“To heck you are!”I yelled at Grace.
”It’s my bloody choice!”, my daughter screamed back,”Mine!”
I hyperventilated, this was my child, my baby girl; now she wanted to go to war, to serve our country.
I couldn’t handle it, I could never do it due to my condition and I certainly wouldn’t force her to achieve that dead dream, but her heart burned to join the fight.
”I’m doing this for myself”,she went down the list of benefits but rarely told of the cons.
”There is a guarantee that you’ll come with PTSD!”I tried not yell.
”PTSD can be caused by any traumatic event!”she vocalized,”Like this conversation”
She apparently had enough and turned to leave, I caught her hand,”Please, don’t do this”
She shot me a look as if to say let go so I reluctantly did and Grace marched out of my house and into her chosen life.
I was a wreck, sobbing all that night and not going to work in the morning.
I stumbled into my workplace as head barber of the Men’s place barbershop.
My buddy, Himdal, was sympathetic to my plight, being a former green beret.
”It’s stressful, not knowing whether you get the luxury of seeing your loved ones again and it’s painful, to let go your little ones into that life but we all make a choice”
”Her choice was foolish”, I was beginning to break down.
“Brother”,he consoled me,”The best thing you can do for her is to pray for her safe return”
I thanked the old boy and packed up the remnants of my lunch, we had to get back to work.
That afternoon, a woman in a white shirt and cargo pants came into the shop.
” Oh, fresh out of highschool”, Himdal smirked.
I thought he was being pervy but then he explained he saw a new cadet when she came in.
”Excuse me, boys”,she said in a gruff, feminine voice,”Could one of you take me?”
”Out on a date or in a brawl”,joked Himdal.
I meekly raised my hand and she dropped a duffle bag near my chair before fitting herself in it.
I turned to my buddy then pumped up the chair thrice, flipping a cape on her as well.
”What’ll it be?”I asked.
”Probably something up to the corp’s standards, the woman shot him a face and he smiled for he knew to shut up.
She uncovered a hand to remove the pin from her bun, shaking her black mane down in its flood.
” I have to report back by sundown so can you just buzz me”
“00, hurry up”,she rushed me, I applied the guard and started the process of shearing the lass.
”Where you stationed?”Himdal asked.
”Fort Odysseus near Bolder”, she filled us in as I had her chin on her chest.
Soon, my client had a very fine short buzz cut, hair was only visible under a microscope, she approved my work as,”This should do”
The cape was removed and she applied a cadet cap to her nearly bald head.
As I rang her up, I asked,”Is a Grace Winzel going to Fort Odysseus?”
”She’s my daughter and she is going to basic training, if you see her…”
I stopped, realizing this woman might not be in my daughter’s unit at all so I told her to forget it.
Months passed without a letter home, I thought Grace was still angry with me so I didn’t expect a card.
Until that day, a tidy-dressed female soldier came through my shop’s threshold.
I thought her another random new recruit but as she took off her cap, it became clear; it was Grace.
Her dirty blonde hair was molded into a bun on the back of her head.
”Hi dad”,she smiled sheepishly.
I ran up to her and hugged her tightly, tears streamed from both our eyes.
“I-I-I’m so sorry for what I said”, I apologized and she repeated what I said to me.
After the emotions ran their course, we talked much before I asked her why she came (besides the obvious).
”I’ve been a bit shaggy and what better way to get a trim before I get deployed then you”
I was sort of crestfallen that she was going on a tour somewhere far but I learned something from our prior encounter: I had to make the most of our time.
I took her to the chairs and she sat with her cap on her lap like it was mandatory.
The headpiece protruded through the cape as I snapped the buttons.
”So, what can I get for you?”I asked as Grace undid her bun.
”Where I’m going is really warm and I don’t want to be that sweaty chick on base”
”Something short”, I guessed.
She nodded,”Yeah, I was thinking more of a flat top haircut”
”The military has changed you”, I said in a nice tone,”Back when you were a kid, you wouldn’t allow me to cut your hair shorter than a trim”
She snickered, as did I as I separated and clamped her top hair to her skull.
With guard-less clippers, I buzzed down her sides almost to the skin.
As Grace rubbed her fresh sides, she smiled and commented,”Feels nice”
I unclamped the top and taking it, I chopped most of it off and taking a wide comb, I shaped the remaining hair into a short, tidy flat top.
”Could you get it close?”she asked and I complied, taking a bit more off.
”That’s good, thanks”, she praised as she tuft at her short, erect hair.
I removed the hair littered cloth and she put on her cap, she looked bald with the sides nearly so.
I wouldn’t ring up my own daughter so I settled for a hug, a bear hug.
”I’m going to miss you, pop”,she confessed.
”Me too, kid”, I replied as we ended our session with a handshake.