Hour of Need

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He’d said that he was just playing. A fantasy thing. Something different. Kinky.

That’s not what it felt like.

That’s not what it looked like.

He said he’d ring me when I’d cooled down.

I’d shouted that he’d need to wait for Hell to cool down first.

That was the previous night.

I looked in the bathroom mirror. It made no difference.

The ends of my blonde hair grazed my jawline.

The ponytail that he’d cut off lay in the waste-bin where he’d tossed it.

I’d scoured my memory for warning signs, but come up empty. We’d been going out for just over two months and he’d been the perfect partner. Attentive and respectful when we were clothed, attentive and inventive when we weren’t. I’d thought that we might have a future, move in together, that sort of thing.

After the first few times, he’d suggested “spicing things up” with a blindfold and the furry handcuffs. Things that he’d shown me that I could get out of with hardly any effort. Soon after, fur became leather, “hardly any effort” became “Houdini-level” skill, which I didn’t possess. It had turned me on to cede control to someone else. He was good. Very good. I’d lose count of the number of times he’d make me come while I was at his mercy.

Then he started to take an interest in my hair, pestering me to wear it in a ponytail when we had our little sessions. He played with it, stroked it, pulled it when he was doing me from behind. It became more of a focus for him. I’d noticed the scissors by the bed, but thought nothing of it. He’d said they were a prop. Then he said he’d got carried away. Our relationship went in the bin in the same way as my ponytail.

I’d hate for you to think of me as a shrinking violet. I’m thirty, a manager in an accountancy firm. I can hold my own in a man’s world, am proud of my reputation for not backing down in the face of the “culture”. When I started there, I overheard one of the partners refer to me as “blondie”. A quiet word in his office made sure that he never did it again. I grew my hair longer as a challenge to them, letting it reach my bra-strap, which was where it had been until Kevin “got carried away”. So, I’d go to to toe with the guys in a meeting, but I’d also let Kevin handcuff me and blindfold me without a second thought. I’m sure that psychoanalysts would have a field day with all of that.

So, I’m thirty, in possession of a decent body (second best in the company, I’m told, in the opinion of those saddos who run the office sweepstake, even though I’m obviously not meant to know), and the possessor of much less hair than I’d had until “the night of the long knives” or “the night of the kitchen scissors”, as it would be known for as long as I live.

Although it appears like I’m wallowing in self-pity, it’s given me the chance to re-appraise my life. I suppose that I’d been heading inexorably towards marriage, either with Kevin or some other guy. That trajectory had come to a shuddering halt. I’d concluded that I’d been too trusting. Would I ever let my guard down again? Fucking men!

Images of Kevin looming over me came flooding back. I was spread-eagled on the bed, a mix of rope and handcuffs keeping me in place while he teased me with his fingers, his tongue, driving me mad by touching the tip of his cock to my pussy lips, but not actually entering me. It was exquisite torment, but then the image of my severed ponytail brushed everything away. A ponytail that lay coiled in the bin, waiting for revenge.

No matter what I thought about, no matter how I tried to distract myself, that previously-loved hank of hair intruded to drive everything away. I’d had thoughts of rescuing it, keeping it, but I now knew that it had to go if I was to “move on”, as popular culture would say.

I looked down on it, like looking into an open grave. It still had the bobble wound round it, restraining it, keeping it as it had been when it had been a part of me. I lifted it gently, put it into a bag and consigned it to the central rubbish-chute. I bade it farewell as it slid on its way.

I made it from the landing back into my flat, just as I heard a neighbour opening their door. I wasn’t ready to face the world yet. I sat with a coffee wondering what to do. Sunday wasn’t a great day to get to a hairdresser. I couldn’t go in to work looking raggedy the way that I was, so I’d have to say that I was working from home until I could get sorted out. That wouldn’t go down well.

I went back to the bathroom to re-examine the damage to my image. I’d cultivated the corporate ice-queen image as a means to survive at first, but then as a means to get on in a man’s world. I didn’t want anyone to say that I’d only got promoted because of my firm arse or decent-sized boobs or that I’d slept my way to advancement. Work and relationships are two separate things as far as I’m concerned. Looking at myself in the mirror, maybe I would’ve been better off settling down with a predictable accountant. Would one of those have tied me up, fucked me to a new level? Probably not, but I’d still have had hair that got admiring looks and comments.

The zip on my jeans was undone, my hand sliding inside at the recollection of my sojourn in “Fifty Shades” territory. I wasn’t even sure what that was. I’d seen the trailer, but that was as far as it went. I’d crossed into that world, surrendered myself to it and run away at the first hint of trouble. That had been a mistake, I now realised. I should’ve stood up straight, looked him in the eye and asked whether that was the best that he could do. A bit difficult with a blindfold and handcuffs on, but you know what I mean. Instead, I’d brought the shutters down on what I was now starting to see as the most erotic experience of my life.

My fingers worked away. I had to slide out of my jeans to give my fingers room to work. I closed my eyes, pulled my knickers down, realised just how wet I was.

By the time I’d finished, I’d knew that I was up for more experimentation. Not with Kevin. That ship had sailed, but he’d opened a door, which in addition to cliches, also contained an alluring darkness. The darkness was within me. I wanted to embrace it.

I fought off more cliches in the shower. Cleansing, renewal, ritual, all manner of things. Before I could do anything though, I needed to do something with my hair. I coaxed it back into a stubby ponytail, which probably just looked like the stump that was left after the main section had been roughly chopped off. No disguising it. I put some fresh knickers on and a tee-shirt and headed for the lounge.

This was the point where I’d call my best friend and she’d console me, advise me, make everything better. Except that I’d spent so much time focussed on work that I didn’t have one. There was Lucy. An assistant to one of the partners. She’d always been decent whenever I needed to get her to do something. I had to keep this away from work though. She could be the world’s biggest gossip and what a scoop it would be if I told her anything at all about what had happened. She’d be able to convert it straightaway into whatever office currency she wanted. That was a big “no-no”.

There’s Lizzie, one floor down. She was welcoming when I moved in. We’ve chatted a few times on the stairs. She always gives the impression of wanting to chat for longer, but I’m forever in a rush. Was that too close to home? Did it matter? I was only renting. I’d probably move out soon, if only to break the association with Kevin, start afresh somewhere else. I put a pair of denim shorts on, grabbed a bottle of wine from the fridge and headed downstairs.

I knocked the door. I knocked again. The music told me that she was at home. Was she alone? Shit! I hadn’t thought of that. Lazy Sunday in bed with her man. Bad idea. I was just turning to skulk away when the door opened.

‘I’m sorry. I’ll turn it down’ she said, peering round the open door.

‘Hi Lizzie. Becky. From upstairs. It’s not about the music. I’m not disturbing you, am I?’ I burbled.

‘Hi. Yeah. No, it’s fine. Come in’ she said.

‘Are you sure? I won’t be a minute.’

I saw her look at the bottle of wine. Saw her look at me. I should’ve put a bra on. Well, too late now. I followed her in.

If you’d asked me earlier, I couldn’t really have described her from memory. Another sign that I’m too wrapped up in my own existence to take an interest in the world around me. At a push, I’d say that she’s a couple of years older than me. Short dark hair, significantly shorter than mine. Now, not before. Slim, pretty. Probably wouldn’t rank higher than me with the boys in the office, but not far behind. I think my boobs would keep me ahead.

‘I haven’t seen you for ages’ I said, wondering how to broach the real reason for my visit.

‘You work quite long hours, don’t you?’ she replied.

‘Yeah, more fool me’ I replied.

‘I was just about to make coffee’ she said, implying the invitation.

I thrust the wine towards her. She took it, somewhat embarrassed. Maybe it was too early on a Sunday morning to bring wine. Maybe she was religious? A recovering alcoholic? I just didn’t know.

Coffee made, we went through to her compact lounge and began the journey from smalltalk to the pressing topic of my hair disaster. A very sanitised version of my hair disaster.

‘I didn’t notice’ she said.

I turned my head so that she could see from a better angle.

‘Ah, I see now.’

‘Not something I can go to work with’ I said with an air of resignation.

‘Probably not. I can’t think of anywhere that’s open on a Sunday though.’

‘That’s just it. I don’t think there is anywhere. I was wondering if you could help me out. Even the ends up, make it respectable until I can get in somewhere.’

She hesitated.

‘I know it’s a lot to ask, but you’d be doing me a real favour.’

I looked at her, waiting for her to reconsider. I realised that I’d been a little too harsh when I put myself above her in the rankings. When you looked at her a little more closely, she could probably give me a run for my money. Maybe my boobs wouldn’t be enough to give me the upper hand. There was something about her that was more subtle than that. She was wearing a summer dress, casual, comfortable, understated.

‘I’m not expecting Vidal Sassoon quality, just something not quite as uneven’ I added. ‘We could have a glass of wine first to steady our nerves, how does that sound?’

I was starting to feel bad. She was clearly not keen. I gave up.

‘It’s fine, Lizzie. Don’t worry about it. I’ll leave the wine and leave you in peace.’

‘Sorry. I was trying to think what to do’ she replied.

‘So you weren’t just trying to think how to get me out of your flat?’ I chuckled.

‘No, really. I was trying to picture you with different hair.’

‘You should’ve seen it yesterday. This is very different.’

‘What do you want me to do? Just even it up, or did you have something else in mind?’

‘That’s the spirit’ I applauded. ‘I told you, I’m not expecting miracles, just something that I can walk down the street with, until I can get to a salon.’

‘You suit it short’ she observed after a pause.

‘Really? I’ve always had it long, something to attract the boys, you know?’ I said, before remembering that I was talking to a short-haired woman, who probably had other priorities.

‘I used to have long hair, but it’s so much easier short. It could actually do with a cut’ she said, ruffling her hand through it.

I raised my eyebrows.

‘It’s pretty short as it is.’

She shrugged.

‘Did you want me to do it now?’

‘I was going to say that it would get me out of your hair, but you know what I mean’ I chuckled.

‘Now’s good, I just need to set up a chair somewhere to do it’ she said.

‘These flats aren’t the biggest, are they?’ I commented.

Looking around, I resolved to find somewhere else as soon as I could.

‘I usually do mine in the bathroom’ she said, surprising me.

‘You cut your own?’ I remarked, sounding more surprised than was probably polite.

‘All part of simplifying my life’ she commented.

‘So this isn’t as scary for you as I thought?’

‘I wouldn’t say that. There’s a difference between doing your own and doing someone else’s, They might have different ideas.’

She picked up a chair and headed for where I knew the bathroom to be. I followed, curiosity piqued by this revelation about her cutting her own hair. I looked at it in a new light while she walked ahead of me. She put the chair down in the middle of the tiled floor. A wise decision for cleaning up afterwards.

She stood behind the chair, waiting for me. I sat down, feeling her fingers at the band holding the stumpy remnant of my crowning glory.

‘Sorry, I should’ve done that already’ I apologised.

‘It’s fine’ she said, helping my hair free, flicking at it gently to see how it fell.

She was looking at me, assessing me.

‘I sense that you’re plotting something’ I ventured.

‘Just trying to work out how to do what you want. It’s so much easier doing mine’ she said.

‘I thought it’d be harder doing your own?’

‘I don’t have to worry about cutting a straight line when I do mine’ she said mysteriously.

‘Have you done it so often that it’s second nature?’

‘I can’t go wrong’ she said, opening a drawer in the cabinet and bringing out a black plastic case. She opened it and took out an object that was nestled in amongst an electrical cord and other loose bits and pieces.

She pushed the escaping cord back into the box.

‘Oh my God!’ I exclaimed. ‘You use those? I had a boyfriend who did his own. I didn’t realise that’s what you meant.’

‘This is the easy option. What you want is a bit more complicated’ she explained.

‘Don’t those cut it really short?’ I asked, intrigued by this little peek into her world.

‘If I want.’

‘And do you?’

‘Sometimes’ she replied enigmatically.

‘Is that what you were trying to picture me with? Really short hair?’

‘Maybe’ she smiled.

There was something different about her now. More confident in a way.

‘You know my hair was down to my bra-strap yesterday’ I said.

‘Mine used to be too, but there’s nothing like feeling these run over your head’ she said with a little smile.

‘Wow! I couldn’t imagine ever doing that.’

‘I bet you couldn’t have imagined having hair this length either’ she said, cupping a hand underneath the ends at the back, as if weighing what I’d got left.

‘Very true.’

‘So why stop here? Maybe that guy has done you a favour and freed you forever from the tyranny of hair and the expectations of men.’

‘That’s getting a bit deep, isn’t it? It was just a game that went wrong.’

‘See, you’re more philosophical about it already.’

‘Well, there’s no point dwelling on it, is there? My hair’s gone and so’s he’ I chuckled.

‘How about it then?’ she asked, sitting on the side of the bath.

‘I’m not sure it would fit the image that I want to project.’

‘Project a different image, one that maybe no-one expects.’

‘Listen to you. A real Joan of Arc!’ I chuckled.

‘Sorry, I get on my high horse sometimes.’

‘Nothing to be sorry about. There’ll certainly be a few fantasies consigned to the bin when I walk into the office next time.’

‘Well, you know where I am if you change your mind.’

‘I do indeed’ I replied.

‘Right, let’s put temptation away and I’ll get the scissors.’

I watched her walk away and then return, armed with an impressive pair of scissors. I smiled at her.

I steeled myself for the worst, but she turned out to be surprisingly competent and determined to save as much of the stump as she could. That was a relief. I relaxed a little and let her do what needed to be done. It was a bonus that she didn’t delve into what had really happened, didn’t chat. She concentrated on the task in hand.

‘Sorry, I’ve got hair all over your tee-shirt’ she said eventually, brushing my shoulders vigorously.

‘Don’t worry about it’ I said, getting up to have a look in the mirror.

‘You’ve done a good job’ I said, reaching up to check the back. It didn’t feel that much different, but when she held up a second mirror to let me see it, the difference was obvious. She hadn’t cut that much off, but what she had done, was just right. I could certainly go out in public now without feeling too self-conscious.

‘Thank you so much, Lizzie’ I said.

In no time at all, I was heading back to my flat, happier than when I’d slunk downstairs in search of emergency repairs earlier on. I went straight into the shower.

I shampooed my hair, accepting that it was a less onerous task that it had been. I did it again. I thought of Lizzie. Thought about what she’d said. Tried to picture her with shorter hair. Tried to re-write history by substituting Kevin for her in my recollection of being bound and helpless on the bed. With the right toy, would I even know the difference? My fingers found the idea rather appealing, which surprised me.

I bit the bullet on Monday morning and went in to the office. A few people complimented me, most pretended not to notice. Was I that unapproachable? Maybe I did need to change the way I did things.

As the week went on, I found that I was spending what little free time that I had, thinking less about what Kevin had done to me and more about Lizzie. It was crazy. I didn’t even know if she was that way inclined. I knew that I’d never given it a second thought before. Was this what was waiting for me in the darkness?

I found myself watching lesbian porn late one evening, out of curiosity. Other than a couple of drunken kisses on a night out, I’ve never gone down that road. Not that I’ve anything against it, I’ve always been able to get a man when I’ve wanted one, so haven’t needed to cast my net wider.

On my way up the stairs on the Thursday evening, I popped a note into Lizzie’s letterbox. I’d had several attempts at it during the afternoon, but in the end, went for simplicity: “Fancy a takeout Friday night? My treat. Becky.” How harmless was that?

I’d agonised over it, wondered whether I should knock on her door again, wondered how awkward it would be if she said no. Wondered why I was asking her. Wondered what she would think. It had the potential to go horribly wrong.

The reply didn’t come until Friday afternoon. I’d had a foul day. I’d completely forgotten about the invitation. I ignored the ping on my phone. I didn’t remember until I was packing up to leave. I saw who it was from and remembered my foolish note. I hoped that she was busy, was washing her hair or something. That would save me the effort of standing her up.

“Love to. Pop down whenever. I have menus. L”

Fuck!

I drove home, trying to think of an excuse, even thinking about going to a hotel, so that I didn’t have to go home. The shower was my saviour, improving my mood, relaxing me, washing away the horrors of work.

Relaxing me, that is, until I had to get dressed. What should I wear? I was going to a neighbour’s for a takeout, for God’s sake. Why did it matter? It mattered.

I presented myself at her door in jeans and a loose-fitting shirt, one that was more expensive than you’d think. I’d put a bra on, taken it off. Put the shirt on, taken it off. Gone through the process several times. Now I was at her door, shirt on, boobs unrestrained once again.

The welcome was more effusive than the last time I’d shown up unexpected.

‘Hi, Becky. Come in’ Lizzie said, leaning in to hug me. I valiantly held on to the bottle of wine that I’d brought down, thinking that it was becoming a habit.

She looked at the bottle of wine. I looked at her.

‘You shouldn’t have’ Lizzie said.

‘You have’ I said, with a nod to her hair.

The tousled mop that she’d had at the weekend was gone. In its place was a crewcut, if that’s what you’d call it. Bristles. She ran a hand over her crown.

‘Had to be done. It was a mess. Come on in’ she urged.

‘Something I prepared earlier’ she said, coming into the lounge from the kitchen with two glasses of wine.

‘Wonderful’ I replied, clinking her glass and taking a generous sip.

‘How did it go at work?’ she asked, with a gentle gesture of her glass.

‘Fine, thanks to you’ I said. ‘May I?’ I asked, reaching tentatively towards her head.

She nodded, dipping her head in anticipation. I touched it, stroked it, marginally longer than was polite. She smiled.

‘You only have to ask’ she said, turning away from me before I could react.

She’d set out a selection of takeout menus on the unit near the door and was standing looking at them.

‘What do you fancy?’ she asked, her back turned to me.

‘Anything you like’ I replied, moving closer and placing a hand lightly on her hip.

She turned to face me, a note of surprise on her face.

‘Sorry’ I said, looking at my hand as if it had acted of its own will.

Her expression was difficult to read. Disapproving? Offended? The hand that reached up to cup my left boob told me otherwise. I closed my eyes briefly, relieved, surprised, confused. All of the above. I opened my eyes when I felt her lips touch mine. A butterfly landed and then took off again. I looked at her.

‘Anything?’ she asked, her hand closing around my boob just that little bit more confidently.

I nodded.

‘Stroke my head’ she invited.

I did.

‘You can have that’ she said quietly. Invitingly.

‘I know’ I breathed.

‘Do you want to?’

‘Yes, but I can’t.’

‘Why not?’

‘Work.’

‘Do they have a specific dress code?’

‘Not that I know of.’

‘Well then?’

‘I don’t think they’d like anything that they think of as unconventional.’

‘What about if you didn’t have to worry about what they’d say at work?’

‘That’s different, but it’s not going to happen.’

‘I’ll be back in a sec’ she said, leaving me standing in the middle of the lounge.

When she returned, she was holding the little case that I’d seen in the bathroom. I knew what was inside. She knelt down and then sat back, putting the case at her feet. I was still standing, looking down on her. She opened the case, confirming what was inside, as if there had been any doubt. She patted the floor, the other side of the case, inviting me to sit down. I looked at the perfectly good armchairs, but then did as she suggested, drawing my calves in close. I looked at her and then at the case, watching while she extracted the clippers. She placed them on the floor.

‘This brings back memories of spin the bottle at teenage parties’ I chuckled.

She smiled.

‘We could play spin the clippers’ she suggested.

‘It’s a bit late for that’ I replied, with a nod to her bristly scalp.

She reached up and rubbed a hand over her head. ‘I don’t know, there’s a bit to go yet’ she said.

I looked at her: pretty, still feminine with her ultra-short hair. I wondered if the moment had passed, both of us drawing back from those tentative touches of a few moments ago.

She tried to spin the body of the clippers, but was thwarted by the long pile of the carpet. They sat defiantly, pointing at neither of us in particular.

‘So much for that idea’ she smiled.

‘It’d be better on the table’ I ventured.

She looked at me and raised an eyebrow.

‘To the table!’ she said in her best gung-ho pantomime voice.

‘There’s not much point is there? You’ve already done it and I can’t do it, so it’s not much of a game.’

‘It’s a bit of fun. We could try it, just to see what happens.’

‘You might as well just toss a coin. At least that won’t scratch the table’ I said, practical as ever.

‘If I get up, one of us is going to have to do it’ she said, cautioning me.

‘There we go, back to the same scenario. I’m sure we can think of something else to do’ I said, placing a hand on her thigh and stroking it gently. I could see my comfort zone, some way off in the distance.

Her hand touched the back of mine briefly, paused on my forearm and then advanced until we were in a tangle of limbs, sprawled on the floor. Not the most dignified coupling that I’ve ever experienced. We were kissing, laughing.

‘I can’t do this, I’m too old’ I said, breaking off from the embrace.

‘I know what you mean’ she smiled, holding out a hand to help me to my knees.

I thought that she was going to help me to my feet, but instead she reached for the hem of my shirt and drew it upwards slowly, revealing my belly. It was clear that she wanted me to finish what she’d started, which was fine by me, because the last thing I wanted was for my shirt to get torn. It had cost a packet.

‘Beautiful’ she said, cupping my bare boobs in her hands.

‘I do normally wear a bra, honest. It just that when I’ve come here, I’ve been going for the casual option. You probably think I’m a right tart.’

‘I’ll let you know in a couple of minutes’ she replied, leaning in to kiss my boobs. At least, that’s what I expected, but in seconds, she was trying to see how much boob she could get in her mouth. I’ve never had a guy try that, so it was a novelty. Then we were back to butterfly kisses and tantalisation. Wonderful.

That seems a fitting point to cut away. After all, why would you be interested in what I get up to in the bedroom?

Let’s fast forward a few months, to the part where Lizzie and I haven’t moved in together, but are flitting between our two flats as if they’re part of the same home. We’re separated by a single floor, but we view it as upstairs/downstairs. The only annoying thing can be when I’m in a different flat to the thing that I really want at that moment and have to either run upstairs or downstairs, depending on where I am.

Lizzie and I are a couple, but as far as work is concerned, I’m the same old Becky that I’ve always been, apart from the fact that I’m “between boyfriends”. I don’t regard anyone at work as a confidante, so I feel no obligation to tell them that I don’t really see a cock in my future. I see my lovely Lizzie and that’s plenty for me. It took her a while to tell me that she’d been unsure of her sexuality and had played both sides, trying to decide which camp she really fell into. Apparently I’d been on her radar, but she’d regarded me as an unlikely catch, because she’d seen me come home with various guys and she’d thought that I was determinedly straight. I still haven’t told her everything about Kevin, but in a way, that’s best forgotten. Let’s just say that the two of us are very happy together.

The question that you probably have is whether or not I let her use the clippers on me. As I told you, I was concerned about what work would think, what clients would think and it would’ve raised too many questions. I went to a salon a couple of days later and got a professional adjustment to Lizzie’s rescue bob, which drew approving comments from the stylist once I told her a little of the background. I’ve stayed bobbed, Lizzie’s stayed with her DIY clipper-jobs while we’ve focussed on building our relationship and navigating any obstacles along the way.

She’s made me happy and I like to think that I’ve done the same for her. We have an equal partnership, where we both enjoy having the upper-hand from time to time, if you know what I mean. Let’s call it “give and take”, we can both give it and we can certainly both take it.

Since that first encounter, Lizzie has never suggested that I do anything with my hair and never tells me when she’s going to cut hers. She just comes out of the bathroom every now and again with hair shorter than when she went in. A couple of times, she’s buzzed it closer than she normally would, which makes things more interesting for me. I never know what I’m going to get, but don’t really have a preference. I like her however she does her hair.

One thing that I have noticed is that she takes an interest in other women who buzz their hair and on occasions makes a comment about trying it herself, if she sees a woman with a shaved head on television or in a film. It’s not something that’s led to a prolonged conversation, but there was one time when she’d said something along the lines of a headshave needed to be done by a professional.

Lizzie’s birthday is something that had been exercising my mind for a few weeks. I’d been agonising over what to get her, spending time at work, trawling sites, looking for ideas when I should’ve been writing a report and I’d come up empty. I thought about jewellery, clothes, frilly underwear (which would probably be more for my benefit, just like when a guy makes a present of underwear, you know that he’s the one going to get the most out of it). I thought about taking us away for a long weekend, all manner of things. Then I hit on an idea.

It took some organising and more money than I’d expected, but she’s worth it. Today’s the day and I’ve taken the day off, so that we could celebrate our first birthday properly. Mine isn’t for another couple of months, so I get to go first and don’t want to disappoint. I’d told her that we’d be going to dinner, but that I’d take her to collect her present first. We had a lazy morning in bed and then headed in to town. I could see that she was curious, excited. She had no experience of me as a buyer of gifts, had no idea what to expect.

We parked the car and then walked down the main street towards the main shopping area. She watched me digging in my bag for my phone.

‘Quick call. Just to check something’ I said cryptically.

I moved away from her so that she couldn’t hear. There wasn’t much point really, because all would become clear in a couple of minutes.

‘We’re all set’ I said, slipping the phone away.

She looked excited. I hoped that it would all go to plan. I led us down a side street and after a hundred yards or so, stopped. Lizzie looked around her. Looked up at the shop sign. Looked at the “Closed” sign hanging on the door. Her expression changed when the door opened. I indicated that she should go in. The woman who’d opened the door smiled at us both, but said nothing. Just as I’d requested. I’d asked her to be as anonymous as possible, but above all, asked her not to speak. I had the idea that doing the whole thing in silence would make it sexier somehow. Lizzie looked at me with a questioning expression as the woman led the way up the stairs.

‘This is your present. I hope you like it’ I said, urging her to follow the woman.

The staircase led to the salon that I’d visited a few days ago, when I talked to the salon owner about doing something special for Lizzie’s birthday. She’d taken a bit of persuading to open the salon for us on her day off, but a wad of notes made all the difference. She was playing her part admirably so far. I smiled at her, thinking that she looked good in her tight work tunic and trousers. Maybe a little older than Lizzie and I, but I wouldn’t kick her out of bed. Her hair was sleek and dark. Definitely coloured. A shortish bob, not unlike mine.

‘Take a seat Lizzie. Don’t worry, Joanne isn’t being rude. I asked her to play her part in a silent movie. No-one’s to speak now, especially not you, otherwise the whole thing’ll be ruined.’

Lizzie looked bemused, but sat where I’d indicated. I took my seat facing her, so that we could watch each other. The mirrors had been draped over with large towels, so even though we were both sitting sideways-on to them, there could be no possibility of a sneak peek before the final reveal.

The stylist picked a cape off the re-purposed hat stand and shook it dramatically. I wondered what Lizzie was thinking, wondered what she’d say about not being consulted about what was about to happen. It wasn’t the sort of present that you could take back for an exchange or a refund. Happy that the gown was fit for purpose, the stylist swirled it round and fastened it at the neck. I looked at Lizzie, trying to interpret her expression. Curious, concerned, excited, annoyed? I wasn’t sure.

The near silence was broken by the sound of clippers. Slightly different to the ones that Lizzie used at home. Her expression was still a mixture, impossible to read. The clippers approached, made contact. Regardless of what Lizzie was thinking, I was excited at what was happening. Knew that I was wet. I wondered whether it was having the same effect on Lizzie. The stylist carried on, oblivious.

I had to give credit to the stylist, she was a natural at this role-playing malarky. Maybe she was pleased not to have to do the false friendly thing. She had her instructions, she knew exactly what to do and she was doing it.

Lizzie and I were looking at each other. She seemed more relaxed now, accepting, understanding. The stylist was nearly done. With the first part anyway. In what seemed like mere moments, the clippers were shut off and put to one side, their work complete. Lizzie’s expression was a picture when she saw the can of shaving foam appear from the cupboard at the side. I’d talked at length with the stylist about this part, not sure whether Lizzie would actually want her to go all the way. I bowed to the stylist’s experience in the end, taking on board her comments about getting the best finish possible.

I could just imagine the infantile comment my little brother would’ve made if he’d heard the sound the can made when the first dollop of foam came out. He’d probably have weighed in with a second remark about the stylist having a handful of something white and slippery in the palm of her hand too. Not for long though. Foam was applied to scalp, silent promises were exchanged between Lizzie and I. I really hoped that it would be everything that she’d wished for. The mute stylist stroked away the foam with the safety razor.

The shaving took longer than the clippering, which I put down to the extra degree of care required. Lizzie and I now seemed to be playing a game to see who could go longest without blinking. I smiled at her, thinking how lucky I was to have her. She sneaked the tip of her tongue over her lips, ending with a promising smile. I hoped to cash in that promise very soon indeed.

The shave had been slow and careful, but had come to an end. Lizzie and I smiled at each other like a couple of simpletons. I doubt that she’d ever had a birthday present like it.

I stood up, watching Lizzie closely as she followed my lead. The stylist unfastened the gown and Lizzie and I embraced, although not in the way that we wanted to. This was the chaste version, the version where we undressed each other would come soon enough. I was conscious of the stylist watching us, not quite knowing whether the embargo was over and she was allowed to speak. I’d given her strict instructions that the whole thing was to be wordless, but would she consider it done and that she was free from the restriction? I reached into my bag for the card that I’d brought with me. I’d paid upfront, so this was just a little “thank you” card for her, a thank you for being a good sport. Who knew, we might be seeing her again.

Lizzie and I made for the door and went down the stairs to the front door. I knew that we should let the stylist see us out, but I couldn’t wait. I opened the door, hoping that she wouldn’t be far behind us to lock it. She could have the rest of her day back.

The first few steps were in silence, but then we paused by a little alleyway that ran between two of the shop units to a car park behind. Lizzie took my hands in hers.

‘I hope you like your present’ I said.

‘I couldn’t have wished for anything better’ she said, hugging me as tight as she could. ‘What made you think of that?’

‘You’ve no idea how hard I looked for a present for you. I couldn’t find anything special, then I decided that I needed to get creative. You’ve used a shorter guard a couple of times, you watch carefully when we’ve seen bald women in films. I just tried to think of a way to make it different, memorable. I thought about taking you to a barbershop, but didn’t think you’d want to sit there with all the men. Then this little idea started to take shape and after a couple of false starts, I found someone who’d play ball. After that, I just had to hope that it’s what you wanted.’

‘I’ve fantasised about it, but never thought I’d get it. What’ll they say at work?’

‘Fuck them! I’m bald and I’ve got a girlfriend and that’s all that matters. If they don’t like it, I’ll find something else’ I said, hugging her.

‘I think I need to go home’ Lizzie said, squeezing my hand.

The short trip home was a blur of anticipation and concern that we’d ruin the car seats. We were barely through the front door before we started tugging at each other’s clothes. Lizzie did her best not to take her eyes off my bald head. In my haste to leave the salon before the spell was broken, I hadn’t had a chance to look at myself properly in the mirror. For the time being, I had to be content with judging how I looked from her enthusiasm for my new look.

I was standing naked in the hallway with her lapping at my excitement while she was still tugging her own jeans off. The whole experience of getting my head shaved for her was there in liquid form between my legs. I couldn’t remember ever having been so wet. I started to feel a little guilty, thinking that today was meant to have been for her, not for me. I’d been so nervous that I’d considered chickening out. Despite my bravado, I was really worried about what they’d say at work, what people in the street would think. I was “long-haired Becky” not so long ago, now I’d be “Baldie Becky”. Long hair hadn’t brought me happiness, short hair had, and hopefully no hair would take it up a notch.

Lizzie had succeeded in getting her jeans off, so I took her hand and led her to the bedroom. It’s her birthday after all. I got her to lie on the bed so that I could look at her.

‘You’re so beautiful like that. I knew you would be’ she said, bringing her feet up closer to her backside to show me what she thought. ‘There’s just one thing, though.’

‘What?’ I asked as I got into position to do her justice.

‘Why didn’t you get her to shave me?’

‘That would be a gift for me. Today is about you’ I explained.

‘Would you like me bald?’

‘I’d like you even if you had hair down to your arse’ I said, dipping in for the first time and running my tongue slowly along her lips.

I lifted my head and looked the length of her torso.

‘We’re a pair of dirty bitches, aren’t we’ I chuckled.

She reached down and pressed my face into her.

I should’ve known that we’d spend the afternoon enjoying each other. I looked at the clock and realised the we had to get ready for dinner.

Lizzie suggested showering together, but I knew what would happen and we’d never get to the restaurant. We could fuck again when we got back, but I wanted to mark her birthday in a more traditional way, so insisted that we got ready separately. I also insisted that I went in first, because I just wanted to get to know the new version of myself a little better.

I stood in front of the mirror, still not quite believing that I’d shaved my head. I’d congratulated myself when I’d thought of doing it and patted myself on the back even more when I found a stylist willing to play her part. Now that I was faced with the reality of not having any hair, it brought it home to me. The whole experience had probably made it worth losing my hair for, and certainly the look on Lizzie’s face when she’d seen the stylist put the gown on me and get the clippers out is something that I’ll treasure. That first path across the top of my head produced a look on her face that I’ll come back to time and time again in “private moments”.

I jumped in the shower, dipping my head into the jet to see what it felt like to have nothing between me and the water. Exquisite! I soaped my scalp and ran my hands over and over it, telling myself that I was removing any shaving foam residue, but knowing that it was purely for the sensation. I knew that I’d be in the shower again when we got home, with Lizzie doing the honours for me.

‘Hurry up!’ I heard her shout.

I finished quickly and left the bathroom, still towelling myself dry. I headed to the bedroom to get dressed and to stare at myself in the dressing table mirror in a bid to get better acquainted with myself.

Lizzie appeared after a few minutes, a towel over her head, but otherwise dried off. I watched her put her underwear on, thinking ahead to taking it off her when we got home. The towel slipped off.

‘You’ve been busy.’

‘Just a tidy up’ she said.

‘That’s short’ I commented, trying to get a good look.

‘Thought I’d try a number one’ she explained.

‘First time?’

‘Yeah. I’m still struggling with the idea that I’ve got more hair than you, though’ she replied with a smile.

‘Well, we need to go, but we can talk about it later, if you want’ I offered.

She nodded at the suggestion.

A few minutes later we headed out. Our entrance to the restaurant drew looks, but I put that down to us being an attractive couple, no more, no less.

We ate, we drank a nice bottle of wine and went home for dessert.

Before I knew it, it was time to get up and go to work. That was the part that I was dreading and no matter how pleasurable, how fresh the memories, this had always beeen over-shadowing everything. I kissed Lizzie goodbye and got in the car, looking at myself in the mirror.

I’d briefly considered a wig, but decided that it would devalue what I’d done, be a betrayal of Lizzie. I kept telling myself that I’d done it for her. Done it for me. Everyone else could do what they liked.

I walked into the office. Said “good morning” as usual. Didn’t notice anyone look up. I went to my office. Logged on to my computer.

Minutes later, my boss was at the door. People had noticed. Word had spread.

‘Everything okay, Becky?’ my boss asked.

‘Yeah, fine thanks Brian.’

‘Have a good day off?’

‘Yeah, it was my partner’s birthday. It was good’ I replied.

It wasn’t an effusive exchange. It never was really. He’d tell me about his golfing, I’d nod and smile. He’d go away. It was rarely about me.

‘The office gossips noticed the new haircut’ he said.

‘Oh? I fancied a change’ I replied.

‘As long as everything’s okay, I’ll leave you to it’ he said, turning on his heel.

“Yeah Brian, fuck off” I wanted to say, but didn’t.

It hadn’t taken them long.

I stayed in my office until lunchtime, knowing how much it would irritate them. By the time I ventured out, most people had left for meetings or gone to lunch. I needed to go to the loo and couldn’t put it off any longer.

On my way back, “Lucy the gossip” looked up from her monitor and smiled. I quite liked her, but was wary of chatting to her much. I went over to her and leant in to whisper to her.

‘My girlfriend wanted me to do it’ I said, walking away before the comment registered with her.

I smiled. Let them feast on that.

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