Her Good Luck Charm

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For Danielle

 

Angelica De Soto, Angie to her friends and family, was stuck in a funk. One could argue it had been that way since she graduated university, but in reality, Angie often felt it had been that way for much longer. Sure, she had her ups and downs, but Angie rarely felt fulfilled anymore. She loved going out for drinks with her girlfriends on Ladies’ Night, or hosting dinner parties with sophisticated acquaintances, but she always felt something was missing. Angie knew that many women got along perfectly well, and even relished, not having a significant other, male or otherwise. But Angie had always wanted to find a man that empowered her. So far, her boyfriends had been shallow and uninterested. As for her career, Angie was bored and unchallenged. It wasn’t as if she wanted to be stressed out, but her current position at the public management firm was getting her nowhere. Her boss, a misogynistic jerk, consistently assigned her menial tasks instead of allowing her to use business skills. 

Even the one thing that normally brought Angie joy, her hair, seemed to be weighing her down. Angie’s hair had always been one of her best assets as she grew up. Black in color and incredibly thick, the locks cascaded over her shoulders, down her back, and all the way past her hips. Benefitting from Mexican (mostly Indigenous) and Greek heritage, Angie inherited the thickness of strands and an undeniable luster to the hair. Since she was young, Angie’s mother taught her daughter, and Angie’s younger sister, to take care of their hair. Angie loved working with her hair, especially braiding and putting it up in updos and ponytails. Her signature look in college as a public administration major was a high ponytail that would swish behind her in a long, raven tassel that grazed the top of her butt. Her hair alone attracted the attention of plenty of prospective lovers, and it was definitely a starting point for getting dates. 

But that had been years ago. Angie had rested on her laurels for far too long, and it was starting to get to her. When lobs and beach waves were in style, Angie curled and brushed out her long locks like many of her friends had done in college, although she avoided taking off any length from her gorgeous mane. Angie curled and styled her own hair most of the time, though sometimes she would ask her roommate Grace to do it for her on occasion. Even though it did some damage to her hair, Angie loved the feeling of hot air on her neck and scalp. She loved the sensation of people playing with her hair. This was especially true with love interests, and Angie profited from many romantic encounters involving hair play and pulling. That river of black silk, so soft and sleek, fell down her back and mesmerized one and all. 

So why did she feel stuck in a funk? 

It was certainly a difficult question to answer. Angie had always had long hair, ever since she was a girl, and growing it out and maintaining it had simply become a routine, a ritual engrained in the very fiber of her being. It wasn’t an exaggeration to say that Angie had NEVER seriously considered cutting her hair. That was why when she sat on a park bench near the office, the full force of years of repressed thoughts hit her like a ton of bricks. 

It was lunch time, and Angie was enjoying her break while she still could. The park was nicely situated a block and a half from the office, in a part of town with plenty of vegetation. Angie had been having an awful day at work. Her boss, Randy, had openly challenged her report on public relations teams in front of the whole team. Angie suspected that Randy didn’t take her seriously, recalling a comment he had made about Angie’s long hair. She was filled with indignation at the thought of Randy judging her for her hair. 

“What right does he have?” she asked herself angrily. “What a dick that guy is!” 

Frustrated, Angie retrieved her homemade salad and mixed fruit from her purse. Too angry to think, she munched on her salad and stewed in bitterness. 

Why did Randy have to be so insufferable? I mean, Angie tried to be patient with him, but she had had enough of his nonsense. Reaching up to her face to brush a lock of hair out of her mouth, Angie’s vinaigrette-covered finger smeared the hair. Frowning, Angie wiped her finger on a spare napkin she brought, and licked the vinaigrette out of her hair. Then, the idea hit her like a volleyball to the head. 

What if she cut her hair?

Angie froze, stunned by the thought, the lock of hair still hanging in her mouth. Any passerby would have looked at her in unnerved confusion. Cut my hair, Angie thought, still unable to process the idea. She scoffed and muttered to herself. 

“Yeah, right! Like I’m going to let some prick at work dictate what I do with my hair.” 

But as Angie continued to chew on her lunch, the idea refused to leave her mind. What would she even look like with short hair? And what did short mean? Angie had always considered anything around shoulder length to be short, and therefore not for her. She had never had hair that short, at least not since she was a little girl. Angie had never seriously considered cutting her hair before, besides the semiannual trims she got. Long hair was just, you know, part of her image, her look, her groove. Even though most of her long haired girlfriends from college had already succumbed to the scissors and parted with their long locks, Angie took pride in being the last girl standing. Well, not the last girl, as Toni still possessed her magnificent mane. 

Antonia Rivera Velez had been one of Angie’s best friends growing up. Known as Toni by her friends and family, she was the most free spirited of the group, contrasting with Maria’s calm pensiveness and Rosa’s scientific, clinical mind. Toni was the artist of the bunch, a songwriter for a small-time Xicana folk music label. Even though she didn’t have much, Toni loved life to the fullest. One of those ways, Angie recalled, was Toni wearing her glorious hair long and free. Toni had been blessed with natural curls, in contrast to Angie’s straight locks. Though both women had thick hair, Angie had to work hard to keep it from being bushy and frizzy, while Toni enjoyed thick curls that were free and natural. 

Angie’s thoughts turned back to her original idea about cutting her hair, but she waved it away. As she started on the mixed fruit she had brought, Angie remembered that she was having a dinner date with Toni on Friday. She had been so busy she almost forgot, but she was excited nonetheless. After finishing her lunch and packing up her things, Angie pushed the haircut thoughts out of her mind. Her mood brightened a little, she looked forward to finishing the day and going home to relax. 

Friday rolled around quickly, even though Angie had been thinking about it a lot. Through the week, Angie chatted with Toni on Facebook, and they both looked forward to the meeting. Angie still felt in a funk, but she hoped that the dinner would be a boost to her morale. On Friday evening, about two hours before the dinner was supposed to begin, Angie came home and immediately got to work. She had showered that morning and so her hair was dry to start with. Angie began by brushing out her amazing long dark hair. Loose, it rested about six inches below her belt line. The ends were getting a little scraggly, but Angie knew that the curls would hide the damage. After spending several minutes brushing the hair to get rid of any knots and tangles, Angie plugged in her curling wand. 

Normally, she would straighten her hair once every few days, if that, to minimize heat damage, but she loved the process so much. Angie loved the warmth of the tools as her hair was transformed from long and thick to straight and sleek, or curly and bouncy depending on her mood. Tonight, Angie planned on a mass of bouncy curls to show off her abundant locks. She sectioned off her hair in several partitions to have just enough hair to work with. The wand twirled and sculpted each lock into large, fun curls. As each section was completed, Angie appreciated the shape of the hair and how beautiful she felt. Honestly, it was so worth it for her. Angie lightly scrunched a few of the locks to add some extra volume as she worked. After a long while of painstaking curling, she set the wand down and admired her handiwork. 

Angie’s long hair now hung to just at her butt, consisting of an endless ocean of soft, bouncy dark curls. Angie grinned and played with her hair, exploring the feeling of having it so thick. She snapped a few quick selfies, partly for vanity sake to show off on Instagram, but also for reference for herself later on. Checking the time, Angie realized that she had plenty of time to head to the restaurant. They were meeting at The Cucina, a fancy Italian restaurant in the shopping district. Luckily, a nearby parking garage allowed for easy access. Putting on her jacket and fanning her glorious curls behind her, Angie left her apartment. 

She arrived with 15 minutes to spare for the reservation, after parking her car and walking a short distance to The Cucina. After the hostess seated her at a round, cloth-covered table, Angie took out her phone and checked Facebook for friend updates. She scrolled through her feed, hearting and commenting on some of her friends’ posts. She wished she could spend more time with them, but work and other things prevented them from doing so. Angie saw that Toni had posted something, but as she scrolled down to look at the post, something caught her eye and she looked up. 

A woman had just come into the restaurant, wearing a short purple dress. She had an adorable short, curly bob that came just to her earlobes. Angie could at least appreciate the aesthetic properties of short hair. But after blinking a few times and refocusing her vision, Angie realized that the woman wasn’t another guest at the restaurant. 

“Heya Angie! What’s new, hermanita?” 

Angie’s eyes nearly popped out of her head. There, standing large as life and passionate as ever, was Toni. Angie realized that she recognized the dress as one of Toni’s staple outfits, but her new haircut was the real shock. Gone were Toni’s abundant natural curls that went to her thighs. Now, she sported a chic bob, which accentuated her natural curls. The bob created a halo of fabulousness around her entire end, and Angie couldn’t help but stare. Toni cocked her head in puzzlement and laughed. 

“What’s the matter, Angie? I didn’t come back from the dead, you know!”

Angie blinked a few more times before remembering where she was. 

“Oh, uh, yeah, sorry Toni. I just, uh, didn’t recognize you at first.”

Toni fluffed her curly bob and put on a faux demure expression. 

“Do you like it? I got it chopped yesterday.” 

Chopped was right, Angie thought as Toni seated herself opposite from her friend. Toni had to have cut off at least two feet of hair, if not more. Angie’s mind raced with unfinished thoughts. What had Toni been thinking? Why did she cut off her beautiful hair? Why did it happen when it did?

“Wow, that recently?!” Angie was astonished. Toni shrugged in response. 

“Yeah, didn’t you see my post about it? It’s been blowing up!” 

Confused, Angie looked at her phone and scrolled a little bit down. There, on her feed, was a picture of Toni, looking gorgeous as ever, with her new bob. The caption read: “Felt cute, so I chopped my hair off. Free at last! #shorthairdontcare #snipsnip” Free at last? Didn’t Toni like her long hair? Did she miss it?

“Yeah, I guess so…” Angie trailed off. She looked up at Toni, who had made herself comfortable at the table. “It’s a big change, Toni. Was it a spur of the moment thing?” Toni shook her head. 

“Not really, though I didn’t know I was doing it until I walked into the salon. I’d been wanting to get that mop chopped for like a million years. I kept putting it off, was all. But I finally did it!” 

Angie nodded slowly, still processing everything that was going one. Toni, the other long haired girl of their friend group, had cut all of her hair off. Why?

Toni opened the menu and scanned the contents eagerly. Angie followed suit, though her mind was elsewhere. 

“If you don’t mind me asking, Toni, why did you cut it so short?” Toni looked up and laughed to herself. 

“Why do I do anything, Angie? Because I want to! I mean, it was a little more than that. I was going to cut it to my shoulder blades, but the stylist suggested a major chop if I was going to cut my hair. I had thought about a bob before, so I decided to go for it.”

Angie nodded again, her only subconscious response to everything that was going on. Their server came by and took their drink orders. After she got over the initial shock and calmed down a little, Angie started to chat with Toni about what was new in their lives. Toni’s songwriting career had taken a fortunate turn after their label was purchased by a big studio out of L.A. Angie was impressed by Toni’s success, and even more so when she learned that it happened directly after her haircut. 

“Seriously?” Angie couldn’t believe it. 

“I’m not kidding you, Angie. Like, the stylist was still sweeping up my curls up off the floor when I got the email from my boss. The new deal will land us a lot more recognition and a bigger share of the profits. Talk about good luck!”

“I’ll say!” Angie replied. “Did the stylist just cut your hair loose, or did she save any of the hair?” She tried to speak nonchalantly, but she was getting curious now. Angie thought back to the thoughts and ideas from her lunch break earlier in the week. 

“Actually, she did tie off a section and cut it into a ponytail. I ended up keeping it because I don’t know what to do with it!” Toni almost laughed as she explained the process. For the first time in her life, Angie was enthralled by the idea of a haircut. Toni pulled off the bob smashingly, but Angie still wasn’t sure how she felt about herself having something shorter.
After some time, the server brought their food and Toni and Angie continued chatting. As they spoke, Angie’s mind drifted to imagining Toni, free spirited and passionate, sitting down in a salon chair and having a nylon cape thrown over her by an eager stylist. Angie tried to imagine the stylist taking scissors and, at a nod from Toni, chopping into the mass of curls, sending them falling to the floor in a heap. Angie even thought about that long, curly ponytail somewhere, how it probably just lay there on top of some dresser. 

Angie was enjoying the dinner immensely, but her mind kept dwelling on Toni’s hair. Toni was more than happy to talk about it, so Angie asked a few more questions in a casual way throughout the rest of the dinner. Through sips of red wine, Toni explained that she had had some boyfriends who hated short hair, which had driven her to consider chopping it. In the end, it was a spur of the moment decision to actually go through with it, though it had been on Toni’s mind for ages. Angie wanted to save some of her thoughts for later, when she had time to lay down and relax. 

Dinner concluded with them splitting the check based on their meals, and afterward they decided to go Intensitee, a hip club and bar, for drinks. They lingered for only an hour or so, mostly continuing some of their other conversations. Angie spent much of the time admiring Toni’s curly bob and how it swung when she moved her head. After leaving the club and saying goodbye, promising to catch up more often. Angie went to her car and drove home. Back in her apartment, and confident her roommate Grace wasn’t home yet, Angie held out her arms and allowed herself to fall onto her bed. Laying in the position where she landed, Angie pondered the night’s events. She was aware of her own long hair, which, though curled and styled meticulously, had felt so cumbersome compared to Toni’s sleek short do. Angie loved her hair, but she realized that maybe the funk had started as a result of her not having changed much in a long time. 

Angie had had long hair since elementary school, and she had always found fun and unique styles to try. Of course, they had all been long, ranging from mid-back length to the longest length she had ever had, almost to her knees. Then, at the very end of high school, she had gone to a salon and had 10 inches cut. That had been traumatic for her at the time, but mostly, Angie realized now, because she wasn’t ready for a drastic haircut. Was she ready now? On the bench that day, she had asked herself what it would be like if she cut her hair. She had been unable to place the origin of the thoughts, but now it seemed like fate. Angie had been meant to think about cutting her hair to prepare her for seeing Toni. And Toni had received good fortune for going for the chop. Maybe Angie would too…

Sleep brought a break to the flurry of thoughts in Angie’s head, but she dreamed of holding a bundle of long, shorn hair in one hand, and holding a four leaf clover in the other, surrounded by golden clouds. Angie awoke the next morning, rested but intrigued by her dream. She made herself a simple breakfast of a banana and a piece of wheat toast with honey. What did it mean? Was it a sign? Angie wasn’t particularly superstitious, but this dream, and the events of the last few days, clearly meant something. 

As it was Saturday, Angie did not need to go into the office. She had some projects to work on, but nothing urgent. She lounged around her apartment in her pajamas, taking the silence from Grace’s room to mean that Angie’s roommate was still out cold. Checking her phone for social media updates, Angie’s fingers absentmindedly strayed to Google Maps, where she typed “hair salon” into the search bar. A few good choices popped up, all close by. Before she realized what she was doing, Angie selected a salon called “Shorn Again” and checked their information. It was a fairly busy salon that accepted walk-ins, and it had excellent reviews.  

Angie froze, realizing that she had just cracked open a door that held back staggering possibilities. Angie and long hair were synonymous, now more than ever! With Toni having gone for the big snip, Angie remained the only girlfriend from the group that retained her luxuriant locks. Was she willing to give all that up? Angie, despite her trepidation, liked the idea of walking into a salon and asking for a drastic haircut, like she imagined Toni doing. Standing up and walking to the long mirror in her room, Angie held up portions of her long hair to simulate shorter lengths. She twisted her hair, which had lost most of the curl from last night, up into a bun and held it behind her head. She had to admit that the length suited her features, especially her cheekbones. Her complexion was more Greek than Native American, but it gave her skin a tone between olive and tanned. 

Angie thought of her first thoughts, her dinner with Toni, her dream…it all pointed to going through with a haircut! That was it, Angie decided. She was going to go for it. The funk would end today. 

Undressing and showering quickly, Angie voted against washing her hair, as it had been shampooed and conditioned just the day before. As she dressed in a simple top and skinny jeans, Angie admired through the mirror the residual curl that some of her hair still retained. Angie grabbed her wallet, phone, and keys as she left the apartment and headed on foot to Shorn Again. She felt possessed by some wild notion to throw caution to the wind, to cast the die and cross the Rubicon. As the parade of literary clichés crossed her mind, Angie’s stomach tightened into a knot. Despite herself, she felt nervous about cutting her hair. She wasn’t even sure what style exactly she had in mind. 

Shorn Again was only three blocks from Angie’s apartment. She walked quickly, eager to reach the salon before she changed her mind. Her stomach churned in anticipation of the coming haircut. A few days ago, this would have been inconceivable, to quote Wallace Shawn’s character from “The Princess Bride.” But now…it was different. Angie’s felt emboldened by the dream as her final sign needed to push her over the edge. And that edge would lead to a pile of hair on the floor and the beginning of a new era. Or, at least, that was the plan. 

Finally, though somehow too soon, Angie arrived at Shorn Again Salon. The façade of the building was simple, painted black with a white trim. The sign was painted in gold lettering. Inside, Angie could see through the large window the activity within the salon. The place seemed fairly busy for a Saturday morning, and all the stylists were busy cutting the hair of various customers. Angie could see piles of hair under the chairs, some bigger than others. Her eyes went wide when she saw one customer, a young woman, having her below shoulder length hair cut to what looked like a pixie. Long locks of hair were snipped off by the stylist and fell to the floor in a heap. 

Angie swallowed, gritted her teeth, and pulled the door open. The salon was cool on the inside, and comfortably decorated. It had a minimalist design, reminiscent of industrial design. All six chairs were filled by customers and stylists, but there was only one person, a college age girl with mid-back length blonde hair, in the waiting area. One of the stylists, trimming the hair of an elderly lady, turned and called to Angie: “Appointment or walk-in?”

Angie stammered the reply “Walk-in, please.”

“It’ll only be a few minutes. Have a seat.”

Angie did as she was offered. Sitting in one of the comfortable black waiting chairs, Angie took a moment to observe her surroundings. Besides the girl getting her hair cut short and the elderly woman, all the other customers were men, mostly getting clipper and scissor cuts. Angie watched little snippets of hair float to the ground as the stylists busily snipped and clipped the hair of their clients. Angie’s eyes moved to the other waiting customer, the girl with the long blonde hair. It was draped over her right shoulder, and it fell almost into her lap. Angie carefully moved her own mass of dark hair over her shoulder in a subconscious imitation. The girl was reading something on her phone, oblivious to what was going on around her. 

“Next!” 

One of the stylists, at the far end, had finished the hair of his male client, who had paid and left the salon. Without looking around, the girl in the waiting area stood and walked over to the waiting stylist. The girl was smiling and walking confidently as she seated herself in the stylist’s chair. Angie gazed as the girl spoke to the stylist, too far to hear but Angie’s heart leapt as she saw the girl indicate a length just below her chin. Was she going to cut her hair that short? 

Angie looked over at the first girl, whose below the shoulders was gone, laying on the floor in a pile, replaced with a cute pixie that was longer on top. The stylist ran her fingers through the top length as the other hand operated a blow dryer. Angie split her attention between the pixie cut and the blonde girl from the waiting area. The blonde had a white nylon cape thrown around her by the stylist, who snapped it into place. Angie gulped and watched eagerly as the stylist checked the length again, and the blonde nodded vigorously. Wasting no time, the stylist pulled a pair of scissors from her apron and held the bulk of the blonde hair in one hand. Raising the blades to the hair, the stylist began to cut. 

Angie’s heart felt like it would burst out of her chest as she watched the gleaming blonde ponytail, so soft and sleek, being cut mercilessly by the stylist. The scissors moved rhythmically, shearing the length all the way up to the nape of her neck. The blonde just smiled as it all happened. After about a minute, the stylist finally cut the last strand and held up the foot and a half mass of blonde hair in her hand. After the stylist asked something, the blonde shook her head, so the stylist promptly dropped the hair to the floor with a soft thud. Angie stared at the mountain of shorn blonde tresses, so quickly cut off and discarded. She didn’t even hear another stylist, who had finished  with her male client and was now waiting. 

“I said next, ma’am. Are you ready?”

Angie looked up in bewilderment to see the stylist waiting for her with her eyebrows raised. Her male customer had already paid and left, and the chair was open. All of a sudden, Angie forgot why she was at a salon. Then, she remembered her decision, and the confidence trickled back slowly into her psyche. 

“Uh, yeah, sorry.” Angie hastily straightened herself and followed the stylist to the chair. Only then did Angie realize that this particular stylist had a shaved bob, with one side of her head buzzed to the bone and the rest above her shoulders. She wore leggings and a crop top, and she had a styling apron over all of it. Angie slid herself into the chair and tried to make herself comfortable through the ordeal. 

“My name is Kailey, and I will be your stylist. What is your name?” The stylist asked as she swept the cut hair clippings from under the chair. 

“Angie.”

“Pleasure to meet you, Angie. What were you thinking of doing today?” 

Angie bit her lip, thinking hard. What did she want? Something shorter for sure, maybe to her shoulders? She honestly wasn’t sure. She looked at Kailey through the mirror, with a helpless look on her face.

“I, well…I don’t actually know. Something shorter, I guess.” Angie smiled weakly. Kailey nodded seriously. 

“Like, to your shoulders short? Around here?” Kailey indicated a length at the tops of Angie’s shoulders. Angie felt her stomach fall through her insides into nothingness. That was so short! Anything shorter than that Angie considered, well, really short. But the signs! Angie reminded herself that the whole reason she was cutting her hair was because it felt like the right time to take the plunge and chop her hair. After a few moments hesitation, Angie almost whispered:
“Yes.”

“Alright then! I think we can work with that! Your hair is so thick and luscious.”

Angie murmured a thanks as Kailey seized a white nylon cape and swung it around Angie, trapping her under its tonsorial embrace. Angie lifted her neck as Kailey snapped the cape in place. The stylist placed a rubber styling collar around Angie’s neck, weighing her down in a comfy sort of way. Angie’s long dark hair covered her shoulders and disappeared behind her, probably falling past the chair. Kailey armed herself with a brush and began to work it through Angie’s thick hair. Angie prided herself on maintaining her hair’s overall health; she applied heat judiciously, she used high quality products, and she combed her hair often, at least twice a day. The result was that her hair was free from tangles and knots, and Kailey was impressed by the good condition of the hair. 

“You really do have gorgeous hair, you know. It’s really something.” Kailey continued to run her brush through Angie’s hair slowly, savoring the opportunity. It didn’t make Angie feel any more confident in her decision, so she had to muster courage regardless to continue. 

“Thank you.” Angie said softly 

“Do you want to save any of the hair?”

“Save any?”

“You know, save a ponytail or a few locks as a keepsake. Some women do that when they drastically change their hairstyle.”

As Kailey brushed her hair, Angie considered the offer. Originally, she was going to let the stylist throw all the hair away, eliminating the remnants of the hair that caused the funk. But, upon remembering Toni’s long lock of hair that was rescued from the floor, Angie decided that keeping a bit of the hair would serve as a reminder of this huge step in her life. 

“Yes, I’d like that,” Angie replied after a while. Kailey grinned as she set down the brush. 

“Alright then, let’s get that out of the way!”

Turning the chair slightly, Kailey collected a few hair clips from the station and began to section the hair. Angie caught a long look of herself in the mirror, slightly tilted to accentuate the position in which she sat. Angie was caped up to the neck in a long, white cape, topped with a rubber collar that covered her shoulders. Her long, luxuriant locks contrasted with the white material of the cape; the hair itself fell into Angie’s lap and curled slightly from the weight. Kailey used a thin comb to separate sections at the crown and pin the rest up. A section from the occipital bone down hung loose down the back of the chair. Angie knew that the hair probably continued toward the floor. 

“Alright, I’ll do the first section and continue from there.” Kailey explained, but Angie could only nod distantly. She focused herself completely in the moment, disregarding anything else that was happening in the salon. Angie could feel every movement of her hair, from the pull of the comb to the tug of Kailey’s fingers sectioning the hair. Angie’s senses were heightened by her anxiousness, and she almost jumped as Kailey tightened her grip on the bottom section. The stylist worked the long section, thick even on its own, through the hair tie to create a ponytail that hung just at the nape of Angie’s neck. Angie watched in a mixture of fear and excitement as Kailey picked up a pair of scissors from the station and snipped them a few times. 

“Here we go.” Kailey didn’t even ask if Angie was ready, but maybe it was better to just get through it. Clenching her teeth and grimacing a little, Angie prepared for the blow to fall. Kailey opened the scissors and placed the blades between the thick ponytail about an inch above the hair tie. Then, after a brief but dramatic pause, Kailey closed the shears. 

Schrick! Angie held her breath as she felt the first cut, the first of many to come. Kailey opened the shears again and repeated the process. Schrick. Schrick. Schrick. Schrick. Schrick. The sound of the blades crunching into the ponytail made Angie shiver a little. She felt a tingle on the back of her neck as newly shortened locks of hair brushed against her smooth skin. The crunching sound continued for what seemed like a brief eternity until Kailey finally severed the ponytail with one last schrick. The stylist held up the trophy, an almost three foot long ponytail, almost as thick as some people’s whole head of hair. The dangling ponytail looked so magnificent yet pitiful at the same time. Angie marveled at the sight through the mirror until Kailey tossed the prize onto her lap. The ponytail did a kind of backwards somersault in the air until it landed with a thud on the cape between Angie’s knees. The sheer weight and thickness of the ponytail caused the cape to depress between Angie’s legs. Angie gaped at the tail on her lap. Kailey smirked with satisfaction. 

“There’s your souvenir for you. The rest is going to the floor.” Kailey bent down slightly and began to trim the ends of the section, straightening the line and evening out the shape. Meanwhile, Angie was busy enjoying her ponytail. Now that it was detached from her head, Angie was even more fascinated by this hair. Because it was on the bottom section of her head and away from most damage, this ponytail had remained exceptionally thick, healthy, and lush. There were no split or dry ends to speak of, and along the entire length the hair shone bright. The color was darker too, almost raven black. Angie almost smiled as she ran her fingers along the cool strands to feel the lovely texture. She was happy to have saved such a lovely lock of hair as a souvenir. She resolved to make it a kind of memento of her triumph over the funk. Angie hardly noticed that Kailey had moved on to the next section, letting more hair drop down to cover the damage from the first section. Spraying the hair with water, Kailey swooped in and began to cut the length a little longer than the first section. 

Snip. Snip. Snip. Snip. Snip. The scissors did their work quickly, and Angie could see, through the space between the chair and the floor, long locks of hair dropping to the floor. They were mostly dry, so they splayed open as they landed, creating small streams of black silk on the wooden finish of the floor. Angie locked her eyes on the place where the hair was landing. With each rapid snip, a tress of dark hair floated to the ground and rested with serene finality. Absently twirling the ponytail between her fingers, Angie savored the sensations of having her long hair sheared to a short cut. 

Kailey worked in silence, sensing that Angie would rather enjoy the haircut in peace. It was only then that Angie became aware of what was going on in the rest of the salon. Some of the chairs were empty, probably for the stylists to have a short break. The blonde had left the salon, and some minor haircuts were taking place around Kailey’s chair. The stylist worked on Angie’s hair with precision, creating texture in the hair by point cutting and sliding the scissors deep into the length of Angie’s significant thickness. 

The snip snip snip put Angie at peace, a strange inverse of her first moments when the scissors provided her with the tail in her lap. The area behind the chair was quickly piling up with the shorn hair from the back sections. After some time, Kailey let down side sections and began to snip into the length on the sides. Ribbons of dark locks drifted down the white cape, some falling to the floor off to the side. One portion, a tress of hair about an inch wide, slid down the cape into Angie’s lap, next to the ponytail. Angie picked up the piece of hair and admired the length for a moment, then nonchalantly threw the hair aside. 

Angie felt elated as each long lock of hair was snipped off and allowed to drop to the floor. Kailey concentrated on the style, combing and cutting with professional care. Her precise cuts succeeded in creating a wonderful shape, messy and textured but still soft. Angie loved the hair the haircut was turning out. Kailey carefully combed and cut the last lengths of long hair, letting them fall to the ground to join the mountain of shorn tresses. Finally, after years and years, Angie had let go of her long hair. Now, her long bob fell to just above her shoulders. Kailey created wonderful texture in the ends and throughout, removing weight while maintaining volume. Angie couldn’t be more happy. 

“Well, that should do it.” Kailey finally finished the last few snips. Removing the rubber collar and unsnapping the cape, Kailey allowed Angie to lift up her arms and ponytail. The cape billowed and waved as it was whisked off Angie’s shoulders. Angie gazed in awe at the piles of dark silky hair that littered the floor around the chair. That had all once been her hair. Holding the ponytail in one hand, Angie ran her fingers through her new haircut. The feeling was electric and it pulsed through her body. Angie adored this length. It was fun, sassy, and felt easy to manage. 

“Thank you so much, Kailey!” Angie exclaimed, following the stylist to the front desk to pay. Kailey smiled as she rang up her customer. 

“My pleasure, Angie. It looks fabulous on you!” 

Angie paid and left a sizable tip. Feeling overwhelmed with excitement, Angie pulled out her phone and immediately took some quick pictures, posing in some with the shorn ponytail. Angie couldn’t help but share her joy with her style. She loved her outfit with the new haircut too, even though it had been a quick selection. Angie watched Kailey grab a broom and sweep the enormous heap of hair into a pile, over a foot wide and several inches deep, before she swept it into the dustpan and deposited the whole mess in the trash. Angie grinned as she watched the hair fall into the bin, glad to be rid of it all. All except the ponytail, of course. 

Stepping outside, Angie enjoyed the warmth of the sun and the cool breeze on her neck. She felt like she was free, lifted from her funk and risen to the clouds. She practically skipped down the sidewalk back to her apartment. On her way, she passed a white woman with a long brown ponytail who looked at the ponytail still in Angie’s hand, then up at Angie’s new style. 

“I love your hair!” The woman said. Angie blushed a little. 

“Why thank you! I just got it cut.” Angie held up the tail as proof of the claim. The woman’s eyes widened. Her hand went to her ponytail and she held it for a moment. 

“Where did you get it done?” 

“Shorn Again, just down the road. They accept walk-ins.” Angie pointed behind her. The woman looked past Angie, then seemed to think about it for a moment. 

“Thanks!” The woman hurried off in the direction of the salon. Angie laughed to herself, thinking of the woman’s long brown ponytail being chopped off and thrown into her lap. What a sight that would be, she thought. 

Angie eventually returned to her apartment after taking her sweet time. She didn’t care that she was carrying her long, silky dark ponytail in her hand for all the world to see. It was a relic, a memento of times past. It was history, her history. Laying on her bed, Angie caressed the silky length of hair, remembering the feeling of watching it all get chopped off. She loved the new length, and she couldn’t believe how long it had taken her to cut it. This was the beginning of a new era. 

Grace was shocked when she finally left her room and saw a long, severed ponytail laying on the kitchen table. Angie had set up the little prank as a way to unveil her new haircut. Grace loved it and couldn’t take her hands off the hair. Angie posted the pics that she snapped at the salon, and almost immediately she received heaps of encouragement and love. Toni especially seemed to love it, commenting “Looking sexy, Angie! What a change!” on Angie’s profile. This was what Angie needed, a change for the better, and she looked forward to the good fortune ahead. 

In fact, she had no idea how much her life would change from that point on. 

When work started on Monday, Angie received many compliments from her colleagues. Her fresh lob symbolized a revitalization for her, a renewed effort to take life by the horns and control it. Randy, her jerkoff boss, remained silent on the issue of her hair. One person who did not, however, was Naya Abelard, the regional director of the firm. Angie only knew of Naya, but that afternoon, Naya stopped by Angie’s cubicle to pay her a visit. 

“I’ve been reviewing your CV, Angie, and I’m impressed with the work you’ve done. And I love your haircut, too!” Naya said admiringly, and Angie blushed a little. 

“Thank you, Miss Abelard!”

“Call me Naya, Angie. We will be working together a lot more closely from now on,”

Angie could hardly believe her ears. 

“Really? In management?” Naya nodded, smiling. 

“I think it’s time your skills were valued and put to good use. It’s not easy being a woman in this office with bosses like Randy in charge. I like to keep tabs on fellow women of color to make sure they’re doing well. I don’t know why I waited so long to reach out, but I would love to have you work with me on regional projects. What do you say?”

Angie’s mouth fell open. Unable to speak for a moment, she finally managed:

“I’m one lucky girl, I guess!”

With a promotion in the works, Angie felt like treating herself a little. But as she drove to her preferred high-end coffee joint, she stopped at the housing charity to see a friend. She couldn’t explain her reasoning, but nonetheless she entered the office. Only a handful of people were working at the moment, and the place was quiet. One employee had his back turned, so Angie cleared her throat to ask after her friend. 

“Excuse me? I’m looking for my friend Baria. Have you seen her today?”

The employee turned around quickly, and Angie did a double take. She was not expecting a guy like this to be working at the office, though she didn’t really know what to expect. Still, he was…different somehow. The man was of average height with a slim build. He was Asian-American, with his thick black hair cut short on the back and sides and styled back. He wore a plain black T shirt and torn jeans. His face was kind and very, very handsome, and his eyes seemed to open into an ocean of dark brown. 

“Baria?” The handsome man asked. “I think she has the day off today, sorry. Could I take a message?”

Angie blinked as if she hadn’t heard him. Her mind described his features in the most cliché ways possible, but she didn’t care. Right now, she just wanted to spend some time alone with this man and get to know him. 

“Um, no thanks, I’ll reach out to her later.” Angie’s voice had become somewhat higher all of a sudden. The man smiled warmly. 

“Okay, thanks for coming in anyway!” Angie was about to turn to leave, but she couldn’t. Something rooted her to the spot. Deciding to cache in on this opportunity, Angie blurted:

“I’m Angie. Who are you?”

Taken aback by the directness of the question, the man cocked his head a little. 

“I’m Abel, one of the committee members. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Angie.”

Taking another chance, Angie smiled weakly and said, more slowly this time: “Would you like to have dinner with me?”

It was Abel’s turn to blink, but he smiled and nodded. 

“Yeah, I think that would be great. Thank you, Angie!”

The next few weeks were magical. Angie and Abel went on a date every other day, their schedules permitting. Abel was sensitive, thoughtful, and very respectful of Angie. He loved her hair, and he complimented her every time they saw each other. Angie felt blissful whenever she spent time with Abel. He genuinely cared, which she couldn’t have said about most of her exes. Angie felt so lucky to be with him. 

At the end of a particularly wonderful date, where they had walked in the park and eaten tasty gelato, Angie and Abel strolled down one of the streets near his apartment. They passed a bodega, where Angie usually went to pick up a few things while staying at Abel’s place. Pausing as they walked past, Angie decided to take another chance and she opened the door and walked inside. Abel followed her, unsure of what she was up to. 

“What’s up, Angie?”

“I have a feeling something good will happen…” Angie wasn’t certain, but that feeling, the same feeling that led her to chopping her hair, hadn’t failed her yet. Mr. Herrara, the bodega owner, greeted her and asked her what she wanted. 

“Lotto ticket, Mr. Herrera. For the $250 million.” Mr. Herrera nodded, and Abel shrugged. 

“I didn’t know you played the lotto, Angie.”

“I never have before, but I think this time is different.”

Mr. Herrera provided the ticket, and Angie paid. Using a penny in the change tin, Angie scratched slowly. Peering at the emerging message, Angie grinned and looked at Abel. 

“Well, I think I am very lucky indeed!”

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