Emily at the Coffee Shop

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A man’s voice cut through Emily’s thoughts as she stood in line at her favourite coffee shop, eagerly awaiting her daily dose of caffeine. ‘I hope you don’t mind me saying, miss, but you do have such wonderfully long hair.’

Emily smiled and nodded her thanks to the gentleman. It was the third time that morning that she had received praise for her hair, and it wasn’t even 9am, but she was used to it.

As she placed her order with the barista her eyes were drawn to a much younger and more handsome man than her recent admirer, standing just a few feet away from her. With his cool, youthful haircut and all-black attire, he exuded an air of confidence that immediately caught her attention. Emily had found herself standing near him nearly every day before work, and over time she had learned his name was David.

Emily was a woman who loved attention. She enjoyed getting noticed and was not afraid to use her looks to her advantage. She was nearly thirty and very attractive, often mistaken for being much younger than her actual age, so it mattered little to her that David was probably nearer to twenty. Her best feature was undoubtedly her thick blonde hair that fell like a waterfall down her back and past her waist. It was her pride and joy, and she always made sure to style it in a way that would make heads turn.

Her job as a successful businesswoman allowed her to flaunt her looks, as she wore tailored suits with short skirts to show off her long legs, and blazers paired with revealing tops to display her ample cleavage. And she loved every minute of it. But her hair was the one thing that set her apart from the rest. Sometimes she would wear it straight and it almost reached her hips. Other times she would create gentle waves, and the ends would bounce up and down against her bottom. Occasionally she would wear it pulled up tight into a dramatic high ponytail that swung from side to side as she moved. She never hid her hair away in buns or braids, so however it was styled, it would move naturally and receive attention from everyone she passed or met.

For weeks, Emily had been using all her flirtatious tactics to capture David’s attention. She would strike up conversations, toss around witty comments, and play with her hair in a seductive manner. She would wrap a tendril around her finger or use other ways to entice and tease. But despite all her efforts, David never seemed to show any interest. He would exchange polite greetings with her, but never anything more.

This constant rejection frustrated Emily. She was used to being the centre of attention, and it bothered her that David seemed immune to her charms. Desperate to learn more about him, Emily decided to follow him one morning when she had no meetings scheduled.

She purposely engineered her departure from the coffee shop to align with David’s, and casually followed him across the market square. As he disappeared down one of the lanes, Emily quickened her pace. Just when she thought she had lost him, she turned a corner and nearly ran into him as he was unlocking a door.

‘Morning, princess. Lovely weather,’ David said with a mocking smile, catching her off guard. ‘So, are you coming in?’

Emily hesitated, not sure if she wanted to enter the shop with this enigmatic man. But it was now or never, so she played with her long, blonde hair and batted her eyelashes enticingly. ‘Maybe…’ she coyly replied.

‘Cool,’ David smirked, opening the door for her.

Emily glanced up at the sign above the shop, and her heart sank. The Lanes Barbershop it read.

‘What?’ she shrieked, horrified at the thought of stepping into a barbershop. ‘No way!’

‘Thought not, princess,’ David chuckled, his eyes dancing with laughter as he pointed to her hair. ‘But hey, it was fun while it lasted.’

Feeling embarrassed and disappointed, Emily quickly flounced off, murmuring her apologies, with David’s laughter trailing behind her. She resolved then and there that she would never again try to flirt with David while standing in line for coffee. But little did she know, this unfortunate incident would be the start of something that would change her life forever.

= * = * =

For the rest of the morning at work, she grew increasingly irritated as she recalled David’s behaviour and his mocking tone. For one thing she was annoyed that he kept calling her “princess”, although it was a nickname that was more fitting than David could have known. It wasn’t for him to assume that she wouldn’t want to go inside his dingy barbershop. It would be her decision. Still, it was his loss, she mused, trying desperately to convince herself of the fact.

Before she popped out to get a sandwich for lunch, she went to the cloakroom and, after brushing her hair, she admired it in the mirror. She decided that, as usual, it looked perfect; that was until she convinced herself that perhaps it could do with a little trim.

= * = * =

With that thought in mind, Emily marched into The Lanes Barbershop determined to prove David’s earlier contempt way off the mark and to use her charm to capture his attention.

‘Hello again, princess. Had seconds thoughts, have you?’ he asked, greeting her with a sly grin.

Emily flashed her dazzling smile and replied, ‘Just a trim … a couple of inches.’

Catching Emily by surprise, David began grumbling quietly to himself although much of what he said was loud enough for Emily to hear. ‘I don’t understand why women like you insist on having long hair. Short hair is much nicer and far more practical.’

Emily was taken aback. To her ears, his griping about long hair was just weird. Who thought that way, she wondered. Everyone loved her long hair, or at least that’s what she thought. She wanted to say she wore her hair long to entice men but, strange as it sounded, perhaps not all men were easily swayed. However, she wasn’t quite ready to give up on her crush just yet. She casually perched in his large barber’s chair, trying to demonstrate her confidence, although she was feeling unaccountably nervous.

Her poise was upset when David grabbed the large lever on the chair and jerkily pumped up the chair, causing her to grab the arms of the seat in a panic. ‘Oops, hold on tight, princess,’ he scoffed as he enveloped her with a huge black cape causing to her feel trapped and vulnerable.

‘So, princess, are you sure about the couple of inches?’ David questioned grumpily.

‘Quite sure,’ Emily confirmed haughtily, trying to stay calm despite his unenthusiastic tone.

‘Cool!’ David sneered, suddenly looking much happier for no obvious reason that Emily could ascertain.

Emily wasn’t sure what to expect from the change in his demeanour, but she certainly wasn’t prepared for what came next.

As David picked up a huge pair of scissors, Emily’s heart started pounding.  David bundled her hair into a huge ponytail at the back of her head and, with a malevolent grin, he chopped it all off close to the scalp.

‘No! Stop! I said just a trim,’ Emily pleaded as she felt the cold blades of the scissors against her neck, but it was far too late.

Emily’s heart sank as she watched him gleefully waving her long ponytail like some sort of macabre trophy before tossing it unceremoniously into a rubbish bin.

‘You said you wanted a couple of inches, and that’s what it will be – at the most – by the time I’m done,’ he sneered.

‘That’s not what I meant,’ a devastated Emily wailed, but David ignored her protests.

‘It’s what you asked for,’ he cackled, admiring his progress. ‘You’ll look sensational.’

‘I looked sensational before,’ she whimpered, starting to feel drab and ordinary, as uneven tendrils hung down around her face, barely reaching her chin.

‘Really? You thought so, did you?’ he mocked spitefully, seeming to enjoy Emily’s distress.

David continued hacking away at her hair as if possessed. Snippets flew through the air and fell on the cape before sliding to the floor. She was surrounded by an expanding sea of short blonde locks. Through the crown, he used scissor and comb to create short crisp layers of no more than a couple of inches.

Just when Emily believed things couldn’t get worse, David brandished his hairclippers. She felt cold metal sliding over her skin as he clipped around her ears and along her neck, shaving the hair all the way down to her skin. Emily was left with short layers through the crown and an abrupt wedge-shaped step high up the back of her head.

It was not what she had asked for. She had been tricked and deceived by David, and now her hair was ruined.

‘There we are,’ David said proudly, with a sickening smile, declaring that Emily’s “trim” was complete. He held up a mirror so that Emily could view the devastation he had wrought from every angle. ‘A nice short-back-and-sides for a prim and proper princess,’ David giggled, clearly pleased with himself.

But Emily couldn’t bring herself to share his enthusiasm while wiping away a few tears. It was not a “trim”, it was a nightmare. Her once beautiful, long hair was now gone, replaced with this short, masculine haircut. She felt like all her feminine charm had been stripped away with her hair. She couldn’t believe she had trusted this man with her hair and let him ruin her looks.

‘It’s all gone,’ Emily wailed.

‘Yes, princess,’ he smirked, ‘so now you won’t be able to use your hair to irritate innocent coffee shop customers ever again.’

Emily couldn’t believe what just happened. She had gone from being a seductress with her long, voluminous hair to a plain, ordinary girl with a short haircut. Her long blonde ponytail was consigned to the rubbish while the remaining snippets were scattered on the floor of David’s backstreet barber shop. She had followed him there out of curiosity, but what had transpired was beyond her worst nightmare. David was not the cool, young man she thought he was. He was a sadistic barber who took pleasure in butchering women’s hair.

As she had stormed out of the barbershop, Emily couldn’t help but wonder why she had been so attracted to David in the first place. Maybe it was his cool exterior or his rejection of her advances, but whatever it was, it had led to her losing her beloved long hair. Emily learned an important lesson that day, that not everything or everyone is what they seem, and sometimes it’s better to just leave things alone.

= * = * =

After her devastating experience, Emily was desperate for a coffee and a chance to relax for a few minutes, so she headed for her usual coffee shop before going back to work. As she went inside, Emily was saddened that the friendly barista completely failed to recognise her. She trudged over to a stool by the window and sipped her coffee.

Emily found herself absently exploring her shaved nape with her fingers, a constant scary reminder of the damage that had been done during her terrifying ordeal in David’s backstreet barbershop. Never again would she be able to twirl a long tendril of hair seductively around her finger to command the attention she expected and deserved.

A man’s voice cut through her continuing anguish. ‘I hope you don’t mind me saying, miss, but you do have such a wonderfully elegant neck.’

The End

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