This is a story that Enemil commissioned for me to write. I hope you all enjoy.
“Things did not feel the same anymore.” I thought to myself as I walked towards downtown.
My work kept me busier than I liked, but the money was good. Besides the long hours at the office, I often spent my nights sitting at home watching travel shows dreaming of a life outside of my own. I figured by 25, I would have at least seen a little more of the world outside of Virginia, but life quickly got in the way. Deep down I wanted to shake things up, but I wasn’t sure where to begin. I needed the equivalent of a trip to the Caribbean injected into my life right about now.
Downtown was always changing with cute shops to go in and out of, and I never knew what I’d find during my weekend trips. I wore a loose fitting wool sweater with my mid back length brown hair hanging in a tight pony tail as I battled the chilly November afternoon. Working long hours hasn’t been kind to my hair, as I couldn’t even think of the last time I had it properly cut. It seemed as if the thought of cutting my entered my head, that a neon sign for a unisex salon caught my attention. The thing that made the sign stick out even more to me was that just below the sign it read “fully automated!”
I was completely perplexed by the sign, which caused me to gravitated towards the narrow storefront. Inside was completely empty except for a lone salon chair in the center of the room. Curiosity got the better of me as I entered the salon. The atmosphere was eerily quiet.
“Hello.” I said meekly. “Is anyone here?”
I stepped towards the chair and saw another sign that read “please be seated and our automated attendant will be with you.” So I did what any sane person would do; I started walking back towards the door.
“I don’t bite.” I heard a heavenly voice call out causing me to stop in my tracks. “I’m free for a haircut if you’d like.”
I turned around to see no one, which further cemented my idea to leave before I ended up on an episode of Unsolved Mysteries.
“I’m sorry for startling you.” The disembodied voice called out. “If you come to the chair, we can talk face to face.”
Against my better judgement I returned to the chair and looked into the mirror to see a beautiful redheaded girl standing next to me in the reflection. Taking my eyes away from the mirror, there was in fact, no one standing next to me.
“This doesn’t make me feel any better.” I said, addressing the girl in the mirror.
“I know, spooky right?” The girl said waving her arms in the air. “Think of the mirror as a very advanced touch screen tv, and I’m talking to you through the convenience of telecommuting. Welcome to my salon. My name is Roberta.”
“And here I thought technology couldn’t get any more impersonal.” I said with a chuckle. “My name is Emily.”
“Nice to meet you Emily.” Roberta said with a smile. “Can I interest you in a trim?”
“Not sure how that’s possible over cyberspace.” I said skeptically.
“Lets just say that whatever I do to your reflection in this ‘mirror’ will be translated to reality.” She said as she lifted my ponytail from behind my back and rested it on my shoulder.
Looking away from my reflection, my pony tail had in fact moved.
“Neat trick.” I said, taking a seat in the salon chair. “I’m intrigued enough to stay for a demonstration.”
“That is all that I ask.” Roberta replied placing a cape around my neck. “Do you have a style in mind, or would you like to flip through my catalog?”
“Nothing really anything in mind.” I said as Roberta undid my hair tie, letting my hair sprawl around me. “I just got a promotion at work, complete with an assistant named Ted. Do they make a haircut for that occasion?”
“Actually.” She said with a smile. “I believe so. But let’s fire up the catalog and we’ll find a suitable style for your achievements.
I heard a click sound come from the mirror as my picture was taken and placed at the very center of the screen. My image turned into an interactive avatar that smiled back at me flipping our hair around and posing. After a few moments, my Avatar’s long brown hair was mowed down by a set of hovering clippers. She continued to smile as her hair was reduced to stubble in a matter of seconds. I stared in disbelief clutching onto my own hair as her scalp was covered in shaving cream and shaved to the skin in just a few swipes.
“Always best to work with a blank slate.” Roberta said with a wink. “Here is what you’d look like bald by the way. Have you ever thought of a asymmetrical bob?”
As she spoke, hair sprouted from my avatar’s head and grew into what I would look like with a bob. I looked cute, but I was stuck on the ‘blank slate’ version of myself.
“How about a long pixie cut?” She asked before the clippers appeared again and Bega hacking away at my avatar’s hair. “This absolutely screams ‘executive,’ if I do say so myself”
“Do you have anything else shorter that you’d recommend?” I said with my mouth going dry. What was I saying?!
“There is always a shorter pixie with shaved back and sides.” She said producing the clippers again and buzzing the hair off of the side of her head to mere fuzz. “We could leave a little length on top to play with.”
“Like shaved to the skin?” I asked again, completely speaking out of my head.
“I can, if you’d like.” Roberta said as shaving cream was smeared on my avatar’s head, while a floating razor reduced the hair on the back and sides to skin. “If we do that, we should probably take the top a little shorter.”
“How much shorter?” I asked, staring at my augmented image on the screen.
“We could do a flat top.” Roberta said, reducing the hair on my avatar’s head to sharp angled fuzz. “Or we can go back to this.”
Roberta had shaving cream smeared into my avatar’s flat top, before shaving off all of her hair to nothing. I squirmed a little in my chair at the sight.
“That’s a big change from what I have now.” I said. “People will stare. What will my colleagues say?”
“Life is short Emily.” Roberta said as she minimized the Avatar to the corner of the mirror. “They will stare. And they will say that you look amazing.”
My bald avatar smiled back at me as it reached up and began rubbing her scalp.
“Your avatar seems to be enjoying it so far.” Roberta said “What would you say if I offered to make the two of you match?”
“I don’t know.” I replied staring at myself in the mirror. “What if I hate it?”
“I can have a wig made out of your hair if you’d like.” She said pulling my hair back into a tight pony tail. “That way no one will ever have to know what we did here today. You would be able to choose when and where you want to have hair.”
“Can I see my avatar again?” I asked in a soft tone.
All of a sudden the entire screen was taken up by the image of me with no hair.
“Striking, isn’t it?” Roberta said picking up a set of red clippers from her station. “Say the words and I’ll delete this mess from your head.”
“I’ll be bald.” I said touching my hair.
“Kind of.” Roberta said with a smile. “The balding clippers will take it as short as I can without shaving cream and a razor. You’ll be buzzed.”
I kept staring at my bald self in silence.
“But you don’t want to be buzzed.” She said turning the clippers on with a pop. “You want me to shave your head smooth, don’t you?”
Roberta placed the clippers to my forehead. I could feel the machine’s hum as it hovered at my hair line.
“Shave me smooth.” I whispered as the clippers began moving into my hairline. The low hum changed drastically as it began eating away at my beautiful hair.
“You won’t regret this Emily.” She whispered back as she continued to reduce my hair to a mere shadow.
Pass after pass sent my hair falling back towards the hair tie until the clippers fell silent. I looked up and could hardly believed my eyes as I saw Roberta holding all of my hair tied neatly together in her hands.
“I’m bald.” I said touching my newly shorn head.
“Buzzed.” Roberta corrected. “But you can be bald in a matter of minutes. But, how do you feel about this visible shadow of hair? Shaving won’t make that go away.”
“But the image you showed me looked perfect.” I said still touching the sandpaper feeling on my scalp. “How do I get it to look like that.”
“I can make it go away.” Roberta said producing a jar of green gel. “But if I do, it may never come back.”
“But it’ll be perfect and smooth?” I asked in a trance.
“Yes.” Roberta said as she unscrewed the cap. “Just say the word.”
“It needs to be perfect.” I replied as she began to smear the gel all over my head. The gel felt cold to the touch.
“As you wish Emily.” She said with a smile as she continued to massage the gel into my scalp.
“What is that stuff?” I asked as I watched Roberta replace the cap of the jar
“Just something to destroy your hair follicles.” She replied. “It does a great job.”
After about 10 minutes Roberta produced a plastic scraper and began scraping the gel from my scalp. As she pulled the scraper across my head, only pale skin was left in its wake. After she finished, no shadow remained.
“I’m bald.” I said as I touched my sensitive scalp. “It’s so smooth.”
“Correct Emily, you are officially bald and beautiful.” She said as she placed my severed hair into a large baggie. “If you provide me your address I’ll have your wig sent to your home.”
“Thank you!” I said as I touched my newly exposed skin. “This feels amazing.”
“You’re welcome Emily.” She replied with a smile. “Stop in and see me sometime. It gets lonely here.”
With that I wrote my address on the touchscreen mirror and left Roberta’s salon. The walk back to my car was filled with an energy I hadn’t felt before. I could feel the eyes of every person I passed falling on me with a million thoughts rushing through their heads. I, on the other hand, only had one thought lingering; “What will this feel like in the shower!?”
Five days later I received a gorgeous box in the mail with my new wig in it. Putting it onto my scalp I could feel a slight suction as it adhered to my head. Looking into a mirror it felt like I was reunited with an old friend. It was “Classic Emily.” Now I was a woman of two worlds; bald when I want to be and flawless brown hair when it suits me. True freedom. Soon my world traveling fantasies began to include wigs, head scarfs, and chucky earring to match my adventures.
After 2 weeks of no hair growth, I realized that Roberta wasn’t fibbing about the effectiveness of her gel. To be honest, I didn’t miss my hair. Since having her “delete” it from my head, I have been given whole new lease on life. I made it a point to go downtown one weekend to say hi, but I was unable to find her salon where it was previously. In it’s spot was a simple clock shop.
“Can I help you ma’am?” The shop keeper asked with a smile.
“I’m sorry, but do you know where the salon moved to?” I replied as I took off my headscarf. “I’d like to say hi to a friend of mine.”
The shop keeper looked at me for a while with a confused expression.
“I don’t know of any salon on this street dear.” He replied.
“There was one here just a few weeks ago.” I said touching my scalp with a smile. “Her name is Roberta and she is the one who did this to me.”
“Ma’am this has been my storefront for the past 20 years.” He replied. “And I certainly didn’t do that to you.”
“Oh, I’m sorry to have bothered you.” I said as I replaced my headscarf and made my way out of the door.
“Whoever did that to you did you a favor.” He called out to me as I was leaving. “I’ve never seen a more fetching woman enter my humble shop before.”
With that compliment I left that shop never to return. I don’t know what happened to me that fateful day where a mysterious being in cyberspace took my hair away from me, but I do not regret it a single moment.