Bourne Academy 5 – The Buzz of Rebellion

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Lauren, Sara, and Suzanne were three best friends who attended The Bourne Academy. They had known each other since their first day of school and had been through everything together. But now, everything was different. A new headmistress, Heather Richards, had come to power just over a week earlier to turn around the fortunes of the once prestigious academy, and she had introduced a strict set of rules that controlled every aspect of the students’ lives.

One of the first policies she introduced was a regulation haircut for all students. Lauren and her friends were horrified at the thought of losing their long locks and having to conform to this severe and uniform look, but they could not see a way of directly opposing Heather Richards.

To enforce her new policy, Miss Richards had appointed an academy barber, Brenda Shearer. Brenda was an attractive but intimidating woman with extremely short black hair. She clearly took pleasure in cutting off the long hair of the students and giving them the regulation haircut. And with more than half of the students already conforming to this fresh look, it seemed that Miss Richards’ approach was rapidly gaining ground.

But not everyone was happy with these strict methods. Lauren and her friends were among the few older students who refused to cut their hair. Over the previous week, they had employed cunning ways to avoid the regulations. These included feigning illness and other devious ploys such as hiding in the bathrooms at their appointed haircut time. However, they knew that eventually their luck would run out. As the friends could not afford to oppose Miss Richards directly, they knew they had to find a way to get rid of both her and Ms Shearer.

= * = * =

One day, Lauren Townsend had had enough, so she called a secret meeting with Sara and Suzanne. Although Lauren had never been in any serious trouble with the academy, she was always at the centre of any mischievous events.

‘I’ve always had hair long enough to sit on, and I love it,’ Lauren admitted. ‘I don’t want that awful Shearer woman getting her hands on it and giving me one of those horrible bowlcuts. Do you?’

‘No!’ Lauren’s friends cried out in unison.

‘Exactly, and neither does anyone else, so I have a cunning plan to get rid of Richards and Shearer,’ Lauren proudly proclaimed. ‘For the greater good, we’ll shave our heads completely bald, take photos of each other, and send them to the governors, claiming those two women punished us.’

Sara and Suzanne looked at each other apprehensively, wondering if it might be a step too far. Then, under Lauren’s piercing stare, they both slowly nodded their agreement.

‘Cool.’ Lauren said. ‘We’ll meet outside Shearer’s study at 5.30.’

= * = * =

That evening, the three friends slipped into the barbershop, also known as Ms Shearer’s study, with Lauren leading the way. They quickly familiarised themselves with the room, shivering with fear when they spied the rail along one wall from which hung the hair that Ms Shearer had chopped off their fellow students.

‘For the greater good, girls,’ Lauren proclaimed, trying to sound heroic. ‘So, Sara, you can take the first turn in the chair.’

Sara tentatively perched on the barber’s chair while Lauren clumsily wrapped a white cape around her, before turning around to examine the various haircutting implements. ‘Suzanne, can you put her hair in a ponytail.’

Lauren took the large red hairclippers from a hook next to the mirror. They looked and felt heavy in her hand, but she decided they would be the best to get the job done efficiently and quickly.

She turned back around and observed Sara nervously looking at herself in the mirror. Suzanne had scraped her friend’s hip-length chestnut hair back from her face, and it was hanging down from the back of her head in a huge ponytail.

‘How does this work,’ Lauren murmured, fumbling with the unfamiliar hairclippers. She eventually located the switch, and a loud piercing whine filled the room. ‘Right, here goes.’

Without hesitation, Lauren drove the blade of the clippers into the hairline at Sara’s forehead and pushed backwards. ‘You do know what you’re doing, don’t you?’ Sara asked nervously as a white path of skin began to appear on her scalp.

‘Haven’t a clue,’ Lauren giggled, ‘but I thought if I use these to take all your hair if in one piece it will be quicker, and it does seem to be working.’

‘Quicker is good,’ Sara said, increasingly anxious, ‘as that will leave plenty of time to make sure you two are shaved as well.’

‘Right,’ Lauren mumbled with little conviction.

Suzanne looked on silently, looking horrified, as Lauren sheared her friend’s ponytail, slowly but surely, from her head.

Holding the ponytail vertically, Lauren moved to one side and forced the clippers through the hair over Sara’s ear. She moved to the other side and did the same. Finally, she stood behind Sara and repeatedly ran the blade up her neck and into the base of the ponytail until the whole thing came away in her hand.

‘Wow, you have so much hair,’ Lauren gushed, holding the ponytail up like a trophy, ‘and so heavy.’

‘Had!’ Sara stated regretfully, a tear forming in the corner of one eye.

‘For the greater good,’ Suzanne murmured unconvincingly.

Lauren tossed the hair onto the shelf under the mirror. ‘Right, there are a few little clumps of hair I missed so I’m going to have to run the hairclippers over your head just to even things up.’

‘Oh, right,’ Sara said, sounding unimpressed by the idea, ‘but be quick as we don’t have long for you and Suzanne to get shaved as well.’

Lauren ran the blade of the clippers back and forth a few times, critically examined Sara’s scalp with her fingers, then repeated the process. That continued through several more cycles.

‘Is there anything left to cut,’ Sara huffed, slowly realising that the reflection of the bald girl in front was, indeed, herself. ‘I’m bald,’ she asserted, disbelievingly.

‘Nearly,’ Lauren said, ‘but I’ll just use this shaver thing that barber uses to finish off the bowlcuts, just to make sure you’re completely bald.’

‘Well, hurry up,’ Sara urged, ‘otherwise we’ll run out of time.’

Suzanne, still silent, could not believe the bizarre conversation going on between her two friends. Furthermore, she struggled to believe the popular student with the easily identifiable hip-length hair was the one with a head resembling a billiard ball.

‘Wow, this is fun,’ Lauren giggled, clearly enjoying herself, as she guided the foil shaver repeatedly over her friend’s smooth scalp. Reluctantly, it seemed, she silenced the device. ‘There we are. Perfect. As bald as a baby’s bottom,’ she laughed, as she used soft cloth she had found to polish Sara’s white scalp to a gleaming shine.

‘You might not be saying that in a minute when it’s your turn,’ Sara hissed. ‘Now get this sheet thing off me and then -’

‘Suzanne, did you hear that?’ Lauren said anxiously, keeping her voice down. ‘I think I can hear someone in the corridor.’

‘I can’t hear anything,’ Sara remarked doubtfully, while Suzanne shrugged to suggest she might have done but she was unsure.

‘Come on, we need to go,’ Lauren insisted, dragging the cape from around Sara and deciding to leave her friend’s ponytail on the shelf and the clippings of her hair on the floor.

They quickly fled the barbershop, the only noise being Sara’s concerned murmurs about being unable to see or hear anyone. But her friends ignored her.

Sara was the only one of the friends who had been shaved and she had the nagging thought Lauren may have planned it that way all along. That way Lauren could make her protest but hang on to her own long hair.

= * = * =

The following day, the academy’s governors received the photos of a bald and shining Sara along with a note. Sara claimed that she had pretended to be ill to avoid receiving the regulation haircut and she was subsequently shaved as a punishment by Miss Richards and Ms Shearer when they found out. Donna Masters, the chairwoman of the Board of Governors, was furious. She had met with Heather Richards several days prior and the headmistress had reassured her that the methods she was employing were appropriate and sound.

Donna immediately marched over to the academy to confront the headmistress.

‘I thought we had an understanding after our last meeting,’ Donna Masters angrily yelled at the headmistress, across the large desk in her study. ‘Why are you ordering students to be shaved?’

‘I’m not,’ replied a stunned Heather, genuinely confused by the accusation.

The two women walked next door to see if Brenda Shearer, the barber, could contribute anything to conversation. ‘Poor thing,’ she smirked, when Donna showed her the picture of a bald Sara, ‘but I had nothing to do with it.’

The headmistress observed a huge ponytail on the shelf under the mirror whose length and colour had more than a passing resemblance to Sara’s former crowning glory. The snippets of hair around the barber’s chair appeared to have come from the same person.

Ms Shearer saw where Heather’s eyes had settled. ‘That’s nothing to with me. It was like that when I arrived five minutes ago.’

‘I don’t believe you would have done this without direct orders, Ms Shearer,’ Donna Masters sighed, resulting in a confident smirk from the barber, ‘so I believe, Miss Richards, you are both culpable. I shall be strongly recommending the Board of Governors that you are both dismissed with immediate effect.’

‘What?’ spat Ms Shearer.

‘Pardon?’ asked Miss Richards, a little more politely.

‘You heard,’ Donna Masters sneered. ‘I suggest you start getting your things together and … and, Ms Shearer, what do you think you’re doing? That laptop is academy property.’

Brenda, ignoring the Chairwoman of the Board of Governors, tapped away on the computer, much to the woman’s annoyance. She then turned the screen to face the other two women and they watched a video that Brenda had located.

Donna’s jaw dropped as she saw a white caped girl with a long ponytail sitting in the same room where the three women were standing in. The seated girl was having her hair clippered off by someone of the same age, while someone else looked on.

‘Security cameras,’ Ms Shearer smirked, pointing up to each corner of her study. ‘There’s valuable haircutting equipment in here.’ She did not add that the value of all the hair she had cut, far outweighed the cost of her hairclippers. She made a mental note to be more diligent with locking up her study when she popped out for a short while.

‘So, it appears that Sara was shaved by none other than Lauren and her sidekick, Suzanne,’ Heather Richards affirmed, her authoritative tone returning.

‘I sincerely apologise, ladies,’ Donna Masters said humbly, clearly embarrassed. ‘Please could we get those three students in here to explain themselves.’

= * = * = *

‘Lauren organised it to discredit Miss Richards and Ms Shearer, ma’am,’ Sara confirmed once she had seen the video footage, now happy to inform on her friend. After all, she had been the one they tricked into shaving her head the previous evening, while her friends still had their long hair.

The women listened to all three girls and, after a pause to digest all the information, Donna decided on a course of action. ‘Sara, it could be argued you were equally culpable in this incident. However, given they tricked you into allowing them to shave just you, I can be more lenient regarding your punishment. Miss Richards can decide what form that takes, in due course. Furthermore, you will be permitted to remain a student of the academy provided there are no similar incidents. However, Lauren and Suzanne, I have no option but to expel you.’

‘No!’ the two students wailed in unison, and their eyes reddened, with tears not being far away.

It was a solemn moment for all concerned and no one spoke for nearly half a minute. For the students, the overriding feeling was guilt, while for the adults it was a strong indication that Heather Richards’ approach to turning around the fortunes of the academy were not working. Even Ms Shearer’s customary smirk had left her lips, replaced by a scowl.

Sara broke the silence. ‘If Lauren and Suzanne agree,’ she grinned at Donna Masters, ‘we could shave them bald like me, and they can have the same punishment from Miss Richards as I’m getting … and then you could not expel them … er, ma’am.’

Lauren and Suzanne looked at each other, their red eyes widening with a powerful cocktail of fear and hope. ‘We’re really sorry,’ Lauren proclaimed, and Suzanne enthusiastically nodded her agreement. ‘We are prepared to be shaved bald like Sara and accept the same punishment as her … in part to prevent us from being expelled from this wonderful academy that is quickly improving under Miss Richards’ care,’ Lauren gushed, accompanied by more eager nods from Suzanne, ‘but, more importantly, to show our solidarity with our dear friend Sara.’

It was a particularly good speech and it sounded heartfelt. However, the three women, having heard tales about Lauren’s past behaviour, reserved judgement on its sincerity. After a moment of contemplation, they decided to give Lauren and Suzanne the benefit of the doubt.

‘I would like to shave these two up on stage,’ Brenda Shearer unsurprisingly stated, smirking at Lauren and Suzanne, ‘as an example to everyone else of what occurs when they behave without respect. However, I suspect that if we delay, they’ll find some way to wheedle out of being shaved and report us … to the court of human rights, or something,’ she joked, ‘so I suggest we shave them right here, right now.’

‘I agree,’ the headmistress confirmed.

The Head of the Board of governors also nodded her agreement, adding with an eager grin, ‘and we’ll be keen to bear witness.’

Ms Shearer looked down at Sara’s shining head. ‘And, given what your friends did, would you like to assist me, young lady?’

‘Would I!’ Sara giggled excitedly. ‘It would be my pleasure, ma’am.’

= * = * = *

Suzanne trudged towards the barber’s chair and fell back into it, flicking her waist-length black hair over the backrest. Sara skipped forward and quickly gathered the hair into a ponytail, while Ms Shearer covered Suzanne with a large white cape.

Sara eagerly took the hairclippers from the hook and looked to Ms Shearer for guidance. ‘Do it to her, just as she did it to you yesterday. Force the blade through the hair at the forehead, then around the ears and finally along the neck. Keep pushing into the base of her ponytail until you have severed it completely.’

The new assistant barber took to her role with far more enthusiasm than skill, so it took Sara longer than she might have expected to separate Suzanne from her hair. Suzanne was silent throughout the humbling process, looking down at the cape or keeping her eyes closed.

‘Wow, you had so much hair,’ Sara chuckled, paraphrasing the mocking words that her friends had used the previous evening. She held up the ponytail triumphantly before laying it next to hers on the shelf under the mirror. ‘Now, I’ll just clipper it all over to remove the bits I missed, and then use the foil shaver to get you totally smooth.’

‘Less of the commentary, Sara,’ Suzanne hissed, ‘and just get it over with.’

And Sara did. Before long, her friend’s head was as smooth as hers and gleaming brightly under the lights of the barbershop.

‘Nice job,’ Ms Shearer said, complimenting her unofficial apprentice, ‘and where do you think you are going young lady?’ she added, as she noted Lauren had edged towards the door of her study, unseen by the three women.

Sara had so captivated the attention of those present while shaving Suzanne, they had failed to notice Lauren edging towards the door and attempting to make escape with her hair intact.

Ms Shearer moved quickly to block the door. There would be no escape. Sheepishly, Lauren turned around and exchanged places with Suzanne in the barber’s chair.

‘One egg headed Lauren coming right up,’ Sara chuckled as she turned on the hairclippers, and the three older women, despite their habitually serious demeanour, could not stop themselves giggling.

As for Lauren, well, she took one final look of her long hair in the mirror as she awaited the blade of the hairclippers.

= * = * = *

With Board of Governors support and the growing trust of the students, Heather Richards’ methods had not only begun to turn the school’s fortunes around, but they were also changing the attitudes of even the most troublesome students.

And as for Lauren, Sara, and Suzanne, they had learned their lesson the hard way but sported their bald heads with courage, even if longed for the day when their hair would have grown long enough for Ms Shearer to give them the academy’s regulation bowlcut.

TO BE CONTINUED

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