Clara’s life sucked.
Drugs. Smoking. Wild joyriding in the family van. The final straw was when Ms Gibbs, the 10th Grade Biology teacher who had deplored Clara from the start, found her making out with her boyfriend, Josh, in her office. It was final.
Clara Ward was expelled from Emmerson High School.
It wasn’t just her. Her two BFFs and partners-in-crime, Brooklyn Hawthorne and Evie Cassidy, were flushed out as well. Josh been let off on a simple suspension, but Clara heard on a late-night phone call between her mother and his parents that he was going to military school.
As soon as she ran back to her room, she FaceTimed her two besties, whose parents were apparently making secret, suspicious phonecalls as well.
“Military School?” Brooklyn shook her head. “God forbid I ever go near one.”
“Well, we do have to go somewhere,” Evie commented. “My parents have been nagging me every single day on how if I could just be like Gloria and be a good daughter, everything would be so much better. As if,”
Gloria Cassidy was the all-around perfect girl. Valedictorian at high school, head of the Debating team, consistent mathlete for 5 years, accepted into Duke University. Evie was nothing compared to her sister, and she knew it.
“Wonder how Josh is doing,” Brooklyn fiddled with her chocolate brown waist-length hair, which she had done into braided pigtails today.
“Really awful, if I know who I was dating,” Clara giggled. “He’s totally vanity boy,”
“And you’re totally vanity girl,” Evie interjected, and all of them laughed.
“Clara!” her mother’s yell jolted her. “Come down at once!”
“Coming!” she yelled back, before turning back to the screen. Brooklyn and Evie looked annoyed as well.
“My parents are calling, have to go,” Brooklyn muttered. “So annoying. Are you two the same?”
Clara and Evie nodded, and the video call ended. Clara lumbered back into the living room, where her parents were waiting with stern expressions on their faces.
“Sit down,” her father said sharply.
Calra dragged the chair out from under the table and sat down.
“We have found a school for you,” her mother sighed. “St Grace’s School For Troubled Teenagers. It’s a private school for girls with…discipline problems. Evie and Brooklyn are going as well. An ambassador from the school with come and pick you up in 10 minutes.”
“Isn’t that a bit sudden?” Clara frowned. “There’s no time to pack!”
“There is no need to pack,” her mother countered. “The ambassador has everything ready for you. I am giving you one more chance ot redeem yourself to us before I throw you out of the house.. I suggest you take it.”
Thus, Clara, Evie, and Brooklyn found themselves sitting on the bench in front of their former high school, where a bus from St Grace’s was scheduled to pick them up.
Sure enough, a large, white and green bus appeared in front of them and honked its horn. The trio, not seeing an alternative, got in.
Waiting for them were 6 girls, all with long hair and skimpy clothes, faces full of makeup, looking annoyed. Probably popular girls who had gone one step too far, like them. The person driving looked at the three of them and smiled. She had auburn hair tied in a tight top knot, and was wearing a business suit.
“Hello!” she said. “Welcome to the St Grace’s Familiy! It looks like you have your work cut out for you, but I’m sure we’ll be great friends throughout the school year!”
At the back, someone shouted, “How many more times are you going to say that?”
“No more times,” the lady smiled her creepy smile. “This is our last pickup. It’s straight to St Grace’s from now on!”
Clara, Evie, and Brooklyn sat down, looking around at their fellow classmates-to-be. The girls next to them leered at them.
“Hey,” the supposed leader, a girl with blonde hair in waist-length curls waved at them, her hands all carefully manicured. “I’m Rachelle. These are my friends, Diane and Eunice.”
Diane had red hair done in a braid, while Eunice had jet-black hair in a long, hanging a-line bob. Both of them just glowered at Clara.
The tiro introced themselves, but Clara understood the power struggle. It was like putting a pack of lions against each other. She tried to pass the time by looking out of one of the van’s blacked-out windows, Her reflection stared back at her, perfect as always. Her glossy platinum-blonde hair, straight and flawless, fell down to her waist. Her heart-shaped face was the envy of all, with sharp green eyes and long eyelashes. Her angluar nose was the direct inheritance of her father and maybe the only part of Clara’s face that she was insecure about, but the weight and volume of her hair helped cover it most of the time. She glanced at Evie’s visage, which was next to her. Curlyy back hair braided into cornrows, which reached around her mid-back. Once, she had taken the plunge and dyed them all brown, and hints of that coloring still remaining. To be honest, clara was a bit envious of Evie’s 100% tan-worthy dark skin, so different to her delicate pale skin, which burned an unsightly tomato red when exposed too much.
Moments passed, and the view outside slowly changed from cityscape to a more rural plane. Mountains surrounded them. The number of cars that passed them gradually decreased. The van’s journeey became bumpier, and it was a lot harder to sit back and relax.
Just as she was about to mention that to Evie and Brooklyn though, she caught a whiff of cloroform, and her eyes drooped shut.
“Hey girls~! Wakey wakey!”
When Clara awoke, she was in a large white hall, a far cry from the van she could have swore she was in. She tried to blink the sleepiness out of her eyes, when the truth came back to her.
“You drugged us!” she yelled. “That’s illegal!”
The lady looked to her direction, but she wasn’t smiling anymore. She closed in on Clara, and before she could realize, slapped her hard on her cheek.
“Ow!” she squealed.
“The sooner you realize we can do whatever we want to you, the sooner you’ll lear,” the woman(devil?) sneered. “From now on, all of you will address me as ‘Ma’am, ‘ and follow my every order, or a punishment similar to Miss Ward’s will await you. We are determined to change you into better people, and the sooner and easier you can do that, the easier it is for all of us.
She produced a large plastic bag out of nowhere and started spreading out clothes. “These will be your uniforms from today onwards. I suggest you get dressed in them quickly, because you all have your initialization haircuts and room assignments to get through by today.”
Her cheek still stinging, Clara slowly went through the contents of what were passed to her. A white dress shirt with a butterfly collar. A back tie. A green blazer and skirt set, with the long conservative skirt not even exposing her knees. Her bra and undies were both completely white and plain as well. She felt trapped in the lack of pretiness in this spartan regime. She made to pull her hair out from inside the collar when she was done when she remembered. The woman mentioned somethhing about initiation haircuts.
How much were they going to cut? Why?
She tried to stop the tears from flowing out of her. Here wasn’t a group of teddy bears. One tear could mark her as a weakling. Sure enough, no one else was crying, thought they all seemed in varying levels of shock.
Once the last person(Eunice) was done, ‘Ma’am’ led them all single-file out of the preparation chamber and into a large hall.
What was waiting for the 9 new initates was a great Chamber, with about a hundred green-suited girls staring eagerly at them.
<em>There aren’t many people here,</em> Clara thought. <em> Were all of these Queen Bees in their prime? How unfortunate they’re so…dry now. Wait, that’s going to happen to me.</em>
That thought made Clara shiver, and she clutched her hair for what might be the last time. At the front of hall was a large stage, with one rickety seat and a small table in the middle. On the table, unmistakably, was pair of sciccors and some large heavy-duty clippers.
The lady in charge went up the stage and took a piece of paper out. “Welcome students and staff, to our biterm meeting. This term, we have a whopping 9 new initiates. Evie Cassidy, Eunice Coleman, Sky Davis, Diana Flame, Brooklyn Hawthrone, Rachelle Laurent, Clara Ward, Florence Wellington, and Bella Ziemann, in order of their last names. Now, they will receive their initiation haircuts. Miss Cassidy, you first.”
Clara was third last. Thank goodness. Still, she was worried as her bestie went up the stage with trembling steps, and sat into the chair. The lady grabbed her hair with no mercy and tied it back into a ponytail. Then, she caped Evie with a bright ugly red cape. She could see pretty clearly that Evie was shaking as the merciless teacher brought those scissors into the scene.
Clara was appalled, but as much she hated to admit it, she was pretty interested in what was going to happen.
However, just as she lifted the scissors, someone pushed Clara back into the hall. It was another teacher, a woman as well. She was tall and imposing, with shiny tan skin and dark hair that reached her chin. The nametag around her neck revealed that her name was “Ms Packard.”
“You aren’t supposed to be outside of the hall until it’s your turn for the procedure,” she said warningly, waggling her finger at the remaining 8 girls. “Who let you out?”
“The red-headed woman. She didn’t tell us her name.” Clara said.
“You mean Miss Wellman,” Ms Packard shook her head. “She’s an alumni of this school as well, you know, but she’s only worked here for a short while. Really, her attitude has gotten so <em>rotten</em> after she started to grow her hair again…”
Rachelle squeaked, and Ms Packard raised an eyebrow. “You scared, girlie?”
Altough Rachelle did not respond, the answer was written all over her face. Of course she was scared.
“You know, all of this was avoidable,” Ms Packard taunted. “If you had all been good girls and listened to your mommies and daddies, none of this would have happened, and you would have been able to hold on to your pretty locks. Well, I guess it’s too late to say any of that now–you should have plenty of time to regret your actions later.”
Just then, a loud cheer erupted from outside, and Eunice’s name was called. The brunette paled, and started to plead. “Please, no no no no no…”
“Go,” Ms Packard ordered, no hint of mercy in her thick voice. “NOW!”
Slowly, shakily, tears now freely running down her face, Eunice walked towards her fate.
The rest of them were trapped. No escape. No way out. They were all going to be like those dry, unattractive girls, smiling and cheering as another joined their ranks, not a hint of their former glamourous selves left behind.
One by one, the girls were called up to their fates. Brooklyn left, brave and stoic, yet unable to be defiant. Rachelle immeadiately tried to bribe and weasel her way out of it, but ended up being dragged, kicking and screaming, to her fate.
Clara had no choice. That’s why, when she heard “Clara Ward!” get screaming, she went, with her head high and her expensive manicure on display, determined to be the Ultimate Material Girl until the very end.
Miss Wellman, as Clara now knew here as, was smiling at her tauntingly. The floor was covered by all sorts of locks—from straight and dark to light and bouncy. She easily recognized her lackies locks among the fray, and jolted at how long they were. She almost hesitated for a moment, but her new teacher grabbed her roughly by the wrist and handcuffed it to the chair.
“Just in case,” she whispered.
Without waiting for a response, she handcuffed the other hand and caped Clara, before taking her pretty hair and sectioning it roughly into parts.
Clara immeadiately knew that this was going to be the worst day of her life, and decided to focus on anything <em>other</em> than the hair that was being chopped off. Unfortunately, the only thing she could focus on left was the audience. All of them had really short haircuts with ridiculous bangs that were only about half an inch long.
<em>Snip.</em> The long strands near her left ear were reduced to only barely grazing the top of it. Soon, most of the rest of the length around her head was reduced to a short ear-length bob. With two quick snips, her bangs were also reduced to the ridiculous ones everyone else had.
Part of her gave a huge sigh of relief that the haircut was over, since if she managed to grow her bangs out more a little bit and got her hands on a bit of gel, she should be able to style the blunt bob in a pretty trendy fashion. However, Clara was not yet unhandcuffed—far from so. To her shock, Miss Wellman grabbed the little hair remaining at the back.
Instinctively, Clara turned around(or tried to, because Miss Wellman pushed her head back into place immediately). “How much more are you going to cut?” she whispered. She hated the emotions she was feeling. Helplessness, humiliation. A sense of knowing the inevitable was her worst nightmare.
“Shh…” Miss Wellman muttered. “Not much more now. You’re going to look so proper when we’re done,”
Clara could feel the cool fan on her neck, and she that there was no hair covering it any more. She could see the piles of her glowing silver-ish hair tickling her ankles.
Then, before she knew it, Miss Wellman pulled the cape off of her and pushed her off the stage. “Go now, sweetie,”
Clara found her resolve crumbling as she wobbled off the stage steps, half in a trance. There was a large oval mirror staring her straight in the face. She now had an extra-short boycut, with barely enough hair to grasp in the back. She had to admit that she didn’t look awful, but she still missed her long locks.
If only that was the end of things…