Tennis team

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Abby’s family moved from back east last summer. Before the girl could even walk into her new school, her mother took her to the beauty parlor to get her hair cut for school. She was not a stranger to a haircut for school. But she never really to have her hair cut. As the beautician wrapped a powder blue cape around the girl and pulled her hair out from under cape, Abby’s mother piped up,”I want her to have an undercut and a straight fringe”

”But mom”,Abby put up a protest,”I don’t want that”

”You are going to a new school, sweetheart”,her mother reasoned,”I want you to make a good impression. And I want no more further talk-back”

How short do you want the undercut to be?”the beady-eyed hairdresser asked.

”As low as you can go”,the girl’s mother requested,”She’s to a preppy, all-girls school. It’s very professional”

”Oh, Helena high”,the hairdresser said as was carving out Abby’s nape-hair and was separating it from the rest of the hair.

”Yes”

”My granddaughter goes there”

”Really”

”Mhm”,the portly woman nodded, grabbing the clippers from the trolley,”She’s a very smart, nice girl”. And with that, the hairdresser flicked on the device. The whirring made Abby go silent as she allowed her head to be bent down.

By the end of it, Abby had a bob. Her fringe was straight and precise. She felt up her nape. There was nothing but very short stubble. The girl wanted to hide but her mother seemed to make her the most famous girl in the world, telling everyone that would hear that her daughter was going to Helena high.

The big day was a rush. The girl woke up to her mother telling her to shower. After she did, her mother insisted that she dress her little girl for school. Why did the school have to have a dress code? The dress code was long-sleeved blouse, vest, blazer, a skirt that fell down to the middle of the girl’s foreleg, really long socks, and loafers. Abby’s mother felt the need to put a red bow in the girl’s hair, exposing her undercut.

Along with dressing her daughter, the woman fed the girl and drove her to school. Abby was embarrassed. She thought everyone was staring at her. Over the course of a week, Abby met a new friend. She was a freshman, like Abby, who had curly hair cut short. Her name was Gale. The two became best friends.

It was a surprise to Abby when she waiting with Gale at the entrance of the school and the woman that had come to pick up Gale was the woman that cut Abby’s hair. She liked that her granddaughter made friends with Abby and complimented the girl on her haircut. Abby couldn’t help but blush at the words.

Fast-forward to spring. The snow was melting fast. Abby still sported a bob with a straight fringe and an undercut. Her mother insisted on maintaining the hairstyle.

Spring sports were coming up. Abby and Gale decided that they should do a sport. Abby heard from the grapevine that tennis sign-ups were on Thursday. The only question that Abby, and Gale, had was to whom was coaching the team. No one knew but that was okay. Abby loved a good mystery.

On Thursday, as Abby was in 2nd period (which was French class), there came an announcement over the intercom.

“To anybody who is interested in tennis”,a high-pitched, sweet voice rang out,”Sign ups will be in the commons at lunch. Thank you”

Abby was ecstatic. She couldn’t wait til the lunch bell rang. When it did, like lightning, the girl briskly walked up to the commons. A woman in a dark beige blouse and long, brown skirt was standing with a clipboard in hand. Abby introduced herself quickly, sort of stuttering as she did so, and said that she was interested in joining the tennis team. The woman smiled warmly,”My, looks like you’re ready to go. Just sign your name here”

The woman handed the girl the clipboard. Abby signed her name, big and bold. She handed the clipboard back and the woman said,”Alrighty, all you need now is a physical. There are forms by the office”

”Ok”,Abby smiled,”By the way, what’s your name?”

”I’m Brigit Cleary”,the woman said proudly, pushing up her glasses slightly,”I’ve coached tennis here for about a decade. And your name is Abby Childs, is that correct?”

”Yes”,Abby smiled sheepishly,”That’s me”

”Well, I know that you’ll be a great asset to the team”

Just then, Gale arrived in the commons and also signed up.

”Well, Miss Gale. I’ve knew since when?”the woman flipped her sandy hair behind her.

”Fifth grade, ma’am”,Gale answered.

”You two are such sweet girls”,Miss Cleary smiled,”And strong. Our team will be stacked with heavy hitters like you two. We may even beat Umberton this year”

The agreed and bid their coach goodbye as they went to go grab physical forms. At home, Abby gave her mother the form, which had the activity handbook as the last page which Abby didn’t bother to read. Her mother signed what she needed to sign and took Abby to the nearby clinic for the rest. The doctor, who was young and brunette, inspected and examined every part of Abby’s body. What surprised Abby’s mother about the visit was that Abby had grown 11in. since the family moved.

Abby turned in the physical into the office and waited for the first practice to start. When Abby was in her 3rd period class, which was sewing, she heard the sound of the intercom. She shut down the sewing machine to listen and heard this,”Hello, everyone and especially my tennis ladies. We will be having practice this afternoon on the tennis court at 4:30. I anticipate seeing you all there”

The girl wanted to jump from joy but the project still needed to be done and so she punched the air. She made a nice dress that period, mid-term project. It was hopefully going to be her prom dress.

After school, Abby found Gale. The two talked about what they did that day and who was acting a fool as they walked to the tennis court. When they neared the place, Abby halted their stroll and both looked. There was a foldable, metal chair in the middle of the court, a grey striped cap draped over its front.

”Why is a chair here?”Abby asked her girl friend as the two walked onto the court.

”Cause”,a voice came from behind,”We have to get you girls prepped for the season”

The two girls turned round and saw Miss Cleary walking unto the court and positioning herself behind the chair. There were clippers in her hands. That was all the explanation that Miss Cleary relaid until everyone who signed up for tennis arrived on the field.

”I’m delighted to see you all here”,Miss Cleary took the cape off the chair and draped it over her right forearm. She breathed in fresh air and said,”If you haven’t read the activity handbook, which was on the last page of your physical form, I will tell you now. In order to participate in tennis, you will need to have your hair cut short. When I call your name, you will come up, and sit in this chair. There are no exceptions. Is that clear?”

Every girl, even Abby, nodded.

”Gale Waters will be first”,Miss Cleary determined,”Come on”,she said softly, beckoning Gale to the chair.

Abby didn’t want to let go of her friend’s hand but Gale managed to slip through, walk, and sit herself down in the chair. Miss Cleary smiled and swaddled Gale in the cape. With just a quick flick of the wrist, a loud hum amplified itself throughout the area. The tennis coach swept back Gale’s black curls and ran the device over the top of the girl’s head. No one said anything. But Abby’s eyes widened. Was all of this a mistake?

All the girl could do was watch as her girlfriend lost more and more hair as the clippers zoomed across her scalp. In five minutes, the clippers were clicked off. Gale had nothing but faint stubble on her head.

Miss Clearly dusted off the curls from the cape and removed it from Gale’s body. The girl stood, rubbing her head happily as she walked back to her bestie.

”So, how do you like it?”Gale asked, posing for Abby.

”It’s short”,Abby replied plainly.

”Oh, come on”,Gale crossed one of her arms,”Feel it”

Everyone began to chuckle as Abby rubbed Gale’s head reluctantly.

”Girls, please”,Miss Cleary took hold of the girls’ attention,”Ava Thompson”

Girl after girl, every girl had her turn. When it was Abby’s turn, she slowly walked up and took a seat. She breathed as the cape was fastened around her neck. The blades buzzed and Miss Cleary swept the girl’s fringe aside to start clipping. All that blonde that Abby hated cutting was now on the court. Abby felt so cool in the spring breeze.

“And that’s all she wrote”,Miss Cleary took the cape off Abby,”Team, let’s get all this hair cleaned up so that we can practice, eh”

Like a team, everyone grabbed a broom and swept the court free of any contamination. The girls were then paired up and everyone practiced for two hours. At the end of practice, Miss Cleary said,”I hope you girls will keep hair nice and short like I done today. If you need clippers to use, feel free to ask”

Everyone knew what to do. They all kept their hair as short as possible.

The team won a lot of games. Their school was one of few that qualified for the finals. Finals was a weekend long trip. When the team arrived in Cabolton, the place where finals were happening, Miss Cleary gathered the girls in the lobby of the hotel that they were staying at after everyone had settled in. She stood proudly before the team and said,”Tomorrow is the finals. Bring your A-game, girls. As a treat, I want to take you girls to a vintage beauty parlor and out to eat afterwards.

Everyone smiled and followed Miss Cleary to the shop. The women that received them were huge geeks about tennis and were delighted to service the team. Abby and Gale went first. They sat in chairs next to each other and giggled as their respective barberette threw floral capes over them. The clippers came out and the beauticians cleared away the long peach fuzz from the girls’ heads.

After that, the old, leather chairs were reclined some and older women gave Abby and Gale a fresh shave.

At the opening ceremony, Abby and Gale and the team stepped onto the court, bald, beautiful, confident, and ready to play.

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