Dreams Do Come True

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Dreams Do Come True

 

By Shorngirl

 

Main Street was busy as it almost always was on Saturday morning. My newfound freedom was wonderfully liberating as I walked down the wide sidewalk.

I suppose most people would consider my parents strict, but they only just gave me permission to be out on my own at the age of thirteen. It was odd, I thought that most of my friends had enjoyed this freedom from a much earlier age. Until now, my mother had insisted upon driving me everywhere I went, and knowing precisely where I was at all times. The fact that I was an only child probably played into that.

I failed to see the difference between me now, and me three days before. I felt the same, but the independence was very new indeed. My eyes wandered through shop windows that I had never been afforded the time to see into, always being rushed, in tow, from here to there.

It was the beginning of June and I would soon be out of school for the summer. The idea of enjoying this feeling all the time was ever so exciting. Strolling along and occasionally popping inside one store or another, I eventually came to a place I had never even seen before.

I had wandered down into a small courtyard of shops, and it was obvious to me that this was a men’s barbershop. I cupped my hands around my eyes to block the glare from the early morning sun which was just cresting the rooftops. I tried to see what was happening inside.

There was a boy I knew from school, sitting in a large chair, and he didn’t seem all that pleased. I could see his mother giving instructions to an older man, who must have been one of the barbers.

Much to my parent’s dismay, I had begun to take notice of different boys in school. It seemed perfectly normal to me, as all my friends were doing the same. To my mother, however, it might have been a disaster for the fuss she raised.

“A girl your age has no business looking after boys. You mind your business young lady, and steer clear of them.” She had said more than once, and although I knew it was mostly bluster, I went in mortal fear of my mother when she was cross.

Bobby Finstead turned toward his mother as she sat in a row of chairs opposite and then noticed me as I stared through the plate glass window. His eyes rolled in his head, obviously upset. I almost turned away, but something made me stay.

Bobby always had the nicest hair, curly and falling almost to his shoulders. For a boy, he certainly had nicer hair than a lot of girls I knew. As the barber picked up a tool from the counter, I was shocked as the thing peeled those lovely curls clean off, right down to the skin.

Part of me wanted to be sad for him, but I just couldn’t help but feel excited too. I didn’t know why, but watching the barber slowly run the machine over his head, his lovely hair falling lifeless to the floor, made me feel like I had butterflies in my stomach. It was that same feeling I used to get on a rollercoaster, only different and lower down.

As the last of his hair hit the floor, and he ran a hand over his stubbled head, I had to leave. The sensation I was feeling was a bit too strong, and I knew I should feel guilty over feeling so good about what I had just witnessed. I knew Bobby was devastated by the look on his face, but as his eyes met mine, I knew he was embarrassed. He knew I had watched the whole thing.

I lost interest in poking into stores and headed home. My mother was surprised that I was home so soon. “Not sure what to do with all that freedom, Charlotte?”

“No, it was fun. I just got hungry, grabbing a granola bar from the top of the refrigerator. She went on with her cleaning as I wandered upstairs to my room. I just couldn’t get the image of Bobby Finstead out of my head. What a difference the haircut had made. He had gone from a bit of a hunk to a skin-headed geek in a matter of a few seconds.

For whatever reason, I imagined myself in his shoes and instantly flushed the idea from my mind. What girl, especially one with long blonde hair such as myself would ever venture into a barber shop and ask for something so…so humiliating?

The soft summer breeze wafted through my window, the scent of freshly cut grass and dandelions carried on its breath, and I soon drifted off to sleep. I never napped in the afternoon, but that day I felt particularly sleepy.

I dreamed that I was back at that window, my hands cupped around my eyes once again. The chair was empty this time, but I was soon disturbed by a low raspy voice.

“Watcha lookin’ at young lady?” Startled, I quickly spun on my heels, faced with the inquisitive face of the barber.

“Nothing. I think I’m waiting for Bobby.” I shrugged, although you never really hear yourself speak in your own dreams, at least I never did.

“Only one lookin’ is you. Why don’t you come on inside?” The man asked. For whatever reason, I just couldn’t prevent my legs from carrying me over the threshold into the strange shop. “This is your chair right here, Charlotte Sweet.” He mused.

I suppose I could have questioned how he knew my name, but you never think to ask those important questions when you’re dreaming. Before I knew what was happening, he had wrapped a cape around my neck and I was trapped.

The man picked up the same machine I had seen him use before, rolling it over in his hand before throwing a switch at the end. They sounded like an eggbeater, the way the angry metal edge seemed to move, in a blur.

I looked up into the large mirror that faced me, my long blonde hair looking like so much butterscotch syrup running down the red and white cape. Suddenly, I was back in the window, my hands cupping my eyes, but this time the person in the chair was me. I watched, horrified, as the barber ran those things straight down the middle of my head, just like he’d done to Bobby Finstead.

Gasping, I sat straight up in bed, feeling that sudden wave of relief when I realized that it had all been a dream. My hands immediately shot to my head, comforted to find my crowning glory still very much intact. “Oh, my God.” I gulped, swinging my legs over the side of the bed and realizing that I needed to pee.

The thing was, I didn’t have to go at all. It just felt like that, only nicer, almost warm in a way. I brushed my hair, relieved to still have it, but disappointed too. I pulled it back tight, trying to imagine how I would look with my head buzzed like Bobby’s. The warm tingly feeling got stronger, and I laughed with it, turning my head side to side, my ears poking out as they always did whenever I tied my hair back.

As nice as it felt to imagine it, I knew I could never do anything so crazy as that, ever. I allowed the long blonde curls to fall back over my shoulders and laughed off the idea as foolish.

It was during the last week of school that I finally ran into Bobby Finstead in the halls. His hair hadn’t grown at all, and I wondered just how long it would take for him to have those wonderful curls back again. He saw me looking at him and made a point of cornering me against the lockers.

“Hope you enjoyed the show, Charlotte.” He accused, pressing up against me and making me feel uncomfortable. “You seemed so interested. Wanna feel it?” He asked, grabbing my hand and deliberately forcing my fingers over all that remained of his hair. The stubble felt like sandpaper it was so short, and I could plainly see the pink of his scalp beneath.

That same tingly feeling was back, and I tried to ignore it, but couldn’t help but allow a smile to form on my face. “Actually, I sort of like it.” I managed, barely audibly.

“Well, maybe you should try it then, Charlotte. You’d look as weird as me then.” He joked, pushing back from the lockers and disappearing down the hall. His words stung a bit, but at the same time, they felt like a challenge. All the while the tingle was nagging at me, stronger than ever. A shiver coursed through me, suddenly, and I knew something strange had just happened.

The other girls talked about stuff like this, but it was the first time it had happened to me. Besides, if my mother caught me fiddling around down there, she would freak out. The thing was, I wasn’t doing anything like that. It just happened, out of thin air.

I kept having the dream, even after school let out for the summer. Each time, it seemed to progress a little farther before I forced myself to wake up. It was about the first week in July, and the heat was almost unbearable. That was when my mother surprised me with a strange, but not unexpected suggestion.

“Why don’t we go get some of that hair cut off, Charlotte?” She suggested, matter-of-factly. “We can go down to the salon and have it cut so it’s off your back. It must be so uncomfortable in this heat.”

The thing was, I’d overheard her talking to my father about how I was getting interested in boys and them in me. The haircut had been something he had mentioned as a way to render me ‘less appealing’, if that’s what she really wanted. At first, I was annoyed. But the more I thought about it, the more excited I was that it might actually happen.

“Sure, Mom. That sounds like a great idea.” I answered, catching her off guard with my enthusiasm. I had always been very protective of my hair, but things had certainly changed lately.

As we were getting in the car, I worked up the courage to say what I had been dying to say. “Mom, we don’t have to go to the salon and spend all that money. A barbershop would be fine.”

She looked at me like I had potatoes growing out of my ears, but as the idea sunk in, she seemed to warm to it. “Are you sure, honey? They cut hair awfully short in those places.”

“I’m sure, Mom. I think there’s one down in that courtyard on Main Street.” She raised her eyebrows, allowing a small smile to form on her face. I imagined she was thinking if a healthy haircut would discourage the boys from asking me out, a trip to a barber’s would just surely seal my fate for the entire summer.

“I think I know the place, Charlotte. I appreciate you wanting to save me money, sweetheart.” I could see the wheels spinning in her head now. So, as we pulled into the parking lot adjacent to the place, I could tell she was nearly giddy with the idea of me being ‘shorn’.

I led the way down the narrow walk, finding the barbershop almost too easily. “Here it is, Mom.”

“I see that. Have you been here before?” She asked, curiously.

“I’ve walked by it once or twice,” I admitted.

As we entered, my heart was racing, knowing what was about to happen. I pictured myself in the dream, the clippers peeling my hair away as I watched from the window. This was no dream. This was as real as it got.

“Can I help you, ladies?” The barber asked, climbing from his chair, and stashing the magazine he was reading in a handy drawer.

“Yes, my daughter would like a haircut, please.” My mother said, awkwardly, unfamiliar with the routine.

“You do realize that this is a barbershop, right?” He asked, leaning against the counter near his large swivel chair.

“I want a short haircut,” I spoke up, looking back at my mother, who simply shrugged.

“Oh, God, I don’t know if I can watch this.” My mother said, I think finally realizing what she was instigating.

“That’s okay, Mom. You can leave me the money and I’ll just walk home.” I suggested. She seemed more than happy with that idea, and I think her conscience may have been eased as well. She paid the barber with a twenty, deciding to let him keep the change.

“Okay, give her what she wants, then.” She relented, pushing through the door and looking back. “I’ll see you at home.” I couldn’t help but revel in the guilt-ridden face she wore as she walked away from the shop.

“So, young lady; up you go.” I climbed into the chair, just as I had so many times in my dream. It was familiar and foreign, if that makes any sense. The sensations were new, as I felt the cape being fastened tightly about my neck. The view in the mirror was uncannily the same, so much butterscotch cascading over red and white stripes.

“So, you want a short haircut, huh?” The barber asked, flicking a comb through my unruly tresses.

“You can use those,” I said, pointing from under the cape at the clippers which hung precipitously from beneath the counter. He raised an eyebrow as he eyed my long blonde hair. “It’s okay. Just run ‘em all over.” I managed, shakily asking for what my dreams had foreseen.

“You want me to cut it all off, kid?” He asked, unsure if I knew what I was asking for.

“Yep, right down… to sand…paper.” I stuttered, remembering how Bobby’s head had felt that day in the halls.

Shaking his head, he lifted the clippers, removing the plastic guard that had been left in place from a previous customer. The sound was different than the dream, the high-pitched whine in sharp contrast to what I imagined. “Sandpaper.” He muttered as he brought the machine to the top of my forehead.

The low humming vibration in my skull was in sharp contrast to the whine in my ears, so different than I could ever have dreamt. But the sensation as the blades bit into my hair was shocking. The inevitability; it was an inescapable fate.

I watched in the mirror, a view I had been denied in my dream, as my snow-white scalp emerged from beneath its protective sheath. Torrents of hair fell in straight lines to the floor, pooling around the bottom of the chair as the barber completed that first faithful pass. “Feel that.” He suggested. I brought my hand up, escaping the confines of the cape, and allowing my fingertips to touch my bare scalp for the first time, ever. A shiver ran down my spine as I realized that it was far shorter than Bobby’s had been.

The stubble felt almost too short to be real, just the slightest resistance against the pads of my fingers, the smooth scalp beneath easily realized by changing the direction of my perusal. I saw my eyebrows go up with surprise, but that same persistent tingle had returned, and with a vengeance.

He looked down at me, as my hand disappeared back under the cape. “Short enough for you?” All I could do was nod because there was no going back now. The clippers wound up again, widening the stripe of naked scalp until the entire top of my head was laid bare. I’d been peeled like a grape, and I couldn’t have been happier.

I felt like my whole body was buzzing in sympathy with the vibration of the clippers as they worked around my head, sending every strand of my hair to the floor of that shop. My ears, as I knew they would, stood out like mushrooms from the sides of my head, and I couldn’t help but giggle at the sight of them. Everything was a blur.

I suddenly realized that the clippers had been shut off, but the silence of the barbershop was sharply broken by a group of boys sliding into the chairs behind me. As if my heart wasn’t already racing!

“All done, kid. At least you’ll be cool for the summer.” The barber mused as he unfastened the cape and slid it from around my neck, revealing the pink blouse and floral cuffed jeans I wore.

Facing my fate, I turned to see who had entered. There was some snickering amongst them as they noticed I was a girl. Adding to my angst, I realized I knew all of them from school. They were in the grade ahead of me and I wondered if they even knew who I was. Then a confirmation of that question came unbidden.

“Charlotte Sweet?” The one boy gawked, and then an eruption of laughter as they realized who they were looking at. I quickly ran from the shop, determined not to regret my decision. My mother was certainly going to get her wish; there would be no boys for me that summer.

As I walked down Main Street, my scalp tingling in the midday sun, I just couldn’t keep my hands away. The delicious sensation in my belly was almost too much, and I shivered with the growing wave inside. I was determined not to regret what I had done to myself. Boys would have to wait until next year.

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