Fran’s Story

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“Slow day, Fran?”

“Tell me about it,” I dug my chin into a palm, pouting at Reggie. My one appointment for the day was over an hour ago, and now it was just the waiting game for potential walk-ins. But Reggie and Maia though— they were practically jam-packed for the day.

“It’s normal, hun, don’t worry about it,” Reggie assured, looking dashing as ever with that black fedora he always wore as he was lining up his client’s undercut. “Give it a few weeks, build a clientele— you’ll wish you had freer days.”

I forced out a smile, turning back to my workstation as I tried to fiddle with my tools to hold my attention somehow on such a boring afternoon. Joining a queer salon was probably the biggest goal I’d had since cosmetology school: the traditional salon scene just seemed too much with the amount of services I’d have to pick up, and traditional barbershops felt a little too out of my element. Then when I first set foot in a queer salon, it all just felt right– specifically here, where Reggie and Maia had been building up their brand for close to a year now off of their fuss-free and zero judgement haircut policy (and of course, their stellar skills). But they quickly realised offering just haircuts was limiting their reach– and that’s where I came in. I’d initially applied solely for the role of stylist slash barber, but they quickly leveraged on the fact that I’d been trained in colouring services. And just like that I became principal colourist here, and during off-hours I’d help coach them as well so that they could add the skill to their repertoire.

But unlike both of them that had the time to hustle and gain the trust of their clientele since before they even opened the shop, I was practically starting from ground zero. I hardly had the time to even freelance while in school, so I was left with the luck of the draw of getting walk-ins or random customers that decided to take a chance while booking on our shop’s webpage. I didn’t really know if things were going to pick up, and I was just left in a funk worrying about holding the two of them down hogging up one of the chairs in their shop.

I looked up into the mirror as my mind wandered, and my hand absentmindedly reached up to my hair. It was an artful drape of silky ebony— tresses that reached my mid-back that I’d always taken care of (I mean, who would ever trust a stylist that didn’t take care of their hair?). It wasn’t necessarily a big piece of pride I held, but it did get compliments which were always nice. And then suddenly, just out of the blue, the oddest thought crossed my mind.

“Should I cut my hair?”

It took me a while before I realised I’d said it a little too loud, though only Reggie turned to regard me. “You what?”

“Cut my hair. I feel like doing it,” the words didn’t roll off the tongue so well, but it somehow made sense. Like a path I hadn’t realised was always there.

Maia was still engrossed in her work, probably out of earshot, and so Reggie was left looking perplexed as he had to deal with my little impulsiveness while he was finishing up on his customer. “Like… do you want me to trim it after this or-“

“Oh no, not trim. Like, short. I think I wanna cut it short.” Even I was surprised by the raw energy of it— I had no idea where any of this was really coming from. I just knew something had to change, and I guess I was sticking to a direction.

“Ohh, hun, I couldn’t,” Reggie sounded hesitant.

“Why not? You’ve probably done more drastic makeovers— surely another wouldn’t hurt.”

“Yeah, but they actually thought about it for a while— this,” he gestured to me with his comb, “is pure impulse you’ve got going on. I’m going to feel responsible if you hate it afterwards.”

“Oh come on, it’s just a haircut, what’s the big deal?” I goaded, turning to face him fully now.

“What’re you two on about?” Maia turned, her mini, strawberry blonde pigtails swinging across her face as she took a reprieve from the snipping to regard the commotion that was going on.

“Fran says she wants to cut her hair,” Reggie reported, a look of disbelief still on his face. Maia gave a sort of unimpressed look that spelled the word ‘and?’. She was just about to turn back to the client in her chair before Reggie uttered that missing adjective at the end of his sentence: “short”.

Maia scoffed. “Yeah, right,” she dismissively said as she went back to snipping tiny dusts of platinum blonde.

“I’m sorry, what?” I shot an incredulous look at her, turning the entire chair so I was facing her. “Does that sound unbelievable to you?” I asked pointedly.

“You? Wanna lose all that?” she shot back.

“You think I wouldn’t ever cut my hair short?” my tone turned accusative, and my hand instinctively reached up to touch that bundle of dark locks hanging over my shoulder.

“Personally? I don’t think you have the balls.” You could say Maia was the blunter one of the two. She was the type to outrightly tell a customer if she thought something would look terrible on them— though she always offered a close alternative. It didn’t help that she could read the little bit of uncertainty that was welling in me. “I take one big snip of your hair and I think you’d be holding back tears, darling.” Oh, I so wanted to prove her wrong.

“Bet.” I reached out to the counter. I turned to face the mirror, raising those steel scissors up to my hair— poised to take a quick snip right at the chin-

“Whoa whoa, let’s slow down here, drama queen,” Reggie interrupted, suddenly right beside me with his hands on my arm. “Why don’t we put the scissors down first, we can chat about this,” he consoled, trying to contain this powder keg in me that was lighting up.

I sighed, unsure if it was in relief or annoyance realising nothing drastic had happened. All I was left with was that odd tableaux of Reggie stopping me from committing something so grave— like a classical painting moments before disaster.

“You should’ve let her do it,” Maia remarked as Reggie managed to pull the scissors from my hand to set back on my dresser. “I really wanted to see what would happen. My god that could’ve been pure gold.”

“So cut my hair then,” I challenged, realising that not leaving it in my hands was probably the smart play if I actually wanted to go through with this. “I promise I won’t cry, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

She stopped snipping again, then turned up to look at the clock. Then let out a sharp sigh. “I’ll be done in about five minutes,” Maia deftly said as she got back to work. “I have a half an hour window before my next appointment. If you really want to do this, you’re gonna sit in this chair the moment I’m done, and I’ll promise I’ll cut it for you. But-“ she raised a finger as she glanced at me, “I’m going to do whatever I feel like doing. No ifs or buts— you just sit in my chair and I’m gonna cut it. Understood?”

With bluntness came a modicum of… authority. There was something so compelling about the way she made the offer— even if it was laced like a threat. Don’t get me wrong: I trusted Maia with my hair. While she’d never actually cut my hair before, I didn’t doubt Maia’s skill one bit– no one has left her chair unhappy. But knowing she practically had an idea of how she wanted to cut it short already was a little unnerving. Yet also thrilling.

“Okay,” I cooed, my throat feeling unnaturally dry. Maia simply went back to snipping away without a word, and I guess my fate was in her hands. And suddenly that image of me in the mirror felt… precious. That silky black hair I’d inherited from my mother had served me well, and I couldn’t believe I was actually thinking of just cutting it all off in the next five minutes. Did I really want this?

Surprisingly the impulse was still intact— there was this gnawing part of me that felt like it was right. I would’ve thought Maia’s challenge would at least knock some sense into me, but there I was playing around with my hair as I mimicked a reflection of myself with something shorter. I held it right up at chin length, not hating that picture of me in a bob with my navy blue blouse. That was an air of professionalism to it, despite my black jeans that added a casualness to my style.

“Thank you, darling, see you around,” I heard Maia bidding her customer farewell as they shared a hug, and I realised I was up next. Perhaps it was time to finally see that bob in the mirror come to fruition. Once her workstation was spick and span, she simply turned the chair towards me and gave me a look.


Her words seemed to echo way over the clippers Reggie were wielding, and he could only give me a pair of wary eyes as they both awaited my response. Chickening out was an option: I could easily say ‘no’ and pretend this was all a mistake, and it’d make for the best joke they’d bring up over drinks one night. But I just couldn’t back out– not now.

“I haven’t got all day, Fran,” Maia called out to me in a singsong voice, though the impatience was clear in her tone as I’d realised I hadn’t actually moved an inch.

I instantly got up, my knees like jelly as I awkwardly half-wobbled towards her chair. Reggie’s lips were a thin line as he watched– observing this foolishly impulsive woman walking to a rash decision. Maia, however, was smirking– eagerly awaiting her prey to stumble into her arms before she could finally have the free reign she’d probably always dreamed of. And here I was acceding to it.

I carefully placed my feet on the footrest one at a time before slowly sinking myself in, only for her to almost immediately push my shoulders back onto the backrest of the chair. In a jiffy she bundled up my long, black tresses before clipping them up onto my head with a claw clip, then went straight for her dresser to collect her apparatus. She started with the neck strip, which I instinctively raised my head to let her drape around my neck tautly. Then came the pinstriped cape which she flung gracefully above me, making sure it captured my entire body before she clipped up the ends securely behind my neck.

She undid the clip as she spun me back to face the mirror, and my tresses fell with a flourish– maybe for the last time. “Hmm,” she made the sound in her throat as she looked at my hair this way and that, and her hand reached up to scratch the undercut on her nape like she always did when she pondered.

“I thought you already had a plan,” I hazarded the question, taken aback by how uncharacteristically hesitant she seemed.

“Oh, I do,” she shot back, the sinister look returning to her face. “I’m just figuring out the specifics now that you’re up-close and actually in my chair for once,” Maia pounced on the opportunity. “Ah, and don’t think that I’ve never noticed you avoiding the question every time I ask if I could give you a trim.”

I bit my tongue, holding my face steady as I realised I was found out. “I thought you only cut short hair,” I bullshitted, though it did have truth in it– she doesn’t brand herself as the ‘short hair specialist’ on the salon webpage without reason.

“Just cos I’m an expert at short hair doesn’t mean I can only do short hair,” she played along with my line of words. “But that doesn’t matter now does it– you actually want something short for once, don’t you?”

“And what did you have in mind?” I tried to redirect back to her, forcing out a smile.

“Oh, honey, if I told you you’d be bolting out of this chair in a heartbeat,” she concluded before swivelling the chair so I faced the back of the salon. “And I’m obviously not gonna let you see it, cos then you’d actually chicken out.” The last thing I saw was a devilish grin flashed across her face before she took her position at my side. She haphazardly picked up a bundle of my hair on the left, holding as much as she could with a firm tug of her hand while the other pulled something out of her apron pocket.

Shnick, shnick, shnick. 

My heart stopped. I knew exactly what that sound was, but for some reason was too in shock to do anything. I sat frozen as those scissors painstakingly sawed through those thick tresses somewhere near my chin, and all the excitement in the world was starting to fill me.

Shnick, shnick, SNIP.

There was a loud gasp that filled the room, though nothing left my lips— it was Reggie that was the first to actually react as he saw the destruction Maia had wrought, which she so gracefully placed on my lap with a “here you go.” I wasn’t sure whether to scream or gasp or cry, but there it was: all those years of rich, ebony locks splayed onto the cape for me to see. But Maia didn’t miss a beat— she simply stepped over to my right, grabbed the next bundle of my tresses, and dove in to carry out what she desired.

Shnick, shnick, shnick, shnick, SNIP.

It was when I felt all those soft locks sweeping forward, ends tickling my cheeks that everything started hitting me, all at once. Maia plopped that last bundle of my hair onto my lap with the other severed chunks, and together formed that mass of hair that should’ve been on my head— if not for my hubris.

“Oh, fuck,” the words left my lips, and I immediately turned to look at the mirror behind me. Only to be stopped.

“No no no, that’s not how this works,” Maia chided as her fingers found my chin, holding my head in place firmly yet softly enough that it didn’t hurt. “I already said: no looking,” her face went closer to mine, mere inches between our eyes now, “so you’re gonna sit here quietly while I finish this up, understood?”

I pouted as hard as I could, annoyed. I’d taken such a large jump, and I wasn’t even allowed to look at how deep the chasm was. I was just left to free fall completely based on Maia’s whims. But I guess I wouldn’t have it any other way— like I said, Maia’s reputation as the ‘short hair specialist’ didn’t just come out of nowhere. She had a very dedicated clientele of cropped beauties and charmers that came back to her consistently, and today I might just be added to that list. “Fine,” I loosened up, ready to take the fall with her.

“Good,” her smirk seemed to take on a more devilish character now. “Trust me, Fran— you’re already looking a million times better.” Suddenly both of her hands were on either side of my face now, and they slid into my head of hair.

“Ooh,” I sighed as I felt it: those soft hands ruffling through what was left of my hair on top. She fluffed me up like I was a cat getting petted, and I genuinely didn’t hate it. It was still so foreign feeling the ends of my hair just tickling my cheeks, but she seemed to be helping me get used to it.

“It’s divine, isn’t it?” Maia reveled in the power of her fingers. “You’re gonna love it even more when I’m done.” The fluffing of my hair was over a little too soon, and she swiftly got to work sectioning out what was left of my hair, which I could only guess was some sort of rough bob at this point. As much as I’d wanted it to be a bob before I even sat myself in the chair, I knew this was still far from Maia’s desired length. But alas– it was all out of my hands now, just as I’d wished for.

Maia had clipped up most of the hair on top, leaving the sides and the back hanging freely. She then went for the spray bottle, spritzing the hair left behind as I held my tongue feeling those icy droplets touching the now-exposed skin on my head. “Fran, honey, have I ever told you how much I love the vibe you’ve got?” she complimented out of the blue as the comb raked through my damp hair.

“I don’t think so,” I hedged, genuinely unsure if she ever did compliment me before– let alone on my style.

“Oh, but I really do love it. You show up to work all the time looking so slick, with a very soft sort of… androgyny, if I’m not reading it wrong,” she said as I heard her put down the spray bottle. Androgyny. For some reason that word just… clicked. Even though I’d never used such a word to describe myself, it suddenly seemed like Maia filled in a blank that I’d been keeping in my head for so long. I’d spent the last few years trying to find the right vibe for myself, but I guess some people could just see it leagues before I did. “But you see, I always felt like something’s missing,” she continued as she started combing out a section on my left side, her fingers curiously stopping only a small distance away from my scalp. “But now… I think I know just the thing to complete your look.”

SNIP SNIP SNIP. I was lulled by her honeyed words, but was snapped out so easily by the click of her shears. I could barely even register those hefty, wet locks tumbling onto my lap before she combed out another set. SNIP SNIP SNIP. And without much ado, Maia was in full-swing– jumping straight into that clockwork of scissoring like she always did with every single one of her customers. It was a constant freefall of my dark hair, littering the already-messy cape with every snip she made as the length on my side was reduced, taking me further away from that bob I originally imagined.

Not having the mirror made it incredibly hard to even figure out how short she was taking it. I could feel the ends of my hair tickling only the top of my ears by the time she was transitioning to the back. Maia soon tilted my head forward slightly, then combed down the hair straight down my neck. Her scissors were soon planted way high up my neck, probably even right at the base of my nape if I was to guess. SNIP SNIP SNIP, SNIP SNIP SNIP. 

Her comb raked down my neck as those loose locks ticklishly slid down, leaving behind such a bare neck that could feel the chill of the air-conditioning too well. She then went up the nape proper now, continuing her scissor-over-comb technique to shear me down with precision and haste. I could feel some of the hairs stubbornly gathering at the back of my neck, and I guess now I finally understood why they always incorporated the neck tissue in their prep.

It didn’t take long before Maia was on my right side now, combing up ample sections to slice any locks that poked out of the teeth of the comb. It was one thing to watch Maia work, and it was another to actually be in her chair— being in the hands of such a master like her that honed her craft so flawlessly. Soon enough the snipping came to a stop, and the sides of my head felt the coldest it’s been in my whole life. This was the shortest I’d ever had hair on my head, and it was only more thrilling realising she was only halfway done. What else was left in store– I could only wait in suspense to see.

Pop. Bzzzzz

I audibly gasped when it was flicked on so abruptly. It was one of the few things I had to get used to when I started working here– hearing those clippers being used so often as so many customers had their hair short or at least had some form of undercut going on. “Don’t worry, I’m not gonna scalp you,” Maia assured with a hand on my shoulder. “I promise, I’m just going to use these to line up the sides and the back so that it looks clean. It’ll be like a gentle fuzz towards the bottom. I think you’ll like it.”

“Mm,” was all I could really let out from my throat as she pushed my head to the right once more. I watched her bring those wired clippers up to my head, holding them in an overturned manner as she aimed right for the lower sections like she mentioned. Bzzzaaaa. Bzzzzaaaa. There was a rather violent noise as the blades clashed with my hair, and it felt almost ticklish as it sort of ‘chewed’ close to the skin. First time ever drastically going short, and also the first time having clippers used on my hair. What a day of firsts.

There was a meticulousness to her, but this part felt much faster than the scissors. The clippers simply followed the bottom line as she moved them along horizontally, taking very precise bites at my hairline which went all around my head. In less than a few minutes she was practically done, and I let out a breathy sigh of relief when the clippers shut off, realising I could breathe a little more easily now.

“That’s a good girl,” Maia threw in a little compliment that almost threw me off, and I had to bite down my cheeks to stop that fluttering feeling too much. She started dusting the sides and back with a neck brush, and those bristles against my bare skin felt so good.

Then I heard it. Everyone knew that sound that came from my phone, and almost everyone in the shop turned to my chair when they understood what that sound was. “Did someone get a match on Tinder?” Maia impishly teased.

“It’s probably just a message. I’ve got a date later tonight right after work with someone I matched with earlier in the week,” I blurted out as an excuse, but realised I’d dug myself deeper into a hole with that explanation.

“Wait, you knew you had a first date tonight and you still decided to cut your hair out of the blue?!” Reggie chimed in as he realised.

“When you put it that way,” I said, funnily enough only just realising in that moment what I’d done, “yes, I can’t fucking believe I did something so dumb.” I shut my eyes and bowed my head, grimacing so hard as I realised how stupid I was. “Fuck, she’s gonna think I’m catfishing her or something, showing up looking so different.”

“Hey, look at me,” Maia came round to tilt my chin up, her face now a little more calm. “I promise you, you’re going to look ten times better than whatever picture you put on your profile,” her words were genuinely encouraging instead of snarky, and a part of me found myself trusting her. “Can I at least see this beauty that’s caught your eyes?” the mischief in her tone returned, and I guess it didn’t hurt for her to see.

I took out my phone from under the cape, opening the app to see that my date had just texted to confirm our date for the night. I sent her a hearty reply, then clicked on her profile for Maia to look at. “Wowie, now that’s a redhead! And so gorgeous too. Roxanne, total bombshell name to match,” Maia expressed.

“Tell me about it,” I cheekily replied, taking in that little bit of validation. It genuinely felt like a miracle matching with a woman that was so pretty, yet somehow emanated such a strong dykiness about her.

“And where are you two lovebirds going?” she passed me my phone back as I slid it back under the cape.

“The vegan diner just a few blocks down. She recommended the place.”

“God, that’s so gay. I love that for you two,” Maia added just as she undid the clips on top of my head, letting the rest of my hair fall down all over my head. And I guess for that brief moment, it felt like I still had that bob I’d originally wanted, feeling the rest of my hair still covering my ears and touching my cheeks. But I no longer wanted that. I knew Maia was still far from done in the transformation, and every moment away from the mirror meant a growing suspense. But, at the same time… excitement. As much as this was a gigantic impulse, it felt so right. Maia was definitely the type to want to keep me on my toes, but she was also the best choice for something so insanely impulsive. No matter how much I wondered about the final result, I knew it would be to die for. And that it was going to make me feel like my true self—that androgynous self that Maia saw and admired in me, and hopefully more would admire as well after she was done.

Maia was back to spritzing my hair again, this time going to town on the top of my head with the spray bottle as she combed my mop straight back, all off my face. Once it was sufficiently damp, her scissors were back out, and she was ready to complete my transformation. She started with the layers near the back of my head, combing up a section between her fingers before the shears went SNIP SNIP. 

Her meticulousness continued— going into a silent focus as she shaped my hair into that image she envisioned. She combed up a hefty section, then snipped right off every time about a few inches away from my scalp if I could guess. As she slowly reached the front layers I got giddier— filled with so much anticipation of the final look. But all I had to go off were those layers of wet and dry locks splattered across the cape— layers that Maia had so carefully removed to make me the woman I had to be.

I couldn’t help but pick up a few of the locks that were left scattered on my lap, carefully rubbing them between my fingers as Maia snipped away. So many years of growth just snipped off— all because of a little spark.

The little bell on the salon door rang as a woman entered. “Hey babe!” the woman in a sundress called out to Maia, though her soft eyes quickly turned to a look of wonder when she saw what was happening in the chair in front of her.

“Lynette, babe, I’m gonna be a teeensy bit late. Someone here wanted a haircut out of nowhere,” Maia snidely remarked, though she never stopped snipping.

“I can see that,” Lynette gave an amused look as I could only return the gesture with a shy smile. “Take all the time you need babe— Fran’s looking the best she’s ever had.”

I had to bite down my cheeks to make sure I didn’t blush, trying to avert my gaze as Lynette took a seat by the waiting bench. “Can you believe that she asked me to cut all this off when she’s got a first date tonight?” Maia continued, taking pleasure in airing my laundry.

“You did not,” the disbelief on Lynette’s face grew, all of her attention now unfortunately on me.

“In my defence, your girlfriend goaded me into it,” I rebutted, though I knew darn well I was the one that chose to take a seat in this chair.

“That definitely sounds like my girl,” Lynette cheekily said, and for some reason I could just sense Maia flustering up a bit. They were an adorable couple— that, I’d never take away from them.

After a series of snips near the front of my head, Maia started going over the entire head of hair once more— making sure every inch and detail was perfectly to her liking. She stepped right in front of me towards the end, bending down to make a few precision snips as she parted my hair this way and that. She then lifted up my chin, and I was left to look right into her dark eyes as she surveyed her work.

“Now this is you, Fran,” she remarked so proudly. “You two— come here. Y’all need to see this in full,” she beckoned to Lynette and Reggie.

I felt even more self-conscious just seeing the three of them huddled in front of me— their eyes staring in wonder at this new me that I hadn’t even met yet. “Oh, Maia, it’s perfect!” Lynette was the first to say. “God, that’s so much hair gone,” Reggie was still taken aback. “But at least it turned out amazing.”

She’s gonna break so many hearts, isn’t she?” Maia was of course the most besotted with it— she was one to always take pride in her work.

“Can I get to see it now?” I shot a little impatiently, excited to see how this played out.

“Okay okay, easy there, tiger,” Maia said as she took her place once more behind me while the rest returned. And without further ado, she swivelled me back around to face the mirror.

I held my breath when my eyes met the mirror— taking in that new portrait that was staring right back at me. My face seemed so exposed now without my rich black hair flowing down either side of it, and all that was left just barely touched my ears, with a longer part falling into my face, almost like a modern James Dean kind of look. I curiously got a hand out from under the cape, carefully tracing the way Maia had parted it to the right— to think that I was going to have a short part now was such a thrill! It was shorter than I’d ever had it, yet it had all of the sleekness that seemed to show off my face the way I never knew I’d wanted. An androgynous sort of greaser, if you will.

“I love it,” I confessed, the smile on my face growing as I turned my face from side to side to see it all.

“Of course you do— you finally look like you,” Maia commented. “Oh, don’t be afraid to dig your hands in, I’ll style it properly for you later. Have a feel of it!”

And so my fingers went forth, tracing this head of hair that was always there, with just a little less length. Short as it was, it still had all of the silky softness from when it was long— only that it was in a more ‘manageable’ length from now on. Maia had tapered the sides so that it looked super clean, and towards the bottom was that soft bit of fuzziness she promised. I think I spent a whole minute just rubbing that bottom part of my nape— it was so soft! I looked in that mirror for a good while, and I could say without a shred of doubt: this was the real me. The right haircut was just the missing piece this whole time. And all it took was a scissor-happy barber like Maia to goad me into it.

“Now, this is what you’re gonna do,” I heard Maia chime in as she started undoing the neck strip and cape behind my neck. “You’ve got no more appointments for the day, yeah? I want you to go take the rest of the evening off. You go home, get yourself showered and all dressed up. Stop by just before your date later, and I’ll style your hair for you and make it look perfect. Okay?”

“Okay,” I cooed as she whisked the cape off, letting my dark tresses tumble to the floor so casually. She dusted the neck brush on my now-exposed neck, and I stifled a few giggles feeling it tickle against my skin. I wonder how’d it feel with someone else’s fingers on it. Maybe if I got lucky later tonight I might get the answer to that question.

I slowly rose to my feet after she dusted me clean, and I took in that full image of me with that perfect haircut, paired with my blouse and jeans that just looked so right. My cold feet were all but gone now, and there was this newfound vigour that bubbled through me, seeing someone so foreign yet so familiar in that mirror. As nervous as I was for the date tonight, I could at least be happy knowing I was showing the most comfortable version of me I’d ever been.

“God,” I whispered under my breath, smirking at that reflection of me, “I’m such a bad bitch.”


“Maia, I’m scared.”

She blinked at me through the mirror, her hands mere inches from my head as she was just about to start styling. “I thought you said you were feeling the most confident you’ve ever been? What with the haircut and all.”

“But what if she doesn’t like it?” I confessed. The shop was all but empty, with just me and Maia left at her workstation with the light all dimmed down.

“Then it definitely wasn’t meant to be,” Maia curtly responded, starting to run the product through my hair. “Okay, I’m sorry,” she followed up when she saw me pouting too obviously, “probably not the best thing to say before the first date. But I only say that because no one in their right mind would think you look awful with your new hair.”

The words of encouragement were nice, but it still didn’t change the fear that lingered. It still didn’t change that technically, I was about to catfish someone. Should I at least have the decency to pre-empt her about it? “Text her about it,” Maia added as if she was reading my mind. “Doesn’t hurt to at least ‘warn’ her that you’re gonna show up looking different.”

“Okay.” I got out my phone, opening up the app as Maia shifted to my front, trying to tousle my hair this way and that to find the perfect way to style it for the night.

Hey, I haven’t been completely honest with you. Send.

Maybe I should’ve just been more direct— go straight in and be completely blunt about it. No, maybe that would’ve scared her away. Ah, why did one impulsive haircut make things so much harder than they had to be? Ding. I quickly opened up the text, and a drop of relief soothed me.

What do you mean? 

Time to let the cat out of the bag…let’s hope she wasn’t only into girls with long hair!

Basically… I had a really impulsive idea today. I don’t know why I did it, but I did it.

I know you’ve seen the pictures of me on my profile, and it IS me in those pictures. But I, uh, got a major haircut today. Like, chopped ALL of it off.

I held my breath as I waited for those three little dots to appear and show she was responding, expecting the worst the more time went by, and nervously tucking my newly-cropped hair behind my ear as I stared at my phone as the dots appeared and suddenly:

You’re not bald, right?

No! More like…I guess you could say…have you seen that David Bowie 1976 Rolling Stone cover? That’s the vibe. 

I didn’t even need to wait before her next message appeared

Literally one of the sexiest aesthetics ever. If I like the rest of you as much then maybe we can be heroes, just for one day (or night?). Oh my god, that’s was so cringey ?See you soon!

“I told you she’d dig it,” Maia said.

“Were you reading all that?!” I gave her a cold stare through the mirror.

“It’s right in front of me, what was I supposed to do? Look away?” She rebutted, hands still buried in my short head of hair as she perfected the shape. “But look at you— David Bowie and all. 100% your vibe.”

“You don’t think that was too ambitious a comparison?” I hedged, simmering down from my outrage.

“I think it’s the perfect fit,” she assured as her hands left my head, now tilting my head from side to side to see the look she’d styled. “What do you think? David Bowie enough?”

I finally registered that final image of me, with my hair slicked up and back off my face. My fingers carefully touched up the look, having a feel of this new, sleek greaser aesthetic I never knew I could pull off. Out of curiosity, I pulled down a piecey lock of my hair onto my forehead, truly completing the look. “Now it’s perfect,” I gladly announced. (Final look:; before and after: )

“Oh god you’re gonna break so many hearts,” Maia teased. “Well go on then! I’ll get everything cleaned up, but you be prepared to tell Reggie and I everything when you come in tomorrow, okay?”

“I will,” I affirmed as I stood up, embracing the confidence that was just coursing through me now. Oh, Roxanne, I’m coming for your heart.


“I’m so relieved you like it,” I told her as the food arrived. Given how much I liked her so far, it really was a relief. When I saw her for the first time, her hip-length, silky, richly red hair took my breath away, and from the way her eyes popped when I walked in, I knew my makeover was a hit. Talking to her had been a blast so far.

“Oh honey, I prefer women with short hair. I usually only go out with them,” she replied, and then self-consciously shoved some fries into her mouth as if to shut herself up. I wondered why she agreed to meet me if that was the case, but I guess she could also see that androgynous vibe everyone else saw in me. So I went ahead and asked her why. “You’re a hairstylist, I’m a makeup artist, I figured if we didn’t hit it off we could at least be business partners or something,” she cracked.

“Have you ever had your hair short?” I asked her. “Unfortunately.” she replied, with a frown. “When I was growing up, my mom would march me over to the salon any time it grew past that stupid typical little-girl bob length, even when I was too old for that kind of haircut. She said she didn’t want to deal with combing it or having to take care of it. Plus, she said long hair was too vain and prideful, all the religious bullshit she believed. It made me so mad. I was obsessed with the little mermaid when I was little, so I’d walk around with a red towel on my head pretending to have long red hair,” she told me, laughing wistfully at the end. “Well, you’re definitely embodying Ariel now. How did you finally get to grow it out?”

Her face darkened for a moment. “That’s kind of an intense story. I don’t want to dump on you.”

“I’m a hairstylist. People tell me their life stories every time they sit in my chair. Go ahead, I like listening to you” I replied, leaning in closer to her as she chewed on a French fry.

“Ok so,” she said as she finished the fry, “as you can probably already tell, my parents sucked. No sense of privacy, which included seeking out and reading my diary when I was in ninth grade, which contained a lot of writing about my attraction to other girls. And after that things got…bad. So bad I had to go live with my best friend. But that was actually the best thing to happen to me, because she helped dye my hair red in exchange for me doing her makeup, which is basically how I started doing makeup for people. Plus no more forced haircuts. I finally felt like myself once my hair grew long. I mean, I haven’t been to a salon since high school which is silly and I probably should to use better-quality dye, but firstly they charge by length which means I’d pay a fortune, secondly, sitting in a salon chair brings up my stupid childhood baggage.”

“I think this is all actually one part of why,” she continued, “I find women with really short hair so sexy. I didn’t have a choice about getting to have long or short hair growing up, and have found a lot of liberation in getting to have it my way. So seeing other women with so much swagger—I mean, look at you!—after giving a middle finger to what society tells them about how to be a proper woman…I get it. And it’s so hot. Plus all the access to necks and chests…” She twirled a chunk of her mermaid hair around her finger while seducing me with her big blue eyes, which glimmered mischievously.I felt my body tingle as I pictured her full lips kissing all over my collarbones.

“This waitress is taking a really long time to get the check,” I said slyly, “but when she does…”

“Well we both live nearby and, hun, if she takes more than another five minutes, don’t worry. Their bathroom is big enough for two. I know from experience.” She smirked as she ate the last fry off the plate.

She was very forward, but instead of feeling icky it felt so right. She intuitively knew exactly what I wanted. Of course the waitress chose that moment to bring the check, which we split.

We basically raced back to Roxanne’s house, and the feeling of the wind in my newly-short hair was a thrilling feeling. As was the feeling of her long fingers raking through it as she pushed me against her bedroom wall. “You’re so sexy,” she whispered, nibbling on my exposed ear and then further down my neck before taking a cute little bite. “Ah!” I yelped, and then flipped her around and pushed her onto the bed. With her red hair splayed against the white sheets, she smiled seductively as I lowered myself onto her.


God, Roxanne, your hair’s gorgeous,” I said as we lay in her bed together after sex. I carefully stroked through those red tresses, still so enamoured. “I don’t think anyone would ever guess that you do it yourself.”

“It’s like you already know all the ways to make me feel special,” she replied, nestling herself into my arms on her cosy bed.

“What if I told you I could make it even prettier?” I treaded on the topic, the little story she told me over dinner still fresh in my head.

“If it involves not sitting in a salon chair, I’m all ears,” Roxanne simply replied, looking at me with wary eyes.

“Well, you’re in luck then— I don’t work at a salon. Technically, well call ourselves a queer barbershop,” I teased, trying my luck with technicality.

“That’s even weirder for me!” Roxanne shot back, immediately turning around so she was back-facing me.

“Oh, come on, you’ll be surrounded by short-haired hotties! I thought you loved that,” I bargained, unsure if I’d overstepped a line.

She was still facing away from me in bed, hands crossed with a cute little pout on her face. Then she slowly cocked her face a little, glancing at me from the corner of her eye. “Do y’all get a lot of those at your shop?” she nibbled on my offer.

So many. It’s like a hundred versions of me coming in and out every single day,” I said, gently pulling her close to me, though she still offered a bit of resistance. “The one that did my hair today— Maia— she calls herself the ‘short hair specialist’, and literally almost every single one of her clientele has it short. I’m sure if you visit any time, you’re bound to see one in her chair.” Her sulking loosened up a little, listening to me spin a lovely tale of a short-haired haven for her. I could tell this was a big thing for her, but I still didn’t want to be the one imposing too much. For someone dealing with that much baggage about it, she really didn’t need to get pushed into it— let alone from the woman she’s sleeping with. “Listen,” I quieted down to a whisper, trying to soften my approach, “we don’t need to decide on anything. But maybe taking a few baby steps wouldn’t hurt.”

Her arms loosened up, her face now finally turning to face me again. “What are you suggesting?” her face was still a little stern, but at least she sounded willing.

“Maybe next date— if we’re having one, that is. I’m totally into you, and would like to do this more, but it’s still up to you— you can come pick me up from the shop I work at. No appointments, no nothing, you’re just dropping by to fetch me before a date. That way you can have a look at the shop, get a feel of it, no pressure or anything,” I suggested, doing my best to sound as gentle as I could about it. “You’re taking charge of the space, y’know— walking into it, but without any intention of having your hair done. Seeing the place as an observer, more than anything. Maybe if you come a bit earlier you could sit down and watch some short-haired cutie get their hair cut.”

Roxanne’s face stirred a little, lips quirking around as she considered the offer. Then a small smile. “Fine,” she said, finally snuggling back into my arms. “What time do you finish work next Friday?”


“Okay, I’ll come around 5.45? Off Prospect Place, right?” Roxie suggested.

“It’s a da— wait-,” my brows furrowed, staring suspiciously. “How did you know? I never told you where the shop was.”

Her eyes widened ever so slightly, as if she was just found out about something— but trying her best to keep it cool….


“And that’s how I ended up telling her about my fetish, since I’d matched with her because of recognizing her from my times gazing into the shop’s windows,” Roxie explained. “But Jo, I promise, we were really never a thing—there was that one time we had sex on the first date, but the more we talked the more it was clear we worked better as friends. She was poly and just wanted hookups and I wanted…well, what you and I have.”

She twirled a lock of my blonde hair around her finger and I couldn’t decide whether to pull away. I’d asked how she started working with Fran as her colorist earlier that day and she’d avoided the question, but hadn’t exactly lied. But it was hard to know they’d had a thing, especially with how sexy and confident Fran was. 

“Jo, I was so scared to tell you because I thought you might get upset about me and her still being friends, but I knew not telling you would be worse. She only just stopped being poly recently and that would never have worked for me.”

“And now that she’s into monogamy you wouldn’t just go running into her arms? Especially because she has short hair so she fits your type?”

She looked at me with wide blue eyes, eyes filled with genuine hurt. “Babe,” she nestled herself onto my chest and stroked my hair onto the tops of my breasts upon which it fell. “It’s you I want—and plus, there’s time to make you a short-haired girl yet!,” she joked before burrowing under the covers and kissing the inside of my thighs. Soon enough, as she moved further down, she convinced me without any words. 


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