Crew Standard

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Jill had managed to stoically keep a blank face when she first got up to take a seat in the big chair, but the barber hadn’t been especially nice and the stoic facade soon cracked.  It wasn’t that the barber was outright mean, but she was obviously just tired and wanted to get as many heads of hair cut as she could as fast as she could.   So when Jill wasn’t quick the barber was impatient.

“Your turn Red, hop on up.”  She’d said to Jill brusquely with her back turned as she’d scanned then returned the crew ID badge of her previous victim.

Jill was shaking slightly as she walked too slowly towards the unwanted destination.  When she sat in the chair, the long auburn curls that reached her waist hanging loose behind her, her reluctance showed as she sat stiffly forward instead of relaxing and sliding back into the chair’s embrace.

“Come on, Red,”  the barber complained as she stood behind Jill with a cape and hair clip in hand.  “Slide back and sit properly so I can work.  Neither of us want this to take longer than it has to.”

“Sorry.”  Jill said, her voice starting to crack a little as she followed instructions.

“So, what’s it going to be Red?”  The barber asked as she clipped Jill’s mass of curly  hair to the top of her head to get it out of the way, leaving only Jill’s curly bangs hanging over her eyebrows in the front.

Jill was obviously not prepared for the question.  Considering how little time Jill had been given to prepare emotionally for the haircut, it wasn’t exactly surprising.  

A bunch of us had shown up at Stellar Path Shipping’s HR department to fill out the last of the forms we needed before we were to report to the long haul ship in the morning and we were informed about the haircut as an oh-by-the-way thing after we were finished signing everything and were fully committed.  

Then there was the video.  “Freedom and Flexibility While Maintaining Grooming Requirements” was its ever so exciting title.   The narrator had droned in an artificially cheery voice while young attractive actors in unrealistically well tailored versions of crew coveralls pretended to love their short haircuts as they walked in an open field.  

“The crew standard hair length outlined in the handbook under grooming requirements for Steller Path Shipping shipboard crew members are designed to be as flexible as possible while ensuring that overly long hair does not interfere with crew safety and ship maintenance.  Many crew members chose to keep their hair at the crew standard maximum allowed length, which is a style affectionately known as ‘crew standard.’  It is a style that is not only popular aboard ship, but has wide appreciation in fashion across the galaxy.  Others ask their hairstylists to get creative! Crew members have the freedom to cut their hair in any style to express their individual personality as long as their hair does not exceed maximum allowed length.”   The video had continued extolling things like the joys of not having hair smacking one in the face during high G maneuvers, and the dangers of long hair getting caught in spinning things, how fast it was to get a good helmet seal without hair getting caught in it, and just how gosh-darn-golly-gee-whiz fun it is to have short hair anyway. 

The HR guy then had the gall to try and act like the free haircut was a perk since it was free and they’d saved us the trouble of making the appointment, though we were never asked if the time we were told to show up at this barbershop was actually even vaguely convenient for us.  

I was damned annoyed.  It wasn’t that I thought the requirement was super unreasonable, mildly unreasonable since we could just put our hair up to keep it away from spinning things, but not super unreasonable since people get careless.  But the way it was sprung on us when it was too late to change our minds about taking employment with SPS pissed me off.

We had all of 2 hours between leaving the office and when we were required to be at the barbershop.

“I… uh…”  Jill tried to express herself, but struggled.  I don’t think it was helping that the barber was shaking out the cape right next to Jill noisily.  The cape made a particularly loud thwap and Jill flinched.

“If you don’t tell me what you want Red I can just pick something myself,” the barber threatened, as she swung the cape over Jill.

“The uh… standard umm… crew haircut?”  Jill fumbled the words out, as the barber pulled the cape up over Jill’s shoulders.

“Crew cut?”  The barber suggested with a devious smile, firmly snapping the cape around Jill’s neck.  

“Eee.”  The unintelligible squeak was all that Jill could produce in her defense.

“She means crew standard and you know it.”  I spoke up clearly.  “Stop giving her a hard time.  She wasn’t given a choice about being here and it’s difficult already.”

“Hey, for all we know she does want a crew cut.”  The barber gave me a mind-your-own-bee’s-wax look, then changed to a not very genuine sweet tone to talk to Jill.  “I can give you a nice quick crew cut.  Gets this over with before you know it.  It’ll last longer than crew standard, save you some money at the next dock or two.”

“I… uh… Meg?”  Jill squeaked out as the tears began.

“She wants crew standard maximum allowed length.”  I said in a tone that I hoped was firm enough.

“Ok Goldilocks.”  The barber relented.  “I guess you’ve managed to put off your own haircut for an extra 15 minutes since I could have gotten the crew cut over in 5, but crew standard’s going to take me 20.”

The barber then released Jill’s hair from the clip.  The gorgeous bundle spilled down landing on the satiny cloth draped over Jill with a swish.  I’d been dreaming of running my fingers through that hair from the moment I first saw Jill a couple of days ago.  I hadn’t gotten the chance yet, I’d been cautiously flirting.  I hadn’t wanted to push too hard or fast and come off like a creep.  It looked like I would never get the chance to feel the long curls.

“It’s not about me.”  I felt the need to say.

The barber clipped the clip to the hem of her smock, and took her large shears from the slot of her pocket organizer.  She didn’t bother combing or anything, just grabbed all of the hair hanging down Jills back into a bundle in her hand like she was going to make a ponytail, but instead of wrapping it with elastic, she just raised her scissors to it.

“It isn’t, is it?”  The barber said with a smirk as she looked over at me while holding the scissors dangerously close to Jill’s precious locks.  Then added cryptically as I felt myself blush.  “But then again it kind of is.”

I would have probably been shocked at the callous attitude that the barber had towards Jill’s lovely hair, but I’d already seen her do the same to the others earlier.  Becky’s long silky smooth raven black tresses had been first.  The barber had called Becky “princess” and been similarly impatient with Becky’s desperate request to please just not make her look like a boy.  Becky had ended up with something that was a bit long to call a bowl cut but a bit short to call a micro bob, with the required centimeter above the eyebrow bangs and the nape buzzed down to velvet.  The barber said it would be a little more distinctly femme than the androgenous crew standard.

The barber started sawing through the bundle of Jill’s hair, the shears crunching against the dry hair. Jill had enough hair that it wasn’t fast.  Jill’s was the fifth bundle of hair I had watched the barber saw through, and the slowest.  Or maybe it was just because it was the one I took the most interest in.

After what felt like forever, I watched the blades finally close with a snap.  The barber carelessly dropped most of Jill’s beautiful crowning glory on the dirty floor.  It landed with a soft thud, the loose locks tumbling apart.

The barber then just started grabbing up any longish curls that had escaped the bundle and snapped them off with decisive clicks of the large shears.  She dropped them on the floor, where a large pile of the auburn curls was collecting.  I sat watching the pile on the floor grow, waiting my turn.

Once all of Jill’s hair was well off her shoulders, the barber returned her large shears to their slot, and walked over to the counter below the mirror Jill faced with her tear stained cheeks, and picked up a spray bottle.

“Close your eyes Red.”  The barber ordered less than a second before she began to pull the trigger and the mist of water was wetting Jill’s locks and weighing down the loose curls.  

Instead of walking around the chair, the barber slowly spun it as Jill sat to wet the back, using her comb to make sure the hair under the top layer was sufficiently dampened too.  After Jill had completed two full 360s, one clockwise and one counter, the barber put down the bottle, and pulled a smaller pair of scissors from the slot next to the big shears.  

The barber combed Jill’s hair down against her neck and started snipping off another several centimeters to achieve the first requirement stated in the crew standard we’d been shown earlier that morning:

 

  1. Hair can not extend below the halfway point between the skull and shoulder.
  2. No hair can extend over the eyes.
  3. Hair directly above the eyes (often referred to as bangs or fringe) must be 1 centimeter above the eyebrows or higher.
  4. No hair may exceed 15 centimeters.

 

As the tips of the scissors snipped along below the comb that held Jill’s hair right at the halfway point, the hair above the comb sprung upward as it was released.  Jill’s curly hair was going to look a lot shorter than Gail’s and Tim’s straight hair had at crew standard length.

For the most part, the cut off wet curls stuck to Jill’s neck till the barber used her comb to flick them down to the cape and floor.  

Once everything that could be stretched out to reach the halfway point of Jill’s neck had been snipped, the barber began working on the second requirement.  She Started combing the hair from the sides of Jill’s head forward.  The barber combed the hair into her fingers that rested right at the outer corners of Jill’s big hazel eyes and snipped off everything that reached, the curls falling into the barber’s palm before she shook them off.  She repeated the process several times from slightly different angles, making sure she got everything that could possibly reach from the side of Jill’s head to her eyes.  

The result on the straight hair crew members had looked layered and sort of feathered, on Jill it looked cropped.  The utterly miserable expression on Jill’s face told me it was an effect she hated.

It was when the barber tried to meet the third requirement for bangs that Jill really couldn’t handle it any more though.  The barber was just beginning to comb the hair forward.

“NO! NO!”  Jill complained and leaned away.  “You can’t comb them down like that, they will spring up way too high, you have to trim the bangs in their relaxed state, that’s how my hairdresser always does it.”

“That’s not going to meet standards, Red.  Now hold still.”  The barber complained and tried once again to comb the bangs down.

“The standard doesn’t say it has to be stretched.”  Jill pleaded and put her hand up to block the barber.  “My hair is curly, it’s different.”

“Sorry Red, but crew standard makes no allowance for hair texture.”  The barber’s uncaring tone broke slightly and she said it sounding genuinely remorseful.  “I know it feels unfair, but I don’t get a say.  I just have to follow the standard.  Please put your hand down.”

“You’re the one doing the cutting, you can interpret it.”  Jill sounded so desperate.  “Please it’s bad enough with the back and sides so short.  Please don’t make the hair right around my face look completely ridiculous.”

“Red, if I scan your ID that I did this haircut and it doesn’t meet standard, I will lose my contract, with penalties for not completing it.”  The barber reasoned with Jill.  “If you show up for departure with your hair too long, you will first be written up.  Then they will hand you a set of hair clippers and tell you to go take care of it in the bathroom yourself.”

“They won’t notice, my curls will hide it.”  Jill argued without much conviction.

“Red, you’re not the first person with curly hair they’ve hired.”  The barber said with frustration.  “Please just let’s get this over with.  You know the penalty for breaking employment contracts.”

“Jill, you’re cute enough to pull it off.”  I said, trying to reassure her.

“Mmmpphm”  Jill squeaked and put her hand down, though she was now fully sobbing.

The barber quickly combed the hair down and started snipping beneath the comb before Jill could change her mind.  Curls got stuck in the trails of wet saltiness that the tears had left on Jill’s face.  

“Hey, Goldilocks, can you get her the tissues.”  The barber said, nodding towards the box down the counter, while continuing to cut even faster than she’d cut before.

She clearly wanted to get Jill finished extra quick at that point, before there were any more objections.  I’m sure the barber was sacrificing a little presicion, but with Jill’s curls that shouldn’t really show.  The bangs were springing up on Jill’s forehead just as she had predicted they would, leaving her with barely anything that went past the hairline.

I handed a few tissues to Jill, who began slowly defeatedly wiping her face.

The barber moved on to Jill’s crown.  Combing up what was still surprisingly long hair but then snipping off almost half of it leaving behind only the allowed 15 centimeters.  She did seem to be trying to direct the hair to fall behind Jill at least.  The barber’s hands were almost a blur as she repeatedly combed the hair up and sliced it off.  Hair falling all around as Jill sobbed.

Eventually, the barber slowed down as she combed Jill’s hair this way and that, checking for the occasional lock that had escaped with a bit extra length.  She’d trim off the extra centimeter or two as she found them.

“Shhh, shhh,”  the barber unsuccessfully coaxed Jill to stop sobbing as she combed through a last time, not finding any more to trim.  “It’s almost over.  I’m just going to use the edger on your neckline real quick.  It’s not required, but it will look much better if you let me.”

Jill just kept sobbing, not acknowledging what the barber had said.  The barber seemed to feel that not actively objecting was good enough though, since she was picking up the trimmer.  She ran the humming device up Jill’s neck a few times, before returning it to the counter.  She then pointed a hairdryer briefly at Jill, both just blowing away clippings and gently scrunching Jill’s curls a bit back into shape.  The result was still frizzy from all the combing.  Finally the barber started dusting Jill off with a big soft brush.

“There you go Red.”  The barber said as she took the cape off Jill.  “All over.  It will look a bit better after the next time you wash it.  Sorry, but the free haircut from SPS doesn’t include styling.  If you want to come back later after I have done Goldilocks, and I’m open for walk-ins, my prices for styling are pretty reasonable.”

Jill just put her elbows on her knees and buried her face in her hands and started sobbing even harder.

“Red, I know you need some time to process what happened and grieve and all, but I’m going to need your employee ID to scan, and then the chair so I can take care of your friend Goldilocks.”  The barber pointed out impatiently.

Jill took a shaky breath and fumbled around in her pocket for the employee ID to hand to the barber.  The barber took it and swifty scanned it then used handing it back to Jill as an opportunity to take Jill’s hand and pull her up to a standing position.  Jill began to walk away from the chair and the remnants of the glorious auburn curls on shaky legs.

“Are you ok?” I asked as she got to the waiting chairs I was standing by and started putting her light jacket on.

Jill just nodded silently, rubbing the tears that still ran down her face away.

“It’s not bad, and it will grow back”  I tried to comfort her.

“And when it grows back she gets to get it cut again.”  The barber pointed out in a tone that suggested that I was an idiot as she swept up briefly.

“Are you sure you’re ok?” I asked Jill again, because she didn’t look ok.  “You’re still absolutely gorgeous, by the way.”

“She’s fine Goldilocks,” the barber insisted impatiently.  “Come and hop in the chair, you’ve put yours off as long as you can.”

“It’s not going to kill you to give me a second.”  I complained, then turned back to Jill.  “Are you sure you’re ok?”

“I’ll live.”  Jill said in a horse voice.  “I’m going to need to rethink my packing.  I packed at least a half a kilo of hair stuff, plus that is probably at least 200 grams of hair there…  Don’t worry, I’ll go get a bottle of water and I’ll be ok.”

“Time’s money Goldilocks.”  The barber complained some more.

“Call me if you need me.” I said tenderly to Jill ignoring the impatient barber.  “Otherwise, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Thanks.”  Jill said and wrapped her arms around me in a hug that I wasn’t fully sure whether was platonic or more.  “It’s good that I’m going to have a friend on the ship.  I’m glad I met you.”

I watched Jill leaving the barbershop, then walked over to the barber chair.  The pile of Jill’s hair had been swept aside.  I sat down in the big chair still looking through the glass door at Jill’s back as she walked down the street.  The barber put a hand on my shoulder though and pulled me back against the chair to face the mirror.

“At first, I thought you were putting it off for the usual not wanting a haircut reason.”  The barber observed as she twisted my own waist length mostly straight hair up and clipped it to my head.  “But you just wanted to be the shoulder for Red to cry on.  You are just a sap for her aren’t you?”

“I only just met her the other day.”  I said, trying to ignore the flapping fabric of the cape being shaken out next to me.  “I’m just being nice.”

“Yeah, that doesn’t mean you’re not smitten.”  The barber pointed out as she swung the cape over me.  “I’d put money on her being straight though.”

“What makes you say that?”  I asked as I felt the collar of the cape snapped closed on the back of my neck.

“Ladies like us don’t usually cry like that over a little hair.”  The barber claimed as she released my hair from the clip and started pulling my own hair back into a bundle.

“Jill lost more than just a little hair.”  I pointed out, and glanced at the red curls that obscured most of the other locks on the pile of hair off to the side.  “And I’m not exactly thrilled about what you’re going to be doing to mine either.”

“Yeah, I’m sure.”  The barber raised her large shears.  “You ain’t going to be bawling your eyes out over it though are you?”

And then without warning I heard the crunching.  The hard cold metal rocked against my neck as the barber sawed through the long dyed blonde strands.

“What are we doing here Goldilocks?”  She asked.  “Crew standard?”

The question felt a little belated, since she was already hacking off more than half my hair, but since the options were short, shorter, or even shorter it wasn’t like that initial cut limited them.  Bits of my hair swung forward in a choppy bob.  

“Nah, take it down to a couple of centimeters on the top and taper it.”  I said, trying to convince myself I didn’t really care about the long blonde hair that had been an asset at my last job.  “Since I’m losing most of the length anyway, I might as well get rid of the blonde and as you pointed out the shorter it is the longer I can put off having to actually pay for a haircut.”

“So, down to the brown roots, huh?  Guess I should have found a better name than Goldilocks.”  The barber asked as the big sheers closed with a snap severing the last strands.  “You care if I take it a bit less than the 2 centimeters to really get rid of all the blonde?  A number 6 is 19 millimeters, but I think that might leave a little blonde, so can I just save some time and start with a number 5?”

“Sure fine,” I sighed.

The barber dropped the long hair to the floor with a soft barely audible thud.  She then took out her comb and started combing up the hair and chopping off more of it rather haphazardly.  She took big decisive chops at it with the shears.  Shhhchop.  Shhnap.  Shhhnip.  The golden hair rained down on my shoulder, then slid into my lap.  

“I would like it to look halfway decent.”  I joked nervously as I watched her hacking my hair off into an uneven mess.

“Relax Goldilocks,”  she scoffed.  “I’m just getting rid of the bulk before I get out the clippers.  I’ll make you handsome enough to try and capture Red’s heart, even if I do think it’s a hopeless folly.”

It wasn’t long till the blonde locks I had always been able to leverage into better tips were reduced to a shaggy not really even 10 centimeters or so all over.  I had more mixed feelings than I had expected.   In some ways I missed the pretty tresses more than I had expected to, in others it felt good to be making this break from the past.  The barber gave the short hack job a quick shake out and put her shears away.

She took the clippers from the charger, and put a guard over the blades.  I swallowed, the collar of the cape suddenly felt a bit tighter.

“One thing puzzles me.”  The barber said as she stepped back behind me.  “It seems you understand the advantages of going shorter than crew standard.”  She flicked the clippers on, and they began angry buzzing.  “Why’d you insist on not letting me talk Red into a shorter haircut, the crew cut would have been a better look on her.”

“Hey, she looks pretty good with crew standard, and she’s not as devastated.”  I said as I felt the barber’s hand brush the hair back from my forehead.

“You only think the cut isn’t terrible on her because you are looking at her with love goggles.”  The barber snorted as she put the vibrating clippers against my forehead.  “She was going to be devastated no matter what I did,”

The barber pulled the clippers back.  The blonde locks slid down the sides of my head, to my shoulders.  Left behind was a strip of short brown fuzz that stood straight up.  I had a moment of wondering if the barber and I had both been wrong about me crying, but it passed and my eyes stayed dry.

“God I hate this part of the job,”  the barber lamented as she reached the back of my head with the clippers.  “I wish I could reliably make rent just taking people who actually wanted haircuts and not need the contract with SPS.”

“I’m not exactly thrilled with the contract I signed with SPS myself.”  I agreed as I watched the clippers mow away more of the blonde locks.  “You know they don’t tell us about this till we’re locked into the contract.”

“I didn’t at first.”  The barber told me as she kept on stripping away my hair.  “The first few cuts I did, the people weren’t exactly super cheery, but also nobody was really upset either.  None of them mentioned it.  Then I get this girl like your friend Red.  Long gorgeous hair, wavy chestnut.  The kind of hair she probably was complimented about every single day of her life.  The kind of hair that starts to define your identity.

“Well she’s crying hard and just kind of frozen next to the chair, not sitting down.”  The barber continues her story as she tilts my head down so I’m looking at the blonde waste in my lap.  “And I just need her to sit down so I can get the damned haircut done, SPS does not pay me anywhere near enough to waste time.  The contract is only worth it because it’s steady and reliable, and they let me schedule you guys at times I’m not very busy anyway.

“So I say to her rather gruffly ‘Just get in the damned chair, you knew what you were getting into when you took the job.’” The barber ran the clippers up the back of my head as she got to the climax of her story.  “And she just screams at me ‘I had no idea.  They told us after we signed the final contract.  I found out about this an hour ago.  I can’t afford a lawyer to fight the employment contract, and besides I need this damned job!’  And that’s how I found out the degree to which my services were being forced on you guys.”

“They prey on the desperate.  After losing my last job for reminding the new girl she had the right to say no to inappropriate advances, my options were pretty damned limited.”  I muttered, then asked.  “How’d that one end?”

“I didn’t really know what to say, so I just stood there for a bit.  Then I just said, ‘sorry.’”  The barber sighed and tilted my head so she could buzz the hair around my ear off.  “After that, she just sat down.  I asked her what she wanted and she just said ‘whatever.’  I did my best, I don’t think it really mattered.”

We were just silent for a bit as the barber finished buzzing away the last of the shaggy blonde hair.  I raised my head and looked at myself in the mirror.  I was back to brown hair.  Brown hair so short it was even shorter than the crop my mother took me for when I was a little girl because she decided to blame the clogged plumbing on me.

“One of these days,”  the barber began on a new topic as she took the guard off the clipper and picked up her comb.  “I’m going to save up enough to get out of here.”

The barber stepped behind me and tilted my head down so my chin was pressed to my chest.  She combed up the back of my head and I heard the clipper glide over the comb with zzzzwoop. 

“I heard about one of the colonies that is open for new settlers now that it has hit the final stage of terra forming and land outside the domes is finally livable.”  Her voice took on a dreamy quality as the clippers rattled over the comb.  “Supposedly they want more genetic diversity enough that they are even offering that thing where they take the DNA from one egg to fertilize another egg and create a zygote for free.”

“Sounds like a dream.” I observed as the bare blades of the clippers scraped up my neck and a bit higher into my hairline than I expected.

“Yeah, not working 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, just to make a little more than rent on this rundown space with only room for a single chair.”  She bent my ear forward and carved the hair around it as she talked.  

“And that’s my view all day.”  She actually paused my haircut just long enough to gesture at the small window outside of which was a dark dingy street crowded with unhappy looking people.   Then she sighed and turned back to the task.  “Look at me getting all distracted here.  Acting like time isn’t money.  Let’s get you finished up.”

And with that she sped up the tapering.  The buzzing clippers sent down just a sprinkling of hair as she hurriedly carved around my head free hand.  She finally used the edger to scribe a new clean squared off hairline across my neck.

“There you go Goldilocks, all done.”  She announced as she dusted me off, and took off the cape.  “That should last you a while.  Let me get your ID to scan.”

I stood as the barber scanned my ID, and took a look at myself in the mirror.  I raised my hand and rubbed it over the shorts brush of hair that seemed to be just a little too short to want to lay down.  I was contemplating how long it would take to get to laying flat length, when it occurred to me I had no idea what the gravity situation would be at that point.  I moved my hand to the taper in the back, it was a bit not totally perfect.  I wasn’t surprised, considering how she’d rushed.

“Thanks,”  I said a bit absent mindedly as the barber handed me my ID card.

The barber began to sweep up the gold locks she’d nicknamed me after that surrounded her chair.  I turned and slowly began to walk away.

“Hey, Goldilocks.”  The barber called without turning from the task of sweeping up.  “Do me a favor.  When you get to the door, as you leave, just flip the sign from ‘appointments only’ to ‘walk-ins welcome.’  The shift change crowd will be passing by soon.  And good luck with Red.”

 

————————————- 

6 years later…

 

I woke at star rise to the sound of the rooster crowing.  I tried to ignore him as I snuggled against Jill.  The soft auburn curls that had grown to finally touching her shoulders tickling my nose.  

I had let my hair grow out a bit since we ended our last contract and bought our tickets to this colony, but not like Jill had.  I liked it longer in front than crew standard had allowed for, never getting my bangs cut above the eyebrows, but in the back, I’d become accustomed to the ease and comfort of the taper.  Besides, I felt the long hair would just remind me of life back on Earth where I’d catered to men’s taste for tips.  

I moved my hand down to her slightly rounded belly, wondering if that was really movement I felt or just my imagination, because it really seemed too early to feel the baby.

“Why do we own that damned bird, Meg?”  Jill grunted sleepily.

“It seemed like what settlers are supposed to do when we got here.”  I joked.

“Might as well get up, I’m not falling back to sleep.”  Jill complained and started walking towards the bathroom.  “You know it’s the quiet ones that lay the eggs, the noisy ones are useless.”

“I didn’t know at the time.”  I teased and headed towards the kitchen.

“What are your plans for the day?”  Jill asked 15 minutes or so later when she joined me in the kitchen looking a little more awake.

“Just a few farm chores, then I’m off to the barbershop.”  I said as I brushed the hair that was in my eyes to the side.   “Are you ready to come and get the split ends trimmed?”

Jill shook her head, “I’m going to put it off a little longer.  I know I was being a bit melodramatic when I said that once our last contracts were up I was never setting foot in a barbershop again, but I’m still not ready.”

“Ok,” I stated neutrally.   

“You don’t think it looks bad do you?”  Jill asked nervously.

“Babe,”  I said as I gathered her into my arms.  “You are absolutely gorgeous.  This is a great length on you and the split ends are barely noticeable.”

“You said I was gorgeous when I decided that having to pay for a haircut every single stop was stupid and got it buzzed down to 3 millimeters.”  She pointed out.

“It’s not my fault that you are just so gorgeous that it’s impossible to tell what hairstyle is the most gorgeous because you make them all look good.”  Squeezing her tighter to me.

“You are so full of it.”  Jill accused and gently pulled away to get the orange juice from the refrigerator.  

“I’ll see you in a few hours.”  I said, deciding not to argue with her about what I was full of even though I had meant every word I said, and gave her a peck on the cheek.  

I headed out and started on the chores.  After I finished and had a quick clean up, I started walking towards the little town the settlements clustered around.  The barbershop was three doors down from the community center.  The name of it “Great View Barber” was painted above the door.

“Hey Goldilocks,”  the barber, who was relaxing with a beer in one of the waiting chairs, greated me cheerfully as I entered.  “If you’re not in a rush, grab a bear and relax.  Ben here was just telling me about when he was a kid and everyone still lived in the domes.”

“I’ll take a beer,” I said as I went to the little fridge off to the side where I knew she kept them.

“Why do you call Meg ‘Goldilocks?’”  Ben, the elderly man sitting in the barber chair, his shoulder length hair freshly trimmed, asked.

“I knew her back on Earth when she had blonde hair down to her waist.”  The barber said, leaving out all the relevant details.  “Talking about which, how is Red doing?”

“She’s over the worst of the morning sickness, and beginning to show.”  I said, smiling as I thought about it.

“That’s great.”  The barber sounded genuinely happy.  “Are you in a rush, or can we just relax a bit while Ben finishes the story?”

“Why would I be in a rush?”  I asked, as I gazed out the big picture window at the back of the shop;  there were cows grazing on the rolling hills, a mountain off to one side covered in pine trees, and off in the distance on the other side just peaking above the hills was the old biodome.

6 responses to “Crew Standard

  1. Hi Ginger,
    This story has the feel of being an except from a much longer story, or even a novel. I like the premise, and the whole butch/femme feeling I get with Jill and Meg. I do enjoy a good science fiction story now and again. It’s really easy to put myself in their world without too much effort, and that’s due to your powerful descriptors and character development.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Claire

    1. Hi Claire,

      It is sort of very vaguely and excerpt. Interesting that you picked up on that.

      The second story I published here, “HD 10180g Moon 2, Better Known As Ilargi” https://www.hairstorynetwork.com/stories/hd-10180-g-moon2-better-known-as-ilargi/ , was a rather long winded tale about a colony on a moon. Took myself way too seriously when I wrote it, left in way too much information, went over the top with some of it, but enjoyed writing it. The place actually is even sort of real, I went looking for an exoplanet in the goldilocks zone.

      So then when I wrote “The Keeper” https://www.hairstorynetwork.com/stories/32384-2/ I sort of was thinking that a few centuries into the future, interstellar travel would be more like a 6 months than the years it had taken the original colony ships. So interstellar trade to those colonies would be a thing, and they had found extra terrestrial life, but there was no way it would be brought to earth, but a colony where it was surround by vacuum. So it wasn’t really a sequel per se, but just another story in the same time line but a further along on a completely different system, a binary one closer to earth.

      Of course, I was just thinking about the crews of the ships that would stop into Glam Zone and get haircuts from Jack. So this happened. They all just felt independent enough that I didn’t want to make people feel like they needed to go back and slog through one of my older stories.

      And, thanks for writing and sharing too. I know I don’t say it nearly enough (social anxiety and whatnot,) but it makes me feel much less like a complete freak that I’m not the only woman around here. It’s great that there are a bunch of us here.
      Ginger

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