Burnt Offerings

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Burnt Offerings

 

By Shorngirl

 

Prelude to a Disaster

 

It had been a long week. I was so ready for a night out with my friends, going so far as to purchase a new outfit so I looked my absolute best. Jenny, my closest friend, had made a promise to watch out for me, as I often overdid it with the drinks. I don’t really know what happens when I go out. All my good sense just seems to fly out the window.

Friday at five o’clock found me dashing through the door of my office, and down the stairs. My boss, Harriet Williams, had been especially harsh that week. Apparently, not only was my work substandard, but she swore she paid me too much, only to have me constantly primping.

I care about my looks, of that there was no doubt. I didn’t think I spent all that much time adjusting my hair or doing my makeup. According to Mrs. Williams, that was all I did.

“If you spent half as much time on your job as you did on that blonde mop of yours, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.” She had said, as she caught me emerging from the lady’s restroom. That was all behind me now, as I made my way to my car, and the weekend.

Jenny was early, as she always was, showing up at my house a full hour before I was ready. “You know, I still have another half hour for my hair to dry, Jen,” I complained, as she grabbed a glass of wine from the open bottle on the kitchen counter.

My hair was my pride and joy. Natural blonde and cascading to my waist, it was hell to take care of, but always the envy of everyone.

“You know, if you got a little cut off, it wouldn’t take nearly as long to dry,” Jenny said, knowing it would rub me the wrong way.

“I get it trimmed every month,” I admitted.

“What, an inch? I’m talking about a foot, at least, Lauren.” Jenny held her hands apart as an indication of length.

“Never gonna happen, Jen. I am my hair.” I insisted, and I meant it too.

“God forbid you ever go bald; it would be the end of you.” Jen stood and placed her wine glass on the coffee table while I excuse myself to style my hair, now that it was dry enough.

“Oh, my God, I’d just die.” Swirling the long tendrils around my Dyson Airwrap, sweeping the front back away from my face. When I had finished, it was honestly hard to pry myself away from the mirror.

“Come on, Laurie. We’re going to be the last ones at the bar.” Jen chortled.

“Aren’t we always?” I kidded, flipping my hair out of my face as I tossed my purse over my shoulder.

“Yeah, we are,” Jen said over her shoulder.

 

Kelsey’s Tavern

 

We both got the look as we walked up to the bar. “Where the hell have you guys been?” Mary asked, eyeing me and knowing that I was undoubtedly the culprit.

“Rapunzel here, had to dry her hair,” Jen instructed, turning me around as she tugged hard on my hair.

“Hey!” I chided, smoothing out the errant stands that had been pulled out of place. Jen gave me the evil eye, and I decided not to say anything more.

All was forgotten as the drinks started flowing. I was surprised that Jenny was not saying anything about the number of rum and cokes I was consuming. I was having a great time, but knew that I was well over my limit.

It was Friday night, and the place was hopping. All sorts of people I knew had shown up, most buying me drinks. I had a hard time turning them down when they were simply thrust into my empty hand.

I was wandering back from my third trip to the lady’s room when I finally ran into Jen, who seemed as straight as a vicar on Sunday.

“Hey, girlfriend.” I slurred. “I thought you were supposed to look out for me.”

“Really. I don’t remember you telling me that. Aren’t you having a good time?” Jenny smirked, seeing me sway on my feet.

“Well, yeah. Just make sure I don’t have too many more, okay?” I asked, as I took another sip from a fresh drink Mary had just handed me.

From that point on, the night was a blur. I knew that I had drunk too much, there was no doubt. I remembered being on the dance floor, falling on my ass on the dance floor, and then that was all.

 

The Morning After

 

My head was quite literally splitting, I was certain of it. I raised my hands to physically hold it together. ‘What on earth happened,’ I wondered. Slowly, I poured myself off of whatever surface I was on. I wasn’t even sure where I was. ‘Was I at home? How the hell did I get here?’

Suddenly, I felt my stomach revolt and in a moment of clarity realized that I was indeed at home. Dashing as quickly as my head would allow, I made it to the bathroom just in time to vomit in the sink.

I ran some cold water and splashed into my face, being careful not to touch the bowl of the sink which still contained my puke. I reached up to keep my hair from falling into it and caught the left side as it swung forward. It was only then that I realized something was horribly wrong.

My eyes were closed as I raised my head, afraid of what I might see, but my head started to spin so I was forced to open them. Where my hair once fell nearly to my belt, there were only jagged tufts that barely covered the top of my right ear. Someone had cut my hair! “Oh, Fuck!” I cried, trying to assess the damage.

The hair on the left was untouched, as was the back, but the right side had been massacred. To make matters worse, the shock of the whole thing sent me into dry heaves. I fell to my knees over the toilet until my stomach had had enough.

I don’t really remember getting back to bed, but that was where I found myself when my phone rang. The sound alone was enough to turn my sensitive stomach as I reached for it, if only to silence the damned thing.

“Hello?” I croaked, not recognizing my own voice.

“Laurie, are you okay?” Jen asked, honestly concerned.

“What the fuck happened last night, Jennifer?” I screamed, as forcefully as my head allowed.

“Then you don’t remember?” She asked.

“No. I don’t, thanks to you.” I scolded. “I thought you were supposed to keep me from drinking too much?”

“Laurie. I’m not your mom, okay. I got tired of playing your babysitter, you know?” She bit back, acerbically.

“Someone cut my hair. I mean they cut it, like, short, Jenny.” I cried, reaching up to feel the remains that tufted out from the side of my head. “It’s ruined.”

“I cut your hair, Laurie,” Jen admitted, quietly. “You really don’t remember anything, do you? You don’t remember leaning too close to a candle and having your precious hair catch on fire?”

Suddenly, I felt sick all over again. “I have to go, Jen. I’m sick.” I hung up the phone and quickly ran to the bathroom for another round of dry heaves, although this time it was limited to a few seconds and then subsided.

Moving back to the mirror, I examined the hair more closely. In and amongst the obvious scissor cuts were tightly spiraled bits that had obviously been singed. Jenny was telling the truth.

I managed to keep some Tylenol down with a few swallows of water, and slowly began to feel marginally better. That was when the doorbell rang. I was certainly not in the mood for visitors, but crept to the peephole to see who it was. Who else could it have been but Jenny?

I slowly opened the door, but Jen flew through and quickly scooped me into her arms. “I’m so sorry about last night, Laurie. I should have kept my promise to keep you out of trouble.” She offered. “You get so obstinate when you’re drunk.”

“Well, this is going to put me off drinking, for sure,” I said, and meant it.

“That actually might be a really good thing, seeing as you seem to have a penchant for overindulgence.” Jen led me over to the sofa and sat me down, examining the damage to my hair. “You’re going to have to even it up, you know.”

“I was thinking of a side shave, you know. Natalie Dormer pulled it off quite nicely.” I kidded. “I think my boss would have a heart attack if I came in like that.”

“Isn’t she always saying you should cut your hair more conservatively?” Jen asked, probably remembering my bitching over Mrs. Williams in the past. She had suggested such a thing, but I had never even considered it.

“Now, apparently, she’s going to get what she wanted, in spades.” I grimaced, pulling at the shocks of hair that remained.

“I think you’ll look stunning with short hair,” Jen said. I wasn’t sure if she was just being kind, or if she really meant it. “Are you up for something to eat?” She asked.

“To be perfectly honest, I don’t think I could manage.”

“How about I make some toast and tea. It always settles my stomach when I’m hungover.” Jen confessed.

“Hungover? I’ve never even seen you drunk.” I accused.

“I just hold it a bit better than you, is all.” She giggled, walking towards my kitchen.

I had to admit, the tea and toast went down well, and I eventually began to feel like a human being again.

“You know, unless you want to show up like that for work on Monday, we best go out and take care of that hair,” Jenny suggested.

I knew she was right. However attached I was to the rest of my hair, it was ludicrous to imagine keeping it with the one side cut so short. “I know you’re right. I’m just scared as shit.”

“I’ll come with you for moral support. Okay?” She offered.

 

Saturday at the Barbershop

 

         By the time we headed out, the only places open were a few local barbershops. Most of the salons were closed on the weekends, and the few that were open were by appointment only.

I’d never been in a barbershop before. So, when we walked through the door, I immediately felt out of place. That feeling was enhanced by the welcoming statement from one of the barbers.

“We don’t cut women’s hair here.” The older man said, as he stopped peeling the hair from a young boy’s head for a moment.

“Cut it out, Stan.” The youngest of them chided. “Why don’t you ladies have a seat, and I’ll take care of you. Okay?”

I had worn a baseball cap to cover up the damage to the right side of my head, and kept it on, fearing more reprisals from the older gentleman. All that could be seen was a thick ponytail popping through the hole at the back.

After watching a few haircuts, I began to think it was a bad idea to be there. Jen could sense my nervousness, and slipped her hand over mine.

“It’s this, or you go to work as you are, honey.” Whispering in my ear and settling my resolve.

Finally, the younger barber waved his cape in our direction, spinning the chair to greet me as I walked slowly across the room. Every bone in my body must have been shaking as I eased my ass into the wide leather seat.

“So, what brings you in, young lady?” He asked, politely.

“It’s Laurie.” I smiled, slowly removing the baseball cap and revealing the right side of my head. “This… is why I’m here.” Pointing to the tufts of blonde.

“Oh, dear. I think I know exactly what happened here. Get too close to a campfire, did you?” He asked.

“Something like that, yes. A candle, actually.” I admitted, painfully.

“You’re very lucky, you know. This could have been so much worse.” He started to tell me a story of a friend of his, but I threw my hands up to stop him as soon as he mentioned hospital stays and scars.

“I know I’m lucky. I’m just wondering what you might be able to do with this mess.” I sighed.

“Well, to be honest, there are only a few cuts that will accommodate the shortest bits you’ve got going on over your right ear there,” He explained. “…and all of them involve cutting the rest of your hair off.”

“Yeah, I thought about something asymmetric, but my boss would probably wig out,” I explained.

“Well, if you’re sure, then I’ll get started by getting rid of the bulk. Then we’ll worry about the cut.” The barber insisted, lifting a menacing set of clippers from his counter.

“What are you going to do with those?” I questioned, nervously.

“It’s just easier than scissors, same result, less effort.” The clippers whirred to life, and I felt my heart dip in my chest. It sank even further when he lifted the hair on the left side away from my head and ran the clippers through it. When it fell back into place, my entire ear was exposed.

“Oh, m…, oh my God.” I stammered, watching as my precious blonde hair was dropped unceremoniously onto the floor. He made the motion deliberate, as if throwing something away, and that made things even worse.

It didn’t take very long, the clippers making short work of my remaining tresses. Each time he would hold the severed lock at arm’s length, before he let it float softly to the tiled floor. I was pretty sure he knew I was watching.

I looked over at Jen, who seemed mesmerized by the process, her mouth slightly open. When she saw me staring at her in the mirror, she looked away, self-consciously.

Finally, the clippers fell silent, and I was forced to look at myself in the large plate glass mirror. I looked like a boy with a really bad haircut. There was no style at all, just bluntly cut hanks of hair ended abruptly at my ears. I was certain that the back looked just as bad. I was startled when the barber spoke.

“Now, we can start cutting.” He mused, as if enjoying my humiliation.

“Give her a crewcut,” the other barber suggested.

My heart skipped a beat as my barber chuckled with the comment. “How about it, sweetheart. I can give you a little extra on top, but nothing you’d have to comb or anything.”

I couldn’t believe he was actually considering it. “No, just leave as much length as you can, okay?” My voice was shaking. When I looked in the mirror, Jen’s face was in her hands, as if she was expecting the worst.

“Let me show you something.” He picked up a handheld mirror off the counter and held it so I could see the right side of my head. He pulled up on the hair that Jenny had cut at my request. “See that?” He indicated a section of hair that seemed to be a lot shorter than the rest. It had been hidden under what remained, looking singed and very, very, short.

“I hadn’t seen that.” I said, forlornly.

“I didn’t figure you had. That, my dear, is what we have to deal with.” He mused. “How about I just start cutting and we’ll see what’s left at the end?”

I had seen my scalp beneath those singed hairs, and I knew that soon I’d be seeing an awful lot more of it. “Fine.” I nodded, not knowing what else to do.

Once again, the clippers spun up, and I was horrified when he placed them against the right side of my head, slowly driving them into my hair, and leaving no more than a quarter-inch of stubble in their wake. More hair tumbled over the cape, and I was shocked by how short it looked.

“That almost got rid of it, but there’s still a little unevenness where the hair was singed off. I’m going to have to go with a number one, at least that far up on the side.” He almost seemed pleased by the prospect.

“A number one, what did you just use?” I watched as he slipped off the blade and clipped another into place, without answering my question. More carefully this time, he traced the path of the clippers, leaving what could only be described as a mere shadow behind.

“That took care of it. A number one leaves about an eighth of an inch.” Without any fanfare or warning, he continued using the ‘number one’ all the way around my head.

I shuddered as the clippers crept up my head, more and more of my blonde hair gathering like a ring around the base of the chair. He pushed my head forward so my chin was on my chest, the blades rasping up my nape and well over the little bump at the back of my head. I could feel the cold air against my scalp as more and more of it was revealed.

Switching blades again, he began all over again, slowly peeling away my hair, even higher up this time, and nearly to my crown. I knew I was crying, but the shock of the experience was keeping me from reacting as I normally would have. This man was removing my hair, in the most brutal way imaginable.

When I was finally spun around and could see my reflection, my shock turned to horror. All that remained of my hair was a shock of blonde that stood straight out on the top of my head. The sides of my head were essentially shaved, with a slight taper from nothing at all to barely enough to be called stubble.

I breathed a comparative sigh of relief as the barber put down his clippers, lifting a pair of scissors from the counter. “Now for the top.”

I almost felt like screaming, ‘I’m a girl!’, but I was quite certain he hadn’t forgotten. My relief was short-lived, however, as I watched how much hair was being cut. He would gather two fingers’ worth of hair from my scalp and trim it as tight to them as the scissors would allow; he wasn’t gentle about it either.

Tossing my head from side to side, he continued the process until it was an even length all over. I almost felt dizzy as he stepped back to examine his work. “No, I think we need to go a little shorter in the back.”

Without even asking, he picked up the clippers again and switched blades, driving them from back to front over the crown of my head. He would stop each time about two inches from my forehead. The hair that was left was just marginally longer than that on the sides, still standing straight up from my head like little blonde bristles.

The next couple of minutes were spent blending everything together, but I was oblivious to it all. So, when he finally exclaimed that he was finished, I had to pull myself out of whatever funk I had drifted into.

“That’s what we call a Princeton, young lady.” He said, seemingly proud of the haircut he had delivered. He swept the cape away from me, and for a moment I was frozen in his chair. There was no mistaking me for anything but a man.

For years, my long silky hair had hidden my square jaw and angular features, now so brutally exposed. No one could ever consider me feminine now. With my hair shaved to the skin on the sides, my ears were rudely exposed in their entirety. They weren’t overly large, but with nothing at all to cover them, they stood out from the side of my head, embarrassingly.

As I stood, the only thing that gave away my sex were my small breasts that pressed against the button-down shirt I had worn. Without them, I was decidedly male.

Still in a daze, and standing amidst the ruins of my former glory, I paid the man his asking price for ruining my life.

 

Aftermath or Affirmation?

 

Jenny knew better than to say anything as we left the barbershop, but it was when I ran my hands up the back and sides of my head that the reality of my situation sunk in. “Jesus, I’m practically bald!” I cried, as we climbed into Jenny’s car.

“No, you’re not.” Jenny comforted. “You’re actually kind of hot.”

“That’s because I look like a goddamned dude, Jennifer.” I chided, again running my fingers up the back of my head, grieving for the raspy stubble that greeted them.

“What self-respecting man is going even look at me now?” I wept. “Look at me!”

“I am.” And with that, Jenny flew into me, covering my mouth with her own. I wasn’t even sure how to react, and was still in shock from my disastrous haircut, and now my best ‘girl’ friend was devouring my mouth.

Suddenly aware of what was going on I pushed Jen back. “What the fuck are you doing?”

“I’m sorry, but I just couldn’t help myself.” She declared, trying to renew her advances.

“Jen, I’m not gay, alright!” I suddenly realized that with my new haircut, I probably looked like the most butch girl imaginable, and even that was probably a stretch.

“How do you know, if you haven’t tried it?” Jen pressed, her hand caressing the shaven sidewalls of my scalp.

“Have you?” I asked.

“Laurie, have you ever seen me with a guy?” She asked, incredulously.

I thought back on all our outings and get-togethers, and it suddenly dawned on me. “You mean you’re a lesbian? All this time, and you never said anything?”

“I’m not sure if I’m a lesbian, but I think I certainly lean that way.” The way she looked at me reminded me of how guys used to look when I would tease them. Of course, those days were over. I doubted I’d be teasing anyone for a long time. That is, except for Jen, who was suddenly infatuated with me. “Let’s just get out of here.” She insisted, as we were still parked across from the insidious barbers.

We made it back to my apartment, and I actually felt weird inviting Jenny inside. She was taller and quite a bit stronger, and I imagined her forcing herself on me, for whatever reason.

“Is it safe?” I questioned, kiddingly.

“Stop it. I can’t help it if I’m wildly attracted to you.” She admitted.

“Did I really ask you to cut off my hair so short, last night?” I questioned, still not remembering anything.

“Well, you did ask me to cut it, but I may have gone a little farther than I should have,” Jenny admitted.

“So, you wanted me to get my hair cut short?”

“For the longest time, Laurie. If you could only see yourself through my eyes. You are so damned handsome.”

“Handsome?” So, I had gone from drop-dead gorgeous to handsome. What the hell was happening. “What do you mean, handsome?”

“Without all that hair in the way, it’s sort of revealed something I’ve known all along. You forget, I’ve seen you fresh out of the shower, without all those curls hiding your face. I’ve also seen you without makeup.”

I didn’t know what to say. She hadn’t really insulted me, but I sure felt that way.

“Can you just humor me for a second?” Jenny asked, taking my hand and leading me into my bathroom. She took a cloth from the closet and wet it, soaping it liberally. To my surprise, she began washing my face, removing any trace of the makeup I had applied.

As she dried me, a smile washed over her face. “Now, that’s even better.” She exclaimed. “Look at yourself.”

Jenny turned me towards the mirror, and I was met with that same masculine-looking face I had seen earlier in the barbershop. Now, however, without the makeup, the illusion was starkly complete. Without makeup, the slight imperfections in my complexion were made obvious, giving me a more ruddy appearance.

“Why are you showing me this?” I questioned, sadly.

“Because I want you to see how attractive you are.” Jen insisted. “Now that not a single trace of femininity is left, no one would ever question that you’re a boy.”

“But I don’t want to be a boy!” I wailed.

“And you aren’t one. We both know that. Look at me.” Jen pressed. “Look, and what do you see?”

“A girl, with longish brown hair and a pretty face,” I admitted.

“Now, look in the mirror. Tell me what you see.” She turned me, forcing me to gaze upon my reflection.

“A boy, with very short blonde hair and a handsome face.” I couldn’t believe I had said it aloud. Leaning in, I examined my appearance closely. If I didn’t know the face as my own, I would have almost been turned on. Jen was right. I was quite a handsome boy.

While I was still looking in the mirror, Jenny pulled in front of me and kissed me once again. I looked sideways at our reflection, which was undoubtedly her intention. What I saw was both disturbing and exciting at the same time. If I allowed it, all I saw was a boy and girl kissing.

This time I failed to push Jen away, instead, deepening the kiss, causing us both to moan. How was this even possible? Everything spun in my head like a top gone wild, and I found myself pushing Jenny towards my bed.

Jenny seemed eager as we fell onto the soft comforter, wrapping her arms under my bottom and pushing my hips into her own. I could feel the pressure of our mounds pressing against the other’s, and I lost the will to resist.

As Jen slowly unsnapped my jeans and eased them open, I was momentarily afraid. But as her fingers slipped beneath the waistband of my panties, I was quickly lost in the passion of the moment.

As her fingers pressed between my moist lips, I felt how rigid my clitoris was. I opened my eyes to find her’s boring into me, intense and wanton like I’d never seen my friend before. “Jen, I…”

“Shhh, hush. Just enjoy this.” She whispered, as she slowly moved down my torso, her mouth hovering inches over my sex. My jeans had been worked off my ankles, and I parted my legs as I would have for a boy. Only Jen was no boy. So as her mouth closed over my clit, and her tongue began to gently suckle my tender nubbin, I was torn by confusion.

I should have been furious. I should have been shocked; should have, but I wasn’t. Instead, I was approaching an orgasm the likes of which I had never known. It started there, between my legs, but swept outwards in waves of erotic pleasure. It was when Jenny slipped her fingers inside me that I exploded.

I screamed out my pleasure, not caring who heard me or what the consequences were. Once again, Jen’s mouth was covering my own, and I tasted the salty-sweet flavor of my own arousal. Somewhere inside, a little voice was protesting, but it was lost in the overwhelming passion of the kiss.

As we lay on my bed, me basking in the afterglow of my orgasm, I felt as though I needed to reciprocate. It was Jen that stopped me as I began working at the snap on her jeans.

“It can wait, baby. We have all the time in the world.” Somewhat relieved, I allowed my shorn head to rest against her breasts, their soft cushion in sharp contrast to my harsh stubble.

Monday finally did roll around, and I was faced with the prospect of walking into my job with my new hairstyle. Dress codes were fairly strict, although I was permitted slacks and a shirt, rather than the traditional skirt and blouse.

As I looked at myself in the mirror, I had honestly begun to warm up to my new masculine appearance. My morning shower was a breeze, in and out, without all that hair to wash and dry. Without any makeup, as Jennifer had suggested, it cut a further twenty minutes off my morning routine. I was going to have to set my alarm clock for later. For a guy, I was quite good-looking. Except for my voice, I could never pass for a woman.

As I walked in, I was immediately confronted by the security guard who watches over the entrance. I hadn’t even considered the fact that no one would even recognize me. I pulled my office ID out of my pocket, having opted for a wallet rather than my usual bulky purse. Of course, the ID showed me with my once glorious mane of blonde hair.

He examined the badge, and then me. “Lauren Walker?” He asked, tentatively.

“That’s me. Got my ears lowered a bit.” Making light of an already humiliating situation.

“Okay. Make sure you stop by human resources to get a new badge sometime today.” He shook his head, as if in disbelief. I wondered if he was one of those men that once ogled me as I walked by. I was quite certain there would be no more of that, any time soon.

It didn’t take any time at all for Harriet Williams to home in on me. “Well, well, well. For a moment I thought a young man was mistakenly sitting at your desk. I see that I was incorrect. It is, in fact, Lauren Walker, all skinned down and plain as a worn sock.”

Her comment hurt, but I was ready for insults. I knew that she, of all people, would be hard-pressed to hold back on her appraisal. Lying, I returned her comment with one of my own. “I decided it was time for a change, Ms. Williams.”

“Well, this is certainly a change.” She ran the back of a finger up the side of my head, rasping along the stubble. “Not exactly dress code for a female employee, however. I’m not going to discipline you, as the change will certainly help with your constant distractions during the day. “Perhaps we should start calling you Mr. Walker?” She suggested, seriously. “You certainly look the part.” And with that, she walked away, the obligatory humiliation at an end.

That day was hell. Everyone, especially the other office girls were in shock over what I had done. Their attitude had shifted from envy to ridicule. The men just ignored me, and that was just as well. For whatever reason, I just didn’t care what they thought.

Things had progressed between Jenny and I over the weekend. I discovered that I was indeed at least bi, and for the time being, all thoughts of men were off the table. I was meeting her for drinks after work, with her solemn promise to keep me in check.

She had taken a more domineering role in our nouveau relationship, if you could call something so new, a relationship. Somehow, however, she had managed to eke a promise from me. I was to maintain my ivy league haircut for the foreseeable future, returning to the same barbershop where I had been so brutally shorn, time and time again. It made her happy, and that was all that mattered.

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