Nadia’s Inspiration

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Nadia woke up to the sounds of birdsong and the warmth of sunshine making it’s way across the bedroom from a crack between the curtains, she was three days into her stay at the little white cottage set among it’s own tree-lined gardens and she loved the nature and solitude all around her. This was exactly what she needed, the last few months had been brutal on her with the deadline for her novel, the final in an epic saga that had shot her to fame when the initial trilogy had been met with acclaim from readers and critics alike. Knowing that it was done and dusted had left her with a huge writing shaped hole that she had no idea how to fill. So she had booked a two week break in the Highlands, away from other distractions in the hopes that some new inspiration would strike.

She had spent the first 24 hours setting the holiday rental up just the way she wanted it and she had been down to the local village the day before to stock up on good food, good coffee and good wine. Unfortunately the good wine had proved far too alluring and she had dim memories of open two or maybe even three bottles the night before, it was all a little hazy, she had decided to toast her own success, sipping chilled wine while watching the sun set over the stunning scenery surrounding her temporary home. She remembered beginning to feel the chill in the air as night fell, deciding to come inside and putting on some music, she was pretty sure she even remembered some dancing around the living room but the rest was a blurry headache resting just inside her temples.

Stretching out like a cat Nadia rolled over deciding to curl up and doze for a little longer, after all she was in no rush so she snuggled down and tried to get comfy turning away from the bright sunlight with her face against the pillow. Hair in her face tickled her nose and she swatted it out of her face lazily.

Suddenly she was wide awake, the hair in her face didn’t just move away when she ran her hand over it, it came with her hand, wide eyed she looked at the locks of her long black hair that her fingers were now clutching. She shot up to sitting looking wildly around her, more long locks lay scattered across her pillow and very much not attached to her head where they should have been.

Suddenly misty memories from the night before began to surface, after that third bottle of wine, lit candles and the smell of burnt hair. Her face laughing in the mirror at the frazzled ends along one side of her long black mane. Searching through the bathroom cabinets. Scissors in her hands.

If the hangover hadn’t been making her feel sick before, then this certainly was. She crawled out of bed and on unsteady feet took herself back to the small bathroom, the scene of the crime. Keeping her hands by her sides and her eyes lowered so she could neither see or feel the damage she had done she slowly opened the door.

The bathroom floor was all the evidence she needed, long strands of dark hair settled haphazardly across the tiles and as she rose her focus to the sink with dread in her stomach she saw a pair of huge kitchen scissors but that wasn’t all, next to them lay a bulky pair of clippers, attachments scattered across the worktop around them.

She closed her eyes willing tears not to fall, what in gods name had she done. She slid to the floor, legs shaking too badly to hold her up anymore, she remembered feeling so good last night, a celebration, eager for new inspiration. She let out a wet laugh, whatever she was about to see reflected back in the mirror would be new alright.

After a few fortifying breaths she reached up to the edge of the sink, using it to pull herself up before slowly lifting her eyes to the mirror.

At first she didn’t feel too panicked, her hair still hung in long lengths down her back, it sat much shorter at the front, some as long as her shoulders but some ragged chunks around her face were only a few inches long, perhaps they could be teased into face framing layers by someone with more talent for the job. The fringe was a problem, she hadn’t had one since she was a child and this one consisted of a few wispy and uneven locks of hair reaching halfway down to her brow. Tentatively she raised her hand to her head racking her fingers through the length and fresh tears sprung to her eyes when her hands came away with more detached locks some leaving mere inches of hair left in their wake. Frantically she pulled more and more hair that had somehow been severed but not removed from the bulk of her hair the night before. Vague but less hazy memories from the night before began to filter in, her hands trying to attach the clipper attachments but failing, deciding to use the scissors instead.

Finally hair stopped coming away in her hand and Nadia could see the real damage she had done, it was so much worse than she first thought. Where just the previous day she had had hair so black it was almost blue hanging to the mid point of her back in thick, luscious well cared for locks, now some of those locks continued to fall their, but on top of her head the hair ranged from locks a few inches longs laying this way and that, interspersed with patches that got shorter and shorter until some were almost cut right down to the scalp.

Her mind finally delivered the last puzzle pieces from the night before.

*********

She had been dancing to some of her favourite songs and stumbled into the table, her long locks catching fire on a scented candle, she had drunkenly put them out but the damage was already done, several inches of the right side of her hair were burnt away leaving straw like ends. That’s okay though, she had thought, easily fixed, and perhaps if she hadn’t been so drunk, perhaps if her hands had been steadier it would have been. A simple case of evening up the sides, only they got shorter and more uneven the more she tried to cut. No problem, she would follow an online tutorial. Only she messed it up, rather than resulting in cute butterfly bangs she managed to cut all the hair in front of her ears into chunks of all different lengths that stuck out at all angled. That was okay, up the remaining hair went again and this time she tried a wolf cut, she cute messy shag cut looked luscious on the girl on YouTube, but the weird, too short and uneven fringe that Nadia had managed almost made her cry. Perhaps if she had some better scissors? She went rummaging through the bathroom cabinets and came across a box of toiletries and other things, a hair dryer, a beard trimmer, a set of clippers. She’d spent at least ten minutes trying to attach the different attachment onto the clippers, she had never used them before but she thought they did something to make the clippers keep some length, maybe she could rock a mullet, short at the already botched front and long at the back, they were back in style right?. But she couldn’t get the attachments to work. Scissors it is then, she started haphazardly cutting but soon realized she had no idea what she was doing, perhaps if she had realized that sooner she might never have picked the scissors up in the first place but as it was there was no turning back now. She tried to tell herself she was ‘blending’ it all in but even in her drunken state she couldn’t fool herself any longer, it was an unmitigated disaster and there was nothing for it but to go to bed and leave sober Nadia to deal with the consequences in the morning. So that’s what she did.

*********

Hungover Nadia cursed drunk Nadia to hell.

She swallowed the lump in her throat and blinked way the tears threatening to fall, it was just hair after all, sure it had been her crowning glory and she had loved the compliments she received but how many hours did she spend doing it, fearing that the weather would ruin all her hard work, how much money had she spent on potions and lotions to make it perfect. Maybe drunk Nadia had been onto something, maybe it was time to let go, time to change, perhaps change was just what was needed to break through the writers block too.

Nadia contemplated her dishevelled reflection, there was no choice but to go shorter now. With resolve she picked up the scissors, may as well remove the long thick hair that still remained on the back of her head. Reached up to pick up a handful of the still long locks at her crown and held them upwards so she could see what she was doing. Cautiously placing the scissors about four inches from her head she took a deep breath and brought them together with a loud ‘schnick’. Dropping the cut hair in the sink she went back for more, again and again, lift, cut, lift, cut, all too soon the remaining length was gone, the women in the mirror staring back at her had shorter hair than she could ever remember having in her life, but there was still some way to go.

Nadia knew she was going to need to make a decision, she knew what she should do, she should suck up the embarrassment and take herself to the nearest salon to get someone who knew what they were doing to see what they could salvage, but the idea turned he stomach of having to try and explain the situation. Her other option was to look up how to use the clippers and guards on the internet, she picked them up, surprised at their weight in her hands, looking at the guards and their lengths she figured the highest number guards would leave her with the most hair and a quick search told her how to click it into place. She regarded her reflection one more time before thumbing on the clippers and bringing them to her forehead, she could feel them vibrating, eager to strip her locks where they hovered just shy of her hairline. It was no good, she blew out a frustrated sigh and turned them off, she couldn’t do it.

She needed time to think, methodically she tidied up the hair strewn around the bathroom then she showered, cringing at the short lengths of hair under her fingers when she washed it. She dressed and did her makeup before unwrapping the towel from her head, sighing when she saw that washing it had only made the situation worse, now the newly shortened locks stuck out puffing in all directions, she looked like a kid had gone to town on her hair with a pair of safety scissors.

Luckily she remembered seeing a few wool hats and scarves by the door of the cottage, obviously left for visitors who came to the Scottish highlands unprepared for the cold in the autumn and winter months, the pulled one over her head even though the warm spring day meant she would be too hot, and she pulled on he shoes and jacket, grabbing her bag she closed the door of the cottage and got in her car to take the short drive down the hill to the closets village. It was quaint and picturesque like you might see in a hallmark movie set in a rural British village, a little row of shops sat by a village green with a Gastropub at one end and a small grocers shop at the other, in between there was a butchers, a tea room with an ice cream parlour and a fine wines and spirits shop that shared its space with an art gallery upstairs, tourists swarmed to he village in the summer months for some relief from the cities further south but this early in the year it was still quiet enough that Nadia didn’t run the risk of being recognized by a fan of one of her books and she thanked the heavens for that. She squinted up at the row of shops and found what she was looking for, above the side of the grocers was a white and red striped poll, a barber shop, better than nothing she thought and took a deep breath before opening the door and climbing the stairs.

The tops of the stairs Nadia’s nerves were eased slightly by what she saw. The door opened up into a room that had obviously been recently refurbished, sleek wood and warm greys were the theme of the décor and two huge old fashioned red leather barbers chairs sat facing two ornate vintage looking mirrors, there was even a hair washing station in the back corner and a small reception sat to her left with a sign stating ‘ladies and gents hair’ making her breath a sigh of relief. At the sound of the little bell that had tinkled when she had walked through the door a large muscular figure walked through from another room, he was easily 6 feet tall, broad shouldered with muscles she could just imagine rippling, he had a warm face brightened further with a charming smile and the tumble of auburn hair on his head was clearly styled to look like he had just rolled out of bed. Great, she was going to have live out this embarrassing nightmare in font of one the most handsome men she had ever seen in real life, why was this her life!

‘Hello, come in’ he greeted her with a deep Scottish rumble that was smooth like treacle and almost made her shiver. ‘What can I do for you today?’ he continued.

‘Er, I was hoping that there might be a chance that I could get an appointment, the sooner the better’ she could feel herself blushing furiously, knowing she was going to have to show him what was hidden under her hat soon.

‘of course, no time like the present right?’ he moved around the little reception to help her with her coat and hooked it on an old style coat and hat stand by the door he directed her to one of the waiting chairs. ‘I’m Greg and I’ll be your stylist today’ he winked at her through the mirror and she let out a small laugh ‘what can I do for you today? do you mind if i see what you have going on under there?’ he gestured at her hat.

The time had come ‘I, Eh, Well I better just show you’ Nadia pulled the hat off and Greg let out a long whistle as he took in the damage she had done to her hair.

‘Wow’ he laughed that deep rumble again and she blushed even more bowing her head in embarrassment ‘hey’ he said gently tilting her head up so that he could make eye contact with her through the mirror ‘believe it or not, I’ve  seen worse’ he told her ‘Mary who runs the tearoom brought her teenage son to me a few weeks ago because he had decided to try and bleach his own hair to impress a girl at school, he had all but fried it off’ he rolled his deep hazel eyes, sparkling with mirth ‘I’m guessing this was less about impressing someone else though, and more for yourself?’ he asked gently while running his fingers through what as left of her hair, moving the longer locks this was and that and running his fingers through the shorter patches looking at the length.

Nadia watched his hands moving over her scalp in the mirror, a shiver moving through her before she told him all about what had happened, the candle, the wine, trying to fix it and making it worse, right up to almost buzzing what remained off.

Greg laughed and looked at her through the mirror again, she got the distinct feeling that rather than laughing at her he was laughing in commiseration and it surprisingly made her feel a little better.

‘So do you want to just buzz it off?’ Greg asked her ,all business now.

‘Honestly, I don’t know what I want’ she confessed and then laughed ‘actually that stands for pretty much my whole life right now’ she confided ‘I have no idea what I am doing’ her laughter became almost manic then and tears threatened to fall in earnest, she pressed her palms to he eyes to stop them ‘I’m sorry’ she sniffed and tried to pull herself together.

Greg pulled a small rolling stool around so he could sit next to her chair ‘Your staying at the white cottage right?’ he asked and she nodded ‘I heard you talking to John in the grocers yesterday’ he said by way of explanation and she nodded again. ‘I’ve lived in this village for almost five years and owned this place for three, shall I tell you something I’ve learnt?’ again she nods, tears under control now ‘often when someone comes to stay in the white cottage in the off season they are looking for something, rest, solitude, motivation, resolution for their marriage problems, some kind of change, I think there is something kind of magical about that place, it draws in the people who need it the most, so I wonder what it is that you are looking for.

Nadia doesn’t have to think about it ‘inspiration’ she tells him ‘I’m a writer’ she tells him about her books, how she’s spent 15 years writing about the same set of characters, how saying goodbye to them has been harder than she ever imagined, how she feels rudderless and directionless without them. All the while Greg listens and when she’s finished she realizes it’s not just inspiration she needs, its change too.

‘Change, I needed a change, I think drunk me might have realized that before sober me’ she laughs gesturing to her head and is reward with the rumbling sound of his laughter too.

‘I would say so’ he agrees ‘can you trust me?’ he asks her, something like relief skitters across his face when she nods ‘okay lets get started shall we’.

Greg leads her to the sink and washes her hair again, the feeling of his fingers massaging her scalp is glorious making her sigh in contentment, she is so relaxed that she doesn’t even feel embarrassed at the soft chuckle it elicits from him.

Back in his chair now Nadia watched him combing through her hair and sectioning the top and back sections up in clips, the sides have some of the worst damage, some of the hair little more than stubble.

‘I’m starting with an undercut’ Greg tells her ‘this will be the shortest section so I’ll need to use the clippers’ he waits for her to nod in understanding before starting.

Slowly he glides the clippers up the back of her head, she feels short pieces of her falling against her neck as the flutter to the floor, the vibration of the teeth of the clippers a pleasurable sensation when partnered with Greg’s sure touches. Soon he is done with the back of her head and moving to the side, folding her ear gently out of the path of the clippers, she can now see they are leaving mere millimetres of hair in their wake she does her best to try and stifle the small gasp that escapes her but Greg leans in close to her ear to whisper ‘trust me’ and continues until the job is done.

Soon he is releasing the hair from the clips on top of her head, it now resembles something of an uneven bowl cut with a sharp undercut, but Greg is not finished, not by a long way. Using his scissors and comb he moves up through the remaining hair and severs it all to a few centimetres of length blending the buzz cut underneath with short locks on top until the cut resembles that of a military shot back and side, but he softens this by sweeping what is left at the front into a short sweeping micro fringe. He ruffles what’s left this way and that, cutting tiny snips here and there and then finishes by running some hair wax through the finished style.

Nadia can’t believe what she is looking at, staring back at her is her own face but somehow more feminine, her cheek bones look razor sharp, her eyes more prominent, her ears elfin and her neck long and demure as she turns her head side to side for a better view. Greg holds up mirror so she can see the back and she runs her hands up the stubble short hair there, the feeling so much softer than she expected. Finally she makes eye contact with Greg in the mirror.

‘Do you like it?’ he asks gruffly, nervous of her answer.

‘I love it’ she confirms, unable to break the eye contact with the handsome barber, the way he is looking at her has her clenching her legs together as heat gathers there. without breaking eye contact her removed her cape and gives her his hand to help her out of the chair, turning her toward him.

‘May I’ he asks raising his hand to the nape of her neck, at her nod he runs his fingers over the short hairs there and her gasps are almost moans ‘I want to kiss you so badly’ he whispers and she closes the space between them in an instant, falling into his arms as their lips meet.

Needless to say the salon remained closed for the rest of the day……. and Nadia found her inspiration.

 

Written by LucyLocksOff June 2023

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