For a friend

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“Come on..pleeeease???”

The light from the phone screen flashed as the text came in. Chloe rolled her eyes as she read the message. Her best friend Emily was now at the part of the conversation where she would start to beg, and Chloe wouldn’t get a chance to respond until the onslaught of messages ceased. What made it worse was knowing that even if she could somehow manage to fit in a response, Emily wouldn’t believe her and would just keep on begging and texting.

As if on que, multiple bursts of buzzing came from her purse in rapid succession. This would be the emojis, gifs, and memes meant to play at Chloe’s heart. Patiently she waited until there was about a minute pause between the last two notifications; a sure sign that Emily was ready to move on with the conversation.

Chloe fished her phone out and scrolled through the wall of messages. It looked like Emily wanted to get her haircut, but was thinking of trying something new and needed some moral support. Swiping her thumb across the screen she scrolled down to the final message.

“Come on Chlo, come with and help me out. We can go dress shopping after at that place you like and splurge. I just don’t wana do it alone.”

Chloe’s fingers taped as she responded.

“Ok Em Im in. When do you want to pick me up?”

As soon as her phone showed the message had been read Emily’s response already on its way back..

“Yesss!!! You won’t regret it. I will be there in an hour!
Ahhhhhhh!! So excited!!!”

A smile crept over Chloe’s face as she replied. Emily had been her best friend for a long time, and her excitement and sense of adventure was infectious.

“Sounds good Em, that will give me some time for makeup and stuff”

With that Chloe put her phone down and headed for the bathroom to prep. Staring at the mirror she tried to visualze how she wanted to look today. She had always considered herself more cute than hot. Her mass of wavy brown hair hung down over an average sized chest, which was perfecly suited for her toned body. She worked hard to maintain a healthy weight and had been told in the past she had nice facial features too, however those were mostly covered by her hair and the large circular glasses she wore. Pulling her hair back she looked into her own deep blue eyes before letting her gaze trace the lines of her jaw and carefully address all the little details in her face. Taking off her glasses she had to squint as she started applying her makeup. Without them she could only make out objects within about six inches of her face before everything turned into a blur. This never bothered Chloe as it gave her another little layer of coverage and she had never been very confident.

She did not want to go too crazy applying her makeup, so she chose a basic color palate, spending most of the time getting her eyeliner right. Once finished she went to pick out something nice to wear. After a few options she ended up in a tank top she liked with a tight zip up sweater pulled over it, and a pair of black leggings she could get away with calling pants. This was an outfit she figured would be easy to get in and out of for dress shopping.

Her phone went off again as she was slipping on her shoes.

“On my way! I want you to pick a style for me.. and don’t be too nice unless I’m freaking out. I want to go SHORT!”

Moments later a collection of 10 different photos of women with varying hairstyles arrived. There were a handful of bobs that varied in length from shoulder to chin, some edgier cuts that were closer to a pixie than a bob, a few pixies, and one picture with a girl who’s hair had been buzzed off.

Knowing her friend, Chloe deleted the shortest and longest options. Emily had only included the radical stuff to make what she really wanted seem a little more tame. This left a handful of pixie cuts, 2 of which were extra cute. One was longer and looked like it was more fun to play with, while the other was shorter and looked more low maintenance. The shorter one was blonde and the girl had a loose resemblance to Emily, so Chloe figured that’s probably what her friend wanted.

Chloe debated a bit between the two cuts while she waited, unsure if Emily was really ready for such a big change. When she got the notification her friend had arrived she made her decision and took a screenshot of the shorter pixie before heading out the door.

She was greeted with a warm welcome as she got into the car. For her makeover Emily had decided it would be best to leave her long blonde hair up in a ponytail, as there was no point wasting time to style it. Her outfit was a little more girly with a cute long sleeve dress, big dangling earnings, and dark red lipstick to finish off her look. They chatted a bit about the upcoming haircut on the way, Emily explaining how it was just a spontaneous decision that she needed a change, but it was also clear she was just as nervous as she was excited. Chloe assured her friend she would look good no matter what, and changed the subject as they got closer to their destination.

As the car pulled up to the salon a line of chairs could be seen through the large front windows. They were set up facing mirrors and a long bench was laid out along the wall opposite the stations. At the moment it looked like there were just two other clients inside, one getting her long hair trimmed, and the other covered in foils and hair dye.

The two women were greeted by the receptionist as soon as they walked in.

“Hello, are you here for an appointment?”

Emily nodded and stated her name.

The receptionist clicked a few buttons on her computer before confirming, scrolling through a list of appointments for the day.

“There you are, looks like you booked with Christina today. Just a moment and I can go grab her for you.”

With that she stood up and walked away, going past the chairs and into a back room.

Emily was giddy with nervous energy.

“Ohhh Im excited! I hope Christina is good!”

Chloe’s eyebrow perked up.

“What do you mean? Have..have you not been here before?”

“No not yet.” Emily replied

“I saw some pics she had on insta and my regular stylist always drones about how pretty my long hair is..and how I take such good care of it..and how it would be a Travesty if I ever cut it..”

Emily’s voice changed as she said the last part, mocking her old stylist’s obsession with her long hair. When she was ready to move on she waved her hand and continued the story.

“Anyway..I said forget that, I don’t want to have a fight about chopping it off so I will just try somewhere new. Plus, when its that short I’m sure it would grow out fairly quickly if I hate it.”

Chloe shrugged

“I guess so Em. I don’t know if I would have done it like that but you make a valid point.”

Their conversation came to an end as the receptionist returned with who they assumed to be Christina. Christina had hair slightly passed her chin, with an undercut shaved around the perimeter of her head and the hair pushed over to one side to show it off. The rest of her outfit was not as adventurous as her hair, she dressed very professionally under her smock and stood with perfect posture. When she greeted the two women it was not warm or cold, simply matter of fact.

“Hello, come with me and you can have a seat.”

With that she turned and walked over to one of the salon chairs and turned it to face the women.

Emily wasted no time running over and popped into the chair with enough force to make it spin slightly, forcing the stylist to catch the back of the seat so it could be stopped. With Emily now facing the mirror the stylist grabbed a cloth and a cape and started to prep her client. She wrapped the towel around her neck and expertly flicked the dark cape over her before fastening it into place. Emily smiled as the stylist removed the band around her ponytail and brushed out her long blonde hair, letting it spill over her and contrast with the dark fabric under it.

“So what are we doing today? Your hair is pretty healthy, are we just doing a trim?”

Emily smirked and pointed at Chloe,
“Ask her. I don’t want to know, I want it to be a surprise! Definitely not a trim thought.”

The stylist shrugged and turned to Chloe. “Alright then, what are we doing to your friend here?”

It took Chloe a moment to realize she had not moved yet. Snapping back to reality she pulled out her phone and went over to Christina.

“Let’s go with this one” she said, showing the picture of the short pixie.

The stylist stared at the picture for a bit and turned back to Emily.
“You sure about that?”

Emily still had a big smile on her face when she responded

“Absolutely. Don’t tell me what it is still, but I’m positive. I told her some options I wanted and told her to pick what she thinks would look best on me. I trust her completely.” With that she winked at Chloe and sat a little straighter to signify she was ready to begin.

The stylist nodded and picked up her shears as Chloe lowered herself onto the bench to watch.

“Well ok then.”

That seemed to be all the persuasion needed as her next move was to grab a chunk of Emily’s hair and unceremoniously hack it off at her chin.

The blade made an audible *shnick” sound as they easily removed the locks. The stylist flicked her wrist and threw the severed hair onto the floor before taking up the next section to cut. Repeating the same action she continued to quickly and efficiently make her way around Emily’s head until she had taken off most of the length.

Next she took a large spray bottle and liberally coated the hair with water. Using clips she created multiple sections in the damp blonde tresses before she took her scissors and started cutting off all but a couple inches of hair.

Emily gave a little squeal of excitement as she watched the hair on the side of her head get removed, revealing her ears.

“Oooooooo, it’s soo cute! I knew I could trust you Chlo, and I’m soo glad you didn’t choose a boring bob or something. Thanks for helping give me a little push.”

Snipping sounds continued as more blonde hair was removed until the stylist was satisfied with the length on the sides. After performing one last check to ensure that it was cut evenly she unpinned the section on top of Emily’s head, which caused her shoulder length hair to spill down and cover the neatly cropped areas. Taking her comb she gathered the front section between her fingers and chopped it into short bangs. Then using that as a guide she worked her way back across Emily’s head reducing the hair to a uniform length before going back once more and adding movement and texture to the cut.

By now the cape was covered in blonde strands of hair that were too wet to fall off and we’re stuck in place. What did manage to fall was mixed in with the piles of hair that had been cut at the beginning. The stylist ignored these as she worked, causing the hair to spread out as she walked through it until everything on our around Emily was covered in the removed hair.

Christina retrieved some styling product and worked it into Emily’s hair with her hands, pinching her fingers together or massaging them through to get the desired results. Once satisfied with the way the hair sat, she took out her scissors once more and proceeded to touch up the rest of the cut. It did not take long until Emily was left with a cute punky pixie. The last of her hair showered down as the stylist removed the cape and held up a small mirror for Emily to admire her new look.

“Oh I love it! Its so short in the back but I can probably mess with these longer bits and I can see my ears and my eyes look so big and..” she trailed off into another happy squeak before running over to hug Chloe

“Thanks for coming, and helping me pick out a new style. I’m really glad I have a friend like you.”

Chloe turned red and hugged her back.

“No problem. You look incredible! It really really suits you.”

“I’m really glad you agreed to do this Chloe, it’s a big change but it feels better with you.”

Chloe gave a little shrug.

“Yeah it’s no big deal, plus we still get to go dress shopping after so its a win win.”

Emily nodded.

“Mmhm, my feelings exactly.”

While they were chatting the stylist had brushed the loose hair off the chair, and now stood next to it facing the two women with the cape draped over her arm.

Chloe paid her no mind.

“So where to now? Where did you want to go dress shopping to show off that new neckline and those cute ears?”

Emily took a small step back looking confused.

“ we’re not done right?.”

Looking at Chloe her eyes slowly moved to the chair, then back to her friend.

“What do you mean.” Chloe asked, clearly very confused herself.

“Well I had asked you to come with right? So I booked two appointments, one for me and one for you. That way we can both pick something new from the pictures I sent you.”

Chloe started to feel a little nervous.

“Oh no, I said I would come with you, not get a haircut.”

Emily grabbed her hands and pulled them close to her.

“Oh come on, pleeeease? I said I didn’t want to do this alone and you agreed! Plus they charge a ton for cancelled appointments and I feel bad wasting their time!!”

She did not pull her hands away, but was still hesitant in her reply.

“Yeah I agreed to come with you for moral support, but not to get my haircut cut too, especially short like that! I haven’t had it short since that lob I got in high school!”

Chloe was flustered now, but Emily kept pushing

“Yeah but that was so cute! Come on I trusted you, the least you could do is trust me..
Come on Chlo, we’re best friends, and I don’t know if I can handle it alone.’

Chloe had known her long enough to recognize that Emily really was nervous. Nothing really shook Emily, but when it did Chloe was one of the few people that could always tell.

She took a deep breath and exhaled slowly.

“Ok. I’ll do it, but only because you’re my best friend and I love you.”

Emily smiled and whispered back.

“Thanks Chlo”

Chloe hesitantly lowered herself into the chair. After all it was just hair, it would grow back, and she was in need of a haircut anyway. The chair spun to face the mirror and Chloe got one last loook at her long locks. Her mass of brown hair flowed in gentle waves and got lighter at the sun bleached ends.

She was drawn from her thoughts as the stylist addressed Emily.

“So what are we doing for her today?”

Her tone continued to be business-like and professional.

Emily pulled up her phone and flicked through some pictures before showing one to the stylist, making sure to keep it out of her friends eye line.

“Let’s go with this one, I think it would look best on her.”

This time the stylist just nodded, not bothering to check with Chloe.

“I can do that. ”

She pulled something long and thin off her table and walked over. Chloe had expected a cloth similar to the one used on Emily, but was instead greeted by a thin strip of paper being fastened around her neck. She could feel it against her throat as she swallowed and watched the stylist unfurl the cape. Once more she flicked it over her client with practiced precision before securing it in place.. Chloe strained her head to the side slightly, stretching from discomfort. This felt a little tighter than she was used to.

Next she felt the stylist’s hands running through her hair from front to back, gathering it into a large ponytail. The fingers were soon replaced by the teeth of a comb, which accidentally knocked her glasses a skew as the hair was collected.

Emily walked over and snatched the falling specs.

“Here I’ll hold those for you.”

“Oh..thanks” was all Chloe responded as her vision became a mass of blurred shapes and colors.

Moments later she felt an intermittent tugging that was accompanied by a loud snapping noise. This was it she thought. No going back now. The sound persisted as if someone was trying to saw through a particularly dense length of rope. Eventually the sound stopped and the tension was finally gone. Her head slunk forward from the release in pressure, leaving her hair to collapse around her face, ending a few inches below her chin.

That must have been the bulk of it Chloe thought. Which means Emily probably wanted to give her one of the cute shorter bobs she had seen. That was fine with her, nothing too drastic.

She relaxed slightly in the chair as the stylist walked over to her station, plopping down a big brown mass that was her severed ponytail. Chloe couldn’t make out what else she was doing, but it looked like she had picked something up and was messing with it.. Squinting her eyes she tried to make out what it could be, her focus temporarily interrupted by a hair dryer kicked on from a different station. The salon was filled with the loud done of the other client getting her final styling treatment with the hair dryer. Amidst the sound there was a small *pop* and a buzzing noise that started to accompany it. Satisfied with whatever she was doing, Chloe’s stylist turned and walked toward her chair.

The faint buzzing sound grew louder as she approached, with Chloe still squinting to try and see what it was. It looked too small to be another hair dryer, maybe it was some kind of fancy straightener or curling iron. A lot of places liked to straighten clients hair before cutting it so maybe that? It was definitely electric, as she could make out the blurred outline of a wire trailing behind.

Before she could figure out what it was the object was placed on her forehead and drawn back into her crown. The humming sound changed as an intense vibration passed over her head. Before she could react, another pass caused an avalanche of hair to come cascading down around her. Chloe’s heart nearly stopped as she figured out what the device was. Clippers were being used on her head. The things she had only ever seen used on men when she was younger.

This meant her head was being shaved. Chloe held in her tears as the third and fourth passes caused the blonde piles of hair on the floor to become littered with masses of brown tresses. The stylist either didnt notice or didn’t care about Chloe’s distress as she was more than happy to continue plowing through the mane. Chloe thought about the styles Emily had sent her, and the girl with the buzzed head flashed through her memory. The picture had been deleted so quickly that she couldn’t remember exactly how short it was, but there was no way Emily had picked that cut. Not unless she was either upset with her, or honestly thought this would be the best style for her.

“Hold up a sec would you? Emily called out.

The buzzing came to a halt.
“Everything all right?” The stylist asked.

Chloe sighed with relief, glad her friend was coming to her rescue. She was too lost in her own thoughts trying not to panic to think of any words to help herself.

“Im sorry but that’s not right”

Emily walked up behind her and pulled out her phone. To Chloe it just looked like blobs in the mirror interacting with each other. From what she could see it appeared like Emily was showing something to the stylist.

At this point all that mattered was that the shearing had stopped. Hopefully it was for good, because while it was too late to turn back, she might still be able to somehow salvage what she still had. Chloe tried her best to side eye the hair left on the sides of her head, which still hung below her chin. Slowly her heart rate returned to normal as she listened to her best friend consult the stylist.

“See, its way shorter in the picture”
Hearing that Chloe’s heart sank once more. Emily wasn’t rescuing her, she was putting the final nail in the coffin.

“Oh yeah you’re right, my apology but we can fix that easy”

The stylist walked back to the counter where there was a *snap* followed by a shuffling in a drawer, and then another *snap*. Next the familiar pop and buzzing sound filled the room again.

Chloe was speechless. She felt betrayed and powerless as the stylist approached her again with the clippers. Lifting Chloe’s chin with her off hand, the blades found their original starting point and once more carved a path right down the middle of her head. She didn’t think it possible but even more hair was taken off. If she wasnt bald before she had to be real close now. These aren’t long strands coming off her head, but instead small tufts of hair almost an inch long that started to dust her shoulders. After a few more passes she tried not to think about how much shorter her hair had just gotten as her head was firmly pushed to one side. Chloe took a deep breath in an attempt to steady herself, and decided all there was left to do now was to trust her friend, and let the stylist finish shearing her.

Next the vibrations glided up above her cheek, the buzzing sound changing and growing louder as it removed the chin lenght locks, and proceeded to chew through the hair around her ear. Not having her ears covered was a new sensation that Chloe was not used to. She couldn’t tell if everything was louder, or if it just seemed that way with the barrier of fluff gone, and she could swear she felt a slight breeze despite being unside. However she was unable to fully appreciate the sensation due to her head being abruptly tilted forward, forcing her chin to down into her chest.

Shivers shot down her spine like an electric current as the clippers touched down at the base of her neck. Working their way up into her hair line they did not stop until they had made a full journey all the way back to her forehead. This made her once more witness just how dense her hair was. The individual hairs may not have been very thick, but the amount was undeniable as each pass caused brown locks to rain down past her face. Squinting at the floor she could even see that the brown patches were beginning to overtake the blonde clumps left over from the previous makeover.

The stylist continued to methodically work her way around the rest of Chloe’s head. She showed no signs of whether or not she was enjoying her work, or what she may think of the situation. As with all her clients she remained professional and focused, as if shaving a girl’s head because her other friends said so was just another day on the job.

When the stylist had cleared off the last bit of long hair, she grabbed a soft brush and swept it all over Chloe’s head while following it with the clippers. The sound of the humming blades changed every once in a while to reflect that they had corrected a previously uneven section. Finally after ensuring that every single strand of hair was completely severed to a uniform length, the clippers were turned off.

The silence that followed was deafening. Chloe got lost in it as she pondered how long it would take to grow her hair back. She hardly noticed when the stylist once more tilted her head down and fired up the clippers. Placing them at the base of her neck they were drawn up toward her crown, this time stopping before they went too high. At this point Chloe was just shocked that she had any hair left to lose. Yet when the blades were brought to her temple, she could make out a brown spray of small bristles being shorn off by the powerful machine.

“Would you like me to finish with the razor?” The stylist asked no one in particular.

“Ummm, I’m not sure.. how would that be different from now?”
Replied Emily, still maintaining control over the haircut.

“Well we have a #2 here, then it fades down to 0 on the back and sides” the stylist motioned to Chloe’s head, pointing out the lengths of the different areas.

“If i used the razor, then the perimeter would be smoother and cleaner”

“Ok! yeah do that!”

Emily again sounded much more excited than her best friend. But Chloe has already resigned to her fate, especially since the majority of her hair was currently in a severed ponytail on the counter, clinging to the cape draped around her, or scattered on the floor.

The stylist said nothing, but when the clippers stopped she walked over to her station and put them back in her holster. Chloe sighed in relief that at least that part was over with. After some more rummaging the stylist returned and spread a warm substance that smelled like lavender around her ears and on her neck. Shortly after she felt it being scrapped off as cold metal slid through the warm lather.

It didn’t take her long to finish this part. Any remaining lather was wiped away with a warm towel. The haircut was finally over as the cape was unfastened and removed. All the hair that had clinged to it now fell to the floor as well, which meant it also took a surprising amount of weight off of Chloe. Without all that weight it now felt like she had lost double the amount of hair. She tried to get used to the lighter feeling as any remaining hairs were brushed off her neck.
She was lost in a mix between thought and panic when Emily’s voice called her back to reality.

“Your glasses Chlo, do you want them?”

The glasses sat in her outstretched hand waiting to be returned to their owner. Reaching out and grabbing them, Chloe mumbled a half hearted thanks. She paused.. took a long deep breath..and put them on. The reflecting that came into focus was that of a woman she did not recognize.

It was worse than she had thought. Thinking back on the picture, she remembered a specling of hair on the sides of the model’s head, but on her own head there was pale white skin in its place. The stylist had taken no pity on ensuring that every hair was properly served. The woman looking back at her didn’t have a thick brown security blanket covering her face and concealing her neck and shoulders. This woman had every little feature both visible and on display.

Staring at the mirror a little longer, she did have to admit that the style did actually look quite good. The sides had been expertly faded from a quarter inch of hair left on top, and everything was neat and even. Going beyond that, she could ever go so far as to say it looked good on her. The style made her eyes pop, showed off her apparently cute ears, and made her glasses feel more like a fashionable accessory.

Chloe reached up and brushed her hand over her head, jumping at how soft it felt on her hand and how sensitive her scalp was. She stared at the mirror as she ran her hands over her head, convincing herself it wasnt someone else.

“Sooooo….dress shopping?” Emily asked, finally breaking the silence.

Chloe gave a start as she came back to reality.
“Yeah. dress shopping…
You know Em, I wouldn’t have minded if you were a bit nicer to me.”

“But do you hate it?” Emily asked slightly nervously.

She didn’t show guilt on her face, she had a small smile that gave the impression she already knew the answer.

Chloe sighed again

“No. No I don’t think I do.”

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