Mistakes

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I tried not to stare, but the figure with her back to me across the parking-lot that had been hastily converted into a cafe was familiar. I watched as she turned her head, the thick swath of long black hair slid from her shoulder and I could see her eyes. It was her.

I hadn’t seen her in person for 5 years. Mike, who was my cousin, told me that she had stopped coming to his salon a few years ago. It had been 2 years since she had ghosted, not just me, but all our friends too, on social media. But here she was now.  Even with the mask obscuring half her face, I knew her well enough to recognize her just from a glimpse. I got up and walked across the lot staying as far from the occupied tables as I could.

“Hi, Linda.”

She looked up at me and I knew that she was doing her little half smile under the mask from the way the corner of her eye crinkled.

“Fancy meeting you here,” Linda said with a chuckle. “What are you doing back in the city?”

“The bar is still closed,” I explained, “and I’m helping Mike clean out Aunt Meg’s apartment.”

“Why are you cleaning out Aunt Meg’s apartment?” She asked, then pointed at the chair across from her. “Oh, hey sit, I haven’t ordered yet.”

“Thanks,” I said as I slipped into the seat. “Aunt Meg passed away, about a month ago.”

“I’m sorry, Meg was great. I think she always knew about us, and was OK with it. I guess she saw more of us, since she here lived in the city too, instead of out in the suburbs like your parents. Was it…?” Linda left the question dangling with a sigh.

”Yeah.” I said, knowing what she was getting at. “How have you been?”

I watched Linda’s dark eyes sparkle as she updated me on her life. She was able to keep her job and telecommute. Her employers were planning to just keep everyone telecommuting even after all this was over and eliminate the cost of renting downtown office space. She told me about her current girlfriend, Brenda. Brenda was a hair stylist at some large midtown salon. She explained that she stopped using her social media accounts when her and Brenda started using a couple account. She caught me up on her family. Her brother, Rob, and his wife were expecting their second child, they still lived in the apartment on the border of Little Italy and Chinatown that Linda and Rob had grown up in, and had been in the family for generations.

I told her about how the bar had been doing before the world went to hell. I told her about how I was barely managing the mortgage payments using up my savings and living off of money I was making on the side still doing some accounting and bookkeeping, since the bar closed. I told her about my dating life and that I had broken up with my last girlfriend a couple of months before the lockdown started. I told her about there being no point in spending money trying to set up an outdoor seating area when most of my business was college students, who weren’t returning anytime soon.  

She asked if my parents could help me out with the money, I explained that we didn’t talk anymore. The only family that I was still on good terms with after coming out were my cousin Mike and Aunt Meg.

The waiter came and took our lunch orders. I didn’t say anything when she ordered nothing but a salad and water, instead of her usual burger and soda. She asked why I got an iced tea instead of a beer with my usual BLT, no bacon. I explained that when I had covid a couple of months earlier it had done a number on my liver.

I resisted the impulse to reach out and brush the silky hair hanging at the side of her face behind her ear.

It was a somber conversation, I knew my life hadn’t been going well the last few months. And though it sounded like Linda’s life was pretty good, there was something about it that felt uncomfortable. I figured it was probably just a combination of the state of the world, and the awkwardness of me popping back into her life unexpectedly.

It was a bit of a relief when the food came and there was an excuse to not talk for a bit. We nervously slipped off our masks, and I finally got to see the face I had been missing for so long. She was still beautiful, if ever so slightly more wrinkled.

As we ate, I thought back to the big fight we had 5 years earlier.

 

—“I can’t believe I had to hear about this *buying a bar a 3 hour drive outside the city* plan from your mother.” Linda yelled. “When the hell did you plan to tell me?”

“Shh, my parents will hear.  I was planning to discuss it with you at a better time.”  I explained keeping my own voice down.  “Not here at their house.”

“Of course we can’t let your parents hear us fighting, then they might figure things out.”  Linda mocked.  “You know how I found out from your mother?  She asked if I had a new roommate lined up for after you move out.  I am so sick of your family thinking that we’re just roommates.”

“Hey, it’s got an upside, they always made my boyfriend sleep in the guestroom, at least we get to share my old room when we visit.”

“There are twin beds.”  Linda waved her arms at the separate beds.  “Being in the guestroom wouldn’t be that different.  But I’m guessing that if they knew I was your girlfriend, I wouldn’t be welcome anywhere in this house.”

“If they knew you were my girlfriend I wouldn’t be welcome in this house.”

The fight had continued when we got back to our apartment in the city the next day. Linda didn’t want to move with me no matter how great an opportunity it was that I could buy the bar that I already loved. I had started out waitressing there back in my college days, and gradually took on many management duties as time went on.  Then I had taken the bar on as my first client doing accounting, after I graduated and became certified. The owner was retiring and wanted it to go to someone who loved it as much as he did. 

Linda didn’t really want to move, and for me to buy the bar, I really had to move there.  It was one thing to make the 3 hour drive once and a while to go through the accounts, but I couldn’t do it daily.  She loved the city. She would have had to find a new job. The idea of leaving her life behind without the kind of commitment I couldn’t offer her before I was ready to come out to my family was asking too much.

When I begrudgingly decided to not buy the bar, Linda broke up with me. She said, it was just going to always be something I resented her for and that I should go buy the damned bar.

The last time I saw her was as I carried out the last box of my stuff down to the new car that my parents had gifted to me so I could look like a proper business owner.

I hated that car, I still drove it around hating it because I couldn’t really afford to replace it. It was a nice car, but it wasn’t what I would have chosen. That wasn’t why I hated it though. Every time I drove it, I knew that my parents wouldn’t have given it to me if I had come out sooner.  If I had come out to them sooner, I wouldn’t have gotten the car, but I might have been able to keep Linda. Not coming out sooner had been a mistake, and the fucking car was a daily reminder.—

 

As I was about three quarters of the way through my sandwich, and Linda poked at her salad, I saw a bleached blond lady approaching us. Even though I had only heard about her existence less than an hour earlier, something about the way she almost seemed to have lasers coming from her eyes made me know it was Brenda.

“Hi,”  was all she said as she stood over Linda with her arms crossed.

“Oh hey there.” Linda said as she got up and quickly kissed Brenda’s cheek in an apologetic manner. “I was just telling Laura about how great you are.”

“Laura.” Brenda said coldly. “The Laura who left you to run a bar in a hick town.  The Laura who loved to play with your hair. Well it’s so nice to meet you Laura. Linda didn’t mention that you would be here, when she said she’d grab some lunch while she waited for me to finish my appointment.”

“It was a surprise to both of us.” I said planting my fakest smile on my face. “We just happened to run into each other and were catching up.”

“Hmph” Brenda turned from me and just started talking to Linda like I wasn’t there.  “So, you just got the salad like I told you to? Did you order soda? Good. Let’s get going then, just leave what you owe and I’m sure Laura can take care of the check.”

Brenda turned and started walking, obviously confident that Linda would follow her instructions then hurry to catch up with her.

“It was great seeing you.” Linda hurried to say while digging money out of her pocket. “Say ‘hi’ to Mike for me and let him know how sorry I was to hear about Meg.”

And just like that, she was jogging between the tables to catch up to Brenda while also trying to secure her mask, her long shiny black hair swinging back and forth, just brushing the waistband of her bluejeans.

I thought about how much I missed the feel of that hair running through my fingers as I watched her go.

—The very first time I met Linda, seven years earlier, I had an excuse to run my fingers through that gorgeous hair. I was at Mike’s salon going over his books, when he begged me to lend a hand with customers because they were swamped and the shampoo girl had called out sick.  

Mike was a few years older than me, and I had always idolized him growing up, so after highschool, I started at beauty school, much to my parents’ dismay. I soon realized it was a mistake. I wasn’t bad at it, in fact I was quite good at cutting hair, but I was constantly uncomfortable. I pretended it was the smell of the chemicals that made me quit. Nobody believed that it was really about the chemicals, everyone assumed I had given into my parents constant pressure to go to what they called a real school. So, I applied to a good university with a good business program just like my parents wanted. My parents nagging hadn’t been the real reason I had quit though.

So, though asking an accountant to help out on the salon floor would normally be completely insane, I was slightly better qualified than your average accountant. I had also by then come to understand my discomfort.

I had figured out that cutting hair turned me on. While I was still suppressing my attraction to girls, I thought it was a true fetish and the only way I could get turned on.  It had been the only way I could get turned on enough to sleep with men, but once I figured out I was a lesbian, that changed. I realized that if the body under me was female, I could just enjoy it without having to fantasize about hair. The hair thing went from being the one and only thing that got me going, to a fun extra. It was still my go to fantasy when I was between girlfriends, but it was easier to manage, easier to ignore when it wasn’t convenient.

Mike had me acting as substitute shampoo girl. That’s when I got to meet Linda. She was in for a basic trim to get rid of split ends. Mike was running late, so told me to stall her by offering her a free deep conditioning treatment, and to take my time at it. He also warned me she was a super fussy client, and to treat her with kidd gloves.

When I met her in the waiting area, she was so nervous looking. On the one hand, she was dressed pretty butch, but yet here she was at a fancy Upper Eastside salon. She definitely looked a little scared as I led her back to the sinks.

Holding the thick bundle of Linda’s hair as I dropped it into the wash basin had me in heaven until I noticed how stiffly she sat.  She questioned everything I did, which made the fact that I was really just stalling hard to hide.

After Mike had trimmed about a half inch off the bottom of her hair, she came back to give me a tip, and to apologize for being difficult.  I took a chance and asked her if she wanted to go to dinner later.—

One month later, we moved in together. Two year after that, we broke up.  And now seven years later, I was staring at the half eaten salad and twenty dollar bill she had left on the table.  I assumed I would probably never see her again.  I was wrong.

 

As my phone played it’s generic ringtone, I squinted at the screen.  The number was an unfamiliar 917 one, so at first I hesitated, not wanting to deal with telemarketers, but something in the back of my head said answer.  I figured I could use a break from sorting which of the old towels in the linen closet were nice enough that Mike would want to keep them, and which we would just donate to the animal shelter.

“Hello”

“Hi, Laura.  It’s me Linda.”

“Oh, hi.  I guess this is your new number?”

“Yeah, I’m glad you didn’t change yours.”

“Hasn’t changed since I got it in highschool.  God only knows how many people can just pop back into my life if they want to.”

“I’m really sorry to bug you, but I was hoping you could get me in touch with Mike.  Is he there?”

“It’s no bother, it’s nice to hear your voice.  Mikes out of town though.”

“Is he going to be back soon?  It’s kinda urgent.  I tried calling the salon, but it’s just got a message about being closed till further notice, and that I can sign up for the email list to be notified when they reopen.”

“He’s going to be gone for a while.  He borrowed the car this morning and headed Upstate.  He found someone interested in buying Aunt Meg’s Picasso, and maybe a few of her other prints.  It might be more than a couple of days, it’s way up past Albany then west.  He isn’t even meeting the guy till tomorrow at 3 o’clock, and he said something about taking a side trip on the way back and seeing Watkins Glen since it’s outdoors.”

“Fuck.”

It was in that single word utterance that I could tell Linda was close to tears.

“What’s wrong?” I asked her.

“I just really need to see Mike.” Linda’s voice cracked as she said it.

“Why don’t you tell me what’s going on, and maybe I can do something.”

“I… uhm…It’s a long story.”

“Want to meet me at that cafe and get a bite, it’s a little early for lunch time, but not ridiculously.”

“God NO. Not in public. I can’t go anywhere public.”

“Ok,” I paused trying to puzzle out that strange response. “Do you remember where Aunt Meg’s apartment is? Can you come here?”

“I guess I could borrow a hat from my sister-in-law, and take a cab. I could be there in about a half an hour.”

“Want me to order in lunch?” I asked, glad she was coming.

“Yeah, get me some salad and…” Then she paused and I could hear her take a deep breath. “You know what, fuck the salad. Order me a burger. You remember how I like it?”

“I remember.”

 

I was downstairs getting the food, since the delivery guy no longer would enter buildings, when the cab pulled up and dropped off Linda. She was wearing a pink Yankees cap, which I knew couldn’t possibly be hers since she was a dedicated Mets fan and hated pink. The ponytail hanging down her back looked thinner than it should, before she swung her back pack over her shoulder and obscured it.

We walked up to the apartment together. Though she put down her backpack, folded her facemask into her pocket, and slipped off her shoes, she didn’t take off the pink cap as she followed me into the kitchen.

I didn’t think she was ready to talk, so I got some utensils and started opening the take out bags. We sat silently at the dining table. At some point Linda had started very quietly crying.

When both our sandwiches were done and we were just munching on french fries, I broke the silence.

“So what happened?”

Linda took a deep sigh and reached back to pull the ponytail to the front and stroke it.  It definitely didn’t look as thick as it should have, thinking back to the curtain of hair that had hung down her back when I saw her just two days earlier. 

“I left Brenda last night.” She began slowly. “I spent the night on Rob’s couch. They were not thrilled about extending their quarantine circle.”

“Umhm” I nodded, trying to encourage her to go on, because that really didn’t explain why she was here petting her too thin ponytail.

“So the other day after we had lunch, Brenda was really pissed.” Linda continued still looking down and petting her ponytail. “She has some issues with control and jealousy.”

I would have simply said she was a bitch, but I kept it to myself and just nodded for her to go on.

“We talked about it, and I reminded her she had promised she was going to learn to not get all worked up about these things. That she had agreed that I had a right to have friends. She seemed to have calmed down by the time we went to bed, and yesterday morning, she seemed totally over it and fine.

“So, when she said I had a few split ends and offered to trim them, yesterday afternoon, I wasn’t thinking about how pissed she’d been the night before.”

Linda stopped talking. A tear was just rolling down her cheek. I waited. Linda wiped the tear away, and looked away out the window.

“You know, she knew.  She knew what I was like.  She knew the story with my grandmother. She knew what kind of betrayal it was.”

 

—I remembered when Linda had told me the story with her grandmother.  We’d been living with each other, a few months, and the ends of her hair were getting a bit ragged, so she had made an appointment with Mike. I was telling her if she really just wanted a half inch off the bottom, I could just do that. Or if she was really set on going to Mike, she should let him do something more interesting to her hair. I told her I loved short hair. I mentioned how an undercut was the best of both long hair and short hair. At first she just put me off, but I guess I started to get a little too pushy, finally she told me the story so I would back off.

“I was 8 years old, and Grandmother, who lived in the apartment across the hall, took me out with her, telling my mother we were just going to run a few errands and I could help carry things.” Linda started. “It wasn’t unusual, I would often go shopping with either Grandmother in Chinatown or Nanna in Little Italy and carry stuff for them. So mom thought nothing of it when we left.

“We headed down Mott Street and soon were in the heart of Chinatown. But instead of going straight to the usual shops, Grandmother took me into a barbershop. She said, I just needed a little trim. I was nervous but did as I was told and climbed up onto the booster seat the barber had placed on the armrests of the chair.

“In english, she said to the barber ‘Just a little trim,’ but then in Cantonese, she said something much much longer.  Of course, I didn’t know any Cantonese beyond the basic ‘Gong hei fat choy’ and stuff.”  Linda had taken a deep sigh at that point before continuing.

“So the barber said to me in English ‘OK, just a little trim,’ but as he was saying it, he turned the chair away from the mirror. When he started cutting, it didn’t feel right. He wasn’t combing the hair as far down as it seemed like he should before cutting.  Sometimes what landed on my shoulder felt way too heavy. I asked what was going on several times, but Grandmother just said, ‘Stop fussing, it’s just a little trim.’

“I knew they were lying even though I couldn’t see the mirror, but couldn’t do anything, so I just sat there. I felt the cold metal of the blades against my neck sometimes. I could see the long locks on the floor and on my lap. Short bits were brushing my face. He was combing up the hair in the back and cutting it against the comb. The lie was just so obvious.

“It seemed to go on forever and ever. I knew my hair just kept getting shorter and shorter even though Grandmother kept saying it was just a little bit.

“When the barber finally turned me back to the mirror, I had what you might either call a very short bob or a long bowl cut.  Most of it was cut to about halfway down my ears.  The bangs were at least half an inch above my eyebrows.  And the back was cropped short.  It was pretty much the shortest it could be while still being a girls’ hairstyle.

“I wasn’t that upset at that point.  I didn’t like it, and I was angry about being lied to, but I wasn’t super emotional about my hair.  So, we did a couple of errands and dropped off the bags at Grandmother’s apartment.” Linda again paused and took a deep breath.

“Go on.” I said softly.

“Grandmother said…” Linda paused and brushed off a tear that was suddenly rolling down her cheek. “Grandmother said ‘Let’s go show your mother how pretty you are without all that messy hair in your eyes.’ And we went across the hall and waited at the door for mom to come for me.

“When mom opened the door and looked down at me, all the color just drained from her face and she sat down on the floor right there in the hallway.  She didn’t say a word, she just grabbed me into her arms and started sobbing. We just sat there, for I don’t know how long.  I hugged her back, and at some point, my hands wrapped around my mom’s own thick long brown braid. Mom kept sobbing and gently rocking back and forth slightly with me sitting in her lap till dad got home from work.

“It was hugging my mom in the hall that I realized exactly what Grandmother had done. I didn’t look that much like my mom in many ways, but we both had long thick hair.  Sure mine was straight and black and hers was brown and wavy, but for both of us it was long, and dark, and thick.  We would wear it in the same braids and stuff. Grandmother took that connection from us.”

Linda sighed again and did her little half smile.

“So, yeah. I don’t like getting my hair cut. I have some trust issues. And please just drop the subject.”

I never suggested she cut her hair again.—

 

Linda didn’t need to tell me exactly what had happened the night before with Brenda for me to put the pieces of the puzzle together. I could even imagine how she felt last night standing waiting for her brother to let her into the apartment in the spot where her mom had sobbed so many years earlier. I wondered if her mom, who now lived in the smaller apartment across the hall, had seen her there.

“How bad is it?’ I asked.

Linda took off the hat, undid the ponytail, and turned so I could see the back of her head. There was a very large, very obvious chunk missing behind her right ear.

“Wow,” I said. “What was she thinking. I mean she has to have known that you would leave after that.”

“I guess she over estimated how much I would put up with.” Linda replied with a shrug. “She also seemed to be under the mistaken impression that because you loved playing with my hair back when we were together, that cutting it off was going to make you lose interest in me.”

“Yeah, that was a huge mistake.” I let out a quick ironic chuckle. “I guess you didn’t share all the details of our relationship.”

“Somehow, you being a short hair loving beauty school dropout never actually came up in conversation.” Linda said, sounding a little more comfortable now that everything was out in the open. “What do you think, can Mike fix it?”

“I think that depends how you define ‘fix.’” I said carefully. It wasn’t like one could uncut hair.

“Took the lock of hair away from Brenda and put it in a ponytail holder so it wouldn’t get messed up, I thought maybe Mike could turn it into extensions and fill in where the hair is missing till it grows back.”

That sounded like an awful idea to me. I couldn’t imagine making the part with extensions match the part with her still long hair. Aside from having to layer hair over the extension to hide the base, it was going to be significantly shorter by the time you accounted for adding the attachment and overlapping it. I didn’t want to be the one to tell her though.

“Let’s call Mike, and see what he says.” I said trying to sound more optimistic than I really was.

 

When I called Mike, he said to send him pictures and he’d look at them as soon as he reached his motel room. Linda helped me sort linens and stuff while we waited.

Finally just a little before 5 o’clock, he called back. I put him on speaker phone.

“Hi Laura. Hi Linda. It’s great to hear from you again.” Mike started cheerfully enough, but soon shifted to a more serious tone. “I don’t know what to tell you. We can make extensions from the cut hair, but I can’t just put extensions in that one spot behind your ear and have it blend in.”

“So, what do you recommend?” I asked, because from the crestfallen expression on Linda’s face, doubted she was going to ask.

“Cut it all short to match the bit behind the ear. We can very carefully save the cut hair and try to make a full head of extensions. I will probably need to use some other hair as well. OK?”

“So It’s not even going to be all my own hair probably… I guess I don’t have much choice.” Linda said in a gloomy tone. “When can you get back and do it?”

“Linda, I’m sorry,  but I can’t do it when I get back.” Mike answered, sounding almost as gloomy as Linda had. “I don’t know if the health department might punishing the salon because I am seeing clients. I don’t want to do anything till the salon can officially reopen, I don’t know when that will be. I hope soon, since cases have dropped off and other stuff is beginning to reopen.”

“So I’m stuck wearing my sister-in-laws Yankees cap for god knows how long?” Linda sounded even more gloomy.

“Not necessarily.” Mike said. “You can let Laura cut your hair. She can’t make the extensions, but she can do a decent short haircut for you. She never should have dropped out of beauty school to waste her life as an accountant, she had real talent and promise.”

I looked at Linda’s furrowed brow and could tell she had mixed feelings.

“OK, Mike. If I do this, what do I need to do to make this work.” I asked.

“Do the initial cut dry, and as close to your finished length as you can manage. Make sure the bundles you cut off are kept in order.  You can either put them in little ponytails before you cut them off. Or just hold them securely as you cut, lay them out all in the same direction, and rubberband them up as soon as you finish.  Rubberbands are more secure than hair ties.”

“OK. Pretty much knew that.” I said. “Anything else?”

“Leave enough length for me to attach the extensions to and leave layers that can cover them. I think you knew that too though.”

“Yeah, I figured, but it’s good to have it confirmed.”

“See, you know what you’re doing.”

“Sort of,” I conceded. ”Are there decent scissors here so I don’t have to use kitchen shears?”

“Yeah, please don’t use the kitchen shears.  In the top drawer of the dresser in my old bedroom across the hall from mom’s room, there is a kit with everything you need.” Mike paused for a minute. “Linda, are you sure you care about getting extensions put in? If you don’t, it leaves more possible styles for you and Laura to consider. The extensions aren’t going to really feel like your hair anymore.”

“I…I don’t know.” Linda said and looked at me hesitantly.

“Well, I leave that between you and Laura.  I hope to see both of you in a couple of days. Call if you have any more questions.  Bye guys.”

“Thanks Mike.”

 

While Linda was in the bathroom, I went looking and found the kit right where Mike said it was. And just like he said, it had everything except a chair and sink.

Linda and I made dinner together, and it felt strangely like old times. In the kitchen watching her chop vegetables, I noted that the old fashioned kitchen stool with the fold out steps, was the perfect height for cutting hair.

It was while we were doing the dishes that I finally asked.

“So, am I giving you a haircut tonight or are you just going to keep wearing the baseball cap and head home?”

“I don’t know.” She said while rubbing a glass dry. “I have been thinking about everything, and I am just so confused.”

“Did you ever actually talk about how you felt about the haircut Grandmother took you for with your mom?” I looked up from the plate I was rinsing at Linda as I asked, and she shook her head. “Why don’t you call her. See what she says.”

“Can you finish up here if I go talk to her in Mike’s room?”

“Yeah sure. Say ‘Hi’ to her for me.”

 

It was around 40 minutes later before Linda came out. She looked like a huge weight was off her shoulders as she sat down next to me.

“You know, my mom is really wise.” Linda smiled. “Thanks for suggesting I talk to her.  You know what she said, she said that when Brenda and Grandmother cut my hair, they did it from a place of fear, anger, and jealousy. She said she knew that if I let you cut my hair tonight, you would do it from a place of love.”

“It’s that old hippie thing she has going that makes her wise.” I joked.

“She also told me for the millionth time that breaking up with you was a mistake. She said she knew you’d be ready to come out to your parents eventually.”

“Well that one was pretty easy to predict, it’s not like I could stay in the closet forever.”

“So, are you up for giving me a haircut?”

 

I placed the kitchen stool next to the cleared off dining table, so that I had a place to place the cut hair that we were saving for possible extensions.  I unpacked the tools, and filled the spray bottle with water.  That left just one thing.

“Linda, just give me one more minute to find a mirror I can prop up in the dining chair.” I said.

“Don’t bother.  I’ll just trust you.”

“How are you going to know if I’m cutting your hair the way you want it?”

“Well to start with, at this point cutting it the way I want it isn’t an actual option any way. And you can tell me what you’re going to do. Just don’t lie to me.” She smiled and sat down. “So what is your plan?”

“Well since you don’t want me to lie,” I said as I picked up the cape I was about to drape over her. “I have no plan beyond cut off what I have to, see how bad it looks, then try to figure out how to make it look halfway decent.”

“That was definitely honest.” Linda chuckled.

I took a deep breath and unfolded the white nylon cape. I draped it over my arm as I grabbed the largest clip off the table twisting Linda’s long silky tresses up and using the clip to hold them against her head out of my way.  I then shook out the cape and swung it over her lap, pulled it up over her shoulders and fastened it around her neck.  I smoothed the fabric around her and took a deep breath, knowing the next part got harder.

I unclipped the hair and let it swing down.  The sound as it swished over the cape was mesmerizing. The shiney black of her hair stood out against the clean white cape.

I started combing and evaluating the short part behind Linda’s ear.

“I thought Brenda was a professional,” I asked “why is this so uneven and messy?”

“I guess because when she started she was pretending she was sectioning it, so she wasn’t able to hold it the way she usually would. Then when I figured out what she was actually doing, I started moving.”

I sighed and started sectioning. Trying to remember the one that would work best here, and not sure how to handle the short hair that I couldn’t twist up.  I decided to just section the long bits.

“Do you know what you’re doing?” Linda asked, after I redid one of the sections a third time.

“No, but I’m taking my time and figuring it out.”

“Thanks for not lying.”

I smiled and oddly felt more confident.  I finally felt comfortable with the way I had sectioned it.  A basic horse shoe section on top. A section in front of each ear, two sections above the occipital, a left one which was full, and the right one, which was half long hair and half short.  Then two sections at the nape, again the left one full and the right one missing all but a few long strands.

I looked down at the collection of tools from Mike’s kit.  It was time to choose what I was going to start the cut with.  There were a couple of pairs of scissors and several texturizing shears, as well as a razor.  I went with the basic 5 inch scissors, which seemed to be gold plated.  They felt cold in my hand, which I noticed was trembling ever so slightly.

It was just a few strands here and there right next to where it was already short that I gathered up from the right section. I tried to do the scissors and comb flip thing, but between being out of practice, and nervous as hell, It wasn’t happening.  Instead after I combed the hair and clamped it between the fingers on my left hand, I just put the comb down. 

I held my breath as I finally raised the scissors, and let it out as I made the first cut. I started snipping at the long strands. I cut above my fingers, instead of the usual below, so that the hair I cut off wouldn’t fall.

Some of the strands were long, but many were about half the length of her long hair, I guessed that was probably from Linda pulling away. The long hair was easy to hold, but some of the hair was so short already, it fell to Linda’s caped shoulders as I snipped. What I was holding in the end barely felt like a lock, and I contemplated just dropping it since I wasn’t sure if it was enough to be worth saving, but decided to leave decisions about what to keep up to Mike.

I smoothed the barely a lock out on the table, and moved on to the next bit. I let down part of the left section. I held the bit I combed out between my fingers, just below where I matched them up to the short hair from the right section. The scissors bit into the hair with a slight crunch. I closed them with a snap.  This lock was thick and long and very obviously worth saving as I carefully lined it up to the previous one.

I undid the left section again, and combed out the amount I felt comfortable working with, before putting the rest of it back up. My hand had stopped trembling by then as I once again opened the blades and enveloped the long lock.  I closed them confidently, the initial crunch and the final snap combining into a single sound. I added the new lock next to the previous one.

I started working more quickly: unclip, comb, cut, smooth onto the table.  Unclip, comb, cut, smooth. I did it over and over till there was a small collection of locks lined up, and I had just a single lock left in the section I was working through. I cut it off as I had the others and decided to take a minute to step back and evaluate.

The left side was much more even and slightly longer than the right side.  There were  a few spots of the right side where things were especially uneven, and I wasn’t sure I would be able to blend them. I was worried I was going to have to make Linda choose between having it long enough for extensions or having it look decent. I decided to ignore it for now, and just move up to the next section.

I undid the section on the right side above the occipital.  Just as with the section on the right below the occipital, there was so much already cut, that it was just a matter of cleaning up a few stragglers.  I again gathered them between my fingers and snipped till the long bits were hanging from my hand.

I undid the left section and the long sleek hair fully covered the shorter bits below. I spent a few moments combing it out, enjoying the hair in my hand. I wished that Brenda hadn’t managed to cut so high up. If the cut had only been below the occipital, Linda could have a really cute undercut.  As it was, the best option was to start matching the left side to the right side.

I left a manageable amount of the thick hair down, and repinned the rest. I raised the scissors and started to slice through the perfect hair. Schlick. The long tresse hung from my fingers.  As I was working up gradually higher and higher, the length I cut was getting slightly longer. I smoothed this lock out of the table next to the others, and combed down more hair, falling back into my previous cutting rhythm. Over and over I heard the bite of the sharp blades.

After the final slice through the section, I took a deep breath.  Up till now, the length had been set by what Brenda had done, when I moved on to the crown and in front of the ears, we would need to make choices.

“It’s decision time.” I announced to Linda. “I can leave the sides in the front a lot longer, that will make it a little easier to blend in the extensions, but it’s going to have a very mid ‘00s vibe. Like a stacked bob, kinda dated. Or, I can take it shorter matching the back. Leaving a little more length in the crown, but not as much as I would if I leave the sides longer.  It will look better right now, but not as great for the extensions?”

“Do you think the extensions are a good idea?” Linda asked. I could hear the doubt in her voice.

“I think they are a mistake. I think you’re going to hate them.” I said, being honest. “They are a ton of maintenance, have to be styled carefully, and you can never just run your fingers through your hair. Plus, I don’t think I can get the back to not look choppy if I have to leave enough length to attach them.”

“Fuck it then. We can just give the hair we’ve been saving to Mike to do whatever with.” Linda said, sounding much more sure of herself. “Have fun. Do whatever you think will look good.”

“Alrighty then”

With free reign, I figured I’d start by just matching the front to the back. So I undid the left side in front of her cute little ear (god how I missed nibbling on that earlobe) and brought a single lock forward to act as a guide. I trapped a long lock between my fingers and swiftly snapped the scissors closed around it. I placed it with the rest of the hair on the table, but didn’t take as much time smoothing it out.

I kept cutting away, keeping it all to the guide length. I hoped the sound of the scissors crunching through her hair wasn’t upsetting Linda too much.  Or the feel of the short hair against her ear.  She wasn’t acting as upset as I expected her to. Not that she was all smiles, but she wasn’t actively crying.

When I had cut off all the long hair, except for the hair in the crown section that was still pinned up, I put down the scissors and walked so I could look at Linda from the front.

“You sure you want me to do what I think looks good? Because remember, I like it short.” I asked just to be sure.

“Might as well make someone happy.” Linda said.

I nodded and decided I would trust that she really meant it.  It was going to look a lot better if I really evened out the back. Which meant taking it down to under an inch.

I took a deep breath and began. I tilted her head down, so her chin rested against her chest. I picked up the comb in my left hand and the gold scissors in my right. My hands were again trembling slightly, I took another breath and fought to steady them. 

I inserted the comb at her hairline just below where Brenda had hacked a chunk off and slowly began combing upward. As I went, I started cutting against the comb.

The gold scissors flashed open and closed. At first very slowly, but then faster as I gained confidence that it was looking better not worse. The rhythmic snipping filled my ears.

The black hair began to rain down on the white cape. It was like snow on the road. At first just a sprinkling, but as it kept falling it slowly covered the cape. Occasionally it would reach some critical mass and slide down to the floor. As I stepped side to side occasionally, I would notice the prickling of hair sticking through the fabric of my socks.

I took three passes up and down before there weren’t any obvious bits that looked shorter than the rest. On the fourth pass, I gave it a very slight taper, just so that it looked a little spiffier.

I kept snipping away, moving up and down and side to side, making everything first even, then adding a little shape. Taking it slightly tighter on the sides. I just kept cutting away scissors over comb enjoying the feel of the short bristle that was rubbing against my fingers as I worked.

I had to make a conscious effort to stop once things looked right, and not to just keep taking it shorter and shorter simply because I was so enjoying the feel of it and the sound of the snipping.

I mentally switched gears and used the points of the scissors the snip a clean outline around her ears, down her sideburns and across the back. I finished off by using the humming edger to clip off the stragglers outside the curving line I had created. 

I stood in front of Linda, with her chin in my hand as she let me tilt her head back and forth to check my work and make sure everything looked symmetrical.

“You good?” I asked when I was finished.

“Mhum” she nodded and half smiled.

I stepped back behind her and let the hair from the crown section down. It fell over the very short bottom with a swish, and I wondered if I should leave the length here and call it an undercut. As I combed it though, it didn’t look right. Linda’s hair was thick, but not thick enough that it could cover an undercut that went that high. I was going to have to cut the crown.

I gathered the whole thing up into my hand and held it in a bundle about 3 inches above her scalp, over directed slightly towards the back.  Held tightly in my left hand, I slowly sawed through the bundle of silky hair.

Crunch, crunch, shruh, shruh, clack. The long bundle like shiny midnight hung from my hand.

I placed the thickest bundle next to the others and the collection was complete.  The line of single locks, the chunk held together with a hair tie in a ziplock bag from the previous night, and this final thick swath, was Linda’s full head of hair.

I picked up the spray bottle from the other side of the table and wet down the hair on the top of Linda’s head. I started point cutting away at the slightly longer hairs at the crown,  Over directing it first back, then to the sides. Then finally in the front combing it down over her beautiful face and trimming it so it fell in a flattering manner against her high cheekbones.

I blow dried her using a round brush to give it a slight bevel and finished off with the texturizing shears. Watching the loose hairs float down to her lap.

It was done. I didn’t want it to be done, for so many many reasons, but it was.

I took the cape from Linda’s shoulders dusting her off as I did. The hair from the cape adding to the prickly mess on the parkay floor.

“Go take a look in the mirror and tell me what you think.” I said as I considered what I should do next.

Linda walked to the bathroom, rubbing her long bare neck. I just stood there instead of cleaning up and enjoyed the view. I wished so so badly that I had gotten to experience her neck bare like that back when we had been together.

“It looks good.” Linda announced in a neutral tone. “It’s really cool feeling, which should be good since there’s supposed to be a heatwave next week. I guess I’ll get used to it.”

She was walking back towards me with her signature half smile. Her hand was now up into the actual hair, exploring it with her fingers in ways I wished I could.

“I’m glad you don’t totally hate it.” I could feel how stiff my own smile was, trying to keep a tight control over my own feelings, since it was the end of the evening and just about time for Linda to leave. “I’m sorry I couldn’t actually fix it, and could just make it not look like a crazy woman hacked off a random chunk of your hair.”

“Well some mistakes can’t be fixed.” Linda said and paused for a long moment looking into my eyes. “There are some mistakes that can be fixed though.”

Linda stepped towards me, bent down ever so slightly and pulled me towards her.  

She pressed her soft lips against mine. My lips fell open slightly, and I soon felt Linda’s tongue pressing it’s way into my mouth.  I was practically melting, when she finally pulled away.

“What do you think?” Suddenly Linda’s half smile morphed into a full smile as she asked what sounded like a simple question, but held so much promise.

What could I say, I was speechless. I pulled Linda back to me, and started kissing her back. Harder and more desperately. When I had to come up for air, I knew from the look in her eyes, she felt the same way I did.

I pushed her to the bed I was using, She sat in it hard, pulling me down with her.  I pulled my shirt off, and started undoing the fly of her blue jeans. Her hands running over my rib cage found the hooks of my bra and had them undone in seconds.  Soon my bra hung loosely from my elbows as she started sucking hard on my nipple. First one side then the other, cupping and pinching at whichever one wasn’t in her mouth.

I kept fumbling trying to get off her pants, though I was distracted and near orgasm. She paused her sucking long enough to take over getting herself undressed while I got myself fully naked.

We fell into the bed side by side.  She resumed sucking on my nipples while her fingers found my clitoris. I was sopping wet. She started teasing it with just the tip of her finger as she started nibbling on my nibble.  The first orgasm overtook me and left me shaking.

When I recovered, I went down. Spreading her open, I started licking and sucking on her swollen clit. My nose tickled ever so slightly by her neatly trimmed pubes. My hands ran up and down her thighs as she came hard moaning in pleasure.

I wasn’t done.  I went to kiss her mouth, loving that she would be tasting her own cum on me. I ran my hands up into the short hair, feeling the soft prickles against my palms, combing my fingers through the longer hair of the crown. I started nibbling her ear. Her fingers went back to fondling my folds as I nuzzled in her short hair. Soon a finger was inside me, then a second, stroking to a rhythm that reminded me of the scissors opening and closing as I had run the comb up the back of her head. I orgasmed again, but she didn’t stop, just went harder, as she pressed her thumb against my clit.

For a while, I just held her head in my hands feeling her delightful hair soft and prickly at the same time beneath my fingers, as I orgasmed over and over.

Somehow we had turned over, and she was on top of me.  Her perky breast hung down, and I managed to start sucking and teasing one of her nipples with my tongue.  I shifted slightly, so that I could get my fingers inside her pushing gradually harder and harder till she orgasmed again, and again also.

Exhausted and out of breath; both covered in each other’s cum and little bits of hair; naked and sweating; we lay next to each other staring at the ceiling.

“Was that a mistake?”

“No, it was the furthest thing from a mistake that I have done in a long time.”

3 responses to “Mistakes

  1. Really enjoyed this! You encapsulated so much love and angst in a piece so beautifully. I’m always excited when I see a work of yours being posted, and this one is so no exception to all the great works you’ve done. Kudos!

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