St. Claires Special

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Rain poured from the sky as two girls and a young boy stepped out of a black vehicle. The Oldest of the girls held a large suitcase which held all their belongings. The two youngest, a set of twins splashed in some of the mud puddles that were outside of a large stone building that read St. Claire’s Orphanage.

“Stop playing in the mud!” The oldest yelled, trying to control her 8-year-old siblings.

 

Melody aged 14 never thought she would be standing outside an orphanage, with her two younger siblings Rose and Jack. Their parents had perished in an apartment fire. They moved in with their grandmother, but they grew gravely ill and were unable to take care of them. With not a single family member or friend able to take care of them, they were subjected to an orphanage. Melody wondered if their family would remain together or if they would be adopted out separately.

 

Trying to cover her head of long golden hair with newspaper, Melody corralled her siblings up to the steps of the orphanage. Melody and Rose made a pact to never cut their hair after their mother died as it reminded them of her. Melody would braid her sister’s hair every morning, just like her mother did. If Jack had long hair like them, she would do the same. Instead, Jacks hair had grown to a scruffy mess.

 

Melody banged the door handle, hoping it would alert whoever was inside that there were freezing kids outside.

 

To Melody’s delight, the door opened and revealed a young girl, close to her age in a plain grey pinafore dress and plain black shoes. The girl wore a plain black headband that set in a head of curls that were cropped into a short perm.

 

“You must be the Benjamin’s; we’ve been expecting you.” The girl’s voice was like silk. “Dear me, you must come out of the rain, you must be terribly cold. My name is Maria,” she said, opening the door wide for the siblings to step inside.

 

When they stepped in, Melody tried to wipe her brown. In merely seconds, she had been drenched by the rain. Her hair was soaked, and she shivered.

 

“Stay here, I’ll bring the sister,” Maria said quickly before scurrying off to another room.

It didn’t take long for Maria to return with another girl in the same uniform and similar hairstyle. Followed by them was a woman dressed in religious garb and a handful of white towels.

 

“The Benjamin’s I presume? You must be Melody, Rose, and Jack,” the sister clarified. “I’m sister Monica, take these towels and dry yourselves off. Take off your shoes and socks at the door, you won’t need them anymore here.” The sister said, handing out the towels. “Oh, Father Jimmy, do be a dear and take young Jack to the boy’s dormitory and get him sorted out. Could probably do with a bath now that it looks like he’s been playing in the mud outside.”

 

Melody and her siblings were never ones to be affiliated with church or nuns. Their family wasn’t religious, but she knew that they would have to follow religious rules at the orphanage. She didn’t want to, but she wasn’t considered old enough to take care of her siblings, and nor did she want to separate herself from her siblings.

 

“Jenny dear, can you collect the shoes and socks, they can get cleaned up and get put in the donation bin,” Sister Monica chimed, and the redhead with short poodle curls and a black headband nodded her head and collected their belongings.

 

“Maria do be a darling and take their bags to the girl’s dormitory. I’ll take them to the salon to get sorted out into some clean dry clothes.”

 

Melody was starting to feel like there were going to be a lot of rules in this orphanage. It was eerie that Maria and Ginny shared the same hairstyle. It made her fiddle with the ends of her damp knotting hair.

 

“Now girls, I know this will likely be a shock for you, but I assure you, the more you just accept the fact that you’re here, the easier things will go. Our orphanage has the highest rate of adoptions each month. We hold ourselves to a high standard and make sure all the children are taught manners and act in a respectable way. Many high-class families adopt the children here and they don’t want unrespectable children.”

 

Melody gulped as the sister explained the rules of the orphanage as they walked past rooms. She peered in rooms they walked by. They were filled with students sitting properly at desks. What struck her more was the uniform cuts the boys had and the poodle perms the girls had. Some boys had their hair cut to a uniform buzz, while some of the older boys had a short haircut with a neat part. The older the girls got, the shorter the hair got.

Though Rose wasn’t catching on, Melody sure was. She was also coming to the realization that the salon was probably not just meat for getting changed into the orphanage’s uniform. After walking up a large staircase, Sister Monica lead Melody and Rose into a large room filled with salon equipment. There were three salon chairs and hair dryers.

 

“Sister Marie?” Sister Monica called out and out appeared another nun. “Are the baths prepared? I’m sure these young girls would enjoy a warm bath after standing out in that cursed weather.”

 

“Yes sister, they are. They are filled with hot water and soap.”

 

“Good, now Melody and young Rose. There should be some clips in the bathing room, just clip up your hair, no need to wash it, we will deal with that after. For now, take your wet clothes off and have a bath. I will bring you your uniforms after.”

 

The nun left Melody and Rose in a tiled room with porcelain tubs. Two of the tubs steamed as they were filled with water. Melody wasn’t sure her sister Rose knew what was about to happen. The only thing she cared about was stripping to the nude and hopping in one of the tubs, drenching their hair, not caring for what the sister told them to.

Carefully, Melody removed her clothes and used one of the clips that the sister said was available to tie her hair up in a messy bun. She then stepped into the tub and sunk her tiny body into it. It had been a while since she had a bath to herself. In her grandmother’s house, she had to share the water amongst her siblings, by the time her grandmother finished using it, the water was cold for herself and freezing for Jack and Rose.

Melody hoped that they would have some time to bathe and clean themselves until the nun returned, unfortunately, that was not the case and the nun knocked on the door and opened it.

 

“Alright girls, unplug those tubs and dry yourselves off. Let’s see if these uniforms fit.” The nun said hastily. When she caught sight of Rose, Monica’s cheery demeanour became cross. “Rose you silly thing, I told you to put your hair up. Now it’s drenched.”

 

Melody was about to speak up for her sister when the nun was cross with her. “Do you take no control of your younger siblings? You should have told her to listen.”

 

She was at a loss for words.

 

“Sorry sister…” Melody said, unsure of what to say.

 

While the sister dealt with Rose’s hair, trying to towel dry it off, Melody gingerly changed into the drab-looking grey pinafore dress.

 

Melody was pulled from her daydream when she heard a shriek coming from the salon door. It was her brother. Melody quickly through open the door as she thought her brother was in trouble. To her site, there was a large man in a barber’s uniform and Father Jimmy trying to control Jack, trying to get him into the barber’s chair.

 

“Now that will be quite enough out of you,” the pastor to Jack in his new uniform, formal shirt, and jacket with formal shorts. The pastor managed to grab Jack in a way where his drawers were pulled down and he was laid over the pastor’s knee and several slaps of the pastor’s hand collided with Jacks’s bottom. “Now stop your crying, if you continue to behave badly, I’ll have Barber Sam shave you to the bone.

While Jack cried, he submitted himself to the big chair.

 

Melody watched in horror as the barber put a paper strip around her brother’s neck and followed with a red and white striped cape.

 

“There will be no scruffiness in my salon,” the barber said gruffly. “Dry your tears, it will be over soon. Soon, you’ll be bursting at the seams to come sit in this chair to keep your hair neat and tidy. Especially if ye want to get adopted. No right family would adopt someone with hair like this.”

 

Melody watched with shaky legs as the barber sprayed down Jack’s hair and combed it into sections and began taking a pair of scissors, trimming down inches of hair.

 

“I hate this!” Jack demanded. “Melody, make them stop,” Jack yelled.

 

The pastor struck Jack’s cheek with his hand.

 

“Give him a #1.” The Pastor said annoyed that Jack wasn’t cooperating.

 

“No, no, please don’t,” Jack cried as the Pastor held Jack’s arms to the chair as the barber reached for the electric clippers and strongly held the boy’s chin up as he plowed the clippers down the middle of Jacks’ head. The clippers were ruthless now that Jack’s hair had been reduced with scissors beforehand.

 

Soon, Jack was in nothing but tears as he had been reduced to nothing but stubble on his head. When he was released from his confinement of the chair, he ran over to Melody and hugged her tightly.

 

“I don’t want to stay here,” he cried.

 

“Dry your tears Jack,” Sister Monica. “Good families adopt children who look proper. Your sisters will be receiving a proper look that will suit them for adoption as well. Now, follow Pastor Jimmy and he will introduce you to some of the boys. Melody tried to console Jack as he clung to Melody’s new uniform.

 

“I don’t want to!” He yelled.

 

“Be a good boy Jack,” the Pastor said. “Otherwise, I just might have to give you another licking.”

 

“Can’t you let him shed a tear?” Melody asked, trying to pry him from the increasing crosswords of the Pastor. It was no longer just Jack clinging to Melody as Rose joined in. It didn’t take long to deduce that she too had received a swift spanking as Jack had.

 

“You will find out soon, Melody, that you are not in control. Parents don’t want children that are unruly and filled with tears. They want respectable young men and ladies. And right now, none of you seem fitting. Which is why we are fixing you up.

 

Pastor pried Jack away from me and a soft yelp escaped as I watched the Pastors hand strike on Jack’s bottom again. My heart tugged as I watched my younger brother hold his backside and walk with a funny step as he left the salon.

 

“Now, both of you will sit in one of those chairs while I retrieve the hairdressers. They will see to it that you will have a respectable hairstyle for respectable children. If you decide to kick up a fuss while Barber Sam is here cleaning up, he can see that you receive a hairstyle of his picking.”

 

Unsteadily Melody helped Rose to one of the nearby chairs and helped her sit down before moving to the chair beside it. She pulled her hair out from the clip and looked at it in the mirror, just wondering what was going to happen to it. Melody feared that as the salon smelled strongly of lacquer and perm solution, something similar would be used on her own hair.

 

How short would her hair become? She wondered if she had any chance of bargaining with the stylist.

 

It felt like hours as they waited for the sister to retrieve the stylists. The barber kept an eye on Melody and Rose, spouting off words about orphans being dirty and this was the best place they had a chance. It had Melody thankful when the sister returned with two old women with puffy perms, smelling strongly of lacquer and smoke.

 

“Now Rose and Melody, this is Jenny and Sharlene. You are to listen to whatever they say and tell you to do. If you cause problems, they have the authority to deal with you as they see fit. So, I suggest you use your manners unless you would like to sit on your bottoms in that chair without pain.”

 

“Don’t worry now sister, we shall have them taken care of. The St. Claire’s Standard as we say. And I dare say Melody looks old enough for the St. Claire’s Special.” One of the old women said. While Melody had hoped that the special would allow her to retain some hair, she was sure it meant the opposite.

 

Sharlene, the older woman walked over to Melody while Jenny walked over to Rose.

 

“Now let’s see what we’re dealing with here,” Sharlene said, grabbing Melody’s hair tightly, examining the tangles that were in it from the rain. The old stylist took a brush and roughly started to brush through the tangles. “My dear God girl, you have ahead of hair here. Must take you ages to deal with it each morning.” Sharlene said.

 

“Ow,” Melody let out as Sharlene was roughly pulling at her hair.

 

“Oh, don’t put up a fuss,” Sharlene said. “Soon you will have an easy head of hair to deal with, just like all the other girls and ladies in this orphanage. Quick and easy to take care of, wasting no time bathing.”

 

Sharlene wasted no time and covered Melody with a thick cape, fastening it tightly around her neck. “Now, I’ll be getting rid of the bulk of your hair, no need washing all of it when it’s just going to come off.”

 

Stricken with fear, Melody stood up and tried to move away from the chair.

 

“No, no, my hair is quite fine with the way it is.”

 

Sharlene looked cross as Melody held her own tantrum. Melody would have continued if it wasn’t for the fact that the large barber came over to convince her to sit down. “If you plan to continue to act like that, I’ll give you the same cut as yer brother did. Now sit yer self-down and allow Sharlene to do yer hair. Anymore fight out of yas and I’ll take you over my knee and take a flat handled brush and give ye some swift thrashings.”

 

The barber’s thick Scottish voice pierced through Melody like ice.

 

“Now apologize to Sharlene and sit.”

 

It took a moment before Melody was able to give herself the composure and sit down in the chair that seemed ten times bigger than it had been before.

 

“Sorry…”

 

Sharlene retrieved Melody’s hair and pulled it tight, reaching for a pair of shears to do their damage. Melody’s fear became tenfold as she looked over to see her sister as Jenny was cutting through inches of golden locks, locks that she had once braided.

 

“I don’t like this, I don’t like this,” she cried. Jenny ignored Rose’s wails as she had been left with nothing more than a few inches all the way around.

 

“See, your sister is taking it, now it is your turn,” Sharlene said. “Get it cut nice and short, a good clarifying wash and then we will prepare it for a nice and respectable perm.

 

Reluctantly, Melody watched as Sharlene took a lock of hair and sliced through it like paper. The crunch of the hair as it fell in her lap made her feel sick. Sharlene made a swift work and worked all the way around Melody’s hair, reducing it to nothing but a short bob.

 

“I don’t know why it seems to be common for girls and young ladies to wear their hair down, or in silly braids,” Sharlene commented dully as Melody began to hear the crunch of the scissors as Sharlene started to roughly cut her hair. Melody could no longer watch what was happening to her sister as the stylist forced her head forward. Melody watched as uneven chunks of hair were sawed off from her head and fell onto her lap.

 

Melody’s head became increasingly lighter as Sharlene made her way around, sending locks that once reached her waist to the floor.

 

Snip, snip, snip, the scissors went.

 

“There’s soap in my eyes,” Rose cried, causing Melody to look towards her sister who had been pushed forward in her chair over the washbowl in front of the mirror.

 

“Well stop moving then,” Jenny commented.

 

“There we go, there’s the bulk of it,” Sharlene commented, bringing Melody back to reality as she looked down in her lap to see all the golden locks that were once on her head now on the floor. Sharlene moved the chair closer to the washbowl in front of her. “Now, leaned over into the bowl. The less you wiggle the fewer suds you’ll get in your eyes.

 

Sharlene forcefully guided Melody’s head into the washbasin. When she tried to hold her head up, Sharlene forced it back down and cold water started to spray over the top of her head. Melody clutched the chair.

 

“That’s cold,” she shrieked.

 

“Suck it up, it will get warmer,” Sharlene mentioned.

 

It didn’t take long for Melody’s hair to be thoroughly saturated. When Sharlene was happy with the wetness, she filled her hands with shampoo that smelled of flowers. Melody didn’t like the smell of it as it reminded her of the soap her grandfather used on his body. Melody bared with the rough treatment as Sharlene dug her sharp nails into her hair. If it wasn’t for the awkward placement over the water bowl, Melody may have found herself enjoying it. When Sharlene felt that Melody’s hair was clean enough, she once again started the water and Melody squeezed her eyes shut as she felt water and suds stream into them. Her eyes burned.

 

When her hair was rinsed, Sharlene roughly dried Melody’s hair with a towel and set her upright again in the chair. “Hmmmm,” Sharlene pondered as she moved Melody’s hair around. “Definitely something tight, and properly short.” With scissors and comb in her hands, she sectioned Melody’s hair and brushed what was left of her hair in front of her face.

 

“Oh god, please not bangs,” Melody shuddered.

 

“Don’t worry darling when your perm is. Done they won’t even look like bangs.” Sharlene’s cold voice protruded as small snips were made, devouring the bangs to be cut well above the eyebrows, just enough to be able to fit the tiniest of perm rods in it. Sharlene continued in the brutal desecration of Melody’s locks by shortening the hair until it was just over a couple of inches. All over.

 

“There, that’s the cutting done. Now just need to roll it.

 

Sharlene wasted no time sectioning Melody’s hair into several rows. Taking the tiniest of rods, Sharlene began to roll Melody’s hair from front to back. The stylist’s tight rolling pushed Melody and her sister to tears as they rolled the rods as tight as they could. The process was long as it took over an hour to roll each individual rod.

 

When each of the rods was tightly fashioned to each girl’s head, cotton wool was wrapped around the edges of their hair. Melody remembered this process being done to her grandmother. She also knew that the next thing they would experience is the nasty-smelling perming solution.

 

“Tilt your head back now, Melody dear, don’t want you getting any of this stuff in your eyes,” Sharlene insisted, tilting Melody’s head back as far as it would. Melody closed her eyes, red from the previous crying. She was tired of receiving the treatment that she had. She hoped that by shutting her eyes she could wake up from this nightmare. Instead, the smell of the perming solution and its chilly feeling struck her scalp.

 

Melody tried to block out the sounds of the salon, her sister was still putting up a fuss, crying about the smell and that her scalp hurt because of how tight the rods were. Melody felt her head grow heavier as it became saturated with the perm solution.

 

“I used a special blend for you. It’s going to make your curls extra tight and curly,” Sharlene chided, even though Melody would have been perfectly fine with the regular. “Next step is to get you under a hot dryer, then we will get the neutralizer in, and finally, your St. Claire’s special.”

 

Melody didn’t understand anything that Sharlene was saying as she walked across the room to get the dryer and fit it atop her head. When Sharlene turned on the dryer, Melody couldn’t hear anything except the blaring heat. She couldn’t even hear her sister complain about how hot the dryer was.

 

Melody and Rose spent the next between sitting under the dryer and having the perm solution washed out and being neutralized. Melody had the chance to look at Rose’s hair. It was a short poodle perm, but it was clear her sister had more hair than her. Melody was jealous of her sister. While Jenny puttered about using a pick in Rose’s hair to make it fluffy with the addition of a ribbon.

“There, you’re all done now Rose,” Jenny said, removing the cape around Rose. Rose quickly scrambled over to the chair towards her sister, Melody. While rose tried to hug Melody and cling to her, Sharlene shooed her away.

 

“Jenny will take you to Sister Monica, your sister’s not done yet. We will find you when she is done,” Sharlene said. Sharlene made true of Jenny’s words as Jenny grabbed Rose Tightly by the arm and pulled her away.

 

“What else needs to be done,” Melody asked, afraid of the answer.

 

“You need a nice and tidy high and tight neckline. Young ladies like yourself need no curls covering the tips of their ears,” Sharlene said as Melody watched in horror as a large set of wired clippers were picked up and turned on. They made a frightful sound the closer they got to Melody’s head.

 

“You’re going to shave me?” Melody yelled out.

 

Once again with fear, Melody leapt up from the chair, determined to get away from the treatment she was facing. To her dismay, the large barber was within close distance and tightly grabbed each of Melody’s arms.

“I told ye what would happen if ye acted like this,” the barber said gruffly and pushed Melody over his knee. Sharlene even helped the barber keep her over the knee as the barber lifted the skirt of Melody’s uniform, exposing the white panties. The barber made quick work of pulling the panties down and using the flat end of the brush to spank Melody’s bottom.

 

Melody cried out as each of her cheeks was smacked several times.

 

“Now, are ye gonna be nice for Sharlene and let her finish her work or am I gonna have to tie ye to the chair and shave ye bald?” the barber yelled firmly.

 

With Melody’s eyes filled with salty tears once more she cried out,” yes, I will.”

 

Melody hated saying those words as she lifted her panties and the barber forced her back into the chair.

 

“Now look down,” Sharlene instructed as she forced Melody to press her chin to her chest. The frightful sound of the clippers resumed and soon she felt the clippers start to run up her neck. She was hoping it would just be her neck, but the clippers began to eat all the way up her nape and through the middle of the crown.

 

Pass after pass the clippers worked all the way over the sides of her head. Sharlene bent Melody’s ears down to make sure there was nothing much left than stubble and blended hair the closer it reached the top of her head.

 

“Almost done now,” Sharlene said. We just need to make sure that nape is shaven neat and tidy.”

 

Melody watched as Sharlene began to spread a thick layer of shaving foam along her nape.

 

“You best not move, otherwise I might nick your skin.”

 

Melody had reserved herself to the fate that she had received. She kept her head low while Sharlene ran the straight razor over the shaving cream, reducing her nape to smooth skin. Sharlene finished Melody off by wiping the excess shaving cream off.

 

“And finally, you are done, looking like a smart young lady. Old enough you don’t need a silly ribbon or headband. I bet there will be many people wanting to adopt you. Now, we will see you in this room every Sunday to receive a new set in your hair and then make sure you have a nice clean nape. There is no untidy hair in this place,” Sharlene mentioned.

 

“Now, let’s go find sister Monica, she will want to give you a proper tour of the place.”

 

Melody felt numb as she stood up. She could barely bring herself to look at herself in the mirror. She looked at the floor where once all her precious hair were on top of her head. Melody lifted her hands to feel her hair. Sharlene had used a thick lacquer to make the curls stiff. It was a foreign feeling to feel no hair on her nape.

 

Melody felt 50 years older than she really was.

 

She hated it.

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