How did I get the idea that I’d be able to pull all these weeds before the sun came up? How could anyone manage that? It’s almost 9 in the morning, and it’s already getting hot and humid as hell. Summer comes back more fiercely every year…like these damned weeds.
I get up off my knees, allowing my new sundress to swish around my thighs a little when I turn towards the house. I wouldn’t normally wear a dress to work in the yard, but it’s the one time of year when I prefer to wear one instead of my blue jeans…plus, I like it when my husband’s eyes glue themselves to my legs.
Instead of actually doing work on his laptop at the kitchen table, he’s leaning back in his chair to steal a long look at me as I stride into the kitchen. As I peek into the fridge for a cold drink, I lift my long hair up off my face to feel the cool, refrigerated air on my forehead. I’d wear a headband or tie it back, but he loves it when I wear it down. He always tells me that he loves looking at it. And I always tell him that he’s even thicker than my hair.
As an excuse to be near him, I get my husband a drink, too. “It’s too damn hot today, Derek…” I shake my hair out dramatically after I set the glass down on the table. It seems like he’s actively avoiding looking at me…he does that when he doesn’t want to get distracted. Grinning internally, I plop down in the chair next to him.
“Maybe I should go lie down on the tile floor in my underwear…”
“…Maybe we should go take a cold shower?” I touch his forearm gently. He’s sure to take the bait.
He kisses my hand, still staring at the screen of his laptop like his life depends on it. “I need to get this done, baby.”
I sigh playfully as I get up, casting a sly glance at his lap…damn, it’s no wonder he’s fighting for his life to seem calm. My hand lingers on his shoulder. I do my best damsel-in-distress voice, trying not to ruin it by laughing. “I guess I’ll just go back to work in the hot, hot sun…”
Defeated, Derek closes his laptop and slowly stands up. He’s at least a head taller than me, so he leans down a little to speak in a quiet, even tone. “You know what, Hallie? If it’s too unbearably hot for you, maybe I should take you to the bathroom and do some problem-solving.”
I can feel my face turn red as I squeeze my legs together…I can hardly concentrate on what he’s actually saying when he’s using that voice. I actually gulp. “Uh…what does that mean?”
I can feel a big hand tug at the curtain of hair that falls over the majority of my back. “Yeah. That’s what I’ll do.” The smug inflection in his voice, paired with his unwillingness to elaborate, is unsettling.
He places his hands on my shoulders to move me aside so that he can step past me. I just stay where I am, listening in a stunned silence as he disappears into the kitchen to rifle around in the junk drawer. Surely, he wouldn’t cut my hair…? He adores it too much, and he’s never done anything so…severe. My heart beats faster as he reappears and gestures for me to follow him down the hall.
He almost blocks off the rest of the hall as he leans on the doorway of the bathroom, staring me down. I hesitantly slink inside without saying a word.
“Go ahead and take a nice, long look in that mirror, baby. You have until I get back with some newspaper to decide what you want to do with it, or I’ll decide for you.” My eyes widen, and my mouth quickly dries out. He walks away without any further explanation…the clock’s ticking. I run my hands through my auburn mane. It’s not pin-straight, but it doesn’t fall in perfect waves, either. It’s incredibly thick and healthy, and I haven’t had more than an inch cut off at a time since Derek and I were in high school. I don’t want it cut…I’m sure he’ll just trim off a few inches for effect.
The sound of my husband’s footsteps coming down the hall pulls me from my trance. I look over as he fills the doorway, holding some newspapers and a small zippered bag. He tosses the bag on the counter, and I can faintly hear the contents clank against each other over the rustling of the newspaper as he spreads it out over the floor. As he shuts the door behind him, he gestures for me to get in position in front of the mirror. I quietly oblige as I carefully form a sentence in my head.
“Just…just do two inches, you know. Something like that…” he frowns at the mirror, and his arms appear on either side of me as he rests his palms on the counter. I notice that he’s loosely holding the big kitchen scissors in his fingers.
“What did I say before, Hallie?”
“…You’re going to solve my…problem?” My voice is embarrassingly small and thin.
Derek claps the big scissors into my hand as he brings a hunk of hair from behind my shoulder to the front, where we can both see it in the mirror. My hair is almost long enough to fall below the edge of the counter.
“Why don’t you show me what you think I mean by that? Go on. How much do we need to cut?”
The thick hair makes a bigger handful for me than it does for him and his big hands…I don’t like the harsh, heavy noise the scissors make as they open, but I dutifully position them around the hair I’m clutching nervously in my fist. He stands by patiently as I move the scissors up and down, struggling to decide where to cut.
Aiming to please him, I finally measure out far more than I would want to cut, about five inches, and make a single snip with the very tips of the blades. A feathery strand falls limply over my fingers. Derek nudges my scissor hand a bit to get them around the rest of the hair in my other hand. Before I can allow myself time to think, I close my eyes and work the scissors repeatedly until the dry scrunching ends with a sharp clack.
Opening my eyes, I find that I’m holding a large fistful of auburn silk, and that I’ve cut so much off that the hunk I’ve just massacred ends just above my breast. I drop the handful, watching it plummet to a spot between my feet. Derek takes the scissors back, smiling. “So much for two inches.”
He pulls the cut strands back over my shoulder and quickly combs out the rest of my hair with his fingers. The way he’s staring at it, it almost looks like he’s saying goodbye to the length that’s about to be lost as he opens and closes the loud kitchen scissors in the air. “Now don’t move, baby…”
He plunges the scissors into my hair. My heart jumps as I feel cold metal just below the hairline on the back of my neck.
“Derek, no-“ I don’t even have time to pull away before the cut is made. The sound my hair makes falling on the newspaper is somehow louder to me than the huge shears had been when they made the cut, so close to my ears. His smile is looking a lot like an evil grin, now. I reach back and feel for my hair, but my fingertips meet my bare skin. I feel like running away as he gets ready to cut more, but I stay still in my stunned silence. The damage is done…I guess I might as well let him finish up.
He works his way to the left side of my head from the section he created in the back, making slow progress. As he snips below my earlobe, I can barely hear him speak over the steady scrunching and snipping noises.
“I remember that you had the cutest little haircut when we met…”
I groan, remembering the choppy pixie that I had when I was eighteen. It was the first and worst haircut I ever picked for myself…after that, I just let it grow. Until now.
“I won’t do that to you, baby.” He cuts the final lock of hair off the left side, just above the corner of my mouth. I sense a ‘but’ coming.
“…But I am going to cut it nice and short.”
“This isn’t short?!” I nearly yell, gawking at the left side of my head. “I can’t believe you just went and chopped all my hair off, Derek! Don’t you dare cut more, are you INSANE?”
“It isn’t all off yet, baby. But keep arguing, and it really will be.” He leans in close to my left ear. “It really will be.” I promptly close my mouth. He slaps my ass with one hand as he opens the scissors with the other…I can see that he’s visibly excited to hack off the rest of the bulk.
I run my hand over the half of my head that makes me look like Dora the Explorer, hating everything about it. Maybe I’ll go to the salon after this and have it thinned out? I want anything but a horrible bob.
I glare at him in the mirror as he makes his way around, clearly savoring every cut. He blatantly ignores the look I’m giving him, smiling pleasantly at his handiwork. After an eternity of hacking away at the hair we’d both loved, he sets the scissors down on the counter.
“Wow!” He grins, plunging his hands into my hair, fluffing it all around. After he’s done playing with it, he smooths it down and makes a point of running his hands from the top of my head down to the edges of my new bob, making the sides spring up as his hands reach my newly-exposed neck. I can only stare in anger and disgust.
Wanting to break away from his touch, I shake my head and look down…oh my god. How was all of this attached to my head? There’s an ocean of hair in all directions, but the biggest pile of my shorn silk sits directly behind me.
“Hmmm…” he says, looking at my face in the mirror. He’s got a glint in his eye that I don’t like. I shake my head, going for the door.
“No, we’re done here, I’m leaving!”
He simply reaches over me, pushing the door shut with his arm. “Didn’t I say I was going to cut it nice and short, baby? You need to listen better-“
“Let me OUT, Derek! This stopped being fun a while ago, you can’t keep me in here and hack away at my hair all you like! I’m a human being…” with his free hand, Derek is rummaging in the zippered bag he brought in earlier. I go pale as he produces a pair of clippers.
I notice that there’s no cord…and no guard. He keeps his hand firmly on the door, staring at me in the mirror as he holds the clippers up. I look like a deer in headlights, waiting for him to do something.
“Hallie,” he says calmly. “I told you what would happen. So do I have to hold you for this, or will you keep still?”
I start to cry, wanting this to be over already. I hang my head, standing with my hands on the counter so he knows that I won’t run. He slowly takes his hand off the door to hold the base of my neck. The moment before the clippers come to life, his erection presses firmly against my butt. I squeeze my eyes shut as he wordlessly pushes my head down until it’s over the sink.
My heart pounds hard in my chest as he brings the clippers to the top of my head, ruthlessly shearing it off in a line over my center part. My tears fall over the clumps gathering in the sink. He repeats the line several times until I’m nearly bald from one hairline to the other.
Derek turns off the clippers to pluck some hair off my neck and back, mockingly tossing the clumps against my face so they fall into the sink for me to see them. He doesn’t waste any more time with shearing off the rest, but he takes care not to hurt me in any physical way. Once again, I can acutely hear my hair hitting the newspaper in places that aren’t already covered by a blanket of it.
Once he’s done, he laughs gleefully and rubs the faint stubble left on my head with both hands. I stay limp, not wanting to see…but he holds my head up and makes me look. I clap a hand over my mouth when I see the nearly bald woman looking back at me. My eyes and ears look so huge, and my head feels so much colder.
Derek kisses the back of my neck and holds my waist gently while I gawk at my new appearance. I can hear the smug satisfaction in his voice when he finally speaks up.
“Isn’t that better, baby?”