Gone Too Short
I couldn’t believe I was here doing this.
My stomach was flip flopping and I was squirming in the large salon chair. I could see my scared face poking out the top of the cape that had been slung around my neck just minutes ago.
Ryan had encouraged me to come do this, promising that his coworker had done this same thing and really enjoyed it, emerging the other side a new woman. I was reluctant, hesitant, unsure.
The hairdresser reemerged from the door he had previously stepped into, a warm smile lighting his face.
“Thank you so much for agreeing to be a hair model for us today. Are you excited to get started?”
I nodded hesitantly, biting my lip as I contemplated what to say. I was not excited to get started, not at all. I was excited for all of this to be over. It made my stomach twist and turn to hand over control to a virtual stranger.
They were building their portfolio, I reasoned with myself. They wouldn’t give me an awful haircut if the whole point is to build a client rapport.
“Your boyfriend called earlier,” The hairdresser added, making my eyes snap up to meet his, “It was easy to remember his name since I’m a Bryan and he’s a Ryan.”
I let a small smile curve my lips as my heart continued to beat wildly in my chest.
“He let me know that you were coming in and that you were pretty nervous about what was ahead of you. But don’t worry, he let me know enough about you to figure out the perfect hairstyle for you.” Bryan cheered, his bright and vibrant personality slightly putting me at ease.
Okay. I could do this. Ryan had talked to him, explained the situation, approved whatever was about to happen to me.
Bryan’s hands pulled through my long brown hair, starting at the root and slowly gliding down towards the end. He untangled a few knots on his way and stroked the glossy strands reverently.
“You look like you’re about to just explode with nerves,” He teased, turning the chair away from the mirror so I was facing the wide windows that took up most of the front wall of the shop.
“I don’t know if not being able to see will help that,” I chuckled awkwardly.
Bryan laughed in response and tightened the cape around my shoulders. “It’ll be better if you don’t see the in between and get nervous.”
“Okay,” I breathed, feeling worse and worse by the second. “Will you at least tell me what you’re planning on doing?”
“It’ll be a nice sleek bob.”
I relaxed minimally. I could do that. A bob wouldn’t be awful. I closed my eyes and pictured myself with a nice angular bob, parted to one side and sweeping the tops of my shoulders. I actually think I would like it. The upkeep might be a bit more difficult since I couldn’t easily pull it into a messy bun but it was time for a change. I knew it. Bryan knew it. And Ryan knew it. It would please him to see me come home with a fresh new style. I’d be a new woman.
“Let’s get this show on the road.” I breathed, my heart continuing to beat out of my chest, no matter how much I’d come to accept this fate.
I could hear Bryan rifling around in the drawers of his station and my anticipation built as I sat blindly in this large chair. Relax. Relax. I told myself, trying to sink into the comfort of the cushioned chair.
He pulled a comb through the sides of my hair and seemed to clip up the top section, letting the ends hang over my forehead.
“Okay, don’t be intimidated by these clippers because I’m going to give you an undercut before I start. This will look great with the cut and will help it lay better and make it easier to style.”
My gut twisted at the word “clippers” but I just nodded in response. It made sense. I had seen bobs before that were shorter underneath, allowing it to lie nicely against the head.
The clippers started to hum behind me and I fought to quell the fear that bubbled inside of me, ready to break free like a geyser.
I had cut my boyfriends hair before and knew that there were various guards that could be used to make clipper-cut hair a bit longer, so I wasn’t too upset when I could feel the guard against my skin. It felt weird, different than I thought it would. It didn’t feel like the plastic comb that the guards look like but felt like cool metal against the skin of my neck.
He brought the clippers high up, probably about level with my ear and worked around the back of my head. I heard the clippers turn off before a higher pitched pair was turned on and brushed against the edge of my hairline. I could picture exactly what he was doing, trimming the stray long hairs that were left with a guarded pair of clippers.
I tried not to be too nervous at the hair that was pinned on the top of my head was let down and brushed against my neck and shoulders. Bryan came around the front and brushed my hair forward, creating a part down the middle and combing down each side so it was even and flat.
I usually wore my hair in a side part but I held my tongue since I could just change the part when I got home.
My hair was combed straight down all the way around before he disappeared behind me again and grabbed a pair of scissors. I could feel him combing and recombing, lifting up my hair to check where he had cut the undercut to and then letting it fall again.
I expected to feel the scissors against the back of my neck, hiding the undercut, but was surprised when I felt them slide into my hair.
I could feel the scissors high up on the back of my head, level with or above my occipital bone. It felt too high. It felt too short. What was he doing? I hoped and prayed that he was using thinning shears and just giving my short layers in the back or trimming stray hairs from the undercut. My stomach somersaulted as I swore I could feel the metal of the scissors against the back of my head. This was short, this was way waytoo short.
A loud crunch made my heart race even faster as I felt the hair spring up in the back of my head, no longer held down with the weight of long hair. This was a bob? It couldn’t be. It felt like he was absolutely shearing me. I didn’t look down at the hair on the floor, I couldn’t. I didn’t want to know. If he had cut it as short as I thought, there was nothing I could do about it now.
I felt tears pool in my eyes and a lump start to form in the back of my throat. What would Ryan say? What would my coworkers say? I was already mortified imagining the bowl cut I was receiving.
I squeezed my eyes shut tight. I just needed to get through this and I could wear a hat for the next few months, the next year. It was just hair. It was just hair. I wasn’t my hair. I wasn’t my looks. I had a boyfriend who loved me.
Tears started to leak out of my shut eyes as I tried, with no avail, to quell the fear and anger and sadness that bubbled up within me. I wish I could see what was going on, get some sort of glimpse into the train wreck that this entire thing had become.
My eyes flew open as I felt him move around my head to the right side. I could feel the cold steel of the scissors on the top of my ears. No no no. This was way too short. This was beyond too short. This was criminal. Tears started to flow more rapidly as I felt the scissors move to rest on my cheek bone.
I saw it then, the long slightly wavy hair cascading down the gown and onto the floor. My hair. I swallowed the lump in my throat as Bryan moved around the back of the chair to butcher the other side of my hair.
I would not cry. I would not. What was done was done. It had happened and there was no going back. There was no attaching the hair back onto my head. I had to resign myself to the short haired fate.
With my head feeling lighter and my tears no longer running, Bryan moved to the front of the chair and looked at me with his assessing gaze. He tugged and pulled and twisted the hair on both sides to check if it was even. He seemed satisfied with his work as he nodded approvingly and smiled slightly. A watery smile appeared on my own lips and he chuckled lightly.
“It looks great already, really suits you.”
I just nodded, unable to believe the statement until I had seen it for myself.
Bryan grabbed a comb out of his apron and maneuvered out of my view to grab something off his station. He returned holding the comb and a spray bottle of water.
He sprayed the hair at the roots and combed a section at the front forward. Bangs. Of course this hair style would have bangs. I had bangs for a while, liking them but letting them grow out since they were very high maintenance. Well, it seemed like this bob would be high maintenance anyways so we might as well go for the gold.
My vision was obscured by the sheet of hair that hung over my face, not that it made a difference since I couldn’t see what I looked like anyways. A blast of warm air shocked me as Bryan turned on a hair dryer and brushed down my bangs to lay flat.
Rustling sounded in front of me as he put the dryer away and got his scissors back out to cut my bangs. My stomach flipped with nerves but I figured this couldn’t get any worse. Right?
Wrong. I had another ‘oh shit’ moment as I felt the scissors slide into my hair at the very top of my forehead. God, it felt like I wouldn’t have any bangs at all. I held perfectly still and didn’t breathe as the sheet of hair slid down from in front of my face and onto the floor.
My ‘bangs’, if they could even be called that, were sprayed again and blasted with the hair dryer. Bryan seemed to be working hard to get them to lay flat. All I could imagine was little sprouts of hair sticking straight up out of my head.
No. No. No. This was not happening.
I could feel the comb gliding through the hairs, barely making it a centimeter down my forehead before it was pulled away and combed again.
With the hair dryer off and Bryan silent in front of me, I cracked open my eyes and peeked at him. He was standing a few feet in front of me, looking at me approvingly as he assessed his work.
He looked…… happy?
I was scared, terrified to see what was left of my hair. Was it only 30 minutes ago that I was sitting here with long flowing hair. And now? It felt like there wasn’t even anything left. I was infinitely curious and horribly anxious but I didn’t even get a chance to say anything before Bryan stepped forward and grabbed the handle of the chair.
When he turned me around to look at myself in the mirror, I didn’t know if I should scream, cry, gasp or storm out of the place. It was short. Shorter than short. Shorter than the short haircut I expected. Instead of falling level with my nose, thelongest strands were level with my eyes, barely brushing the top of my ears. I swallowed thickly and quelled the rush of panic that overtook me. The bangs were basically non-existent. Not the centimeter I had expected but just as bad. It was awful, it was worse than awful.
“It’s very short.”
“Yes, a short sleek bob.”
I swallowed my retort and nodded, turning my head left and right to get a look at the increasingly short back. I could see the undercut loud and clear behind my head as it had absolutely no hair covering it. And, oh god, it was absolutely shaved to the skin. Just the slightest bit of stubble covered the lower half of my head. He hadn’t used a guard like I had hoped. Oh god, I was bald.
No. No. No. This just got worse and worse. This was awful. Terrible. And it took everything in my to not burst into tears right now.
“It’ll take some getting used to.” I croaked out, my voice hoarse and wavering.
“It is a change.” Bryan smiled, “But it looks amazing! Maybe some of my best work.”
He preened and I forced a smile onto my face. His best work? I would be loathe to see how he left his other clients.
I gave myself one last look in the mirror as I stood up from the chair and quickly cast my eyes away. I didn’t even want to see it. I didn’t even want to know. I hadn’t even touched it yet, it would have made it too real.
My smile was forced and my eyes watery as I stood against the back wall and posed for pictures. Turn this way, now slightly angled, now smile. Look at the wall, look in the camera. I looked everywhere but in the mirrors that lined the walls of the place.
“Wonderful!” Bryan cheered, his eyes on his phone as he flipped through the pictures. “You’ll have to come back when it’s grown out a little bit and we can try a new style!”
I stopped myself from scoffing out loud at the suggestion. I was never setting foot in this salon again. No matter how cheap(free) the haircut was, it was not going to happen.
I just nodded weakly as I edged towards the door. I had to get out of here. I wanted to pretend like this hadn’t happened. How was I going to go to work tomorrow? How was I going to face Ryan?
Ryan! My eyes widened as I stepped out into the chilly outdoors, part from the shock of the cold breeze around my bare neck and part from the realization that Ryan had spoken to Bryan on the phone.
Had he coordinated this? Had he told Bryan to butcher my hair?
It couldn’t be. He wouldn’t have done that to me. He wouldn’t want a girlfriend with such a hideous haircut.
I slipped into the drivers seat of my car and promptly pulled out of the parking spot, avoiding the rear mirror in case I would see my dreaded reflection.
I tried to keep it together as I drove but my vision blurred as I navigated through the streets back to our apartment. I made it into the driveway before I absolutely lost it, the tears spilling over in waves and the sobs wracking my body.
I sat like that for a long time. Crying and crying as my car got colder and colder. I could feel the cold on my neck and it made me cry even harder. What had I done? Why had I agreed to this? I looked in the visor mirror and gasped again. It looked awful, it looked worse than awful.
I looked like a small child, my makeup all cried off and my bangs so short they were barely even there. I looked like someone with a wig too small for their head. I looked like I had taken scissors to my own hair and hacked it off with no skill.
I lifted up a hand and tentatively brushed it against the back of my neck. The short bristles scratched against my hand as my cold fingers grazed over the practically bare skin. I brushed the sides back, trying to tuck them behind my ear with no avail.
And god, it just seemed to get even worse and worse. At closer inspection I could see that the baby doll fringe had been cut past my hairline, and a sliver of my side burns had been shaved off to create a new wider hairline.
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
My sobs got even louder and heavier as the reality of the situation sunk in deeper and deeper. I looked like a freak, I felt like a freak. What was I going to do?
This was how Ryan found me when he got home from work. Tired, and puffy eyed in the front seat of my car. My head was tilted back on the headrest and I was cold, or numb, I wasn’t sure.
My car door opened and he leaned in to peck my lips with a kiss.
“Hey babe.” He crooned, his eyes assessing me before he cupped my cheek. “Let’s get you inside.”
I just nodded silently, not wanting to see the disgust that I’m sure was written all over his face.
I followed Ryan inside and padded silently behind him as his grasp on my hand never ceased and we made our way over to the couch. My eyes once again filled with tears as I avoided Ryan’s gaze. I jolted and met his eyes when he reached up a hand and brushed it against the back of my head. That startled me enough to pull me out of the fog that had settled over me.
“It looks awful.” I groaned, letting my face fall into my hands as Ryan’s hand drifted down to rub my back.
This caused a half-laugh half-sob to break free as I looked over at him. His eyes were soft and his gaze was loving.
“Did you tell him to do this?”
Ryan blushed and my heart picked up pace. No no no.
“Not exactly.” Ryan hedged, “He asked me if you were open to going shorter and I said I thought you’d be open to anything.”
My mouth dropped open.
“I thought he meant like pixie cut short!” Ryan rushed to add.
He ran a hand through my hair and pulled me to him for a kiss. “It’s not awful.”
“It’s awful.” I groaned, my own hands running through my hair. The feel of it made me queasy. The shaved back wasn’t the worst part, it was those short baby bangs. They made my forehead look huge and made me look like a freak.
“It’ll grow out.”
“I need someone to fix it.”
“Fix it?” Ryan asked, his tone showing his incredulity.
“I can’t live with this haircut for god knows how long!!” I moaned, “it needs to be cut into a pixie or something cute like that.”
“Babe, I don’t know if-”
“I won’t go to work like this tomorrow.”
I promptly stood up, ignoring whatever placation Ryan had ready for me.
“Just wait for it a day or two to see how you feel. Don’t be too hasty.”
“I’m going whether you come with me or not.” I replied, grabbing my keys from the table that Ryan had left them on when we had come in. I didn’t know where I would go, but I would find someone who would be able to do SOMETHING with my hair.
I heard the door close behind me and knew that Ryan was following me. Good. I needed him. I knew I needed him with me no matter that I had just said the opposite.
The car sputtered to life as I threw it into reverse, pulling quickly out of the driveway the second that Ryan had closed his door.
The sun had set by now and town was lit only by the streetlights and headlights as I drove slowly through the downtown area. The few salons that were in town were dark, causing me to growl in frustration. Damn. What the hell was I going to do?
Ryan heard my frustrated grunt and placed a calming hand on my leg.
“The shaved parts are really short, babe.” He sighed, “And you’ll be better off with someone who knows how to blend that into the rest of your hair.”
“Okay.” I snapped, unsure what he was getting at.
“So…” He hesitated.
“So you might be better off with a barber shop.”
“WHAT?” I repeated, more incredulous this time.
A barbershop? Was he messing with me? He could not be serious. His stupid suggestion that I go to that stupid teaching salon got me in this position. Now he wants me to trust him enough to go to a barber.
I ignored him and kept circling around with no luck. I knew every salon was closed but it didn’t stop me from hoping and praying that something else was open.
After another ten minutes of driving in circles I pulled into the deserted parking lot of the bank and turned off the car. I turned my head to look at Ryan and flinched when my short hair swiped across my open eye.
“Fuck!” I yelled. Mad, sad, annoyed, frustrated, pissed off, upset.
“Okay,” I sighed, “Where is the barbershop in town?”
Ryan directed us to the closest barbershop. The lights were still on inside and the open sign was blinking brightly against the dark night. I didn’t see anyone inside except for one older man hunched over in one of the barber chairs.
I quickly shut off the car and stomped towards the door, ready to get this over with.
The man looked up at the sound of the door opening, and blinked in surprise at my appearance before his gaze shifted over to Ryan.
“Here for a cut?” He said, his gaze never leaving Ryan’s as we inched into the shop.
“I am.” I declared, my bravado bigger than my actual confidence.
“Oh, uh, okay.” The barber replied, getting up and gesturing to the chair that he had just vacated.
Ryan sat down in one of the plastic chairs, raising his eyebrows at me at I sat down resolutely.
“So… uh…” The barber hedged, “What kind of cut are you looking for today?”
“I got this haircut today and it’s terrible.” I groaned, “Please. You have to do something about it.”
I felt his hands run through my hair, pulling up the back to see how high the undercut went. He walked around the front of me and inspected my bangs, touching the shaved hairline on the sides.
“The shaved back is going to really limit your options.”
“And the bangs…”
“I hate them.”
“Okay.” He sighed, “If you want the bangs AND the undercut blended in, it’s going to have to be pretty short.
“Fine.” I said, it was already really short, it couldn’t get much worse than this.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, just do it.” I said resolutely.
The barber just grumbled and proceeded to wrap a piece of paper around my neck, followed by a heavy cape. I looked over at Ryan and he looked positively nervous, his leg was bouncing wildly as his wide eyes watched with rapt attention.
I was turned towards the mirror, and I wasn’t sure if I was happy or not that I could watch this time. I didn’t want to look but I forced myself to. One last glimpse of the horrible haircut that I would never have to see again.
The barber stepped up behind me, a large set of guard less clippers humming to life as he stepped forward. My head was pushed down and I felt the humming machine brush up against the back of my head. The sound changed as the clippers plowed through the back of the horrible bob, clearing my head just above the occipital bone.
I closed my eyes and wished for the best as I bit my lip and tried to keep my legs from bouncing. I no longer felt like crying. The worst had happened and this would hopefully be a better alternative to what was currently on my head.
I made eye contact with myself in the mirror as he moved his focus from the back of my head to the side. I watched as his lifted the clippers again and mowed them up the side of my head, only pulling away when they were an inch or so above my ear.
When he said short, he meant short. The basically bald undercut was nothing on what I was getting now. He circled around my head, shaving almost all of my hair down to the skin.
The barbered stepped in front of me, blocking my view of myself as he took a comb and pulled my hair straight up. I could feel the bangs fall back out of the comb as he pulled the longer hairs straight up, slicing right across the comb with the running clippers. A shower of hair drifted down in front of me as he moved the comb back, running the clippers back and forth over the top, bringing it down shorter and shorter. He stepped a step away from me and positioned my head straight, giving me a gruff ‘stay still’ before beginning his work again.
I felt better than I had all day, unsure what he was doing with my hair and not really caring anyways. I could feel the comb tighten against my head the further back it went but I ignored the sensation and focused on being perfectly still.
The barber, once again, stepped away and criticized his job so far, moving back in with the comb and clippers and blending the short top into the even shorter sides. My stomach started to flip flop again as we neared the end of the haircut. I was anxious and slightly excited to see what it looked like. The awful bob was gone, that was all that mattered.
He stepped away to grab a brush for the stray hairs, revealing myself to the mirror in front of me.
It was short.
It was realllly short.
I had a flattop.
I should have believed the barber when he said it was going to be really short, but I hadn’t prepared myself for this.
I barely had a half an inch of hair standing up on the top of my head and both sides were almost completely stripped of hair.
I had thought that the bob was short, but this was something else. I pulled my hand out of the cape and watched in the mirror as it lifted up to touch my new hair do. I hesitated right before I reached the hair and I could see my hand shaking in my reflection.
I steeled my nerves and forced my hand into my hair, gasping at the sensation as I ran it over the top of my head. It was fuzzy but inconsistently so. It seemed like some parts were shorter than other but it all looked even from my view in the barbers seat.
I tilted my head down, trying to see the top but could barely see past the front inch or so.
I couldn’t mistake the sound of Ryan gasping beside me and I turned my head to meet his gaze.
He was sitting stock still in his chair with wide eyes and his mouth dropped open. His own hand lifted up to run through his own hair as he stared at me with bewilderment. I gave him a weak smile and asked, “Bad?”
“N-no.” Ryan stuttered, swallowing visibly. “Short, especially on top.”
Especially on top? There was no way the top was any shorter than the sides.
The barber returned to the chair with a hand mirror, turning me around and handing me the small mirror so I could hold it up and see from the back.
A gasp, similar to Ryan’s, escaped my mouth when I saw what I looked like from behind. I was bald. Absolutely bald. And the bald-ness went all the way up the back of my head to the top. I leaned my head back slightly to get a view of the top and, shit, there was only hair in the front of the top of my head.
I was bald, with the shortest of bangs.
The short spiky front was all that remained of the long hair I had had this morning.
But there were no tears, there was no freak out. Kind of. I felt defeated and annoyed but also a million times better than I did with that horrible bob.
I handed the mirror back and waited patiently as the barber relieved me of the heavy cape. I turned towards Ryan and smiled again.
“Hey.” He replied, his eyes full of sympathy and love and…..attraction.
He got up and paid the barber, practically pushing me out of the way when I reached for my purse. After he paid, we exited the shop hand in hand.
We slipped into my car and I started it without saying anything.
“Do you like it?” I hedged, nerves suddenly overcoming me.
“Do you like it?” He responded.
He grabbed my hand in his, pulling it towards his lap. I could feel his hard length through his pants. “I don’t know, babe. What do you think?”
Inspired by “bowlcut finished” by napeshaver1 on youtube