“All right Carly. You can do it,” I said, forcing myself to sit up.
I couldn’t feel anything from my nose to my chin but the rest of my head felt like it was on fire. I grabbed a cup of water from the floor next to the futon and drained it. It was August in South Georgia: another hot afternoon after a hot night.
“Losing weight again,” I thought, facing the mirror, “At least I can still fill my bra.“
I was lucky like that, being petite while retaining curves and enough of a bust to give me a little muscle tone in my upper body. Inside I felt like death but I looked pretty good on the outside. Turning around, I noticed how long my hair had grown. I liked it. It seemed classy to have long hair. However, I wasn’t so sure about my wispy bangs.
For years, I dyed my hair black but recently let the color fade into its natural dark brown. As I shook my shoulders, my locks made dancing shadows on my shoulder blades and two visible ribs.
“Andy will forgive me,” I thought, turning from the mirror.
It was the only piece of furniture left, save for the guest futon which we’d probably be leaving. Andy went to our Baltimore apartment without me, to move the furniture while I was to clean out the old house and save a little extra money. The old house was empty all right, but I hadn’t been saving any money at all. This month had been my last chance to party like I’d always wanted to.
Andy always talked shit about our friends doing coke while turning a blind eye to my habit. We didn’t talk about it. It was a rule with my friends, not to tell him. In part, that may have been why he wanted to move away. I was to go with him and I was excited. I always wanted to be a city girl.
For now, though. It was time. Again. To get ready for work.
I took a quick shower without washing my hair and changed into my usual black jeans and an unbuttoned, white polo that with ringer sleeves. On the futon, I powdered my already pale skin and gave myself slight cat eyes, paired with pink lipstick. After that, I put on my favorite silver chain earrings. They complimented the wide v-shape of my jaw line. I had a bit of that vampire-girl look, which seemed to turn on just about any guy.
With all of that in mind, I felt lucky on my walk through our beautiful little neighborhood, to the restaurant. It seemed like all of our friends had worked there from one time or another. It was where Andy and I had both worked. Halfway into the evening, my hangover anxiety really started kicking in.
“Andy’s going to kill me,” I lamented to Kim, over our post-shift beers.
Kim lit a smoke and put a hand on mine, “He’ll be mad, but it’s okay honey. He’ll forgive you. I’d help you out but I’m going broke putting together this wedding.”
I sighed and took a deliberate pull from my miller lite, “I would never ever let you give me money. I can take care of myself.” Then an idea came into my head. “Do you mind if I just tell Andy I spent all my money helping you with the wedding?”
I didn’t even realize how wrong it was to ask Kim to lie for me. The drugs really had twisted my moral compass.
“Carly!” Kim scolded, “You can lie about yourself all you want. That’s your business, but I’m not going to play any tricks on Andy.”
“I might have to tell him that anyway,” I thought to myself. Groaning, I scanned the dark patio as Simon came out the back door with a beer in his hand.
He almost never hung out with us after work. Unfortunately, almost all of our friends knew about my predicament. You know how small towns are. If Simon knew, you couldn’t tell as he shuffled to our table and sat down. I guess my conversation with Kim was over.
“It’s so nice of you to join us!” I told him, as if he were a patron. He didn’t seem to notice.
“It’s nice of you to say so,” He responded, smiling and looking at me sideways the way he always did, “I’m going to miss you when you’re gone. I already miss Andy. I’m stoked to see him Saturday.”
“We all are,” Kim joined in, “I’m so thankful that you’re all going to be at me and Joe’s wedding.”
“Yeah. After that, I’m gone for good. I’m going to miss you guys.” I uttered, shaking my head and looking at my feet.
For some reason, I couldn’t take a natural tone while talking with Simon. Since I’d known him, he was one of Andy’s best friends and he was always sort of intimidating. While tall, handsome, and bookish like Andy, Simon was a few years older and a lot more strange. You could always tell that whatever it was he was thinking, was definitely not what you were thinking. If he knew any of the local gossip, he never acted like it.
Later, at Donny’s Bar, I finally felt right. After a couple toots in the brightly lit bathroom I set my vodka soda next to Simon’s PBR.
“I guess it’s just us tonight,” he shrugged, giving me that sideways look. Was he hoping I’d now be leading the conversation?
“There’s lots of people here.” I noted, quizzically and gave the foggy room a look, “We can go somewhere else if you want?”
“Well. I know you’re going to stay up and party tonight. It always sounds so fun but I always have other stuff I’m so compelled to do. So I could probably get some stuff too and then I can be part of your last week of hard partying in town without Andy.” He blurted.
I don’t know if anyone had ever put it to me like that before. “All right,” I resolved, “Get a bottle and let’s go back to my place.”
He walked his bike next to me, for the half mile to my house. I was starting to sweat. It was new sweat on top of work sweat, I noted, beating the sidewalk lit by the moon and shadowed with oak trees.
“I know you’re broke,” Simon confessed, looking straight ahead, “I know Andy is expecting you to have some money to help with the move.”
“That’s my business,” I asserted, feeling confident and high enough to take offense, “I don’t want you to worry about me.”
“Well I do worry. I want to help you.” His tone became very somber and continued, “I want to pay you to do something.” he sounded hurt, “Something I would like you to do but you might not want to do.”
He’d never sounded so husky and sexy before. At times I’d been randy, but not like I had been those few weeks without Andy. Being such a friend, I had little hope of Simon wanting something sexual from me. I wasn’t a cheater, anyway. Whatever it was he wanted, sounded too juicy to pass up. I was dying to know.
“I trust you Simon.” I said, taking my usual ‘Simon’ tone, “What do you want and for how much?”
“All right. I’m scared to tell you.” he paused and sniffed, “I want to cut your hair very short and I will pay you two thousand dollars.”
“Wow.” I thought out loud, “You’re pretty good at saving. So what? You think about that kind of stuff when you’re alone? You like to cut girls’ hair?”
“Kind of,” he answered, “I would just like a chance to see you with very short hair, having such nice hair now and being so beautiful. It’s a kink of mine that I don’t talk about. So I’d rather not tell anyone about this proposal.”
God, he was sounding sexy again. Proposal. “I’ll do it,” I said, feeling fearless and eager. I wanted to feel Simon’s hands on me. I wanted to have an intimate experience. It took me a second to catch my breath. Andy probably wouldn’t like it if I got a crazy short haircut. I was going to be a bride’s maid, looking not very much like myself. There would be lots of photos. The sudden squall of apprehension was very titillating.
“Wow.” Simon responded. His voice was shaking, “Let’s stop by my house and I’ll get my stuff.”
“Sounds good,” I agreed, for the first time, feeling like I could be myself with him. After all, we now shared something very personal and private.
At my house, I got us a glass of water and opened the whiskey. I asked, “Do you want to do the haircut now or hang out for a bit first?”
“Let’s just do it now and we’ll hang hard after,” he responded, “You don’t have anywhere to sit. How’s the counter? Also get a towel.”
“All right buddy,” let’s get crazy, “I called over, grabbing my towel from the bathroom.
I sat on the counter, did a key bump, and offered Simon one.
“Thanks, I’ll wait until we’re done.” He answered, running a comb through my hair. “I only have one shot to do this and I’m going to do a really good job.”
At times the comb would tug and it felt so good. I asked, “What haircut do you want to give me?”
“I know you probably want something chic.” he started.
I giggled, “Oh yeah, Simon. Make me stylish. I have to look rad.” Flirting, I noticed. I took a gulp of water and tried to match Simon’s mood, “Please though. I agreed that I will take any haircut you give me.”
“Okay,” he hummed deeply, “Let’s do a bowl cut.”
If Simon was enjoying himself, I couldn’t tell. However, I was having a very nice time. He started by trimming my fringe straight across, just a little over my eyebrows. I enjoyed the cool feeling of the scissors on my skin in the hot night air. He proceeded to cut an even line across the top layer of my locks. I loved the sound of the scissor’s crunch, for the first time so close to my ear. For him to cut the back of my hair, I sat ‘indian’ style and faced the cupboard. As he cut the back of my head, the sound of the shears faded into the sound of our breathing. I listened to the frogs outside. I felt bits of hair stuck to my sweaty face but I let them be. I enjoyed being tickled.
“I bet I have a really cool mullet now.” I chuckled when Simon was done with the top layer, “I want to go see it.”
So I walked to the mirror and we laughed at my mullet. I ruffled the top of my hair, making it stick up, and took a selfie for posterity.
“All right, this is fun but let’s get it done.” I directed, sitting back on the counter.
He pulled out his clippers and turned them on with no guard, as if reminding me to feel nervous. The clippers erased all other sounds, violently and efficiently removing all hair from the bottom of my head. Simon held my earrings out of the way and I loved how he touched my ears. I loved to feel him move my head as needed, to do something so special to him. He used the towel to brush what hairs he could from my neck and hummed, looking less than thrilled.
“We’re going to have to go shorter. Let’s look in the mirror.” He said, so we went, “See, your hair is starting to kind of curl out on the bottom. I’m going to cut the top shorter. Right now, it looks too much like a teenage boy’s haircut. You need a sexy woman’s haircut.”
I agreed, motioning for him to get away from the mirror so I could take another photo. So far I loved having short hair. My neck felt so cool. I felt it with my hand and loved the feel of my hand on my almost hairless nape. I loved the fuzziness. I loved the look of my earrings dangling below my hairline. Simon was right though. The hair on my top was too flat and the hair on the side was too wide.
“Thanks for waiting. So far I love it. Thanks, Simon.” I said. Feeling overly sentimental, I opened the whiskey and took a small drink.
“I’m going to take the rest of your hair to an even half inch with my clippers.” He announced, “Then we’ll be done.”
Maybe I’d given him the creeps, thanking him and all that. I felt his hand on my head again and my thoughts ceased to matter. We didn’t need to talk.
“I guess no more bangs to worry about,” I thought as the clippers ran over my forehead. I couldn’t wait to feel and see the end result. I was going to feel so cool.
“All right, I’m done.” Simon opened the bottle and took a full drink, intently watching me brush myself off and run my hands through the tiny amount of hair I had.
I lit a cigarette and walked to the mirror. From a distance, the top of my head was dark and the bottom was white. Up close, where my fringe would have been, my hair natural brushed itself to one side. My hair felt soft and sat, as if sleeping against my scalp. Below I had white skin and stubble, so pleasant to touch. I felt Simon’s eyes feast on me, checking out my new self for the first time.
I hugged him and rubbed my head all over his shirt and shoulders. I breathed into his chest. I pressed my forehead against his chin. I bumped his clavicle with my earrings. He pulled away and did a bump.
We hung out into the morning, getting wasted and talking about our dreams. Never before had a man looked at me like Simon that night, hanging on my every movement. I felt like a super star.