from the outside swelter.

Unfortunately the heat had already sunk a little into my skin, and my neck and head were starting to perspire a bit. I shut my eyes as I controlled my breaths, trying to regulate the myriad of things going through my mind as I started accepting my reality. Well, if it all worked out, I guess the heat wasn’t going to be too much of an issue anymore. After a few moments to compose myself I opened my eyes, finally able to start properly taking in the scene for what it was. 

This wasn’t my usual joint. There wasn’t a harsh stench of chemicals puncturing the air— instead there was a rather pleasant powdery smell that wafted. The space was smaller too with just two workstations, though they each seemed really cozy. Each comprised a chair with a wall length mirror directly in front of it, and beside each mirror was a small counter top with various sorts of tools— some familiar, and some I’d never seen before. The walls had a sort of wood-type wallpaper to it that gave a slightly vintage look, though they were all plastered with multitudes of pictures of hairstyles. The images varied— men’s, women’s, and some even rather gender neutral styles I’d say. 

My attention was grabbed away when I heard a small pop, followed by a humming sound. It came from Hannah’s chair, and I saw it— the clippers. She was confidently running them across the sides of the teenager’s head, whom I couldn’t quite pin a gender identity on. They seemed to be enjoying the process though, watching inches of their wavy hair being clipped off the sides so simply as short, blonde fuzz was being left behind. My heart rate accelerated ever so slightly observing the way Hannah worked the cordless clippers so effortlessly— those powerful blades shearing so much off in its wake. I’ve seen them used a few times before, but only ever for really short haircuts. And if all went according to plan today (that is, if I don’t become a fucking wuss at the last minute), I was well on my way to being very acquainted with them. 

And if Harvey’s words rang true, it was this confident wielder of the clippers who was going to be the architect of my upcoming change. Hannah was dashing, to say the least— clad in Doc Martens and scarlet plaid pants, paired with a simple black camisole that really showed off her armed assets. Her black apron was similar to Harvey’s, along with a matching pin like his, though hers read “Hannah. She/Her”. Her hair was in a shade of ebon as dark as night, styled in a short a-line bob with its longest section around her chin, arching towards the back as it showed off her buzzed nape so sleekly. She worked with poise, manoeuvring herself around the chair with grace as she nonchalantly stepped over the wavy locks she was shearing off so easily. There was a no-nonsense business— one that shook me, yet assured me. 

If there was someone I was going to put my faith in for what I had planned, it would definitely be her. 

From a rather oblique angle I could catch a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror— just enough to have a look at my face. My straight black hair was parted just off centre of my forehead, leaning to my left as I always did it, and it reached down to just past my shoulders where it had a slight twirl at the ends. Shampooing and conditioning this morning was quite the journey. There was a lot that was going through my mind as I gave it that last bit of love, cherishing the way it felt between my fingers. To say my hair wasn’t a source of my pride would be a blatant lie. Even when it wasn’t in its most glorious of lengths, it served me well. I remember when I had it cut to my collarbone a few months ago— how I wanted to tempt fate just a teensy bit and see what it would feel like to shed some length. 

And it looked amazing. I loved the way the long bob framed my face so elegantly, and the way it felt so light and freeing after I left the chair was something I could never forget. You could say it was my most drastic change. 

But truthfully? It didn’t feel quite as terrifying as I initially thought it would be. The loss was definitely felt— I’d snipped off a good six to seven inches of my hair so suddenly, given that it was a rather impulsive idea I had over a random weekend. But it still didn’t change much in the way of life, in a way. I was still brushing it the same way, shampooing and conditioning just as often, and even tying it up when I just needed to get it out of the way. It was a change, but I knew a proper thrill was going to need more. 

I snapped back when I heard the man beside me stand up, and I realised the chair closer to the window of the shop was now empty. Harvey spun the chair to him as he took a seat, running a finger through his brunette locks that were creeping past his ears if not tucked behind them. The cape was flung over him in a jiffy, and after a brief exchange between the two, Harvey got to work with the scissors. He started on the sides, using a scissor-over-comb technique as he rhythmically snipped away. Not long after the bell on the door chimed once more, marking the entrance of a woman.

“Hey you!” Harvey cheerily greeted. “Jamie not around today?”

“Oh, she’s just outside taking a call. She’ll be in when she’s done. Just one ahead of us?” She briefly glanced at the waiting area.

“Yep. It’ll either be Hannah or me taking you, depending on who wants to go first,” he said before returning to his snipping.

“Sweet,” the woman remarked before heading straight for a seat right beside me.

I hadn’t exactly planned on conversing with anyone, but she’d given me such a warm smile that it was hard not to return the gesture. She was quite the charmer, and I admired how her style wasn’t exactly the most feminine. Her hair was in a slicked back sort of bob with the longest layers slightly past her chin, along with a really fitting maroon blouse that was buttoned up just towards her sternum, teasing the fleshy skin underneath. Her chinos and loafers definitely completed the look— she seemed like she had just left the office for the day. 

“Haircut day, eh?” She broke the ice between us, probably realising I hadn’t exactly been occupying myself other than just observing much. “You go here often?”

I was tempted to lie, but I really didn’t know how awkward it could’ve turned out if Harvey or Hannah ended up listening to my fairy tales. “Nope. First time here,” I cautiously answered, though I knew full well this was going to be a gateway into conversation despite my intended aversion. 

“Ooh, that must be exciting,” she lit up like a candle, her body now angling towards me. “I’ve been going here for about a year now. My partner recommended the place, and I’ve been going with her ever since. I just love the way it’s so straightforward with haircuts. Too many of my old salon visits just had so much going on and were so much more expensive.” 

“Ohh, I see,” I replied with as genuine a smile as I could, unsure how exactly to proceed or add in to her experience. Should I tell her what I had planned? Would that make the conversation more ‘equal’? 

Luckily for me, she was the type to just go on and talk about her experiences with the shop— rambling about how easy it was for her and how she’d enjoy the quality time she had with her partner, having a sort of added bonding time. And frankly? I wasn’t going to complain in this scenario. “Kayla, by the way,” she eventually introduces herself midway through, extending a hand. I shook it, introducing myself as well. 

“Ooh, Hannah’s almost done. Seems like you might be getting her for your first haircut here,” Kayla seemed to sound a lot more excited about it than I was. 

“Is that a good thing?” I played along with an amused expression, wondering if I was going to learn anything new.

“They’re both great barbers,” she hushed into a whisper, “but if I had to choose a favourite, I’d say it’s her.” There was a sly smirk on her face as her eyes wandered to Hannah’s workstation. “She might look a little scary with the whole tough get-up, but no one ever leaves her chair looking bad. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her give a bad haircut.” I nodded along while trying to look impressed, glad most of my opinions were verified.

The bell on the door rang again, and this time a rather tall woman in a turquoise summer dress walked in. “Hey Harv, hey Hannah,” she gave the quickest ‘hello’ before heading straight for the waiting bench, taking her place directly beside Kayla. 

“Hey Jamie. Just one ahead of ya. Up to y’all who wants who,” Harvey repeated his same line, hardly taking a moment of focus away from the haircut he was giving. 

“Who do you want this time, babe?” She turned to Kayla, whose attention was now fully on her partner. 

“Hmm… I think maybe Hannah today,” Kayla requested as she snuggled into her partner’s arms. “I just wanna sit down a while more and chill first,” she added, before turning her gaze to me. A wry smile played on her lips, perhaps letting me know she was going to be the prime audience for my first haircut here. And it was to be a drastic one. It’s like she just knew something big was going to happen once I took the chair, though I guess it didn’t exactly come off as much of a surprise. No one ever really decides to just swap to a barbershop without something different in mind. I started twirling my hair for a bit, cherishing the last time I was going to be able to do it for a long time as the nerves started kicking in. Any minute now it was going to be my turn in Hannah’s chair, just like how I planned it all.

Almost as if Kayla was reading my thoughts, she nudged her head towards Hannah’s chair, where I could see the barberette wrapping up already. Hannah whisked the cape off her customer, sending the wavy locks tumbling forward to join its other severed brethren. The sheared blondie in the chair took a moment to themself, beaming as they rubbed their now-buzzed sides while the top was still a sizeable length that covered the ears partially. “Thank you so much, Hannah. It looks amazing,” they complimented, a more than genuine tone to their voice. For a brief moment I swore I saw Hannah’s tough guise lighten with a quick smile, but it almost immediately settled back down. “Just doing my job,” she humbly replied as her customer got out of the chair. 

The payment was made and they left with a wave, leaving Hannah to sweep the mess of waves that was left behind around the chair. A mess my locks were to join in a moment.  Hannah slung the cape over her forearm, then proceeded to give the chair a light dusting with a brush. And soon enough the empty chair was turned to face me— ready, and waiting.

“Next.” 

There was an air of command to her voice— one that I dare not disobey. I bolted out of the waiting bench as my knees started jellying on me, but I held firm. I wanted this. I began my march towards the chair, and it seemed like an eternity before I was in the close presence of my barberette for the day. Hannah still had that neutral face to her, but I was afraid it could’ve easily dissolved into one of discontent if I’d dallied. I climbed up the footrest then turned before slowly sinking myself into the seat— surrendering myself to those comfortably padded jaws that were to seal my fate. 

Kayla had been watching, of course— flashing her most encouraging smile as she probably realised the little hesitation I was showing. I could only return the favour for a brief second before the chair was spun to face the mirror. And there I was, seated right in Hannah’s chair while she stood so grandly beside it, probably already itching to get her hands on my hair and sign me off as just another mop to be shorn. 

Without as much as a warning she had gathered up my hair, pulling it back before twirling it in a swift motion onto the top of my head. She fished out a claw clip from her apron pocket, snapping it right onto the bundle of my locks to hold it all in place. She tore off a piece of tissue from a dispenser near the counter, then proceeded to wrap it around my neck snugly. She shook out the cape from her forearm, then flung it above the chair. The cape was larger than what I was used to— so large that it draped my bodice almost entirely with its pinstriped patterns of blue, red, and white as Hannah smoothed out the nylon, making sure it covered the entire chair save for my flats on the footrest. The cape felt heavier than the ones that were typically used in the salon, as if it was designed to catch the shorn locks rather than simply letting them slide off. I felt more trapped than ever, which excited me a little— there was no way out now, and I knew I had to go through with this. “Hannah, by the way,” she introduced herself as she secured the ends of the cape, then folded down the top half of the tissue so that it covered the neck of the cape.

I know, I was tempted to say, but she didn’t exactly look like she’d appreciate some dry humour. At least not so soon. Before I could even say anything she had proceeded to undo the clip, letting my hair spill down as the ends plopped onto the cape. “How would you like it cut?” She went straight to the point, clearly not interested in my name as she began combing out my hair— respecting the off-centre part I had come in with. 

Her straightforward nature probably would’ve taken most new customers by surprise, but I had expected it. I knew her, but not just in the “I heard of her” way she might be thinking. I took a deep breath, preparing myself as I hoped my tongue wouldn’t fumble at the most important moment this was all leading up to.

“Buzzcut, please.”

It seemed like everything in the shop went completely silent when I said those bold words. I’m sure I wasn’t loud enough for anyone other than Hannah to hear it, but the effect was certainly there as I felt my heart begin to race. I was met with slightly widened eyes— an unfamiliar look on Hannah. She had stopped combing now, and I could feel all her attention was directed right into my eyes through the mirror. 

“Are you sure?”

In hindsight, it sounded more like clarification rather than discouragement. But it threw me off. This wasn’t part of the script. Hannah wasn’t supposed to falter. This was a barberette I had been observing for weeks now, peering into the barbershop every chance I got from a bench near the shop that gave a perfect viewing angle. Every haircut she’d done had the shortest of consultation phases— one request from a customer, and then a nod or a quick affirmation from her before she started working. Her asking me if I was sure was… unprecedented. 

I’d been taken too much by surprise that I probably seemed like I, too, was unsure. But I couldn’t let that be how I was seen. “Yes!” I half-exclaimed quickly with a nod, looking right into her hazel eyes. “Buzzcut. All over.” My heart went into a jolt as I pushed the envelope enunciating those last few words— clearly not prepared for the way I would feel sounding so confident. If someone had told me about a year ago that I’d find myself all caped up in a barber chair, half-demanding a pretty barberette to buzz off my hair, I would’ve told them they were absolutely nuts. It’s amazing how much we can change in such a small amount of time. 

But I was really in it now, and the ball was in Hannah’s court. Please, please, don’t try to talk me out of this. I had planned this impulse all too well, and the last thing I needed was the one person I thought I could trust breaking my hopes so close to the finish line.

She raised a brow slightly, turning her attention back to my head of hair. She slowly went back to combing the hair though still silent, perhaps scheming. Was she about to discourage me? Suggest something else that wasn’t as drastic? 

“Okay.”

I let out a sigh of relief as quietly as I could, thankful. That might’ve gone differently than how I’d imagined it should’ve, but at least we’re getting somewhere. I’m going to get there. Who would’ve known that I’d feel more nervous about being denied something extreme rather than the actual extreme event itself.

She stepped forward, standing between me and the counter. “Did you know how short you want it? Like the numbers and stuff?”

Yes, thank goodness. This was the direction we were meant to go. This was right. This is how it was meant to progress. Of course I knew which number I wanted— I hadn’t spent the last week doing obsessive amounts of research over one small haircut just for nothing. “Number two, please,” I deftly requested. 

Again she gave that minuscule look of surprise, but it quickly toned back down. Perhaps she was starting to get used to my uncharacteristic confidence. Granted, it wasn’t every day some random woman you hadn’t ever seen before sits in your chair and asks you to cut it all off. Maybe she just needed some time to adjust. “Okay. Do you want me to blend the sides in to like a number 1? That way the sides don’t look as bulky,” she suggested, raising a hand to sort of demonstrate on the sides of her head. “You’ll see a bit more skin, but it’ll only be a week’s difference in growth.”

“Uh- Sure!” I agreed almost immediately, though only really hearing what she’d suggested after I opened my mouth. It wasn’t exactly what I had planned— this was more of a 2 by 1. I’d considered it initially, though I guess I was a little hesitant about seeing too much of my scalp on the sides. But I guess I was committed. Hannah sounded confident about it, and now I had to put my trust in her.

“Alright,” she said before finally turning her attention to her set of tools on the counter. 

It was done. I actually did it. I had picked up my guts and marched my way into the barbershop, sat myself in the chair and asked for what I wanted. I’d tap into my entire supply of confidence just for this day, but at what cost? Everything, I guess. But at the same time, nothing. Today I was going to lose so much, but gain everything in return. I mean, it’s just hair. Right? This was what I wanted. What I desired. And now that I’ve said all the right words, it was all out of my control. I set my hands neatly on my lap, knowing I wasn’t going to need to grip those armrests out of fear. There was no need to be afraid now. It had all been decided. Now it was only the path to acceptance. 

I watched as Hannah fiddled with her tools, though curiously she hadn’t gone to pick up the cordless clippers she had used on the previous client. Instead she unhooked a bigger, black one off a wall hook with a thick wire that was connected to a wall plug. These seemed like the more heavy duty ones— perhaps for the troublesome customers like me that wanted to get rid of so much in such little time. She fitted a rather thin clipper guard on its head, which I assumed was the #2. 

She returned to my side in no time, armed with the vicious implement. Once again she began parting my hair, making sure the sections on either side of the part were well-defined. I wasn’t so sure why she was obsessing too much over it— the part wasn’t going to matter at all when she’s done with me. When she was satisfied, she kept the comb back in her pocket, then turned her attention to the primary tool. 

Pop. Bzzzzz

I almost jumped hearing it come to life, completely unprepared for how much more menacing these clippers were going to sound. But I toughened up as she got closer to me, primed as ever to receive my haircut. I had thought she was at least going to ask me if I was ready— but no. Almost as if she was trying to atone for questioning my resolve, I watched as she brought the clippers towards the hairline on my forehead. Her right hand held the clippers in that inverted manner while the left raised the wire to make sure it wasn’t getting in the way. The butterflies in my stomach went berserk as she took a moment to position the blades to the right of my part, where the wider section of my hair was. 

Bzzzaaaaa.

The first pass felt like an eternity. My eyes were glued to the mirror, just watching the clippers sink past my hairline and into the crown. A path of tiny pricks of my hair were left in its wake, standing up so starkly compared to the ocean of hair that surrounded it for now— waiting for the rest of my head to succumb to its length. 

Bzzzaaaa. Bzzzzaaaa.

But Hannah wasted no time. She remained on the same side of the part, making quick passes from the front to the back of my head. I could only watch clearly with my left eye as torrents of hair rained down past the right side of my face— tumbling down to their despair onto my lap. This was it. There was no going back now. The adrenaline was coursing through my veins as I watched Hannah continue making pass after pass so smoothly, as more of my luscious locks began pooling on my lap into a mound. With how effortless Hannah moved, she made it seem like she shaved long hair every other day— and I was just going to be another victim.

Slowly but surely I was starting to see more of my scalp on my crown, which was decorated with that subtle shade of black stubble left behind. Hannah seemed to be keeping to that general right side of my head as she eventually transitioned to the sides. The clippers were manoeuvred around my right temples this time, sawing through the mane that still stuck to the scalp.

Bzzzaaaa. Bzzzzaaaa

The humming roared beside my ear as locks plopped onto my right shoulder, staying there so stubbornly as I started feeling the weight that I was losing. Hannah folded down my ear with her free hand as she directed the clippers with the other, making sure no nook or cranny was left unshorn. By the time she let go of my ear, there was not a single lock covering it— leaving it to poke out so oddly amidst the buzzed sides. She then tilted my head down slightly, starting her way up the right side of my nape. While I couldn’t watch the hair being peeled off, I could just feel the way it was being massacred by the blades. It tickled at times, especially when the stray hairs started gracing the back of my neck. 

It took me a while to truly settle in, but I had to admit that the clippers really grew on me. The way they just hummed and vibrated across my skin felt so comfy that I was starting to enjoy the process. And with the left side of my part still in its full glory, I knew there was still more than enough for me to savour. 

My head was soon tilted back up, and it was quite the comical sight to behold— more than one half of my head was neatly shorn down to a #2, while the other half was still completely intact with my ebon hair. Though I could only really enjoy the image for a few seconds. 

Bzzaaaa. Bzzzaaa.

Hannah zoomed the clippers right through my forehead, this time attacking the left side of my usual part. The rest of the locks on my crown began their descent, tickling my face as they fell in torrents to join the other remnants that lay so lifelessly on the cape, if not on the floor. By this time my lap was more than filled with my own tresses— an abstract mess of what used to be on my head that was painted like a mosaic. Years and years of care and love, just gone. 

And just like that, any evidence of my part was gone. Right there in the mirror was just that head of mine becoming even more unravelled as Hannah continued her work— still looking focused yet unbothered as ever. The woman that doubted my intentions was no more. She was committed now— committed to shearing me for it was my wish and command. Hannah had a reputation for not disappointing, and I was assured to know I wasn’t going to be an exception on her track record. 

Her clippers went through the left side of my head now, where the last bits of long hair were left. As the rest of my hair plunged down onto my shoulder, my other ear was left exposed as well. I never noticed how cute they were. I guess I was going to see much more of it now. I wondered what earrings I could pull off with such a bare look now.

It didn’t feel long before she started doing cleanup passes over my scalp, and I was beginning to accept the new me. A me without all that distracting hair, without the crowning glory of my life, without the “beauty” that everyone saw. I was simply mesmerised by this new image of me— the way this woman who was looking at me looked so foreign, yet unmistakably felt like me. 

I heard the clippers shut off for a moment, and I watched as Hannah flicked off the guard that was on the clippers. She immediately fixed on another guard like a gunner reloading, then restarted up the humming of the clippers. She went for my sides this time— shedding the bulk at the lower portions of my head. Little clippings of hair began raining this time, and it now left behind a much tighter stubble that really showed off my skin much clearer. Hannah was a lot more meticulous at this stage, making sure the lines and the blending she did were done smoothly. I was beginning to love the way she did my hair— even if she was quite literally shearing everything off. There was just something about being in Hannah’s chair that had an air of finality, yet security. Hell, I was already excited for the next time I could be her customer. 

With great precision she blended the sides and back to a soft number #1, and I could really see the way the cut was coming to shape so cleanly. The shortened sides really did make a sharp difference, and I was more than glad that I had agreed to Hannah’s suggestion. She soon flicked off the guard entirely, then began shaping up my  neckline and the sideburns. Her eyes were filled with pure concentration as she made sure the lines were perfect. God forbid anyone left her chair looking nothing short of perfect. 

Soon enough the clippers were shut off for good, and she went back to the counter to start dusting off the head of the clippers— a good cleaning after such heavy duty shearing was in order. While she was preoccupied, I took the opportunity to start looking at what was left. I felt like a malfunctioning bobblehead just cocking my head left, right, up, and down just trying to appreciate every angle of the buzzcut— with the biggest, dumbest smile on my face the whole time. This was what I wanted. There was absolutely no doubt about that. 

Hannah soon returned to my side, this time wielding a hand mirror. “Here’s the back,” she nonchalantly announced as she raised the mirror for me to see. I was just in love with how short the back looked with a neatly sculpted neckline, and don’t get me started on the way my neck was just so exposed now. I took her words as the cue as I got my hands out from under the cape excitedly, accidentally knocking over a few locks towards the ground. I sunk my hands into the new sea of buzz, and the rest was history. 

I had to stifle a moan when my fingers experienced those little pricks of hair. It was the most surreal feeling ever, having it just there all over my head now. A part of me nagged, wondering why I hadn’t done this sooner. But the other part of me was just grateful that I had actually done it— that I had just let everything go to take the plunge towards this new version of me. 

“I can take it shorter if you’d like,” Hannah snapped me out of my reverie with her suggestion, probably realising I had been enjoying myself for quite a while.

Oh, no no, it’s perfect. I love it at this length,” I swiftly replied as I slotted my hands back under the cape, though the idea was definitely playing in my head. “Thank you so much, Hannah. I really didn’t know how this was gonna turn out,” I admitted my reservations, “but you made sure it looked super good,” I finished with a compliment, trying to make eye contact with her now.

And just like she did with her previous customer, there was that faltering of her tough girl demeanour as I saw her crack the smallest of smiles— so adorable, and so pure. In the midst of it all, I could’ve sworn there was a hint of blushing on her cheeks as well. But it all turned back to neutral within a split second, though her soft expression will always be etched in my mind. “Just doing my job,” she replied as if on script before putting down the mirror. If there was one thing I was looking forward to coming back to, it was to see her smile so adorably again. 

Hannah went to pick up the neck brush from the counter, then proceeded to start dusting my head of stubble now that the cut was finalised. The bristles felt out of this world just tickling my head, and I couldn’t help but chuckle as she dusted away all over my head and neck. The fun was over a little too soon, and she started undoing the neck tissue and cape as she brushed the lower neck. With a flourish she whisked off the cape, and there I was to face myself with my whole outfit. Hannah thoroughly flicked the cape, and I watched as all those locks that were on my head not too long ago were sent to the ground, joining the mess of others’ hair on the barbershop floor— mine taking the bulk of it, of course.

I slowly got to my feet, feeling the most lightheaded I’d been in forever. I took a few more moments to myself in the mirror, just admiring that sleek new image of me. My eyes wandered to the edge of the mirror, where I suddenly remembered about the audience that was there the whole time. 

Directly to my right was Jamie all caped up, having her hair being snipped to about shoulder-length, while her face had a rather curious expression to it when she glanced to me. And right at the waiting bench was my prime audience, thrilled as ever. Kayla’s mouth seemed to be agape the whole time, absolutely stunned. She must’ve felt elated knowing her suspicions were right— that my first haircut was going to be something worth watching. I turned to face Kayla directly now, giving her a shy look. 

“Were you planning on keeping it this short?” I hear Hannah ask uncharacteristically. If there was something Hannah definitely never did, it was engage in much post-haircut chit chat. 

“Uhh,” I turned to face her as she was sweeping up my mess of hair that she had been shorn off not too long ago, “I… don’t know yet,” I confessed. Truly, coming here to take the plunge was the only thing on my mind. I hadn’t planned much further.

“Ohh, I see,” her face seemed a tad bit disappointed, and I couldn’t quite believe it. Was Hannah looking forward to cutting my hair again? “Well if you do wanna keep it short, I’d say come back in four weeks so it still looks sharp. But if you wanna grow it out, well, feel free to come back whenever the sides start bothering you,” she tried to keep her cool as she suggested.

“Will do. And don’t worry,” I continued, my hand nonchalantly going up to the back of my head to feel the cool stubble, “I’ll be back. Eventually.” 

There was the tiniest smirk playing on the edge of her lip, but she quickly turned her attention away as she put the broom aside. “That’ll be twenty, by the way,” she got back to business mode, her face back in neutral.

I slid her two twenties, whispering to her to “keep the change” as I gave the back of her palm a pat with my other hand. “Thank you so much, Hannah.” 

Before I could even let her react I pulled away, walking straight for the door. I waved goodbye to Kayla, who was still all smiles staring at my freshly buzzed head. “Looking good!” She called out to me as I pulled the door open.

“Thanks, Kayla,” I gave one last smile before I exited with my head held high. 

The way the wind greeted my newly exposed head was pure bliss— there was an indescribable thrill to having so much air gracing my head. I found myself just standing right outside the shop for a while, taking in every sensation as I felt reborn. Who knew a haircut could be so liberating? Granted, it was almost literally everything off, but it was still technically just a haircut. Anyone could sit in a chair one day and want it all off. Nothing’s ever really stopping them, except for themselves. But today I was my own ally rather than my own impediment. Today, I blossomed. 

Before I walked away, feeling hungry as ever after skipping breakfast out of nervousness, I paid the inside of the barbershop one last glance— where Kayla was now all caped up in Hannah’s chair. And if my mind wasn’t playing tricks on me, I could’ve sworn I saw her lips move in a way to request the unexpected.

“Just like hers.”

 

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