Erin ran her comb through her friend’s shining chestnut hair over and over. She took long, pensive strokes, carefully following the flow down Olivia’s slender neck, out over the narrow frame of her shoulders, plunging down her back, down, down all the way to her tight bottom, then out over that natural swell, down past the end of the hairstylist’s cape. That particular situation bugged Erin the more she thought about it. There was such a thing as hair that was simply too long. Granted, there were longer capes out there, but the fact that Olivia’s hair was able to overwhelm such a thing felt excessive to Erin. It really ought to be trimmed back. I mean, come on.
“Olivia, your hair is longer than my cape,” Erin remarked dryly. She had fallen to her haunches to focus on combing out the bottom sections, and looked up to let that fact sink in with the girl.
Olivia saw Erin’s eyes in the mirror and her eyebrows raised up pleadingly. She smiled nervously and bit her lip. “Is… is that okay?” Her voice was sweet and buoyant. Full of her naive innocence. Is it okay that my pretty boyfriend-stealing hair is so long and thick, it makes this cape seem short in comparison? Is it ok that I’ve made such a spectacle of myself that the normal rules of attraction have been up ended?
Erin’s brow knitted against the thought. That wasn’t fair. Neither was the urge she was struggling to resist. She forced a weak smile back up to her friend. “It just makes things a little more challenging.”
“If I’m causing too much trouble, just let me know,” Olivia looked back, her face again showing her concern. “I don’t want me or my hair to cause you any grief.”
Too late for that. “Nonsense, babe,” Erin found herself responding instead. “I love a good challenge.” Erin stood back up and returned to drawing her comb down, down, down again through the long lengths of Olivia’s vibrant hair. She realized what she was doing, but was powerless to do anything else at the moment. She was getting Olivia’s hair neat and straight. The sort of thing stylists did to ensure their client’s hair would be as even as possible. So that it wouldn’t fall crooked after it had been cut back.
She knelt down again, carefully combing out Olivia’s thick hemline, hunting for any uneven growth, long straggling strands, or split ends. It was what Erin always did for her long haired clients. She was just being a professional. Even though she hadn’t asked, Erin would be remiss in her duties if she didn’t fully inspect the health of her hair and determine if a trim was necessary. This is what Erin told herself as she took about four times as long as she normally did, hunting for any imperfections.
She was a little peeved to find nothing. Not one split. Not one uneven section. Olivia’s tips, while a little bushy, were the picture of health. Erin knew that a trim was not only unnecessary, but might even result in a less healthy look than the naturally occurring perfection she now had. Girls who had just gotten ruler-straight trims often had a severity to their look until their hair had a chance to naturally “heal”. Erin personally didn’t like it. Few did. She knew Olivia didn’t. Even as teens, Olivia would mope for days after the smallest trim because she felt it looked too severe and unnatural.
In short, Erin realized as she again took to drawing her comb over and over through her friend’s splendid locks, Olivia’s hair would not be improved in health or visual appeal if it were to be trimmed today. As Erin gently combed her friend’s hair, Olivia let loose a deep, relaxing sigh. Erin looked up to see the brunette’s eyes drift closed. A contented smile stretched across her full lips. Her hands twined together and her arms flexed in a luxuriant stretch. Suddenly Erin was transported back to her old bedroom, where she and Olivia had spent many a night brushing out one another’s long, flowing hair. Olivia had sighed and smiled just like that without fail every time Erin brushed her hair out. There was another memory, buried within all that. Something hidden. Forbidden.
“I missed this so much,” Olivia purred against the soft rustle of Erin’s combing. She wrapped her arms around her shoulders. “There was always something special about the way you are with my hair. It’s going to sound weird, but I think it’s how I feel about you. Erin.”
Erin was drawn by the sudden change in tone to look at her friend’s reflection.
Olivia was staring right into Erin, her big brown eyes excited and hopeful. “I love you,” the brunette suddenly breathed, then, wide-eyed, she clamped her hands over her mouth. “Oh my gosh, not like that! I mean, as my best friend. As my chosen sister. As the person I trust more than anyone in the world. When you touch my hair, it’s my favorite person meshing with my favorite thing about myself. It just makes me feel so special.”
Erin stood in shock. Just what was Olivia saying? Either way, she was touched. For a moment, all the rage and rejection she had been internalizing from Justin’s break up was gone, like clouds in the wind, parting before warm sunshine. I can’t do this to her. Not now. I’ve got to get her out of here before I lose it. Erin opened her mouth, realizing she didn’t know which words to say. But she knew now wasn’t the time for this. Olivia was a sweet lamb trying to make a bed in the jaws of a lion right now.
Suddenly the memory came to her. It was Erin’s sixteenth birthday, and Olivia had come to spend the night with her one last time. They were both getting too old for girly sleepovers. But they weren’t ready to leave this last childhood vestige behind. Erin was brushing out Olivia’s hair. It was so elegant, so regal. It smelled of roses, and each brushstroke released more of that sweet scent, perfuming Erin’s bedroom. Olivia yawned and leaned back against Erin. She remembered how soft her blanket of thick hair felt as it cushioned between them. Before Erin even had the chance to register this intimacy, Olivia had turned her head into Erin’s nape and nuzzled in. The crown of Olivia’s hair brushed against Erin’s chin. She felt the girl’s light breath against her clavicle. Reflexively, her arms wrapped around the cuddling brunette. Something powerful was waking in her, and it felt wonderful. Olivia turned around and the two started giggling. Erin wasn’t sure what was so funny, but she couldn’t stop. Olivia swung her long dark hair over Erin’s shoulders like a scarf, and they burst out laughing together. Olivia’s beautiful face kept getting closer. She tugged playfully at Erin’s strawberry blonde locks, which fell to her waist at the time as well.
Erin gasped. Did they…?
She was snapped back to the present when Olivia began humming to herself. At first, Erin couldn’t figure out just what made her tune sound so familiar, but it felt haunting. When she placed it, she cursed herself for not recognizing it sooner. It was Falling Away With You, an old Muse song. And it just happened to be her song with Justin. The song that was playing when they first kissed. When they watched the sun rise together on the beach after spending all night sharing their dreams. When they first made love. It was going to be their wedding song. It was salt and acid in Erin’s raw wounds.
Flashes of her dashed future danced through her mind as Olivia absently hummed the tune that conjured them. Erin recalled her many afternoons daydreaming about escaping her boring hometown in a beat up old pickup truck with their cute, eccentric tiny home hitched to a trailer behind them. This song was always playing in her fantasy as they set out on their great adventure. In her wildest dreams, she imagined a blissful moment, quietly humming this song while gently rocking her newborn baby to sleep. When she dared to imagine such a lovely future, the song sounded just the way Olivia was humming it now.
Rage and pain flooded through Erin. That was all gone now. Her whole life, ruined. All because Justin’s head was turned by the very mane Erin was now combing out. It was this hair, this too-long hair that did this to her. It was outside the borders of fair play. You didn’t go getting double F breast implants. You didn’t remove ribs to make your waistline slimmer. And you didn’t go growing your hair this long. Men are dogs, and it is a woman’s job to understand that and manage their appearance to maintain order. If Olivia didn’t get that unspoken rule, that wasn’t Erin’s fault. But she would correct the problem.
Erin wiped her nose and leveled her comb just above a section of her friend’s thick crop of soft, brushy tips as they dangled behind her slim thighs. “Olivia, just when did you say your last trim was?”
“It’s been a while. I didn’t need to have anything done since before I left for India, and I was there over a year. Why… why do you ask?” her voice twinged a bit.
“Well, you’re a bit overdue by the looks of things down here.” Erin quickly plucked her scissors from her tray.
“What? Are you sure?? I wasn’t really thinking of getting a trim,” Olivia protested weakly. Erin saw the panic in her friend’s eyes.
“Olivia, don’t be scared. I’m going to make sure you look gorgeous.” The Big Lie. Standard operating procedure for a stylist to force a client to let them do what they wanted. Erin pushed away the guilt welling up inside her. “But you do need a little evening out down here.”
“Okay,” Olivia quietly relented. The ache in her delicate voice struck a chord, and Erin looked up at her friend’s face. She looked the way Erin felt. Wretched and heartbroken. Something dark in her took delight in the company. “Just not too much off,” the beautiful brunette whimpered, looking down at her gorgeous rippling tresses.
You took my future from me. You didn’t mean to, but you still did it. My dearest dreams, gone in a heartbeat. It’s only fitting that I return the favor. Erin slid her scissors around the very bottom of a section of Olivia’s glossy locks and prepared to cut.
“Wait! Can I… Can I do one thing first?” Olivia pleaded.
Erin halted her scissors. “What is it?” she asked impatiently from her haunches. Erin felt Olviia’s hands slide under her own arms and gently pull her to her feet. The two women stood facing one another, eye to eye. Olivia was looking straight into Erin’s soul. She flung a long, dark lock out over Erin’s shoulder. Erin felt the soft weight of it as it caressed her neck and fell down her own back. Butterflies took flight in her stomach as Olivia took a step closer to her friend. That face, made even more beautiful by the flourish of her adulthood, was so close again. But no one was giggling now.
Olivia gently draped her arms over Erin’s shoulders. Erin’s knees felt weak. This. Yes. That hidden emotion, stifled to nothing after that night. Erin’s hands dove into Olivia’s mane and went to work exploring the vast dark jungle of velvet. It felt so good, and she looked so beautiful. All that intoxicating hair. So full, so warm and soft, so shining and nubile. It just kept flowing down her body, both adorning and accentuating the rest of her. It made her seem so overripe, bursting with virginal feminine allure. It was too much.
She felt Olivia’s body slide up against her own. Her eyes shut just as she felt Olivia’s lips connect with hers. Olivia quietly purred her electric purr, giving Erin goosebumps. Her own hands reached into Erin’s hair and traced it as far as it would go. They slipped free far too soon, and both girls seemed to display their disappointment. Oh, why did I go and chop it all off?
“I miss your long hair,” Olivia breathed softly.
“Right now, so do I,” Erin panted.
“Why on earth did you cut it?”
Erin wondered. It was right after she’d first seen Olivia. Those feelings… these feelings. She had such a life planned with Justin, she didn’t want to let anything jeopardize it. Her long hair had become a liability, a security breach that could lead to… something like this. Erin’s skin went cold as she realized her subconscious motives. She had chopped it off to ward off her old friend, to show herself and Justin she was pledged to him. Instead, she’d lost him to the sight of Olivia’s own heavenly locks. “Justin…” she whispered to herself.
Olivia pulled back suddenly. “Oh my god. Justin! Oh shit. Oh shit.” She pulled the silken stole of her long hair back off Erin’s shoulder and neck. “I’m so sorry!” Her eyes peered into Erin’s. “Unless…” Her soft brows arched, desperately begging the unasked question on her lips.
Erin watched the nervous beauty before her. Things began to crystallize for her. Justin had already ditched Erin. Here was this ethereal girl from a previous life. One she never wanted to want. Her mere presence had shattered the relationship she’d had with her boyfriend. Shattered the carefully constructed normal future Erin desperately wanted to live. And now she was tempting Erin again, calling like a siren, stirring those unwelcome urges she had worked so hard to quell. It would be so easy to give in. Her hands ached already to fill themselves with Olivia’s incredible hair. It would be like coming home.
No. Erin steeled herself. She would not let this happen. She would not fall down that rabbit hole. She was straight! She eyed Olivia, this stunning brunette temptress with her entrancing locks. Once again, it had all circled back to her hair. It was what caused Erin to stray those years ago. It had caused Justin to leave her. And it was causing her to stray again. Oh, why did she want it so bad?
Olivia’s hopeful gaze turned crestfallen as she read Erin’s shift in demeanor. “Erin, I’m so sorry. I don’t know where that all came from. Tell me what to do.” Her sweet, angelic voice was a lure. It called to her, drawing her in.
There was only one thing to do. The source of the problem had to be removed. Erin walked around her friend, tentatively running a hand down the epic mane that flooded over the girl. “Just hold still,” she commanded. Olivia complied. She pulled her scissors out from her apron and brought her comb down to the brunette’s ends once again.
“Oh,” Olivia chirped sadly as she saw what Erin was doing. “I was hoping I could change your mind. Do you… still have to?” Her voice was watery.
Erin stared at the silken mass hanging before her. It was unlike anything she’d ever seen before. She clenched her jaw. Do I?
“Yes.” She knew her friend would be watching closely, so she brought the scissors lower than she’d like and snipped away at the soft tuft hanging from her fingers. A half an inch of hair came free and tumbled to the floor. “See, not too much,” Erin soothed as Olivia searched out the fallen snippet. “And you’ll feel so much better when I’m done.”
“If you say so,” Olivia whimpered, completely unconvinced. She sniffled.
Erin took another lock, but this time she held her fingers a little higher, and proceeded to snip off three quarters of an inch. It was sacrilege, she knew. But she had to destroy it before it destroyed her. She worked fast, snipping at lock after lock, each time slowly creeping up a little farther. An inch became an inch and a half, then two. Occasionally Erin would look up at Olivia’s face. Her mouth was twisted in a grimace and her eyes were pinched shut. Perfect. Erin quickly grabbed a section and snipped off 6 inches in a fury, before fully understanding what she had done. Her mouth opened in a silent gasp as she held the silky shorn mass in her hand. She just cut off a shitload of hair. Olivia’s perfect ends now had a giant chunk missing from the bottom. That section now only reached halfway down her behind, while the rest fell more or less to her upper thighs.
She looked up at her friend in a panic. Olivia was still nervously waiting for this whole thing to be over, trusting Erin not to do exactly what she had done. She quickly snipped the long chunk into smaller bits and scattered it on the floor. If Olivia saw a section that long down there, she’d go nuts. But how was she going to fix this? She already knew the answer, and a part of her knew that this was her goal all along. She’d have to shorten Olivia’s hair significantly to match it.
“Not too much, ok?” Olivia suddenly repeated, the waver in her voice betraying her struggle to keep herself from full on crying. This was torture for her, and she didn’t even know the half of what was going on.
Erin exhaled evenly. Let’s see how Justin likes her now. She took another section and trimmed off an inch, then another, then another, until it too was shortened to match the other lock. She repeated the process again, working quickly. Too quickly, really. She wasn’t taking the time to get such a long train of hair perfectly even. Some sections were almost an inch longer than the original lock. Others were terrifyingly shorter. Tufts of brown fluff rained down off her friend, and more and more of her perky bottom was uncovered from the retreating golden-brown cascades.
Erin looked up. Olvia’s hair was reduced, but still fell in thick waves out onto her rump. It called to her. Still so beautiful. Still so fetchingly long. She would have to cut her way free from it. Erin stood up and took hold of a lock at Olvia’s mid back. She closed her scissors on it quickly, before she could think better of it. Snip, snip, snip. snip, her sharp shears lanced through the soft hair and twenty-six inches came dropping free. Olivia’s eyes shot open in dismay. Erin took another lock and began snipping even as Olivia opened her mouth.
“What are you doing?!!” the girl protested in horror. “That’s so short!”
“Ollie, I told you to trust me. I’m giving you layers. Your hair is too thick. This will make it more manageable.”
“But I don’t want layers! Oh, Erin! Please don’t.” Her voice wracked with heartache.
“It’s too late to stop,” Erin said as she kept cutting away the chestnut blanket. Great sheets of hair came dropping off and flopping loudly onto the floor. Far beyond any amount necessary for layering. “Let’s just see this through.” It all had to go. The hair. The feelings. The awkward alternate future she would do anything to avoid.
“My hair…” Olivia burst into tears. She brought her hands to her face and sobbed.
Erin felt awful. Olivia didn’t deserve this. But it had to happen. She stopped for a moment. “I’m sorry, Olivia. I didn’t want to hurt you.” Olivia tried to respond, but she was too overwhelmed. She could only cry. Erin looked at the scissors in her hand, at the masses of hair around Olivia’s feet, and at her devastated face. She suddenly wanted to hold her close, to comfort her. To…
Olivia’s hands were still over her face. Erin took the opportunity and brought her scissors up to the brunette’s chin. She began cutting at the girl’s thick locks once again, sending another fifteen or so inches to the ground. Olivia just wept as Erin worked around the perimeter of her hair, snipping off lock after lock, cutting and cutting and cutting away at the beautiful girl before her. As she made her way to the sections that still stretched to the girl’s bottom, heavy locks that stretched over three feet long were scissored off one by one. The whole salon floor seemed to be buried under the shed strands. Olivia’s entire form seemed to fade as her hair was reduced. Her lovely glow was dimming to something mundane.
“Why?” Olivia managed to blurt through her sobs. Erin struggled to put her reasons into words, but failed. Instead she just grimaced and finished off the remaining longer lengths, leaving Olivia with an unflattering chin length bob.
Olivia looked down at the chestnut carpet her lost hair had made of itself around her feet. Her mouth opened and a sound, half wail, half gasp came out, filled with her anguish. It reminded Erin of the scene in Maleficent where she wakes up and discovers her beautiful wings have been cut off by her would be lover. It was soul wrenching. Erin wiped a tear from her own cheek as she watched her friend process what had just happened and mourn.
For Erin, balance had been restored. Her friend now looked the way she felt.
Olivia looked up at Erin, her eyes pooling with tears. “Well?” she asked coolly. “I don’t feel better at all. I feel ruined. I feel halved. Do I look pretty to you at least?”
Erin took a deep breath and unfastened the now unnecessary nylon cape from her traumatized friend. Olivia’s body was much more visible now. Soft, supple, and toned in the blossom of her adulthood. Her face was still gorgeous, framed by choppy long bangs that fell to her chin, too short now to hook back over her ear as was her old habit. Her hair mushroomed out around her jawline and neck, no longer held down by it’s previous weight. Her deep, dark eyes looked haunted from the ordeal, but they still held their mystery. Pretty, yes. Irresistible?
“No,” Erin said with a smile. The loathsome urges were gone. Without all her hair, the spell was broken.
Olivia stared into Erin’s eyes again. Erin knew what she was looking for and calmly held her gaze, knowing she would no longer find it. “So that’s it then?” Olivia quietly asked as more tears dripped from the corners of her lovely dark eyes. “I came to you whole and beautiful. All I wanted was for us to be together.” She gestured down at her shorn locks. “I guess this is my answer. Look at what you’ve done to me.” She glared at Erin. “You could have just told me no. You didn’t have to be this cruel.”
Erin stared ahead blankly. “No, I couldn’t. Not before. Now I can, though.”
Olivia burst into tears. She turned and fled out through the door, her face in her hands.
Erin swept up the ocean of dark, virgin hair and tossed it into the bin at the back of the salon. Guilt and regret stung her suddenly as the mountains of hair slid off her dustpan. The jasmine fragrance wafted up from the destroyed mane one last time. Realization dawned on her. This could have all been hers. It was only her self loathing that stopped her from embracing something wonderful. A miracle had come to her, and she had slain it. What have I done? For the second time today, she slumped over the counter and broke down into sobs.
Just as she was finishing, the bell rang again as a young man stepped in.
“Hey, I tried calling you back a few times, but I guess you shut off your phone or something,” Justin said with a sheepish grin. He strode over to Erin. “You never let me finish.”
Erin stood in shock. Fear, desire and anger swirled behind her eyes. “I think you finished things off just fine, didn’t you?”
“No!” Justin protested, suddenly seeming frightened himself. He tried to pull her into a hug, but she pushed him away angrily. “Erin! I was messing with you! I thought it’d be funny, but I guess I was wrong. I’m sorry babe! Come on, you have to know me better than to think I’d want to break up with you over hair. It was just too good to resist.”
Erin’s jaw dropped. “So… you didn’t really like Olivia’s long hair?”
“I mean, it’s beautiful and all. That’s where I got the idea to prank you, after I saw her take it down at the party. And then you cut your hair. It was too perfect. I figured I’d better come visit you and set things straight before you had the chance to do something rash. I know how you get.” He chuckled. “I kept thinking, imagine if poor Olivia came to visit you right now. You’d probably scalp her.”
Erin chuckled weakly as the room began to spin. “Heh heh… yeah.”