“are we still on for lunch tomorrow.” I messaged my best friend (Charlie) before crashing into my bed.
It wasn’t that late but the long winter nights at the end of a long week had me craving the warm embrace of my sheets.
“yeah I’m having my hair touched up at half 11 that might overrun but I could meet you after that.”
Charlie sported a chic longer pixie cut, that she regularly re-dyed a gorgeous buttery blonde.
“we could meet at 11 and I could come with you for you appointment if that’s easier.” I texted back before dragging myself out of my bed.
We continued to text as I prepared myself for a early night. Unlike Charlie, I have never had a regular stylist. My hair was a warm chocolatey colour that fell to my belly button. I hadn’t actively chosen to grow my hair to this style, but a combination of wanting to have my hair in a inoffensive style and haircut anxiety lead me too leave it in the same style I’ve had since my early teens.
The next morning I prepared woke up early and started preparing to meet Charlie. It had snowed overnight so I dressed for the cold and pulled my hair into a low ponytail.
We meet up in town before heading too Charlie’s salon. As we walked our boots crunched through the snow, it was the unpleasant icy type that was slowly melting into grey slush.
We eventually arrived at Charlie’s salon. From the outside you couldn’t tell it was a salon, just a door sandwiched between two high street shops. Inside there was a flight of stairs leading to a second floor door with some text written on it.
A sign saying open, a link to a website with instructions for booking and a boutique looking logo. Charlie jogged up the stairs and opened the door before I could read the last of the text.
The salon consisted of a large private room, a single workstation stood against one of the walls with a couch on the opposite wall. 2 large Georgian windows flooded the room with light.
Stella, the stylist, seemed a little surprised as I entered. Charlie introduced us before Stella started doing her hair. She was beautiful women somewhere in her early 30’s who sported a black pixie cut slightly longer then Charlies.
Through small talk, I learned that she was a new mother who had scaled back to just working part time for her regulars. She had acquired a cliental working at other salons in town but realising nearly all her customers where regulars she started her own place.
Stella set to work cutting Charlies hair. She would comb up each strand before trimming it to her desired length. After she seemed satisfied with the length she started touching up her roots, applying bleach to her regrowth making sure to cover every strand.
We continued to talk until…
“why don’t you have a seat”
“what!?” the colour drained from my face.
“that stuff I put in Charlie’s hair needs to sit for some time, I could do you now while we wait”
The thought of cutting my hair was terrifying. It had become a safety blanket for me, the thought of letting someone cut it even just an inch was unthinkable.
“oh I wasn’t really planning on getting a haircut”
“unplanned haircuts are the best kind, besides you already passed the sign”
She gestured towards the door and the text that I hadn’t read. “if you don’t want a haircut don’t pass this point”. Shit how was I getting out of this one.
Charlie got out of the chair and headed towards me. She was clearly enjoying the exchange. I was pulled out of the sofa and pushed towards the Stella’s chair.
Without a thought, I walked towards the chair. As if accepting my fate, I pulled the hair tie out of by ponytail before siting down.
“you have lovely hair” Stella said as she pumped the chair to the desired height.
The complement made me blush as she twisted my hair before secured it with a clip. I felt her cold fingers against my neck as she pulled a paper collar tight and secured it. She then retrieved a cape and, in a single motion, flicked it over me. I was trapped in place.
Stella removed the clip letting my hair fall against the chair. She started to brush out the two feet of warm chocolate brown hair.
I waited for her to ask what cut I wanted. As she continued brushing with her lips pressed together I decided to ask.
“can I just get a trim, maybe half an inch”
“this is, not that kind of salon, dear”
I heard Charlie laugh and saw that she had pulled her phone out, not bothering to hide her recording.
Her words felt like a punch in the stomach, winding me. Is this happening. I saw the colour drain from my face.
Stella finished brushing my hair. She pulled it into a ponytail and started to cut.
A horrible crunching echoed across the room. It sounded like stepping in the snow outside but so much worse.
I winced, as if it was me being cut. I didn’t know wat to do. I wanted to run. I wanted to cry. I sat still, paralyzed.
The blades of her scissors collided letting me know my ponytail was severed. Stella lifted 20 inches of warm chocolate hair above me. She wiggled it and watched it shack, as if taunting me.
My hair fell forward, no longer long enough to be held back by my shoulders. It appeared to be a mid length lob but the unevenness let me know it would go shorter.
Stella pulled out a paper bag with her salons brand on the front. My ponytail was dropped in as a souvenir.
Still in shock I was guided to another chair and leaded back.
Stella washed my hair. Rinsing it before massaging in a shampoo and conditioner. Her hands felt cold against my scalp, as she pampered what was left of my hair.
Quicker then ever before, my hair was washed. I was leaned back up and brought back to Stella’s station.
Most of my hair was clipped up leaving only a small section at my neck free. Stella combed this section down holding it against my neck. Cold metal blades tickled my neck as I felt her blades cut upwards against her comb.
Wet hairs stuck to my neck as they were cut loose. Stella pulled another section down and continued cutting away. Once again Stella unclipped another section and cut it to her chosen length layering as she went.
My head was moved to the side, letting me know she had finished with the back. The hair at the side was freed and cut to just below my chin. She moved over to the other side and repeated the process.
Just as I thought she was finished the front of my hair was combed up sharply. Stella carefully cut my hair at an angle sending hair falling into my face. My hairs fell from her comb slowly forming loose face framing curtain bangs.
“looks cute” Charlie said as Stella thinned out my new fringe.
“thanks” I blushed.
Stella released me from her cape. The long haired girl who entered didn’t escape.
After me and Charlie switched places I found myself playing with my new bob. For the first time in my life my hair was not only of my shoulder but left my neck exposed.
I pulled it back to see if I could get it into a ponytail. Apart from the fringe and the face framing layers next to it I could gather the hair together but not into anything resembling a ponytail. Many of the hairs at my nape were barely held in and the tail felt like less then two inches in length.
I released the hair from my hands and was surprised when nothing hit my back. The lighter hair rested just behind my ears whereas once my hair would fall to my lower back.
The hair tie around my risk seemed unnecessary. How long until I could get a proper ponytail, two years, it might take 4 to return to my previous length.
Stella finished up cutting Charlie’s hair.
“can I book you in 3 weeks?” she asked Charlie.
“yes” she answered.
“…” there was an awkward pass. Stella looked at me as if expecting an answer.
“same for you?”
“sure” I answered, out of peer pressure more then anything else.