Only a Trim for Emma

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Prologue

Emma Walton had always loved her long blonde hair and she had always taken great care of it. Although the thought of cutting her hair always made her anxious, she allowed her mother’s hairdresser to trim it every few months or so. Fortunately, Emma’s mother also enjoyed seeing her daughter with long hair and always encouraged her to keep it long.

Fiona Walton, Emma’s mother, directed her hairdresser to trim no more than an inch from her daughter’s precious locks and she carefully monitored the procedure to ensure that she precisely followed her instructions. Her diligence had resulted in Emma’s poker straight hair becoming longer as each year passed until it fell past her knees in a perfectly straight line. Such was its thickness and condition, Emma’s hair audibly swished back and forth as she walked. Emma’s extraordinary hair was a remarkable sight.

Deirdre, Mrs Walton’s hairdresser, was a traditional stylist who had delighted in churning out her customers in similar short and prim styles for over forty years. The cautiousness shown by mother and daughter when they were in Deirdre’s presence was well-founded. They were fully aware that Deirdre frowned upon long hair. Emma’s friends with less careful mothers had frequently fallen foul of Deirdre’s dislike and unexpectedly had their long hair chopped off.

Five years earlier, Emma’s mother had sought advice from Deirdre on spicing up her glorious waist length hair that was showing signs of grey. Showing no restraint, the hairdresser chopped it all off with minimal discussion. Mrs Walton exchanged her long youthful hair for a boring short bob that aged her immeasurably.

Mr Walton, Fiona’s husband, had been furious to see his attractive wife looking so mature. Fiona had always believed that her shearing had been a contributing factor to him leaving her for a young, distinctly immature, girl with long blonde hair. Having put that stage of her life behind her, Fiona was continuing to embrace her love of long hair by using her daughter as a surrogate. Emma’s mother supported and admired her daughter’s hair, and it was the reason she supervised Emma’s trims so warily.

While Mrs Walton had considered having their hair cared for elsewhere, Deirdre’s was the only salon in the small town where they lived. She felt the city was too far to visit on a regular basis. Fiona knew that her daughter had reached the age where she should be able to visit Deirdre on her own. However, Emma had always been a polite and reserved girl in the company of adults and Fiona feared that, if she were on her own, the persuasive hairdresser would pressure her shy daughter into having her hair cut short. Fiona was happy to accompany her daughter when Deirdre trimmed her hair, and Emma simply accepted it.

Emma only showed a smidgen of rebellion when choosing how she wore her long hair. Her mother suggested buns, braids, and ponytails to her daughter, but Emma had never wanted to adopt any of those ideas on a regular basis. When Emma had been younger, her mother attempted a variety of options, but none found favour. Her daughter would complain that her scalp was sensitive to the touch when someone else was pulling her hair into what she considered forced and unnatural styles.

Although the sensitivity was real, Emma avoided any embarrassment with her mother by not disclosing her true feelings. When anyone brushed her hair or touched her scalp, the sensation Emma experienced was not discomfort but arousal.

Consequently, Emma always chose to wear her hair loose, despite the impracticality. She either held it back from her face with a hairband selected from her diverse collection, or she employed a large barrette to keep the front section out of her eyes. The sensuous movement of her hair swirling around the back of her legs turned Emma on. The short skirts and dresses she favoured maximised the thrill without disclosing that feeling to anyone. Strangers admired the wonderful condition and thickness of Emma’s hair but, for Emma’s wellbeing, its length was far more important than simply how it looked.

Retirement

Fiona Walton was extremely disappointed when Deirdre informed her that she was closing the only salon in town. It meant that she would have to travel to the city in future for someone to maintain her conservative bob. Fiona’s own needs were not pressing as she had just had her hair cut. However, Emma, her daughter would need a trim before attending a forthcoming job interview.

Emma’s mother contemplated sending her daughter to the city alone. If she was old enough to get a job on her own, then she could get her hair trimmed without the need for her mother to accompany her. Fiona reasoned that encouraging greater independence would be good for her daughter. However, she was extremely concerned that Emma would place her hair in the hands of a Deirdre-like hairdresser. If that occurred, the stylist was likely to pressure her daughter into having her hair cut short. Mrs Walton decided that supporting her daughter’s independence could wait just a little longer.

When Fiona returned from her last visit to Deirdre’s she sat her daughter down and explained the situation. She reminded Emma she should avoid over-zealous hairdressers by recounting the occasion, ten years before, when Deirdre had cropped her own long hair short. The much younger Emma had accompanied her mother to the salon on that occasion and remembered being shocked as she watched her hair fall to the floor. Her mother’s radical change of appearance had stunned her.

Emma could remember every detail of her mother’s ordeal. But she loved her mother recalling each action, hearing how she had felt at the time, and what she experienced thereafter. Because Emma enjoyed listening to the narrative, Emma never reminded her mother that she had been present and had observed every unsettling detail.

In the years that followed, while alone, Emma would lie back, close her eyes, and effortlessly become aroused by the memory of the occasion. She realised it might be wrong to feel as she did about something as inconsequential as a haircut. For that reason, compounded by embarrassment, she had never considered discussing it with her mother.

Emma often wondered if observing this experience had been pivotal in her development as she grew older. Had it contributed to how she reacted when someone touched her own hair? Was it the reason she had subsequently desired to grow her own hair longer and longer?

‘Pardon, Mum?’ Emma tried to refocus her mind on what her mother was saying about Deirdre and her impending retirement. However, her thought drifted back to the vision of Deirdre eagerly hacking off her mother’s hair all those years earlier. Those thoughts required her to actively suppress the quiver of excitement that she allowed full rein when she was alone.

‘Pay attention, Emma,’ Mrs Walton sighed at her daughter’s inattentiveness on such an important matter. ‘I was saying that, before your interview, you will need to find a salon in the city and have your hair trimmed.’

So many scary thoughts crashed through Emma’s mind in that instant. Those thoughts fuelled her fantasies but did little to calm her nerves. ‘Mum, I don’t know …’ Emma murmured.

Mrs Walton was pleased that her daughter was well behaved, but she found her reserved nature exasperating at times. However, the mother did her best to hide her annoyance and give her the support she needed. ‘Do not be nervous, Emma. I will go to the city with you, we will identify a salon, and I will discuss with the stylist what you require.’

Emma gulped and, barely able to speak, she nodded. She knew what she needed and, indeed, what she really wanted. However, her excited mind wondered if that practicality was the same as desire.

‘And, Emma, what you desire is?’

Emma wondered if it was an appropriate time to discuss the multifaceted feelings that hair engendered within her. She felt that, as a young woman, she would have to eventually … but not at that moment.

‘I desire just a trim, Mum,’ Emma sighed.

‘Exactly, Emma. Just a trim.’

Travels

When they arrived in the city, Mrs Walton had no idea where they should go to get her daughter’s hair trimmed. There was such a bewildering choice of establishments. With their own town having had just one salon, there had been no alternative. They need a strategy.

After a little thought, Mrs Walton suggested how they would find a hairdresser that they could trust with Emma’s long hair. They would study each salon they passed and look for a stylist with long hair. One who wore her own hair long, would appreciate hair length and understand the meaning of just a trim. The net curtains of the salon in their own town hid the internal workings from prying eyes. Fortunately, the city salons all appeared to have large windows facing the street and they could view the activity inside very easily.

Mrs Walton tried to make a game of their exploration. She joked how they might look with the array of fashionably coloured and extreme styles sported by stylists and customers they observed. Emma enjoyed fantasising similarly in the privacy of her bedroom. However, she found it tiring to keep up a pretence with her mother when they still needed to fulfil the purpose of their journey to the city. She politely acknowledged her mother’s upbeat comments which was sufficient to satisfy her.

‘Look, Emma!’ Mrs Walton piped up excitedly as they passed yet another salon window. ‘Isn’t her hair lovely!’

‘No!’ Emma shrieked. ‘Please, Mum, no. It is horrid. It is even shorter than yours. Not her. Please.’

Her mother’s excited words stunned Emma. She did not believe she had ever seen a woman in real life with a bowlcut. Emma had seen pictures of bowlcuts and frequently watched videos of women receiving them. She considered the severe and austere style as the haircut that every woman would want to avoid. Just a cap of hair covering crown and forehead, with neck and temples bare, and ears fully exposed. It was unfortunate for Emma that its appearance turned her on for reasons she was unable to comprehend. Confronted with an actual example, and one that her mother appeared excited to embrace, was not only very confusing but also extremely worrying.

‘Pardon, Emma?’ questioned her puzzled mother indignantly, turning to look at her daughter. When she saw Emma’s gaze drawn to the stylist, rather than her customer, she could not help but laugh. ‘I think a pudding bowl hairstyle would be a little drastic for you. No, silly, I was looking at her lovely customer.’

Emma’s mother was examining the exceptionally long hair of the customer, rather than looking at the stylist herself. The smiling woman was thoroughly inspecting her hair in the mirror. She then showed her appreciation by spinning around and hugging the stylist warmly. Her gratitude was well-deserved as the customer had gorgeous thick, blonde hair that fell well below her waist and her sympathetic stylist had trimmed it to perfection.

Emma breathed a huge sigh of relief on hearing her mother’s clarification. However, a dark area of her brain contemplated how it might feel to have that intimidating stylist cut off her own long hair and receive an identical haircut to her own. She quivered with pleasure at the thought, then parked the scenario in the back of her mind for reimagining when she was all alone. Emma dragged her gaze away from the stylist’s hair and examined the customer her mother had been observing.

‘Oh, I see,’ responded Emma evenly, laughing nervously to disguise her secret feelings and prevent embarrassment. ‘Yes, her hair is nice, I suppose,’ she admitted. ‘It is shorter than mine but does look quite nice. But that stylist looks terrifying and scary though.’

‘Yes, perhaps,’ her mother granted, ‘but the stylist did not cut her own hair that short, did she? However, the point I am making is that, irrespective of her own hair, the stylist obviously appreciates long hair on other women, and she is very skilled at trimming it.’

‘I don’t know …’ Emma murmured vaguely as she contemplated being in the chair of the scary woman with the severe bowlcut. Predictably, Emma felt a tingle of arousal at the thought of her mother forcing her under the control of the intimidating stylist. However, she did her best to quash those feelings and concentrate on the matter in hand.

‘Just pop inside, Emma, and ask if she can trim your hair for you now,’ urged her exasperated mother. The way she said it made it sound like an inconsequential act, despite the importance she normally placed on the appearance of her daughter’s hair. ‘However, do remember to ask for just a trim. No more than an inch.’

‘Mum? In there? On my own?’ questioned Emma anxiously, responding awkwardly to her mother’s attempt to impart a degree of independence. ‘Who do I ask for … I cannot say the pudding bowled hairdresser … I mean, what if … oh, I do not know …’ she murmured, growing increasingly flustered.

Mrs Walton was growing increasingly irritated by her daughter’s apprehension, but she did her best to hide her frustration. When Emma had been younger, being by her side, especially with a hairdresser hostile to long hair, seemed appropriate. However, with her daughter about to embark on a working life, it should have been unnecessary. It felt overprotective and even a little strange.

As Mrs Walton considered another approach to convince her daughter, the customer with the lovely long hair came marching out of the salon. While tossing her hair extravagantly, smiling broadly, she almost bumped into Mrs Walton.

‘Excuse me,’ Fiona said, smiling at the woman. ‘I could not help but notice your wonderful hair. Did you have it done in there?’

‘Thanks, yes, I love it.’ The woman took in Fiona’s boring, short bob, while flicking her own long hair. ‘You should try them. Ask for Beth.’

‘Oh, it wouldn’t be for me, but my daughter,’ indicating Emma, standing off to one side.

‘Really?’ the woman questioned in surprise as she surveyed Emma’s hair. She contemplated saying more, but Emma’s eager mother interrupted.

‘Thanks,’ said Fiona dismissively with a wave of her hand, before turning to face her daughter. The woman shook her head, irritated by the stranger’s rudeness as she walked away.

‘Now, Emma, you know the stylist’s name. It is Beth. So, no need to be nervous. In you go and ask if you can make an appointment. With Beth. For this morning.’ Mrs Walton placed a comforting hand on her daughter’s shoulder and eased her towards the door. ‘Come on, Emma, off you go.’

‘Mum?’ Emma whined, still anxious about entering the alien environment alone. Or even entering it at all.

Mrs Walton was doing her best to stay resolute, realising this small opportunity to give her daughter independence would be a valuable lesson for her future development. By finding a suitable salon and identifying an appropriate stylist, Emma’s mother felt she had already done enough. So, she took a deep breath, pecked her daughter on the cheek and began walking away. ‘I’ll wait for you at the café just across the street,’ she called out, but half expected her daughter to come running after her like a young child.

‘Oh, Mum …’ Emma whimpered, staring forlornly at her mother’s disappearing form.

Very slowly Emma turned to face the salon door. She bit her quivering lip to steady it. Following a futile glance over her shoulder, Emma took a deep breath and pushed open the salon door.

Meeting

‘Good morning. I am Keeley. How can I help you?’ asked the chirpy receptionist. She was not much older than Emma, although she looked vastly different.

‘Hi. I am, er, Emma. I, er …’ she replied, her momentary bravado rapidly fading under the gaze of Keeley’s boldly made-up eyes peering from under her part-shaved, multi-coloured spikey hair.

‘Welcome, Emma,’ acknowledged Keeley, smile broadly, encouraging her to continue. ‘Yes?’

‘An appointment,’ announced the dumbstruck Emma.

‘You have one?’ Keeley asked, sounding amused. Her smile became a little more condescending as she observed Emma’s unfashionable hairband. Emma shook her head, allowing Keeley a glimpse of the extraordinary length of Emma’s hair streaming down behind her. ‘You want to make an appointment?’ Keeley sighed in exasperation.

Emma nodded. ‘With Beth. Someone recommended Beth to me,’ Emma explained, remembering her mother’s words.

‘Really? Are you sure?’ Keeley asked, sounding surprised. Emma nodded enthusiastically. ‘You mean, our Beth?’ Keeley verified, doing a double take on Emma’s hair. Emma nodded again. ‘OK, fine. When for?’

‘Now? Er, I mean, like, this morning … perhaps? Sometime this morning … maybe? If possible, that is,’ she bumbled, her creeping anxiety working on an excuse for her to rush from the salon. ‘Or perhaps I should come back some other time.’

Keeley peered over the desk and surveyed Emma’s hair again. ‘If you are so keen to see Beth, then I know Beth would be delighted to see you. Just wait there while I have a word. Did you just want it cut, or styled too?’

‘No, not styled,’ Emma quickly replied, banishing the horrible thought of layers and fringes from her mind. ‘Just an inch … or, perhaps, even a little less?’

‘I know Beth will be happy to do that for you,’ Keeley confirmed. ‘I will check with her. Back in a minute.’

Emma nodded, her confidence returning now she had taken this first step, by herself, to find a new stylist to care for her hair. ‘Thanks Keeley,’ she answered, watching as she tottered away on ridiculously high heels.

Emma observed the receptionist explaining her requirements to Beth in a corner of the salon. Each of the women stole glances towards Emma as they conversed. Beth’s smile grew and her eyes widened while Keeley spoke.

‘OK, Emma’ Keeley called out, summoning her over. ‘Beth’s happy to see you immediately, and I have passed on everything you have said. So, just take a seat and relax.’

Emma eased herself into the indicated styling chair. Keeley startled Emma when she lifted her hair away from her neck without warning. ‘Oh … what …’ she exclaimed, visibly jumping in the chair, as Keeley covered her with a cutting cape and fastened it snugly around her neck.

Keeley gave a little laugh as she released Emma’s hair, feeling her shivering as if in fear. ‘I can understand you being a little nervous, Emma, but just relax.’

Relax? She would relax once she was out of the chair and out of the salon, Emma to thought to herself. However, despite where she was, Emma found it mildly amusing that Keeley had mistaken her growing arousal for simple nervousness.

‘Thank you,’ Emma squeaked meekly. ‘I’ll try.’

A commanding voice cut through the air. ‘Hi there. I am Beth, and I will be taking care of your hair this morning.’ Emma saw her own reflection jump in the mirror, as the imposing sight of Beth glided into view behind her.

‘Er … hello,’ whispered Emma uneasily, taking in Beth’s appearance at close quarters for the first time.

Beth was of a similar age to her mother, but with her uncompromising appearance she could not look more different. She wore a leather miniskirt paired with black leather boots, and a tight-fitting black satin shirt. An uncompromising short black bowlcut that exposed her ears and eyebrows – shaved on the back and sides – completed her look.

Beth continued to stare at Emma’s reflection, expecting her customer to acknowledge her own greeting more effusively. Emma remained silent. After an uncomfortably long interval when Emma dumbly stared back at Beth, the stylist felt compelled to break the silence. ‘This hair is superb. I appreciate you coming in today,’ she stated, fingering it gently.

‘Oh … thanks,’ managed Emma, feeling awkward under Beth’s uncompromising stare, but comforted by her kind words. Despite the stylist’s bowlcut – looking even more severe as close as she was – it was clear that her mother’s instincts about her appreciation of long hair had been correct.

‘Cool, so let’s begin,’ acknowledged Beth, exasperated by the lack of communication from her customer. ‘Firstly, we won’t be needing this.’

The stylist lifted Emma’s black velvet hairband with two fingers, peered at it contemptuously, and passed it to Keeley with a condescending smile. Emma noticed their disdain, and she drew the conclusion that they did not expect clients to wear hairbands in their fashionable salon. ‘Sorry,’ she murmured apologetically, making a mental note not to wear one next time.

Picking up a hairbrush, Beth began gently brushing Emma’s hair. It needed little attention as its remarkable condition meant the bristles simply glided through the strands without hitting any tangles. ‘Superb hair,’ Beth repeated.

Beth’s gentle brushing felt quite different to her mother’s jerkiness and Deirdre’s uncaring attitude to long hair. She was enjoying Beth’s attention immensely and starting to experience a warm glow deep inside of her.

‘Thanks,’ Emma replied, her confidence bolstered further by the additional praise. Given her cheerful outlook towards her hair, she found herself willing to overlook the stylist’s abrupt manner and her uncompromising appearance. ‘I always take a lot of time caring for it and I have it trimmed regularly.’

‘Cool,’ said Beth, putting down the brush and taking a step back to admire the glossy length of Emma’s hair. ‘Right, now I need you to just relax.’

Having put aside her earlier anxiety, Emma felt far more willing to relax. After Beth had brushed her hair, she was unsure what would follow. However, she was surprised when it felt like someone was gathering all her hair behind her. She could not remember Deirdre ever doing that when trimming her hair. Although Emma rarely pulled her own hair into a ponytail, it felt as though someone was doing just that.

Emma pondered why it would be necessary to gather all her hair together when having it trimmed. She contemplated if this more fashionable salon used more modern hairdressing techniques to perform the task. Given that Deirdre had never changed her methods in forty years, it certainly seemed possible. To satisfy her curiosity and quell her renewed anxiety, she decided to clarify what Beth was doing. However, the stylist spoke first.

‘I just want to check that you are still cool with what you said to Keeley. Less than an inch, right?’

‘Yes, absolutely,’ Emma replied confidently.

‘Cool,’ confirmed Beth. At the same time, she pulled Emma’s hair taut. ‘Just relax, and do not move.’

‘Fine, but … what, er …’ Emma mumbled as, contrary to instructions, she tried to turn around to see what was happening. But her head was held firmly against the back of the chair. She tried to reach up, flapping her hands, but the heavy cape got in the way and restricted her movements.

‘Do. Not. Move,’ Beth repeated clearly and distinctly, and Emma froze. An unfamiliar roaring sound accompanied Beth’s command. It was not unlike the motor of a hairdryer but subtly different. The noise coincided with a vibration on her skin that travelled along her neck and permeated her scalp. Emma had never felt anything like it before and the sensitivity of her scalp, even to her own touch, served to amplify the strange pulsing phenomenon.

Although the enjoyable warm feeling deep inside had expanded, Emma endeavoured to remain completely still as demanded by Beth. She rarely allowed herself to feel so sensuous outside the confines of her own bedroom. However, forbidden to move her hands to where she needed them to be – even hidden under the large cape – was torture for Emma. She tried to comprehend what Beth could be doing behind her and why it was making her feel the way she did.

In the mirror she observed Beth looking down, with an expression of intense concentration. The unrelenting tugging of Emma’s hair became increasingly merciless. She could not comprehend the unfamiliar sounds and why they might be associated with the powerful sensations she was experiencing. Emma tried to get her thoughts in order. She needed to ask Beth to stop what she was doing and give her the opportunity to voice her concerns.

‘Please, er … Beth …’ Emma managed to utter between shallow breaths, punctuated by waves of delicious, but untimely, pleasure.

‘Just relax, brave girl,’ Beth said, also sounding a little breathless. ‘I’m nearly there.’

Emma wondered where Beth had nearly reached, and what she was doing that required Emma to be brave and relaxed. Before she could ask, the loud noise suddenly stopped and the relentless pulling on Emma’s hair ceased without warning. Despite her growing arousal, Emma tried to remain calm. But not knowing what was happening, was a source of confusion.

‘Cool!’ exclaimed Beth with a broad smile, holding an arm aloft with a huge blonde ponytail in her hand. ‘How superb is this!’

Emma nodded, agreeing that the bundle of hair she was holding up was certainly an amazing sight. But Emma could not comprehend where it might have come from. It was like hers in colour, and in length and thickness. It was unnerving to watch Beth laying it out reverentially on the shelf below the mirror in front of her. ‘Yes, it’s, er, quite cool I suppose, but -’

‘So, less than an inch, right?’ Beth interrupted, causing Emma to lose her train of thought.

Emma needed to stall Beth, giving her time to figure out what was happening. ‘Yes, but -’

‘Cool. I will start with number six to even everything up, and then we will go from there.’

Confusion

Emma had no idea what Beth was talking about. ‘Six?’ She watched the stylist pick up a small plastic comb which Emma could only assume was a type of measuring device to limit the amount of hair that Beth would trim.

Beth noticed Emma’s confusion. ‘This is a guard. It stops us cutting off more than intended,’ she clarified.

‘Ah, I see,’ confirmed Emma, her relief obvious. ‘That sounds good.’

Emma observed Beth picking up a metal tube-like device with one hand and sliding the guard onto it with the other. The action was immediately followed by the snarling, mechanical sound she had heard moments earlier. At the same time, she felt tugging on her hair. Then, quite unexpectedly, she saw short strands flicking around her face. However, rather than her hair framing her face and continuing past her shoulders as it had done for so many years, it inexplicably stopped at her chin. Emma was unable to comprehend what had transpired for this to have happened.

Assuming her reflection was a peculiar form of illusion, Emma tried once again to move her hands from under the heavy cape. It was necessary for her to physically check that the apparent change in her reflection was not real. The large, cumbersome cape thwarted her efforts to reach out from underneath it, creating a feeling of panic. ‘I don’t understand …’ she muttered mournfully, but the growling device in Beth’s hand drowned her words.

Failing to interpret Emma’s concerns correctly, Beth acknowledged her by smiling condescendingly and nodding her head. ‘Yes, you are a brave girl,’ she shouted, as she rested the device she was holding on Emma’s forehead, touching her hairline.

Abruptly, Emma recognised the device that Beth was holding. It was a set of men’s hairclippers. Beth had turned them on and positioned them against her head for imminent action. Surely Beth could not be serious, Emma pondered.

‘No!’ Emma tried to scream out to halt the proceedings, but her growing panic had constrained her throat muscles, and a high-pitched squeak was all that emerged.

‘Brave girl,’ Beth confirmed once more, and she widened her smile. The latter was partly to calm down her customer but also in anticipation of an action that she enjoyed immensely.

‘No,’ Emma tried again, but the growling hairclippers drowned her words.

‘Enjoy,’ Beth instructed quietly, with a touch of sarcasm, ‘I know I will!’

Beth slowly eased the blade of her clippers through Emma’s thick locks on her crown, leaving an even pelt of short hair in their wake. The clippers severed tendrils of blonde hair that rained down in front of Emma’s face and tumble down to the floor. As soon as she had eroded one path, Beth created another alongside, methodically, and quickly reducing all of Emma’s hair to three quarters of an inch in length.

Observing the proceedings in the mirror, Emma’s expression would have suggested to anyone nearby that she was watching a horror film. However, in contrast to her features, the repeated vibration of the clipper blades on her sensitive scalp was arousing her in a way that she had never previously experienced. Wave after wave of pleasure was coursing through her body, and she experienced an almost uncontrollable urge to move her hands under the cape to satisfy herself.

Emma was struggling to control her breathing that had become fast and shallow. She stifled the occasional moan that played on her moist lips. While Emma knew that her scalp and her neck were sensitive to brushing, what she was experiencing was in another league. She half-closed her eyes, bit her lower lip, and tried to control her breathing.

As her mind drifted away to another place, Emma had completely lost track of time. The sudden silencing of the hairclippers jolted her back to the reality of where she was. While she would not have wanted Beth to halt her activity in an ideal world, she knew she was incredibly close to making an embarrassing public spectacle of herself.

Opening her eyes, Emma noted that in the mirror she looked flushed, but she found it difficult to interpret what else she was seeing. Beth had reduced her long hair to a uniform length of less than an inch, with the hair on her crown sticking straight up like a brush giving an unflattering rounded shape to her head.

Beth had taken a couple of steps back, remaining quiet, but staring at Emma’s head. She may have been giving Emma time to come to terms with her new appearance. Or she might have been assessing whether her hair would need any further adjustment.

After a short while, Beth suddenly reached forward and vigorously rubbed Emma’s head. The effect on Emma was electrifying but she was able to maintain her composure … at least on the outside.

Beth nodded, as if coming to a decision, and flicked the guard off her hairclippers to leave a shining bare blade. Emma wondered if Beth was contemplating shaving all that remained of her hair. Although Emma contemplated wondrously if the sensation of the bare clipper blade against her scalp might be more intense without a guard. However, staying with reality, Emma’s eyes widened with undisguised fear.

Seeing Emma’s worried expression, Beth decided to explain what she intended. ‘It is less than an inch all over like you asked, but I cannot send you out of our salon looking like a hedgehog. We need to give your hair more definition.’ Beth turned on the clippers and picked up a comb.

‘Yes, but that’s not what I, er -’ Emma retorted, starting to realise there had been a massive misunderstanding but unsure how it could have arisen.

‘Not what you expected?’ Beth shouted above the roar of the clippers. ‘I understand, but it is all down to your hair type and texture. When it has been long, then it can behave unpredictably when cut short. Until now you have been amazingly brave, so please just leave it to me and relax.’

‘But I -’ Emma tried to interject, but the sound of the hairclippers drowned her voice.

Beth gave a little laugh. ‘Don’t look so worried, I’m not going to shave you completely bald.’

The sight of the bare-bladed clippers and the word “completely” failed to give Emma any confidence. But all she could do was observe her reflection with a sense of terrible inevitability, and endeavour to control her body’s reaction.

With practiced ease, using the bare blades of the hairclippers clattering over the comb in her other hand, Beth gradually reduced the length of the hair on the back and sides of Emma’s head. From its longest at the top, it gradually faded down to nothing at the hairline. Despite Beth’s earlier assertion, little of Emma’s hair now remained. The sensation of the bare clipper blades vibrating against her skin was so intense that nothing else mattered.

Beth carefully squared off the hair on Emma’s crown by holding the comb level above her crown. Using the clippers, she snipped any of the remaining hair that peeked above the comb. She continually checked the emerging style from all angles running her fingertips through Emma’s hair and fingernails against her skin. Surely, Emma reasoned, what Beth was doing to her was not legal in a public place.

Oblivious to Emma’s inner turmoil, Beth silenced the clippers once she was satisfied that the haircut was perfect. The stylist breathed a contented sigh and whisked away the cape sending piles of hair to the floor.

Standing back, Beth held up a hand mirror so that Emma could admire her fresh look from every angle. Emma could not believe it was her reflection in the mirror. She politely gave a curt nod as validation of her work appeared to be what Beth was expecting. However, Emma was so close to the edge with her emotions that any increased stimulation at that moment would have been unwise.

‘Wow, Emma, I had no idea you were going to get a flattop,’ exclaimed Keeley, stepping over from her reception desk. ‘Most girls just want their hair bobbed, or even just left as it is, after they have all the length chopped off. It was so brave of you to ask Beth to cut your hair so short.’

‘Well, it’s not -’ Emma mumbled, still unable to find her voice.

‘I thought it best,’ said Beth, responding to her assistant. ‘A much more stylish shape than the inch all over she asked for. There are few girls that can carry off a flattop, but she looks so cool, doesn’t she?’

‘Yes, but I didn’t ask for -’ Emma attempted, increasingly flustered.

‘Yes, really cool, Beth,’ Keeley confirmed.

One of Emma’s hands rose upwards, allowing her to explore the bare skin over one ear. She visibly shivered. A similar reaction occurred when she ran her fingers up her neck and then bounced her palm across the sharp bristles on her crown. She lowered her arm and slowly stood up on shaking legs.

Emma looked down at the shelf before her and stroked the long, blonde ponytail she observed there. ‘So, this is mine?’ she questioned.

‘Well, it was,’ Beth replied, with an attempt at humour. She added, unnecessarily cruelly, ‘now you better say goodbye.’

‘Oh,’ Emma managed. Stealing a glance at her severe haircut in the mirror, reality beckoned, and she quickly turned away. ‘How much?’ she asked, worried she might not have enough cash for a restyle, having expected only a trim.

Beth looked at Emma and then down at the cut hair. ‘Eighty-five,’ the stylist stated.

Emma sighed, opened her bag, and took out her purse. She had paid much less in the past for a trim but assumed it was the going rate for a fashionable salon in the city to scalp someone.

Beth giggled. ‘No, we will pay you eighty-five … for your hair … that is, the hair you asked me to cut. To sell to us.’ Beth’s laughter died away as her explanation seemed to fall on stony ground given her customer’s unchanging expression. ‘Your haircut is free.’

Emma could not comprehend this strange turn of events. ‘Pardon?’

‘OK, well, it is superb hair, Beth mused. ‘We will round it up to one hundred. Are you OK with that?’

‘Yes, well, I suppose,’ Emma mumbled, her mind still trying to catch up with this increasingly bizarre situation.

Keeley, the receptionist, had overhead the conversation and approached with a bundle of notes which she handed to Emma. Everyone had become quiet, as confused as each other but for varied reasons. However, a woman’s voice calling out from the reception desk broke the silence.

Understanding

‘Excuse me, I am Mrs Walton, looking for my daughter, Emma. She came in about half an hour ago. Is she still here?’

Emma had her back to her mother, while Beth and Keeley faced her. The two women from the salon exchanged bewildered looks, as the new visitor was standing only a short distance from her daughter.

Emma’s mother sighed in exasperation, irritated by the lack of response. ‘Look, you cannot miss her. Pretty girl. Lovely blonde hair. All the way down to her knees. She popped in for just a trim.’

‘Er, well …’ Beth began, then stopped as she processed what she had heard. ‘Did you say a trim?’

Beth’s gaze switched back and forth between the new arrival and Emma, who still had her back to her mother. Given the emerging confusion, Keeley felt it prudent for her to slink back to the reception desk.

Mrs Walton, in exasperation, sighed once more. ‘Look, I am sure you would remember. Her hair resembles that wig over there, in terms of length and colour,’ she clarified, indicating a ponytail laid out on the shelf by the mirror.

‘Er, Mum,’ Emma murmured. Mrs Walton looked all around, puzzled at hearing her daughter’s voice call out when she had been unable to locate her. The only other person nearby was someone, with her back to her. Fiona Walton had mentally dismissed her as someone of no interest, labelling the person as a marine recruit with hardly any hair, and shaved back and sides. Emma turned around. ‘Mum, it’s me.’

‘Emma! No!’ her mother shrieked. Once she had calmed down a little, she drew a deep breath and continued. ‘What on earth have they done to you?’

‘I, er … that is, I am … not sure,’ Emma replied, unable to look her mother in the eye.

‘Not sure? Do you mean someone forced you to have all your hair cut off?’

‘Certainly not!’ Beth replied, clearly affronted by the accusation. ‘Besides, it’s not all cut off.’

‘You’re splitting hairs,’ Emma’s mother retorted, and Beth stifled a giggle as she reacted to her unintentional joke.

‘Oh, so you think this is funny, do you?’ Mrs Walton continued as she contemplated legal action. ‘Well, I will be -’

‘I did exactly as your daughter requested,’ Beth interrupted indignantly, raising her voice a little. ‘She told our receptionist that she wanted it an inch or less.’

‘Yes, but that’s not -’ Emma murmured quaveringly.

‘You do know that Beth is our hair extension specialist, don’t you?’ Keeley interrupted, calling across from the safety of the reception desk.

Beth gave Keeley an accusatory stare, wondering if the young receptionist might have misunderstood Emma’s instructions or passed on inaccurate information.

‘No,’ Emma and her mother chorused, sounding surprised.

They both remembered when they first caught sight of Beth through the salon window and observed her long-haired client thanking her.

‘If someone asks for Beth by name then I know they want Beth to give them extensions. If not, they will want to sell their hair, so Beth can cut it and use it to provide hair extensions. Given the length of Emma’s hair, it was obvious she did not need extensions. So, the only reason she could have for asking for Beth was to have her cut it off and sell it.’ Mrs Walton looked ready to interject but Keeley had not finished. ‘Furthermore, she requested that it not to be styled afterwards, but wanted the remaining hair to be cut to an inch or less.’

‘Is that what you said, Emma?’ her mother demanded. She had already accepted that her timid daughter could easily have failed to pass on the simple instructions that she had given.

‘Well, yes, I suppose it was, but how was I to know what things Beth does with hair,’ Emma stated. ‘After all, you told me to ask for her.’

‘Oh, so you think it was my fault do you, my girl?’ Emma’s mother questioned indignantly, but clearly did not expect an answer. It was rare for her daughter to show emotion, especially in public, but Mrs Walton observed that she was both angry and sad. She decided to address that later, so directed her next words to Beth. ‘I am terribly sorry, but my daughter might have confused matters. Still, no harm done.’

‘What do you mean, no harm done? Look at me, mother!’ Emma demanded. ‘I’m nearly bald!’

‘Calm down, Emma. Hardly bald, and you will look very neat and tidy for your interview.’

‘I have an interview for a job in the city, not to join the marines. Look, she shaved my hair to the skin up the back and around the ears.’

For the first time, Mrs Walton thoroughly inspected her daughter’s new haircut. She observed that the back and sides were, indeed, shaved to the skin. She ran her fingertips along Emma’s neck and her eyes widened.

Emma suppressed the feeling of arousal. ‘Stop that, Mother’ she snapped.

Fiona Walton drew her hand quickly away, a little surprised by her daughter’s sharp tone. ‘Yes, I can see it is short. But Beth has cut it very well. And, surprisingly, it does suit you.’

‘Thank you,’ said Beth, smiling, accepting the limited praise and gratitude that was on offer.

Emma rewarded Beth with a less than charitable stare, before facing her mother again. ‘You really think it suits me, Mum?’

‘If a severe haircut like that can look good on you wearing that pretty summer dress – and it does – just think how professional you will look in that smart skirt and blazer we bought for your interview?’

When she had tried on her interview outfit, Emma loved the feeling of her long hair around the back of her legs below the hem of the short skirt. She knew that people might consider it unprofessional to wear her hair loose. But she would not have worn her hair up in a bun, or whatever, just to meet the expectations of others, even prospective employers. However, she no longer had that option.

Emma looked at herself in the mirror, running a hand through what remained of her hair and over her bare skin. She smiled. Imagining how she would look dressed in her new outfit, her smile widened. ‘I suppose you’re right, Mum,’ Emma murmured, as she continued to preen herself in the mirror.

Epilogue

‘So, is this my daughter’s hair?’ asked Emma’s mother, looking at Beth, and examining the long ponytail laid out on the shelf below the mirror.

‘It was her hair,’ Beth emphasised. ‘We have paid her a great deal more than the going rate for it.’

‘Thank you, that’s very kind,’ Mrs Walton said, lightly fingering the hair that had previously adorned her daughter’s head. ‘There was a woman with you just before Emma came in. Did she have extensions?’

‘Yes, she did,’ replied Beth smugly. ‘Her hair was shorter than yours when she arrived.’

‘I would never have known she had extensions. You applied them with great skill.’

‘Thanks,’ Beth proudly acknowledged. ‘That’s really kind of you.’

‘So, regarding Emma’s hair – or, rather, what was her hair – will it be used for extensions?’

‘Well, the raw hair will need a little processing, but ultimately, I will be using it for extensions.’

Fiona looked at her daughter thoughtfully and smiled. ‘I see.’

Beth looked shocked, recognising where the conversation may be going. ‘Sorry, but Emma’s hair is far too short to have her own hair reapplied as extensions.’

‘No problem, Beth. I much prefer my daughter’s hair to be short and neat, and you will be keeping it exactly like that on my behalf,’ Fiona Walton explained. ‘However, I would like to make an appointment to receive extensions myself. Expertly applied by you, Beth. Using my daughter’s former hair.’

Emma shrieked in astonishment. ‘Mother!’

The End

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