Coming back home
Emily was stood on the steps of her parents front door, she was moving back home. Emily had been away at college in Florida, living independently for the first time in her life. She knew that she was about to disappoint her parents after they placed so much faith and trust in her.
Emily had become a college dropout, she had completely lost focus on her schoolwork. The college party lifestyle had dictated much of Emily’s college experience. She had been on her own for the first time in her life and wasn’t responsible enough to manage her time. It was easy for Emily to stay on top of her schoolwork when she was in high school and living at home. Emily’s parents were very strict and were always on her like a hawk and without that eye watching over her she struggled to motivate herself.
She had spent most of college drinking, partying, doing drugs and hooking up with guys. As all her attention was placed on that lifestyle the grades slipped, then she stopped attending classes, then academic probation and now here she was a college dropout.
Stood nervously on the steps Emily walked into her parents home. The bang of the door closing behind her had alerted her mother who came rushing to the front door to check out the noise. There was Emily with her bag in hand, dropped shoulders and an expression of defeat.
“What are you doing here?” Asked Emily’s mother.
”I’m moving back home” said Emily very meekly.
Emily could sense the disappointment in her mother as she had broke the news. She had always been viewed as a good girl by her parents, and now that image had been shattered.
“Lawrence, Lawrence! Come here” said Emily’s mother, calling for Emily’s father to come over.
As Emily’s father walked into the hallway he enquired what is it that Molly had wanted. Molly, Emily’s mother did not reply as she wanted Lawrence to see for himself.
“Oh no” said Lawrence seeing his daughter stood there. He understood the moment he had seen her standing there with her bags that this wasn’t just a visit. His daughter that he had boasted so much about to his friends and work colleagues was now a college dropout.
”Just go up to your room, I can’t stand to look at you” said Emily’s mother angrily.
It was already late, Emily had spent all day driving back to her hometown in Georgia. She was completely exhausted, not just physically but also mentally.
“Can you at least help me with my bags?” asked Emily.
“No, you can carry your own bags up” replied Emily’s mother.
“We ate hours ago so if you’re hungry once you’ve taken your bags up you can grab leftovers out of the fridge and take them up to to your room” she continued.
Emily was hungry, but she hated leftovers. It wasn’t something she was going to kick up a fuss about, she knew she had already disappointed her parents and didn’t want to further enrage them.
Grabbing her bags, she headed to the stairs to make her way up to her room. Dragging the bags behind her, lifting them step by step Emily was overcome by emotions. She could wait to get in her room and just cry into her pillow.
Her parents disappointment in her had stung, this was new for her. She up until that point had been a golden child in the eyes of her parents. Someone her parents had been immensely boastful about and she knew she had brought shame upon them.
Finally laying down in her bed, Emily breathed a sigh of relief. She looked at her shoulder and could see the outline of where the strap on her bag had been digging into her shoulder. Emily began sobbing uncontrollably, unable to stop herself.
The morning arrived, Emily hadn’t gotten much sleep at all. Her eyes red, clearly visible that she had been crying. Emily sat up on the edge of her bed, looking around her room.
There was a knock on Emily’s bedroom door. “Emily, are you up?” said a voice behind the door, it was Emily’s mother. Emily looking at her reflection in the mirror, seeing her red eyes she felt embarrassed. Emily got back into bed, covering herself with her sheets so her mother could not see her face. “Yes, I’m awake” said Emily.
Emily’s mother opened the bedroom door, standing there leaning up against the doorframe. The nights sleep had done nothing to tame the anger in her. Emily’s mother’s abrasive tone and lecturing attitude had done nothing to help the situation and only served to make herself feel better for a short period. This wasn’t what Emily needed, she needed comfort, she needed to know that she was loved and she needed to know that she had support.
Stuck in bed
Emily felt horrible about herself, her self-esteem had never been lower. Depression began to set in, Emily couldn’t even muster up the emotional strength to get herself out of bed.
It was days before Emily emerged from her bedroom, her hair completely unkempt from where it had constantly rubbing against the pillow. Dressed in nothing more than an oversized t-shirt and underwear Emily headed downstairs.
Emily sat down at the kitchen table, it had been days since she had eaten. Her mother realising the errors of her ways tried a different method to get through, she wanted Emily to open up. She made Emily some waffles and sat down at the table with her.
“It’s okay sweetheart, your father and I understand now. It was a big adjustment for you, living on your own for the first time” she said, trying to comfort her daughter.
Emily didn’t respond, she didn’t know how to. Given her mother’s attitude over the last few days she wasn’t exactly in a rush to open up about everything.
Scoffing down her waffles, eating for the first time in days Emily felt a little better. Emily wasn’t much of a comfort eater usually, especially given her parents were quite strict about Emily eating unhealthy food.
Emily with an empty plate and full belly finally felt comfortable enough to open up to her mother. Nothing was held back, she told every detail of what had happened. She told her about all the boys, the drugs, the drinking and the partying. It had been much of a shock to Emily’s mother, this wasn’t how Emily was raised.
When she went away to college she was this sweet girl, a virgin. She never did any drugs, never drank, never went to a high school party and had never gotten in trouble with the law. She had been an A+ student, she did track and kept in shape. She was the envy of most girls mothers, wishing their daughters could be just like her.
Upon hearing Emily’s explanation of everything that had happened Emily’s mother’s sweet and comforting attitude had been replaced by anger. It was nothing like the anger she had seen the other day, this was pure unadulterated anger.
“My daughter, a drugged up alcoholic slut. This is going to ruin our families good name if this gets out” she said, red faced from the anger that had consumed her.
“The shame you’ve brought on this family. Your father and I have done nothing to deserve this. We’ve only ever loved you and provided for you and this is how you repay us” she continued.
Emily looking down, picking at the skin underneath her fingernails responded “I’m sorry, mom
Emily’s mother consumed with anger exited the room and stormed up the stairs. Upset and not knowing what to do, Emily followed behind her. Emily’s mother stormed straight into Emily’s room, she headed straight for the bags that had yet to be unpacked. Grabbing the bags, she began rummaging through them. Clothes tossed onto the floor as she went “I will not have my daughter dressing like a slut under this roof. This is our fault by giving you too much freedom” she said, throwing out any clothes that might be even slightly revealing.
Emily didn’t want to fight it, it was her parents house and their rules after all. Emily watched as her mother threw clothes upon clothes into one big pile that her mother had deemed to scantly. Some of the clothes weren’t even that revealing, a couple tops that hung off the shoulder but in her rage Emily’s mother had lost all ability to be rational.
“How are we supposed to find you a nice boy now? No decent, successful man is going to want a dropout that has made her way around half the football team”
Emily felt horrible about herself once again, she felt like nothing more than a used up loser. She took every word her mother had said as gospel, no boy would want her now. She was the type of girl you bring home, but you don’t bring home to meet your mother.
“You’re going to have to get a job if you’re going to live under this roof again, we’re not taking care of you. That hair has got to go, no one is going to employ you with that mess” commanded Emily’s mother.
Sure, Emily’s hair was a bit of a mess but it was nothing a good brush couldn’t sort out. Emily didn’t want to cut her hair, it’s part of who she was, her identity. She hadn’t made a fuss up until now and had mostly taken the scolding from her mother but this was too much.
As much of a fuss Emily kicked up about her hair it was made clear to her that she didn’t have a choice in the matter. She lived in her parents home, their home, their rules. Her hair was being cut and that’s that.
“Get yourself cleaned up, get in that shower because I’m taking you for that haircut today. You need a job immediately and I’m not waiting around” said Emily’s mother.
Emily was sat in the backseat of the car, picking at the skin underneath her nails. It was always something Emily did as a nervous habit, her mother hated it. She always lectured her about it, telling her it made her hands look rough, like a man.
Emily couldn’t help but feel anxious, she felt like such failure. She was terrified of how her father would react once her mother told him exactly why she dropped out of college. It’s one thing to disappoint your mother, but it’s another thing to disappoint your father when you’re daddy’s little girl.
They had arrived downtown, Emily was sluggishly walking behind her mother, dragging her feet as she went “pick your feet up, you’re going to ruin your shoes.” said Emily’s mother.
Emily didn’t want a haircut, she didn’t see why she needed one. In her head she thought her mother would change her mind by time they got to the salon, but all she was really doing was delaying the inevitable.
“This is the one” said Emily’s mother. Emily felt confused, her usual salon wasn’t for another couple blocks. Turning to her left to look where they had stopped, Emily noticed they had stopped in front of a barbershop.
“I’m not going in there” Emily protested.
“Why not?” asked Emily’s mother.
”That’s a barbershop, mom. That’s where boys go for their haircuts” said Emily.
”I don’t care, Emily. Get in there” replied Emily’s mother in an annoyed tone.
”I’m not going in there” said Emily defiantly.
”Yes you are, it’s the only place in town that takes walk ins. You need that mess sorting out so you can get a job. I’m not having you moping around my house all day and I’m not paying your way” responded Emily’s mother, beginning to lose her patience.
“If you want to continue to live under my roof then it’s my rules and my rules say, get in there” she continued.
Emily couldn’t believe it, here she was walking into a barbershop to get a haircut. Regrets starting running through her head, if only she had tried harder in college she wouldn’t be in this situation right now.
The bell rang as they walked through the door, alerting the barber. The place was empty, not a single customer. It was kinda old school in it’s appearance.
“You ladies looking for someone?” asked the barber.
”No, she’s here for a haircut” responded Emily’s mother.
”Oh, okay. I don’t really do girls hair but I can give it a go” responded the barber.
The barber guided Emily to the chair, her mother following behind her. Emily sat down in the chair, gripping the armrests tightly.
“What can we do for you today young lady?” asked the barber.
Emily didn’t even get a chance to respond, before she even have a thought of what she wanted her mother had already asserted herself “We want it off the ears and out of her face”
“So kinda like a pixie cut?” the barber asked.
“Yes, that sounds exactly what we’re looking for” she responded gleefully.
Emily had never had short hair before, in fact she hated short hair. Not knowing what to do, Emily starting to feel a sense of panic. She had always worn her hair long, she had never cut her hair above the collarbone.
The barber began to pump up the chair to get it to a comfortable height. Emily overwhelmed with nerves, thinking about her hair being chopped hadn’t even noticed the boy that had walked in and sat himself on the waiting bench.
The barber grabbed Emily’s long blonde hair, twisting it and clipping it tightly to her head to get it out of the way. The barber grabbed a neckstrip from the dispenser. Checking he had it the right way so the sticky sections would meet he wrapped it around Emily’s neck.
Emily’s hand reached towards her neck to feel what had been placed around it. They didn’t use these at the expensive salon she was used to going to.
The barber grabbed the cape, shaking it off. The cape was thrown over Emily, it was a white cape with a black pinstripe. The clips were fastened around Emily’s neck and the neckstrip folded over.
Her hair was let down, falling gracefully down her back. That was the last time she was going to feel that for a long time. Emily looked at herself one last time in the mirror, getting one last look before it was all gone.
The barber oiled up his clippers, making sure they were fit for use. Flicking the switch, Emily had realised what the barber had in his hands.
“No, I don’t want those” Emily said in a panic.
”Please can you just use scissors” Emily pleaded.
The barber looked over at Emily’s mother for what to do. Emily’s mother gave a slight nod to give her blessing that it was okay just to use scissors.
As the clippers were switched off and placed back down the relief on Emily’s face was clear to see. The boy behind her chuckled to himself seeing Emily’s reaction, thinking that it was adorable.
Emily’s hair was sprayed with a water bottle, dampening it slightly. This was a world away from what she was used to, she was used to a relaxing shampoo and being offered hot drinks in a high end salon.
The barber started running through the comb through Emily’s damp hair. The comb got caught repeatedly in the knots of Emily’s hair from where she had been laying in bed for days.
The barber began to feel frustrated, he wasn’t used to dealing with hair this long.
”This is all getting cut off anyway, shouldn’t matter too much if I can’t comb it correctly” he said in a frustrated voice.
The barber with Emily’s long hair pinched between his fingers, using it as a guide, took the first snip. It was silent in that barbershop from the anticipation, so much so that you heard the first clump of hair hit the floor.
Emily sat there quietly as her long hair fell from her head. She had so many thoughts running through her head, just thinking of the embarrassment if her college friends had known what was happening right now or if someone she had known from school walked in.
Emily’s mother and the barber chatted away and Emily sat there quietly.
“She will look so much better once this mess is gone” said Emily’s mother to the barber.
“She’s a very pretty girl, it’s not common to see girls like her in the barbershop” responded the barber.
”She’ll be in here often, every couple weeks as long as she’s living under my roof” said Emily’s mother.
The barber felt uncomfortable, he knew he was caught in the middle of something he wanted absolutely no part of but he felt kinda bad for Emily.
”Are you okay, sweetheart?” the Barber asked Emily?
”Uh hu” responded Emily meekly.
The barber continued cutting, going back to the silence that had the norm for the majority of the haircut.
Emily noticed the boy sat on the waiting bench behind her in the reflection of the mirror. He smiled at her, Emily thought he was really cute and tried hard to not smile back so she didn’t look like a dork.
That was the most normal Emily had felt since she had been back home. The boy didn’t see Emily as a loser or a slut, he just seen a cute girl getting a haircut.
Emily was a beautiful girl, it was quite obvious why guys were lining up at the door in college to sleep with her.
The haircut was nearly finished, her beautiful face was now on show. Emily couldn’t hide behind her hair anymore. Her ears were on show, this was completely new to Emily. Every now and again Emily would tuck her long hair behind her ears but it was nothing compared to her hair being so short her ears were on display.
“Head down sweetheart” said the barber, using the trimmer to clean up Emily’s neck.
Emily kept thinking of the boy behind her, he had heard everything that her mom had been saying but yet he still seemed to watch Emily intently smiling at her whenever she looked at him.
“We’re all done, sweetheart” said the barber, removing the cape from around Emily’s neck.
There was a small counter at the back of the barbershop, the barber ushered Emily’s mother over to pay for the haircut.
Emily stood back close to the chair whilst her mother paid for the haircut, looking at herself in the mirror not knowing what to think.
“I like it” said the boy.
”My name is Ethan by the way” he continued.
”Thanks, my name is Emily” she responded.
“I’ve not seen a girl in here before, you look really cute when you’re not hiding behind your hair” said Ethan.
“you think so?” enquired Emily.
”I do, I dunno if you saw but I was watching the whole thing” Ethan said
”I did notice” Emily reposed in a shy manner.
“I’d like to take you out on a date something if that’s okay with you?” Asked Ethan.
”You heard my mom, you heard the things she said about me. That doesn’t bother you?” Asked Emily.
”No, I think you’re very pretty, everyone has a past and I like that whole cute shy thing you’ve got going on” Ethan replied.
”I’m not shy usually, I just felt embarrassed” Emily said.
“Why would you feel embarrassed?” Asked Ethan.
“I dunno I guess I was just embarrassed about being made to cut my hair, it’s like I’m a child I guess” said Emily.
“I like your short hair, it’s cute. I’ve never seen a girl cut her long hair short like that before. It’s different but in a good way” responded Ethan.
Emily felt comforted by Ethans words, and he seemed like a decent guy. He didn’t see Emily as any of those labels that her mother had branded her with. Emily started to feel a little bit more confident, rubbing the back of her neck feeling it exposed for the first time.
“So can I take you out sometime?” Asked Ethan.
“I think I would like that” Emily replied nervously.
They exchanged numbers, and Ethan promised to text her.
As Emily headed home she felt confident, she liked her new short hair. At first she didn’t but Ethan had convinced her of how beautiful she looked and she couldn’t wait for that date.