“Be careful, Emily, don’t get mixed in with the flock or you’ll be next.” Chris, the prettiest shepherdess I have ever seen, teased me.
I chuckled as I continued petting one of the fluffy sheep that still had her full winter fleece. Chris had just sent a freshly shorn lamb out the barn door to play in the field, and was carefully arranging his small black fleece onto a pile. The pile mostly resembled a really dirty shag carpet, but I knew it would soon begin the long process of becoming yarn.
“Ok, Mayor Jahns, you’re next.” Chris said cheerfully to one of the white sheep in the pen I was leaning against as I scratched the ears of the sheep nearest to me.
I watched as Chris grabbed the cloud with legs and rotated the ewe onto her rump. Chris pinned Jahns into what looked to me like a pretty uncomfortable position against her legs, but Jahns was calm as Chris brought the metal blades to the wool covered belly. The sharp blades made a soft rhythmic snipping sound as they sliced through the fluff like a hot knife through butter.
“Why don’t you shear them with the electric clipper things, like most places?” I asked.
“I think it’s a little gentler, but that’s debatable. It’s definitely quieter. I learned using electric shears, so I can do either.” Chris said as she snipped along a leg. “This I can do anywhere, not just places with electricity. Which doesn’t matter here in the barn, but can be convenient, so I like to keep up the skill.
“In all honesty though, it’s mostly because they look better this way.” Chris admitted as she held Jahns’ head and started working on her neck. “Leaves them a little fluffier and more even. Most of my income is from tourists who want good selfies with the sheep. The yarn, felt creations, and lanolin don’t sell themselves. Those are important, but it’s the cute friendly sheep that get people to the farm to buy them, plus the other farm products like eggs and goats’ milk cheese. And I have a very high profit margin on selling bags of sheep treats to the tourists.”
“It is rather nice petting them,” I admitted as I watched Chris snip down Jahns’ back. “So, I guess you are really running a high end salon for them, where most farms just give them the barbershop treatment.”
Chris let out a full belly laugh as she escorted the freshly shorn Mayor Jahns to the barn door. Then she added Mayor Jahns’ fleece up onto the pile.
“I suppose you could say that.” Chris said as she looked down at the sheep whose ears I was scratching. “You going to let me have Deputy Marnes there? It’s his turn to visit my beauty parlor for a haircut.”
“I guess I’ll just have to come back again another time to give his ears a good scratching.”
“I’m sure he’ll enjoy that.” Chris said with a smile as she led him from the pen.
I watched as she maneuvered him onto his rump and tried to figure out if Chris was flirting with me, or just being friendly. I hadn’t even figured out if she was straight and I should just give up and write it off as a hopeless crush, or if she might actually be gay or bi, and I had a chance. I so wanted a chance.
If we were in the city, where I’d come from, I would have peg her for a lesbian without any doubts. The backwards baseball cap that held her slightly floppy sandy hair back, the plaid flannel shirt she wore over her t-shirt and bluejeans, the heavy work boots. Since we were on a farm though, that really was just practical.
I hung out, chatting, joking, petting sheep, as the pen slowly emptied. I watched the sheering, fascinated, not so much by the sheep, as by Chris. If this activity was being done by anyone else, I’d have been terminally bored by the 3rd or 4th sheep. As it was, I enjoyed every minute till Chris was placing the last fleece on the pile.
I was still leaning on the side of the empty pen, as Chris sauntered over and leaned against the opposite side. She smiled at me mischievously.
“I guess it’s your turn now.” She teased.
I knew she was joking, but it suddenly got my heart racing. Weirdly, I couldn’t quite tell if it was with excitement or dread. It wasn’t like I wanted a haircut, I liked my long fiery curls, but… yeah, something inside told me I might just submit to a shearing if it meant Chris had an excuse to touch me.
I just giggled and blushed in response.
“Get you all trimmed down before the summer so you can frolic and play without overheating.” She kept it up, not letting me get away without answering.
“Maybe next time.” I finally said between giggles.
“I’m going to hold you to that.” Chris threatened playfully with a wink.
We then both just kept leaning there, staring at each other. It was like we both knew that we should call it a day and I should go, but neither of us really wanted to.
I should just ask her. Are you gay? If she’s the kind of person who’d be offended by being asked, then I probably didn’t want her as a friend anyway. I was more than just a little scared. I hadn’t really told many people what I was yet, being out felt different here than it had back in the city. Just asking was coming out. I was so terrified of making things awkward.
“Hey, want to get a bite to eat?” I finally said, “I’m open to suggestions, since I don’t really know the area yet.”
“You know I’m covered in sheep shit and lanolin.” Chris laughed.
“So you’d like to go somewhere fancy.” I teased back.
“If you can entertain yourself for a half hour, I’ll go take a quick shower.”
“Have you ever been to a Waffle House?” Chris asked as I climbed into the passenger seat of her pickup truck.
“No,” I said as I tried not to look like I was too short to just step in like an adult. “I’ve heard of them. A friend of mine once drove down to Florida and she told me about them. I didn’t realize there were any this far north.”
“This is pretty much the northern limit of them.” Chris informed me as we drove down the long drive towards the road. “You’re in for a treat.”
The pecan waffles were good, even though I was disappointed by the lack of real maple syrup, which I was informed was a northern thing. The real treat though was getting to just stare into Chris’ sparkling hazel eyes. She was so gorgeous. Her short but slightly shaggy sandy hair started the evening slicked back from the shower, but flopped down onto her forehead as it dried. It defied gravity just enough to go off to the side instead of into her eyes. Her clean fresh face lit up when she smiled. She was dressed simply in a fresh pair of slightly faded straight legged blue jeans, and a well worn hoodie that looked better on her than such things usually do.
Conversation was easy and flowed. We both laughed and smiled often. I was having the time of my life. When the waitress refilled Chris’ coffee, Chris pushed the sleeves of her hoody up and reached for the sugar. I caught a glimpse of a tattoo, It looked like words.
“What does the tattoo say?” I asked.
“It’s song lyrics,” Chris said as she tilted her arm to give me a better view. “‘Life is full of wonder, Love is never wrong.’ I like to look at it to remind myself I have nothing to feel guilty about.”
I smiled tightly. I knew that song; I knew that guilt. I was delighted to know that Chris was a lesbian, I was sad she struggled with the guilt.
“That happens to be one of my favorite songs.” I said and looked into Chris’ eyes as the corners crinkled up from her spreading smile.
She let me get the check instead of insisting on splitting it. She said she’d get the next one, and left the tip.
It was late when we got back to the farm. We’d spent ages just sitting in the Waffle House talking, sharing. Then on the drive back, she’d taken me to an open isolated spot away from any man made lights where she could park and turn off her headlights. I’d never realized the sky could be that filled with stars before. She pointed out the Milkyway, and suddenly the strange name of our galaxy actually made sense. It had been a long magical evening.
Once Chris’ truck was parked next to my car back at her farm, we’d reached that awkward moment of the evening. It was an awkward moment even at the end of official, agreed upon, planned out first dates. Considering that I wasn’t sure if this had been a date, or just grabbing a meal with a new neighbor who was being friendly and helping me get to know the area and adjust to life outside the city, it was a million times more awkward. I looked at her, and tried to sense how she wanted to end the evening.
I put my hand down, next to hers, barely touching. Chris reached over and stroked the side of my face. I leaned over to the center of the truck. Our lips met.
The kiss felt right. Her hand moved down to my neck, I placed mine on the small of her back. We kissed for a good 10 minutes, her warm soft not too wet lips moving against mine passionately. Her hand under my hair pressing my neck gently, not like she was trying to push me into her, just enough to assure me she was there.
When we finally pulled away, my body wanted more, but my head said don’t rush it.
“I enjoyed tonight.” I stated the very obvious, with a smile. “If you want, we could do it again sometime.”
“I’d like that very much.” Chris smiled.
*Hey Emily,* Chris’ warm voice came through the phone. *I’ve got a job, well sort of, it’s barter. I’m going to be shearing a small flock of babydolls over at a cider orchard. The orchard only keeps the sheep as mowers, so I get all the fleeces and as much cider as I can carry. Want to tag along and maybe give me a hand? It’s very good cider.*
“I only understood about half of that,” I chuckled into the phone feeling like such a city girl. “I got the part about free cider though, so I’ll take you up on it.”
Of course in reality, I would have taken her up on almost anything with no extra incentive involved just to have an excuse to be near her. We’d been out a few times, and each time tearing myself away at the end of it was hard. I was in that I want to spend every waking moment with this person stage of infatuation, and the reality that Chris and I both had stuff we had to get done made giving into it impossible.
*I’ll come pick you up in about 20 minutes.* Chris’ lovely voice said happily. “Wear something you can get dirty in.”
20 minutes was not really enough time to get dressed to look nice, but still look like I had just thrown on something old I didn’t care about. That is a complicated level of deliberate casualness. Three pairs of jeans till I found ones that both enhanced my figure and were worn enough to look like I didn’t care. Four t-shirts till I found a v-neck one that made me look hot but like it was fine to get ruined. Then I had to choose a hoodie that was warm enough to keep me from being too cold to look good, but also didn’t just completely hide the figure flattering t-shirt, I went with a zipper one and left the zipper down. I barely had time to apply the tiniest amount of mascara and lip gloss so that I had a little definition, but it wasn’t really obvious.
As I’d gotten ready, I kept catching glimpses of myself in the mirror. My hair looked great in a casual tousled way, and definitely looked like I hadn’t been trying too hard, since I hadn’t touched it. I knew I should probably put it up anyway. If I was actually going to be doing anything useful, it was going to get in the way. She’d invited me to help this time, not just watch.
When Chris texted that she was in the driveway, I still had done nothing with my hair. I looked in the mirror and decided at this point, it was just best to leave it loose, and just put a couple of hair ties around my wrist so I could put it up later if I needed it out of my way. I fluffed up the full loose red curls that reach a little below the bottom of my rib cage and draped them around my shoulders. Then headed out the door.
Chris smiled at me indulgently as I climbed up into her truck. She leaned over once I was in the seat, and ran her hand under my hair and rested it on my neck. She gently guided my face towards her and gave me a firm kiss. She then released me and started driving.
“Those are sheep?” I asked as I looked at the tiny floofs in the shed at the side of the orchard. “They look like toys.”
“That’s why we call them babydolls.” Chris explained with amusement. “Officially they are olde english southdown babydolls.”
“And they’re adults, not lambs?” I was having trouble accepting the idea that the diminutive creatures I was looking at were real.
“That’s as big as they get.” Chris assured me. “It’s part of why they are good for keeping down weeds and grass in the orchard, they are too short to reach the apples.”
“And that’s their purpose here, just to be lawn mowers?”
“Mainly,” Chris confirmed. “They also fertilize as they go. Plus look cute.”
“Ok,” I looked down at the tiny smiley face of the sheep that had come over to the gate and looked like it hoped I had treats. “So if the orchard just uses them as lawn mowers and doesn’t want the fleeces, why are they giving you cider to shear them? Why not just leave them floofy? They are really cute with all the fluff.”
“They just need haircuts. Just like people need haircuts.” Chris said, chuckling. “All that wool is hot and heavy.”
“I guess,” I said, feeling a little unconvinced.
“Doesn’t all this get uncomfortable in the summer.” Chris gave one of my long red locks a little tug. “It’s worse for them though. You only have to deal with this mop on your head, not all over.”
I tried not to let it show that I was disappointed that Chris had just called my hair a mop. I’d always thought it was one of my best features, and hoped it impressed her. I think I must have let my feelings show though, because I sensed a shift in Chris.
“It’s a very pretty mop,” she assured me. “Just maybe not the most practical.”
“Hmm” I sort of conceded as I started gathering the loose tresses into a bundle and stretched a hair tie around them.
“Anyway” Chris said, trying to get back to the subject at hand. “They need haircuts and I need wool, so we should get started. If you can just fold up the fleeces and bag them, I’ll skirt them at home.”
I was folding up the last fleece as neatly as I could as Chris sent the last tiny sheep off to join the rest of its flock. A lock of hair had come loose from my hair tie, and kept flopping into my face as I worked. I kept trying to push it back with my slightly dirty shoulder, because my hands were way too dirty for me to want them touching my hair.
“Looks like it’s your turn,” Chris teased me.
“Oh really?” I challenged as I placed the fleece in it’s bag and wrote the date and sheep’s info on the bag with a sharpie.
“You said ‘next time’ last week.” She pressed with a wicked smile. “I warned you about getting mixed in with the flock.”
I just pouted at her while she laughed.
“Come on, let’s get cleaned up and claim our reward.” Chris finally relented as she grabbed four of the half dozen bags of fleece and carried them towards the back of her truck; I followed with the other two.
“I know I washed up at the orchard,” I said from the passenger seat of Chris’ truck, “but I still feel absolutely filthy. I’m worried I’m going to rub against things I want to stay clean just getting to the shower. I haven’t finished unpacking so things are a bit chaotic. Nevermind that I don’t want these clothes in the hamper in my bedroom.”
“Just come to the farm,” Chris casually offered. “It’s set up so that I can walk into the back door and go straight to the basement. I put my clothing straight into the laundry down there, and there’s a shower right next to the washer. I can loan you some clothes. I’ve got things that are forgiving size wise. They might be a little long on you, but you can roll up the cuffs.”
“I don’t want to be an imposition,” I said apologetically. “I’ll manage.”
“It’s really not a big deal,” Chris assured me with a smile. “Having your clothes in with mine will fill out the load anyway, And it will be nice having your company tonight. You can stay for dinner, I’m making spaetzle with mushrooms. It will go nicely with the cider.”
“I don’t know what spot…. How’d you say it?”
“Spaetzles.” Chris happily explained. “They’re a kind of egg noodle.”
“Well, I’m up for trying something new if you really don’t mind my company.”
“I enjoy your company thoroughly.” Chris assured me, reaching over and stroking my cheek.
When we got to the farmhouse, Chris led me to the basement where the washing machine was next to a small bathroom just as she’d described. It made the most sense for Chris to bathe first since she had left clean clothing for herself in the bathroom knowing she’d be filthy when she got home. She stripped her clothing off just a little self consciously, dropping everything except the bra and panties she kept on directly into the washer.
Her body was incredible. Though there were obviously plenty of muscles from wrestling sheep and farm work in general on her sturdy frame, she still had some soft curves in just the right places. I hoped the relationship was going to progress to the point where I would be invited to explore them with my hands.
It was less than 15 minutes between her going into the bathroom in just her bra and panties, and when she came back out rubbing a towel over her wet hair wearing a tanktop and pajama pants.
“I’ll run upstairs and get you clean clothing.” She promised. “I’ll leave it right next to the sink. You can take your time and come up and join me in the livingroom when you’re done.”
After I stripped my own clothing into the washing machine, I headed to the shower thinking about how I didn’t have a comb to work the conditioner through my hair with. When I got there, I realized that was a moot concern, since there was no separate conditioner anyway. It seemed Chris used a two-in-one. I guess it made sense considering she had short straight hair, but it meant I had to either skip washing my hair, which I suspected had stuff I preferred not to think about in it, or face being frizzy. I pulled my hair forward and gave it a sniff; skipping washing was a bad idea.
I probably should have had Chris drop me at home, but it was too late now. I stepped into the shower. I heard Chris knock, announce that she was dropping off clothing and then leave. I lathered up my hair, then stood under the hot stream just rinsing.
When I was done and clean, I headed up the stairs in the slightly too large t-shirt, sweatpants, and hoody Chris had left for me. She was both taller and more muscular than me, so everything was a little long and baggy on my petite frame. It was also definitely more androgenuos than my personal style. I had my towel thrown over a shoulder, with my long wet hair on it to keep from getting the hoodie soaked
I walked into the living room to find Chris sitting in front of a spinning wheel, with a basket full of gray wool next to her, while listening to a podcast. Her back was to me. I watched as she stretched a handful of fluff into a long strand of yarn, which disappeared into the spinning wheel, then she stretched out more yarn. When she had just a tiny bit of fluff left in her hand, she reached into the basket and grabbed a new bundle and joined it in, then stretched out more yarn.
“Hey” I said softly after a bit.
“How was the shower?” Chris asked as she paused the podcast and turned to face me.
“Nice and hot.” I decided to focus on the positive instead of dwelling on the lack of conditioner. “Do you have a wide tooth comb I can borrow?”
“Hmm,” Chris looked thoughtful. “I have combs, I’m not sure if any of them count as wide toothed. Come on upstairs and we can take a look.”
We went up the stairs, to the more private area of the big old house. She took me into a room that was furnished like a bedroom, but she was obviously using as a craft room and stock room. There were stacks of boxes labeled as different kinds of yarn or felt items. The desk had a partially finished project on it. She ignored all that and strode confidently over to the wardrobe and opened it. Inside instead of clothing were stacks of plastic storage boxes.
I watched curiously as she pulled out one from around the middle that was labeled “hair stuff.” She placed it on one of the twin beds, and took the lid off. I tried to peer in, but didn’t have a good angle to see. Chris started lifting stuff out though, so my curiosity was slowly satisfied. Though what she took out, raised new questions.
The first thing that came out were big old oster clippers. Then a ziplock bag of little plastic things that looked a bit like combs. Then another bag with a little bottle and some small brushes and things. Then there was another bag with scissors and shears. Finally from the bottom, Chris lifted out two bags that were full of combs.
“Will any of these work?” Chris asked holding out the bags for me to look through.
“I’m sure I can make do,” I said, taking the more promising bag from her and opening it. “What’s all that other stuff for?”
“Frugality is a family habit.” Chris stated simply as she sat down on the bed. “There were 6 of us kids. That would be a pretty expensive trip to the barber every couple of months. So, our mom cut our hair when we were little. Then when she got sick and passed away, I took over.”
“You cut your siblings’ hair when you were a kid?” I asked as I sat down on the bed next to Chris and began to comb out my wet hair.
“Not really a kid, I was a teenager by then.” Chris started opening up. “Losing mom was hard on all of us, but my older brother and I tried to take up as much slack as possible by taking care of the younger kids. Dad was already stretched pretty thin, so we didn’t want him to have be mom too. Cutting everyones hair, saved a bunch of money, and it wasn’t hard, so it was one of mom’s jobs I took over.
“I’m pretty decent at it. At first, I just followed the way mom had done it. Boys get to pick a number between 1 and 6, and that’s the clipper guard you use. Girls point to a spot on their back, or in my case on my neck, and snip a straight line.
“After a few months though, I started getting a bit more creative; I was always the crafty one. At first it was pretty basic, like using a longer guard on the tops of my brothers’ heads and I shorter one on the sides to get a better shape, and trimming my little sisters’ hair into a rounded line instead of a perfectly straight one. Then I figured out layers, by the end of the first year, they could show me pictures and I could copy them.”
“Wow.” I interjected softly. “Did they appreciate it?”
“I guess.” Chris shrugged, then lay back on the bed. “The ones that live close still come, and my older brother even brings his kids.”
“That’s nice.” I said as I worked on the tangles.
“You know, even though I was teasing before about shearing you with the sheep,” Chris said a little tentatively, “if you ever do want a haircut, I’d be happy to.”
And there it was, all I had to do was agree to give up a couple of inches of hair and Chris would have an excuse to touch me. It would be a sign of trust too. I lifted one of the long locks up and inspected it. It was healthy and free of split ends, I wouldn’t be due for a trim for at least another month. I let it down and resumed combing.
“I guess the ends are getting a bit ratty.” I said trying to sound casual. “I might take you up on that.”
“Great.” Chris said, just enthusiastically enough to make me nervous.
She lay there on her back twiddling her thumbs and watching me comb for a bit, then seemed to be getting a bit restless. She turned up onto her side, propping her head up on her arm.
“Not done yet, huh?” Chris asked, as she reached over and gave one of my long locks a gentle tug.
“It’s a bit harder without my usual hair care products.” I said, trying to make it not sound like a complaint.
“Long hair does take more doesn’t it?” Chris muttered.
“I guess,” I said then added, “I tend to think the curls are what makes it need extra attention. Everyone is always telling me how special it is though, so I guess it’s worth the trouble,”
“Mmm” Chris let out like she didn’t really agree, but was trying to not say it.
“You don’t really like it do you?”
“What makes you think that? It’s an incredible color.” Chris said emphatically. “All those different shades of red and gold.”
“You called it a mop earlier.”
“It just looks kind of hot and heavy. It’s really pretty though, very shiny. There’s just a lot of it.”
“You think it’s too long.” I guessed.
“I’m just not really a long hair fan.” She admitted looking guilty. “But yours is beautiful.”
“You want it shorter though, don’t you?”
“Forget I said anything.” Chris sat up and covered her face with her hands, and spoke down into them. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said anything.”
She got up, started heading to the door, and announced, “I’m going to go start dinner. It’ll take a little over a half hour or so. Come down when you’re ready. I’ll put that stuff away later.”
I sat alone on the bed, combing my tangled hair. The person I most wanted to impress with my mane, thought of it as a mop. It shouldn’t matter, I’d only been dating her about a week. We hadn’t even slept together yet. She might be terrible in bed. Even If we end up having a great relationship, it’s my hair and I should do what I want with it. Cutting my hair for Chris would be stupid.
I loved my hair. Practically everyone gushed over it. I was seriously contemplating getting it all cut off.
When I finished combing it, I braided it to stave off the frizz I knew would happen because I hadn’t conditioned it properly. I looked around for a mirror, and got up to look at myself in it. Braided behind me wasn’t exactly the same thing as cut short, but I didn’t look terrible without the mane surrounding my face.
I went down to the kitchen and watched as Chris finished sauteing mushrooms, onions, and peppers in butter. She then made the noodles much more quickly than I had expected, smooshing the dough through a colander directly into the water, and straining them almost immediately.
“What do you think?” She asked as I lifted a forkful of the funny shaped noodles to my mouth.
“It’s delicious,” I said as soon as I swallowed. “Are they called spotsies because of the little flecks on them?”
“The flecks are parsley. I’ve seen others make them without the flecks.” Chris informed me with amusement. “Spaetzle, almost rhymes with pretzel. It’s German, I don’t know how it got its name. We could google after dinner, then we can both learn something new.”
“When I had to leave New York, I never thought I would be having so many new experiences. I expected my life to just be quieter. I was worried it was going to be boring.”
“It’s more about attitude than location.” Chris suggested across the table. “You’re open to new things. You don’t just assume nothing will be as good as what you are used to.”
“I wouldn’t have had so many opportunities to see and try new things without you.” I pointed out between bites.
“It’s been wonderful watching you experience them for the first time.” Chris grinned at me tenderly. “I’m getting to see things I always just took for granted in a new way.”
“I guess I should take you to New York one of these days.” I offered.
“Aren’t hotels there really expensive?” Chris asked. “That’s why you had to move out this way, right, because you couldn’t afford anything closer to the city?”
“I can get us a couple of nights on a pull out sofa on Staten Island for free.” I assured her.
“That would be cool. I’d just have to find a time when my brother is available to house sit and take care of the animals.”
And just like that, we were making plans for the future, like we were already a couple. My head was reminding me that it didn’t really mean much. My soul though was preparing for the rest of our lives together.
When we finished eating, I helped clear the table and wash up. It was just so nice to stand next to her, our arms briefly brushing against each other at the sink. I normally hated doing dishes, but standing next to Chris changed everything.
“I’d like to pop open another bottle of cider,” Chris said as she took off her gloves and hung them over the faucet to dry, “but I suppose I need to drive you home tonight.”
“Do you?” I asked, trying to hint that I was in no rush to get going if I was welcome.
People tend to assume the hard part of being a lesbian is the descrimination, which is bad and all, but not the most difficult part. What is really hard to deal with is that we were always raised to wait for boys to make the first move, so we each just keep dropping hints that the other is afraid to act on. Ok, maybe not the hardest part, but it is frustrating.
“I don’t know, you tell me.”
“Where would I sleep?”
“That’s up to you, there are lots of options.”
I still wasn’t sure if I was being invited for sex, or just being offered a spare bed for the night. I figured I’d just take the offer to spend the night and see where it went.
“Ok, I guess we can figure that out later.” I said.
“Great,” Chris smiled at me. “Do you want another cider too?”
After a few bottles of cider, I was relaxed enough that I put my head down on Chris’ lap as we watched a mildly boring movie on netflix. Chris’ fingers stroked down my neck gently. After a while of the stroking, she got bold, and kissed my neck. I turned away from the movie and looked up at her face.
“Hi,” I said, just to say something.
“You have a lovely neck.” Her smile beaming down on me like sunshine.
“Thanks,” I said, then without really thinking, added, “I guess it’s good that I braided the mop.”
“I’m sorry I called it that.” Chris said suddenly looking embarrassed. “Your hair is incredibly beautiful.”
The complement of my hair felt completely different from the complement of my neck. When she’d told me my neck was lovely, it had sounded real and spontaneous. The complement of my hair felt calculated, obligatory, it obviously just came from guilt and shame.
I decided right then, that I didn’t give a damn how stupid it was to cut my hair for a woman I’d just barely started dating. I wanted her to think I was lovely in every way, and not pretend out of politeness. If things didn’t work out, it would grow back anyway.
“Hey,” I said trying to sound more relaxed than I was, “didn’t you offer me a haircut?”
“I guess I did.” Chris sounded nervous now. “You said the ends were getting ratty, but they look pretty healthy to me.”
“I thought you were offering me something lighter and cooler for summer.” I risked saying, my heart pounding.
“I didn’t get the feeling that was something you really wanted.”
How could I answer that one? I hadn’t. I’d been thinking about how I loved my hair when she’d suggested it. I wanted to be honest, but I also really wanted to do this right now. Ok, I wanted to do it for all the wrong reasons, but I wanted it. And then the true right answer came to me, I didn’t know if I was going to love it, like it, tolerate it, or hate it, I wouldn’t really know til I tried.
“I needed time to think about it. I didn’t want it at first, but I’ve been warming up to the idea.” I said. “I didn’t think I wanted spotleys till you told me about them.”
“Spaetzles,” Chris corrected, chuckling, so at least I’d broken some of the tension.
“Short hair for summer was something I never contemplated, but now that you’ve put the idea in my head,” I shrugged as best I could while reclined, “I figure why not give it a try. It will grow back if I don’t like it. And so far you’re batting a thousand on my liking new things you’ve introduced me to. Sheep, Waffle House, the Milkyway. It’s all been amazing. Why not this?”
“For starters… This isn’t like Waffle House or spaetzles where if you disliked them you could just stop after one bite. If I cut off your hair it’s going to take years to grow back.” Chris said very rationally. “And second… I’m scared you’re just considering this because you think I don’t like your hair. It’s lovely hair, just because I’m not a big fan of long hair doesn’t mean I hate it. And it’s meant to make you happy, not me.”
“Why do you prefer short hair?” I asked, trying to match her rational attitude.
“I don’t know,” she started as she stroked my neck some more. “It just seems fresher and easier. And it stays cleaner and neater. I like how it feels when I touch it. I just like it.”
“And you don’t think I might I feel the same way if I try it?” I reached up and stroked my hand through Chris’ short hair. “I like your hair, I like it very much.”
“I don’t want you to do something so drastic for me.” She sighed.
“It’s not that drastic,” I assured her, though my pounding chest suggested otherwise. “And I’m asking you to do it for me. I’m enjoying all the new experiences. And since you say it looks healthy, I could donate it to one of those charities.”
I just smiled up at her, avoiding lying because I was so not sure.
It only took about 15 minutes till I found myself sitting in the middle of the surprisingly large upstairs bathroom on a tall stool facing the mirror over the sink. Chris had brought all the things she’d taken from the box labeled “hair stuff” and placed them on the counter next to the sink.
When I commented on the size of the room, Chris explained that the house was built before indoor plumbing was a thing, so her great grandparents gave up one of the bedrooms to become the bathroom when they installed plumbing in the early 20th century. The advantage was that Chris had as much room as most salons gave stylists, maybe more.
“So how short do you want to go?” Chris asked as she arranged a towel on my shoulders.
I had no clue, and “want” was the wrong word. It was really a question of how short had I impulsively decided I was willing to go, and I hadn’t really thought it through that far. It wasn’t like I planned this and had a vision. I just wanted to please her, but couldn’t say that because it sounded crazy.
Of course, this had been proposed as a way for me to be more comfortable. I tried to remind myself there were more rational reasons to try this. The right reasons to want it, cool, light, easy, did sound good. They wouldn’t have been enough to motivate me, but they were there.
“I guess to be light and cool for the summer, it should be off my neck.” I said tentatively. “And somebody recently told me that I have a lovely neck. What do you think?”
“I wholeheartedly agree that you have a lovely neck,” Chris said as she moved my braid to the side and demonstrated her approval of my neck by placing a few tiny kisses on it while hugging me around my shoulders. “Soft and smooth. Long and shapely.”
“I meant what did you think about hair length,” I said with amusement, as I placed my arms over hers.
“My opinion isn’t exactly an unbiased one. It’s impossible for me to sort out what I personally like from what might objectively be best for you.”
“When it comes to hairstyle, I don’t think there really is any such thing as objectively best.” I pointed out, stroking her arm. “I want your honest opinion.”
“I doubt you’d be happy with what I would suggest if I told you what I really like.” Chris admitted nervously, as she pulled out of the embrace. “How about I give you a classic bob. It will be enough to donate the hair, off your neck, and easy to grow out. I could give you a slight undercut since you have so much volume, so it won’t stick out too much.”
“Tell me what you really want,” I pushed, as I undid the braid and fluffed out my long still slightly damp red locks, the damp ends allowing the curls to come back towards the bottom. “I can always just say no. What do you like? What do you think would look good on me?”
“Fine.” Chris said with resignation a little harshly, but the harshness seemed to be directed internally, not at me. She looked up at the ceiling, her hands over her face as she made her confession. “I like really short hair on a very feminine woman, and you have a very feminine face. I love the contrast of it. I like the lack of distraction from the face. I like your ears being fully exposed so I can just look over and think about nibbling them, it’s what I think about when your hair is up or pulled back. You have delicate ears. When I put my hand on your neck, I want to raise it up to the back of your head, but I don’t want my fingers getting tangled in all that hair, so I don’t. I wish the hair on the back of your head was so short that it would feel like velvet.”
Chris took a very deep shaky breath and let it out. “Now that you know, I guess you don’t really want me to cut your hair. Do you want to finish the movie, or do you just want me to drive you home?”
“I want to feel your hand on the back of my head,” I said slowly. “I want to feel your hand on the back of my head, stroking it because you love the way it feels, and I will feel your hand because there won’t be a bunch of hair in the way. I want to feel your teeth nibble my ears. I want you to be able to do it even when your hands are busy elsewhere and can’t hold my hair out of the way. I want to see the contrast you described. I want to try new things and not just assume nothing can be better than what I have now.”
“What are you saying?” Chris cautiously asked.
“I’m saying go for it.” I said with a confidence that I’d just suddenly found.
I looked at myself in the mirror, trying to imagine the image with the long curls cropped short, but failing. I had no idea if I thought it was really going to look good; the curiosity nagged at me though.
“You’re going to regret this tomorrow.” Chris warned.
“I don’t think I will.” And I realised I meant it as the words left my lips. I wasn’t sure I was going to like it, but I didn’t think I’d regret it.
Chris stood there, obviously having an internal battle. I knew she thought this was a bad idea, I knew she really wanted it. Watching the internal struggle reminded me of the internal battles I’d had with my sexuality. Which made me realize…
I looked at the mirror. With the long curls cropped short, I was going to look a lot more gay. Would people just pick me out as the dyke from a crowd?
“Let’s start with a couple of ponytails to donate,” Chris offered nervously. “After you see that, you can decide if you want me to just even it out, or if you still want me to cut it really short.”
“Ok,” I nodded.
Chris stepped behind me and gathered up my hair. She began to comb it, till it was smooth.
“How many hair ties do you have with you?” She asked me as she held the mass of hair.
“Ok,” she said and parted my hair straight down the middle. “Let me have the first one… Let me have the other one.”
I looked at the 2 low ponytails that hung just below my ears.
“You can make them higher, to make the donation as long as possible.”
“If I make them higher, I won’t be able to give you a bob.” Chris warned me very gravely. “Higher and it’s going to be at least as short as my hair.”
“Just go for it. I’m not changing my mind.” I said with all the determination I could muster. “The less that ends up in the garbage the happier I’ll be.”
Chris bit her lip, but nodded and adjusted the hair ties so they were up higher, with just a bit of slack. She went over to the tools she’d placed on the counter near the sink and picked up a pair of pointy scissors. She held my left ponytail and looked down at me, pausing, waiting for me to give her a sign.
I smiled back up at her as my heart pounded so hard I almost thought she could hear it. I gave her a little nod.
Chris inserted the scissors into the hair just above the band and closed them.
Short locks fell to the side of my face. (don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry, DO NOT CRY!!!) I bit my tongue. I looked at the mirror and watched Chris insert the scissors again.
Schhhnip, shhhnip, snip.
Short red locks fell onto my ear. My hand twitched, wanting to touch, wanting to stop this. I constrained myself.
Shhhhnip, schhhhnap, click, snip.
The sharp freshly cut ends pricked against my neck.
Chris held up the ponytail of long red curls. (Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry. Please just don’t cry.) My shaking hand went up and felt the severed ends of my hair behind my ear. I looked at myself in the mirror, my hair fell in short jagged layers over my ear, and against my neck. My brow was wrinkled.
“Shh shh,” Chris stroked her hand over the short hair brushing it behind my ear. “It will look better after I clean up the ends. I promise. But let me get the other ponytail first. Ok?”
I managed to nod and not cry, and I lowered my hand to my lap. Chris placed my severed ponytail next to the sink. I sucked in a deep breath and held it as I watched Chris repeat the cutting process on the other ponytail, as I avoided blinking scared it was going to start me crying. She placed the second ponytail next to the first, and came back behind me.
“I’ll just even it out, leave you as much length as I can at this point,” Chris apologized as she stroked my short hair back from my face. “I’m so sorry I put this idea in your head. This is my fault. I can leave you enough to almost tuck behind your ears. You’re still so pretty, it will grow back, I’m sorry.”
I raised my slightly less shaky hand up and ran it through the hair. The curls were stretched out from having dried while pulled back. It was a bland length. It was a compromise. It was the length I would always think of as the length my beautiful long curls were hacked off at.
“I don’t like this length.” I said softly.
“I know, but I can’t put the hair back on.” Chris lamented.
“I mean keep going. I want to see it really short like you described.”
“Your hand is shaking and you look very pale.” Chris pointed out gently. “I don’t want to make it worse.”
“It was just a shock. I’m pretty sure having it cut the way we talked about will be something I like better. I want a style not a compromise.”
“Are you sure?” She asked, sounding so worried.
“Yes,” I assured her, forcing a nervous smile. “I want it fresh and light. I want it off my neck. I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“Ok,” Chris returned my nervous smile. “I think it will look better that way. I just… Well you know.”
Chris hugged me from behind and kissed the top of my ear. I closed my eyes and leaned into her arms, absorbing her warmth. The tears I’d been fighting flowed, and I strangely felt better. We just embraced for several minutes. Comforting each other.
Chris finally broke away and went over to the counter and picked up the clippers. I discreetly wiped away the tears while she put a guard on the end of the clippers.
“You’re really sure?” Chris confirmed.
“Yeah, I am.” I said feeling ready now that the tears were out.
Chris briefly adjusted the towel on my shoulders, then flipped the switch on the clippers. They clunked to life. I tried not to flinch.
I felt Chris’ hand bending my head forward. I felt the buzzing at my neck. I felt the plastic teeth of the guard scrape up my scalp. I felt hair land on my shoulder. I bit my lip. The scraping went up the back of my head, till I was terrified it would go all the way over the top, then it finally stopped.
I released my lip and breathed out a small sigh of relief.
Chris kept cutting, her firm but gentle hand tilting my head as she needed. She ran the clippers up the back of my head over and over. First stroking upward all the way across, then she went over it again at a slight angle. Then she turned my head slightly and started behind my ear.
With my head bent forward, I couldn’t see the mirror. My only clue as to how short it was becoming was from the occasional chunk of red hair that fell on my lap. It looked like most of the length I’d had left.
Chris finally tilted my head up and just slightly to the side as she pushed the clippers around my ear. I could finally see in the mirror, my red hair being mowed away from the side of my head leaving behind only a very short covering, chunks landing on my shoulder. I was pretty sure it was short enough that my loose bouncy curls would be completely irrelevant.
When Chris turned off the clippers, I turned my head and looked in the mirror. If you drew a line from just above eye level around my head, all the hair underneath that line was buzzed to the same length. I raised my hand, and brushed my finger through it. I think I managed to look more curious this time than shocked, because Chris smiled at me and looked a lot more relaxed as she went over to the counter and exchanged the clippers for a pair of scissors and comb.
“It’s a number 6 incase you were wondering.” She supplied; I hadn’t been wondering and the number meant nothing to me. “If it sounds good, I plan to taper it after I cut the top. Ok?”
“Ok.” I said, figuring I might as well just go along with whatever she wanted considering that I had started this to be what she wanted. God that sounded crazy.
“I’ll leave the top long enough that when it gets wet and the curls come back it will still look good.” Chris promised.
She didn’t approach it exactly the way I’d ever seen a professional hairdresser, but that wasn’t too surprising. She was almost completely self taught and I suspected might never have actually been to a salon or barbershop.
She started right at the center of my forehead, pulled a small piece down to the bridge of my nose and snipped it off at that spot. She pulled it upward and measured it against her fingers. Then she let it down, and lifted up the next lock over, combed it, then used her fingers to measure it to the length of the lock she’d cut before and snipped it off at a sharp angle.
She repeated the process making all the locks from the top of my head the same length. Then she started making the hair next to the clippered area shorter. Ever so slowly she snipped little bits of hair away till there was a gentle transition from the sides to the top.
When she was done and turned to put the scissors and comb on the counter, I took the opportunity to run my hand through my hair. The way it glided through without getting stuck was strange but pleasant. It was barely long enough to flop back and forth. I was pretty sure that once the curls were back, it would no longer flop at all.
“Better?” Chris asked hopefully. “Your hand’s not shaking.”
“I’m getting over the shock.” I said, and forced a smile. “I like it better than the inbetween length.”
“Do you just like it like this, and want me to clean up the edges?” Chris asked, sounding relieved. “Or can I taper it?”
“I’d like the sides to look less boxy.” I said, unsure if tapering them would increase or decrease the boxy feel.
“I’ll taper it then.” Chris said decisively, and reached for the clipper.
The clunk and hum didn’t startle me as much when she began. Her firm hand holding my head was oddly comforting. She ran the clippers up the side of my head, pulling them away more gradually at the top than she had the first time.
She kept going back over everything she’d already used them on, for a while. I just closed my eyes and relaxed into it. Letting her hand move me. Feeling the guard’s teeth press into my scalp. She’d pause every now and then, change something on the clippers, then come back and work a little more. Gradually, she worked more at the bottom and less on the top.
Then something changed. Instead of plastic teeth against my scalp, I felt something different. It was harder, metallic, sharper and not spaced out. The vibration felt like it was directly against my skin. I opened my eyes, suspicious that the clippers no longer had a guard on them. I couldn’t actually see till Chris pulled away for a moment as she moved my head. When I did see I was right, there was no guard on them anymore, she was using the bare blades.
It terrified me, but there really wasn’t anything to do about it, so I just closed my eyes and prayed she knew what she was doing as I felt the blades scrape down my neck.
When Chris turned off the clipper and came back, she just started brushing me off with her hands, instead of turning on the clippers again. I opened my eyes.
There I was? I looked at myself, a beautiful woman stared back at me. I had always thought of my hair as one of my best features, but now that there was so much less of it, I realized it had claimed that place in part simply because it had been my most overwhelming feature. Now that it was tamed, my stormy eyes stood out. My whole face was open and visible. The taper accentuated the neck Chris had commented on.
The thing that made my hair special was still there. It was still an amazing fiery red, there just were no longer overwhelming quantities of it.
It wasn’t that I was totally sold on the idea. It was way more butch than my usual sporty feme style. I kind of missed the overwhelming quantities of curls. I felt exposed and vulnerable. But, I could see and appreciate why Chris had wanted this. This wasn’t bad, just very different.
“Do you like it?” Chris asked eagerly.
I nodded, then asked “Do you?”
“Are you kidding?” Chris beamed as she petted down the back of my head. “I want to tell you how gorgeous this is in a thousand ways, but since I did it that feels immodest. I so love that you were up for trying this.”
Then Chris removed the towel with hair just embedded in its fibers from my shoulders, and hugged me again. “Let’s give it a quick wash, I want to make sure the curls are going to do what I think they will, and it will remove the clipper oil. I may have used just a touch too much when I lubricated the blades.”
As I got up, hair spilled off my lap. I brushed as much as I could from the sweatpants, but some of it was just embedded in the fibers just like with the towel. The socks were really hairy too.
“Do you want to just take them off?” Chris asked tentatively.
“I guess the t-shirt is long enough to work as a night shirt.” I shrugged and started pulling down the baggy pants.
I put the pants and socks on top of the towel, and looked around. Obviously most of my hair was bundled into the two ponytails on the counter, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t a huge pile of hair surrounding the stool. I was pretty sure the amount of my hair that was going to be in the garbage soon far exceeded the quantity I had left on my head. I looked down at the lustrous pile. (Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry. Please just don’t cry. Chris is so happy it will just upset her.)
I looked over my shoulder at the mirror before following Chris to the bath tub. With just the t-shirt that reached mid-thigh level, I actually felt a lot more femine. I knelt down in front of the tub on the bath mat, that was fortunately far enough away from the stool where Chris had shorn me that it wasn’t covered in hair. I rested my arms on the side of the tub and bent my head forward and let Chris begin to wash what little was left of my hair.
Of course, she only had the two-in-one. I told myself it didn’t matter anymore, I didn’t need conditioner anymore. Then I thought about all the haircare stuff I had at home. All the haircare stuff I had bought without thinking twice when the money had come easily. All the haircare stuff I had sacrificed other things for when the money got tight. All the suddenly useless haircare stuff I’d carefully packed when I left the city.
I let myself cry. It seemed like a good time since the tears would just mix in with the water that was already dripping from my face anyway. It seemed like a moment I could get away with crying quietly without Chris noticing.
Chris turned off the water, and placed a clean towel over the back of my head. I lifted a corner of it to dry my face, while Chris rubbed the bulk of it vigorously over my very short hair. She then helped me up, allowing the towel to drape around my shoulders. It was just barely damp, not soaking. Hair wasn’t dripping down my back. I raised my hand to my hair, the sides were almost dry already just from being toweled off.
I turned to face the mirror, I looked small and vulnerable without my mane, almost waif-like. Chris stood behind me, strong and tall, her bright smile melting my heart.
“You look so perfect,” she whispered as she began to nibble my ear.
I smiled, trying not to let the regret I felt show. I looked down at the pile of hair on the floor and wanted out of the bathroom.
“Can the clean up wait till tomorrow? Can we go to bed?” Then ever so neutrally I asked, “Where am I sleeping?”
“Where do you want to sleep?” Chris asked cautiously.
“Somewhere I will be held.” I let slip, the desire I’d been trying to control escaping into my voice.
I needed to be in her arms so so badly at that moment. There was the passion that had clouded my judgment into making me do this even though I KNEW it had been a bad idea. I needed to know that I had done this for someone who was actually going to love me back. I needed to know she was going to place her hand on the back of my head like she’d described. I needed someone to comfort me through the regret. And, I just plain was scared to face the world like this, looking like a dyke in a rural conservative place. I needed her.
“Ok,” she said tenderly. “Do you want to sleep in my bed?”
“Yes” I breathed out as I turned in her arms.
She bent slightly and kissed me. Filling me with urgency. Her hand went to my neck, then up onto the back of my head, not pressing me roughly the way men often did, just there steady.
Chris led me to her room. Once there we resumed kissing. She pulled me to her bed, we both sat on the edge of it, our hands lingering on eachother, exploring, stroking. Tension building.
“Can I?” I asked as I toyed with the hem of her tanktop.
“Yes,” she breathed in my ear as she began to nibble it, “please.”
I lifted it up, revealing her slightly curved breasts. Her nipples hardened in the cool air. She lay back on the quilt, her nipples pointing up to the ceiling, as I moved to kneel above her. I circled one of the perfect pink protrusions with the tip of my finger, it becoming harder with the attention. I bent forward and began to suck on it, teasing it with my tongue.
Chris’ hands soon found their way down to the hem of the t-shirt I wore. She slowly began to lift it up, forcing me to stop enjoying her breast briefly so she could take it off. Her hands reached up and began exploring my body, squeezing my soft breast.
I moved my hands down to the waistband of her pajama pants. I paused and looked in her eyes, she nodded. I started sliding them down. I kissed her soft bare belly, I started pulling down her panties, revealing her rounded pussy.
“May I?” I asked as I lowered my head towards her waiting pussy.
“God yes!” she invited me eagerly.
I spread her apart, and dived down into her folds, I began to suck her swollen clit, my chin sliding against her dripping labia. My hands massaged her soft mons as I pressed my tongue in. She moaned and begged me to continue, harder, more, faster.
Finally, she shuddered in pleasure. She ogasmed so strong I could feel the pulse in her clit.
I lay next to her, waiting, eager. She turned to face me. She reached over and stroked up my neck and into my hair. I hoped it felt velvety the way she’d imagined it. She pulled me towards her, and began kissing. It was strong and passionate, her tongue thrusting into my mouth, her lips pressed to mine, her fingers tips kneading the shorn hair.
Her other hand stroked down my body, searching till it came to my panties. She sat up next to me, and started playing with the elastic of my panties.
“Do you want…?” she asked as she began to ease my panties down.
I nodded. Her hands pressed against my thighs as she pulled the underwear down my legs. She lifted and opened my legs. Her soft short hair brushed my thighs as she lowered her face to my drenched womanhood. She pressed my clit with her tongue and began to pleasure me. Teasing, pressing, licking. Then finally when I was about to burst, sucking, making me cum so hard it felt like my uterus spasmed.
She lay back down next to me, she stroked my cheek for a few moments, then began nibbling my ear. I reached down, wanting to fondle inside her folds, but my arms weren’t long enough so I started gently pinching her nipple instead. She started kissing down to my neck, then nipping and sucking it. Then she nuzzled her nose into my hair.
“Again?” she asked her lips next to my ear.
She moved her body, so that her fingers could reach inside me and her own pussy was in my reach. I began rubbing, her slick pussy. I started putting fingers inside, as I felt her inserting fingers into me. We both bagan press them, matching each other’s rhythms, I felt her thumb press against my clit, as her fingers pressed towards my g-spot. I matched her position, rubbing her clit with my thumb. We both intensified it, pressing harder and faster.
We orgasmed again together.
We both lay there for a while keeping the pressure up on our pulsating bodies.
When we were both finally ready, Chris wrapped her body around mine, letting me be the little spoon as she held me, her cheek resting on the back of my head.
“I know it’s too soon, but I think I’m falling in love with you,” Chris whispered sleepily.
“Me too.” I whispered back as I pressed my body into her and contemplated the possibility of a life together I knew it was too soon to plan for.