The Motherly Metamorphosis

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Hi everyone! This is my first truly original story, completely fictitious. I owe a huge debt of thanks to the greatly talented f35h, who gave me several points of guidance and recommendation. This story would not be as polished, enjoyable, or, well, GOOD without f35h’s help. I hope you enjoy this story.

The Motherly Metamorphosis 

 

Lisa sighed as she pulled a half-chewed sour apple sucker from her long, feathered, dishwater blonde hair. A few long strands came with it, and she winced as she pulled out a few other broken pieces of the candy before tossing it in the trashcan. Not the best thing to wake up to from a short nap. “Izzy, what did Mommy tell you about throwing your candy away when you were done with it?” Five year-old Isabella “Izzy” looked up from her tea party and said “Sorry, Mommy, but Daddy told me not to wake you up, and I couldn’t ‘amember where I’m ‘sppost to put it.” Lisa smiled, and said “Well, you should have known not to put it in Mommy’s hair, hmm?” Izzy giggled, “Um, I put it next to your face! I wanted you to see it when you woke up!” Lisa cracked a smile. “Well, let me show you where the can is, sweetie. Then, tell me where your father and baby sister are.”

 

Lisa, her husband James, and their two girls, Isabella and 10-month-old Melanie, had recently moved from their apartment to their first ever house. They were still unpacking a few things, but had somewhat settled in, though Izzy was still getting used to the lay of the land. It had been exhausting, but they were managing as well as anyone could hope to with all these life changes happening. James was feeding Melanie from a bottle, and though visibly tired, smiled at the sight of his wife. “Hello, honey. Enjoy your nap?” Lisa shrugged, though surrendered a weak smile. “Mm, mostly. How’s she doing?” she asked, taking both Melanie and the bottle. James stood up, and said “Just fine, she was getting a little fussy, but she must have been hungry. Something up?” Lisa withheld a slight grimace. Although she was never what you’d call ‘bubbly’, Lisa had found herself becoming a bit more impatient, somber, and tired over the last few months. “No, I’m fine.”

 

James chuckled, giving her a kiss on the cheek, “Oh, Lisa, we BOTH know that’s not the truth. Come on, love, what’s eating you up? And don’t say ‘the move’!” Lisa set Melanie down in her cradle as she drifted off to sleep, and said “I know, I know. Sorry. I’m just feeling a bit…restless. Remember, you get to leave every day for 9 hours, and I don’t.” James sighed, sitting down at the table, and motioning for Lisa to do the same. “We’ve been over this, honey. You said you wanted to stay home with the kids as long as we can afford it, and while we can, barely, I still think it’s a good idea. I don’t want someone else raising our girls, and I don’t think you do, either.” Lisa nodded, “No, I know. And, and I don’t want to change that. But I think I need something to do besides unpack boxes and take care of Melanie, especially once Izzy starts kindergarten next month.” James nodded, too, replying “I get it. You know my mom is ALWAYS willing to babysit. Do you want to find a part time job for the mornings? This way, you can still have the afternoons with just you and the girls, and get out of the house, too.” Lisa smiled at him, “Really? I’ve actually been mulling that over myself for a little bit, but wasn’t sure how you’d feel.” He then paused, furrowing his brow slightly, “Did you, ah, have anything in mind?”

 

Lisa smiled, putting her hand over James’. She really did get lucky with somehow landing him. “Actually, yeah. I’d love to go back to the flower shop. I ran into Marcy last week, and she said they’d love to have me back there. I’m still the best at making rose arrangements, per her.” James turned his head a bit skeptically, “Didn’t you kind of get sick of that place? You said they always treated you like a kid.” Lisa shrugged, “I guess. Marcy also said they’re REALLY short-staffed, and they were nicer once I had Izzy, even Trisha. And besides, that was years ago, and I was still probably just a little college kid in their eyes. I’m sure they’ll be falling over themselves to keep me happy if they’re that desperate for help!”

 

……

 

“Hmm, that smock looks a little tight on you, hon. I’m going to give you one of the ‘adult large’ sized ones, Lisa.” Lisa blushed slightly as Marcy handed her the larger green smock from the supply closet before slipping it over her head before tying it behind her waist. Trisha chortled, “You’re a bit bigger now than when you were here a few years ago, hon! Can’t fit into the one from college days now can you, hmm? Well, that’s alright. Still have that long hair, though, I see! I’m surprised you’d still keep it long, instead of out of your face and free from our product.” Trisha was certainly not one to talk about her figure, being all of 5 foot 2 and easily 180 pounds! But, to her credit, her neat, short, tight permed gray and black hair brushed away from her head was never in the way of work, and always remained stem, petal, and thorn free. Lisa had only been here an hour, and already had her hair snag on two different baskets and one especially viscous decorative cactus. “Why don’t you cut it short and get a perm, dumpling?” asked Marcy, gently lifting a lock and pulling out two white petals and another small basket tine. Lisa winced, but not from the removal, “I…I’d rather not. Perms are so…”, but before completing her opinion, she considered her audience, and finished “Erm, they’re not for me.” Marcy clucked her tongue, and said “Well, I think you’re wrong, but it’s not my hair. Seems most women have been perming their hair over the last few years after the long ‘flower child’ hair fad finally died out last decade. I’d at least tie it back, Lisa.” Trisha tapped her pudgy finger to her chin and said “I think I have some hairnets, too. Or, you can always visit my sister, Marietta. She’ll give you a nice cut, no doubt about it.”

 

Lisa, feeling a bit attacked, wondered if this was the right decision to make. However, after tying her hair back, she only snagged herself once on an arrangement. Even though Marcy and Trisha were a bit less than tactful, Lisa did find herself getting back into rhythm, helping fulfill three orders and one arrangement, even receiving a few compliments along the way! At the end of her shift, Trisha stopped her and said “We’re very glad to have you back, hon. Too bad you’re not full time!” Lisa smiled nervously, and said “Well, er, I still have to take care of the kids in the afternoons and weekends, but maybe when they’re older, I can think about working more hours.” Trisha chuckled, “Oh, right, I forgot you’ve got a second little one now! Humph, and still you keep your hair long? As evidenced by your new smock, dear, you’re not a college girl anymore, Lisa. Let me give you my sister’s card for when you want to change your hair. I keep a lot of ‘em here for all the ladies who come through here. She’ll give you a discount for your first appointment if you tell her you work for me, hon!” Lisa couldn’t refuse as Trisha handed her the card, and said non committedly “Okay, I’ll, ah, I’ll think about it.”

 

After the baby and Izzy were asleep, Lisa and James were watching TV on the couch. “Jimmy, am I still pretty to you?” James groaned and laughed. “Aw, I know it’s not good when you call me Jimmy. Love, we’ve been over this too many times. I don’t care if you’ve put on a bit of weight, er, not that you have.” Lisa rolled her eyes, but gave him a kiss, “You don’t need to LIE, honey. I know I have. But…what would you think about me if I cut my hair?” James eyed her, confused. Although they were well into the 80s, Lisa had kept her dishwater blonde hair long, feathered, and full of bounce. It was something she had had almost the entire time he had known her. “You, uh, just had your hair cut last week, didn’t you?” Lisa shook her head, “No, well, yeah, but that’s not what I meant. I mean, what if I cut my hair short. And maybe had it permed, too.” James was a good poker player, and measured his response carefully. “Well, uh, I mean you can, sweetheart, but didn’t you just last week say that you thought this whole perm fad was ridiculous, and that you thought short hair made young women look older?”

 

“SOME women,” she corrected him, then added, “But, um, yes, I did say all that. I am getting a little tired of it, though, and not just because of the sucker. Izzy has treated my hair like plateware for years, and Melanie has gotten sick all over it more than enough times. The ladies at work said I should change my hair, too.” James laughed, “Oh, is that what all this is about? Lis, come on! Obviously, I’ll think you’ll look beautiful with long, short, straight, big, or curly hair. I promise. But, don’t you think maybe they were just kind of, I don’t know, testing you or something? Like seeing how quickly you’ll follow direction?” Now it was Lisa’s turn to laugh, “Haha, no, I don’t think they think like that, honey. I think they were just trying to help.” James ran his fingers through her hair before gently pulling her head back and kissing her on the lips. “Well, I certainly couldn’t do that anymore, for whatever that matters…” he said, grinning. She giggled, nuzzling next to him. “I think that’s my answer. No chop for me.”

 

……

 

As September ended and October began, Lisa had really settled into her part-time job at the flower shop, and though it became a weekly conversation point from both Trisha and Marcy (though especially Trisha), Lisa had defiantly kept her feathered hair long. However, after snagging her hair several more times, she found herself having to wear a hairnet, which she found somewhat humiliating. “There is always an alternative, dumpling!” smiled Marcy, after noting Lisa’s repulsed expression as she slipped on the hairnet. “No, no, this is fine.” Marcy giggled, “Well, I’m sure you’ll come around soon enough. I’m surprised Trisha hasn’t worn you down yet!” Lisa smiled wryly, “Oh, she’s getting close. She even gave me a second card for her sister, Marianne.” Marcy shook her head, “It’s actually Marietta, honey. And she’s a delight, too.” Marcy then turned her head to make sure Trisha was out of ear-range, before whispering “She’s a lot nicer than Trisha, too! She’s just a bit…opinionated. You really should pay her a visit, Lisa.” Lisa smiled, but shook her head, “I’m good for now, but thanks. My husband likes it long, and I think long hair is just what’s best for me.”

 

The rest of the week was a bit of a disaster for all three of the ladies. Both of their walk-in coolers went out, and despite being the early Fall, experienced a mini heatwave that meant most of their inventory began to rot. Lisa, being significantly taller than both Marcy and Trisha, was tasked with clearing out the top shelves of the cooler. Marcy and Trisha were both piling rotted stock into bags when Trisha said “Oh, Lisa, watch out for the-“, but it was too late. A container holding fetid water and the remains of some mums tumbled down as Lisa was pulling another crate that had accidentally become wedged in between. Lisa covered her head, but it was too late as the contents spilled on top of her. “Oh, YUCK” said Lisa as she wiped grime and rotted plants off of her face. Her nostrils filled with the acrid, putrid smells of the water causing her to gag. Trisha quickly came back with several clean rags while Marcy pulled over a chair in which Lisa could sit.

 

“Oh, dumpling, I’m so sorry!” simpered Marcy, dabbing at Lisa with one of the rags while Trisha did the same. “Phew, that is just horrendous, dear. Oh, and it got all in your hair, too!” Lisa pursed her lips as she removed the hairnet. Thanks to it all being bunched up, every inch of her tresses were soaked in the disgusting rot. “We have a few extra shirts in the back, if you want to go change, Lisa. Let me just grab one for you.” Marcy was back in a dash, and handed Lisa a clean shirt, saying “Sorry, hon. All we had were smalls. That’s probably why we had so many extras…” Lisa flushed slightly, taking the shirt and saying flatly, “It’s fine.” She excused herself to the restroom so she could change and do her best to clean herself up. Her hair, face, and shirt were all soaked. Turning the faucet on, Lisa removed her shirt and tried scrubbing her face with some soap and water. Her hair stunk fiercely, and even pulling it back did nothing to lessen the stench. With a bit of difficulty and discomfort, she squeezed into the fresh t-shirt. With more than a little reluctance, she looked at her reflection, and burst into tears. Her tummy was sticking out quite obviously, and with all her makeup washed off and hair pulled back, well, she was far from a flattering vision. She did her best to muffle her sobs, but failed.

 

Trisha was knocking on the door, “Lisa, dear, are you alright in there? Do you need some help?” Sniffling, she cracked the door, and said as nicely and calmly as she could muster, “Er, y-yes. I’ll…I’ll be right out.” Wiping her eyes and smiling cleared her face up a little, but Lisa’s face was still a bit puffy when she finally came out of the restroom. Marcy and Trisha were waiting for her, and immediately stopped talking. Lisa tried to cover the bare parts of her stomach that stuck out from under her too-small shirt. Marcy’s and Trisha’s eyes flicked over her, and she couldn’t suppress an ever deeper shade of red flushing her cheeks. “Can-can I go home, please?” she said in a small, quivering voice. Marcy and Trisha looked at each other, and then back at Lisa. “Oh, honey, of course! We both feel just awful about what happened. Do you want one of us to drive you home?” Marcy’s tone was contrite, and Trisha’s face was equally sincere. “No, that’s okay. I’ll, um, I’ll be back tomorrow. I suppose this still beats diapers…” Lisa tried to joke. Marcy gave her a weak smile, and walked her outside. The flower shop was right between a deli and a burger shop, and given that it was 11:45, Lisa was in full view of the lunch crowd. If she thought she couldn’t blush any deeper, she was sorely wrong.

 

James’ mother, Helene, was obviously still watching Melanie when Lisa walked in. “Hello, dear. You’re home early! Oh, gosh, what happened?!” Helene rushed over to Lisa, only to stop a few feet in front of her, a sickened expression crossing her face. “There was, um, an accident at work.” Lisa said, flatly. Helene pinched her nose, then walked towards her, taking her purse from her. “Are you hurt? Jimmy works with several workers’ comp lawyers! I’m sure they’d-“ Lisa waved her hand, “No, no, nothing like that. My, erm, my pride got hurt worse than anything else. I, uh, I need to go shower.” Helene unpinched her nose, then said “I’ll pick up Izzy, honey. I just put Melanie down for a nap, too, so take as long as you need.” Lisa gave her a gracious smile, and fled upstairs as quickly as she could. After a 20 minute shower and twice shampooing her hair, Lisa finally thought she got the smell out. Being a mother, she rarely looked at her bare figure for extended periods of time, after all, time is a luxury, but today was different.

 

Even though she had just turned 33, she felt much older. Whereas James was essentially the same as when they married, albeit with a bit less hair on top, Lisa felt it hard not to look at her wedding photo with envy and a bit of disgust. Her face was a bit rounder, and bags were not a permanent fixture of her eyes. Her once hourglass like figure had become somewhat pear-shaped, and certain things which had once been quite perky were now markedly less so. Sighing, she lifted part of her hair to her chin to envision what she might look like with a bob, and then it hit her. She was becoming her mother! All she needed was a short, curly bouffant and she’d be an almost perfect match. Was that really her fate? Although not estranged, Lisa and her mother, Barbra, were not exactly on the best of terms. Lisa never quite forgave her mother for remarrying so quickly after dad passed away, and Barbra always seemed to favor her younger and older sisters over Lisa. Helene, though not a perfect mother-in-law, had always craved a daughter after four boys, and so had become more of a mother figure for her since marrying James. The thought of resembling her mother carried with more emotional baggage than she was expecting.

 

Lisa put on a simple blouse and slacks, followed by a pair of trainers. She applied a bit of perfume, but couldn’t stomach putting on any makeup, having seen enough of her reflection for the moment. When she walked downstairs, Helene and Izzy were just walking in. Izzy said “Hi Mommy!” and rushed to give her mother a hug, which did make Lisa smile. Her adorable daughter ran up, but then pulled away almost immediately, saying loudly “Eww, Mommy, you STINK!” Helene made a harsh sound, and said “Izzy, your mother had a long day, and that’s not very nice!” Izzy frowned, looking down and putting her hands behind her back. She twisted her leg and mumbled, “I’m sorry, Mommy.” Lisa bent down. “Oh, that’s okay sweetie.” Helene smiled. “Izzy, how’d you like a special treat and watch some TV?” Izzy’s eyes widened, and she said “Really? I NEVER getta watch TV during the day!” Lisa walked over to Helene, and whispered, “Helene, she’s not allowed to watch TV during the day, you know that.” Helene turned away a few inches, and said “I know, but I think you and I need to talk for a minute.” Lisa nodded, and then said “Okay, Izzy. This is a special treat. I’ll find something for you to watch.” After finding an animal program, Lisa and Helene sat down at the kitchen table.

 

Helene didn’t even need to ask before Lisa launched into recounting her morning. When she was done, Lisa was again crying, but Helene comforted her. “There, there, dear. Well, I think you’re more upset than just about getting rancid flowers and water on you, though. It’s none of my business, but is everything between you and Jimmy okay?” Lisa laughed at this. “Oh, god no. I mean, yes! James and I are great! I guess, well, you’d understand, I’m not 21 years old anymore, and I look it. It’s several things, but today just put me over the edge.” Helene didn’t laugh at this, but nodded, understandingly. “Hon, I get it. But you’re too harsh on yourself! You’re my most beautiful daughter-in-law.” Lisa chuckled, “I’m your ONLY daughter-in-law, Helene!” Helene smiled bashfully, “Well, yes, but I’m not wrong. Are you, uh, if you don’t mind my asking, still going to work at the flower shop?” Lisa raised her eyebrows in surprise. “Oh, of course! I’m having a great time! Well, usually, and Marcy and Trisha are a lot better than before. They compliment me often! The only thing they criticize me on is my hair. They’re convinced that I should have it cut short and permed.”

 

Helene, whose own brunette locks were arranged in a large, tight perm that reached her shoulders and anchored by large, teased bangs, smiled, and said “Well, now this is even less of my place, Lisa, but the same thought has crossed my mind once or twice. Why don’t you treat yourself to a nice beauty parlor visit? You, ah, you might need to visit one anyway to, er, deep-clean that hair of yours.” Lisa frowned, “Is it that noticeable?” Helene stood up and offered her a hug, “Well, I’ll put it this way: Jimmy might want to sleep on the couch tonight.” Lisa chuckled as she hugged her mother-in-law, thankful for her words of wisdom.

 

At that moment, the phone rang. “Hello?” answered Lisa, grabbing a notepad and pencil. “Lisa? This is Trisha. How are you doing?” Lisa smiled, confused, and said “F-fine. Is something the matter?” She could hear Trisha shouting ‘She’s fine, Marce!’ before replying “Well that’s just dandy to hear! No, nothing’s wrong. So, I wanted to tell you it was an electrical issue that caused the problem, and our coolers are back up and running. However, Marcy and I were talking, and we thought you should have the day off tomorrow, paid. You know, clear your head and all that.” Lisa smiled, “Well, thank you, Trisha. My mother-in-law said the same thing. I…I think I’ll also get my hair washed at a salon after today’s mishap.” Lisa had to pull the receiver back because of Trisha’s loud screech of delight. “Oh, that’s wonderful! I’ll let Marietta know you’re coming! Now, she doesn’t take appointments during the week, but I’d get there earlier in the day so you don’t need to wait too long! Oh, this is a treat! I can’t WAIT to see you in curls, hon! Bye-bye.” Lisa didn’t even get to respond before the line went dead.

 

……

 

Although James did not end up sleeping on the couch, he did end up having to place a pillow between his head and Lisa’s, though it was only with great reluctance that he did so. Needless to say, the sheets were stripped in the morning. James was finishing the knot on his tie in the kitchen when he looked over at Lisa and said “So, they gave you the day off…to have you get your hair done?” Lisa, who had decided to wear a shower cap over her aromatic locks, shook her head, “Not exactly, but it did seem to make Trisha happier about it when I told her. I’m, ah, I’m actually seeing her sister. Er, for my hair.” James ruffled Izzy’s hair, much to her chagrin (“Daddy!”), and asked, slightly confused, “Don’t you see that French guy, Henry?” Lisa smiled, “Henri, yeah, but he’s booked for months. Besides, he’s been kind of annoying me lately. Also, he’s not really French. It’s just an act so he can charge customers more!” James chuckled, grabbed his coffee, and kissed his wife on the cheek. “Well, regardless, have a good time. Oh, and tell my mother I love her. I’ll be working a bit later tonight, but will still be home by 7, love.” Lisa smiled, pulling him in for another kiss. “You’re sure you won’t be mad if my hair isn’t this long when you get back?” He made sure he was out the door when he answered, “Sweetheart, with your hair as it is right now, anything would be an improvement!” She gave him the one-fingered salute as he got in his car, both of them smiling at each other.

 

Helene arrived shortly thereafter, and stopped Lisa before she went upstairs to shower and get dressed. “Honey, ah, you can tell me to pound sand as my husband would say, but do you mind if I make a suggestion on your outfit?” Normally, Lisa would have politely declined, but today, she decided against it. “Sure, I guess?” Helene seemed to consider her words carefully. “Well, hm, how to say this. I think you shouldn’t try to conceal your age, maybe something more modest and a bit lighter on the makeup.” Lisa nodded, “Uh, okay. I…that actually sounds like a good idea. Thanks, Helene.” Helene smiled, “I know it’s not my place, dearie. I’ve always tried not to be one THOSE mother-in-laws, but, I don’t fully know, I just feel perhaps a bit more demure look today will serve you well.”

 

Lisa’s shower was brief, and despite the fact that her hair still reeked of putrid water, she withheld from shampooing it again. As she wiped away the steam from the mirror, she again reflected on her figure. Even if slightly, she was less bothered by it than yesterday, and whether it was because she was in a better mood, or perhaps had started to accept reality, she didn’t know. After putting on her bra, panties, and a pair of opaque tights, she scoured her closet, looking for something modest, yet feminine and attractive. With a slight pang of guilt, she pulled out a dress that Helene had given her last Christmas. It was a full length pleated dress with a floral print, white ruffled Peter Pan collar, white cuffs, and ruffled shoulders. At the time she had received it, she feigned happiness, but in truth, had only taken it out of the bag to make sure it fit. Another reason why she had disliked it initially was that, without any intention of offending her, Helene had purchased it two dress sizes too big. Now, however, as Lisa slipped it on, she discovered that it fit rather snugly. The muted salmon colored hydrangeas print looked a bit mature for her, and with her simple white, closed-toed pumps, she wouldn’t exactly call her ensemble ‘sexy’, but as she inspected her reflection, Lisa was surprisingly pleased with how she looked. Makeup was simple, just a touch of lipstick in a dark red color, a dash of blush, and modest dark pink eyeshadow. Her hair, finally, was merely pinned back in a bun. No feathered locks today, and likely not for a while, she mused. Another first for her, her wedding band and two, small, single-stud pearl earrings were the only pieces of jewelry she decided to wear. Anything else felt almost too audacious with the rest of her outfit.

 

When she walked downstairs, Helene was holding Melanie and Izzy was holding onto the stair banister. “Mommy, you look very nice!” Izzy smiled, walking over to her mother. “Aw, thank you sweetie. Mommy’s going to get her hair done, and she’ll be back in a few hours, okay?” Lisa bent over to hug her daughter, who pulled back almost immediately, and said “PU! Mommy, your hair still stinks!” Lisa’s cheeks reddened, but she said “Yes, well, that’s why Mommy’s going to the salon. Well, thank you again, Helene.” Helene beamed, patting her shoulder. “You really do look quite lovely, dear.” Lisa smiled sheepishly, “Thanks a bunch, really. I, er, really like the dress.” Helene chuckled, “I’m glad you do! Well, we’ll all see you later, dear.” Lisa was too nervous to eat, and gulped down just a few sips of coffee before pulling on her sweater jacket and heading out to the car.

 

The card Trisha had given her had Marietta’s address on it, as well as the salon’s, or rather ‘beauty parlor’ per the card, name: Fine Coifs. Luckily, it was just a couple of miles away, right next to the dry cleaners. Funnily enough, Lisa had never stopped by to even look inside the beauty parlor, despite visiting the cleaners a couple of times a month! Baby sick on jackets, sheets, comforters, and all other manner of things was certainly good for their business. Lisa only had to contend with the last remnants of morning traffic, and had actually expected to be the first person at the establishment, but as she stepped inside the tiny beauty parlor, she was surprised to see someone already being styled in the chair, and another lady underneath one of two hooded dryers. The stylist turned her head to welcome in the customer, and Lisa immediately recognized her as Marietta. She had a similar build to Trisha, short and plump, but was a bit taller, and had a much kinder looking face. “Mornin’ dearie! Just take a seat, and I’ll be right with you.” Lisa smiled politely and said “Oh, thank you, and good morning!”

 

While certainly not a lot of real estate, the small beauty parlor was more cozy than claustrophobic. Frosted glass prevented passersby from peering in, with two wooden chairs with cracked pink cushion seats placed directly behind the glass pane. There was a podium almost entirely dominated by a large cash register and calendar book. Other than a table littered with copies of Better Homes and Garden, the rest of the space was entirely dedicated to hairdressing appliances and furniture. A single large, white leather cushioned chrome chair was bolted to the tan and white tiled floor, positioned directly in front of a large mirror surrounded by lights like a movie star’s dressing room. A rolling cart was filled with drawers no doubt containing perming chemicals and supplies, judging by the pronounced chemical scent that hung in the air. Opposite the mirror across the floor were the two hooded dryers, with the final side being home to a white porcelain sink and two open cabinets filled with bottles and tools.

 

Marietta was deep in conversation with her client, a dark haired lady several years older than Lisa, who was having her locks dressed out into a bouffant that was taller than it was wide, but without becoming a beehive. Like Trisha, Marietta wore her hair in a short, rounded permed bouffant style, but she kept any trace of gray out of her black hair. A pair of large, thick spectacles rested on her nose. Without staring, Lisa saw that the lady under the dryer was also likely retired, and had curlers in her hair. She was engrossed in her magazine, though she waved when she spotted Lisa looking her way. Embarrassed, Lisa waved back, and quickly picked up a magazine to occupy herself. While not incredibly different, Fine Coifs was definitely a change from her regular salon, instead feeling more like how she remembered salons being when she was a little girl. Halfway through her article, Lisa was startled by the sounds of ample amounts of hairspray being applied. The brunette lady’s bouffant was being given a thorough soaking by Marietta, who was pursing her lips tightly as she focused on her work. After a few more seconds of sustained spraying, the stylist declared proudly, “There we are, Judy. I assume same time next week?” Judy was inspecting herself with a satisfied smile, gently prodding her stiff hairdo. “Yes, of course! Lovely as usual, Marietta. Just lovely.”

 

Marietta removed Judy’s cape and handed her purse over before walking her client over to the register. One exchange of a few bills and a reminder card later, Judy was out the door. Marietta then checked a small alarm clock, muttered something to herself, then walked over to greet Lisa. “Hello, dearie. I don’t think we’ve met before. I’m Marietta.” She held out a pudgy handy and shook Lisa’s genially. “No, I’ve, ah, I’ve never been here before. I’m Lisa. Actually, I work with your sister.” Marietta’s eyes lit up, “Oh, yes! She did give me a call and told me you’d be stopping by. She was hoping I’d give you a nice little poodle cut, but you’ll have to wait a few before we get started. I’ve got to dress out Connie under the dryer, then I’ll have you all to myself. Urm, not to be rude, dearie, but did you step in something?” Lisa gave a nervous smile, “Ah, no, that’s my hair. There was a little accident at the flower shop, and that accident got all in my hair.” Marietta tilted her head back, “Oh, that’s right. Well, that won’t be a problem for long my darling.”

 

The alarm clock went off less than two minutes later, and Connie was having her orange-red hair unwound and teased into a smooth, round helmet hairdo. Connie talked with, despite her large size and stature, a high, shrill voice and cackled when she laughed. Lisa thought to herself that pretty much every woman who came here sported a similar, permed bouffant style, aside from herself. Lisa thought, with some mixed emotions, that this fact was soon liable to change. Despite her attitude of acceptance this morning, this vision of herself sporting a bouffant seemed to ignite a sense of doubt, which in turn led to those familiar feelings of disgust and disappointment. Now that a permed bouffant was practically staring her down in the face, her prior resignation seemed to evaporate. Was this really her hair’s fate? She could leave now, succumbing to cold feet, and find some other salon, maybe get with the times and adopt a big, frizzy perm. No, Marietta would surely reach out to her sister, and Trisha would definitely ask some awkward questions at work…

 

Lisa’s inner dialogue was interrupted by the sight of Connie, her hair now properly styled into a respectable, full bouffant, paying Marietta. A few minutes later, Marietta was again walking towards Lisa. “Oh, how rude of me! Please, let me take your sweater, darling, and your purse. Now, if you’ll follow me, please.” Well, she’s certainly a lot more polite than Trisha thought Lisa, handing over her things. The salon chair was warm, but comfortable, and the peach colored cape was welcomed, too, as this part of the salon was cooler than the waiting area. Marietta wasted no time, removing the pins holding Lisa’s bun in place, allowing her hair to tumble down. “Lisa, I’m not going to make many a’ harsh remark, but your hair smells very foul, not that this is news to you.” Lisa pursed her lips, “No, I’m well aware. Is there, ah, some sort of really deep clean you can do?” Marietta sensed this was a sensitive subject, and said a bit more softly, “Well, I can, but we might have to cover the smell, well, on the hair you keep. Did Trisha have that right? You wanted a nice, short cut and a perm?”

 

Lisa couldn’t suppress a grimace. “Erm, I never actually said that. I, ah, normally wear it feathered.” Marietta clucked her tongue. “Oh, that sister of mine! I forgot to say, you and Marcy are saints for putting up with her. Well, she did say that I was to, oh, how did she put it, ‘stop having her pretend she’s still 22’. My dearie, I don’t think you should be having long, feathered hair anymore. You’re no Charlie’s Angel, I’m sorry to say.” The remark wasn’t incorrect, but still cut Lisa. Her eyes watered, and her voice quivered slightly as she said “I…I know. I just…I just don’t want to look like my mother!” Marietta walked around to look Lisa straight in the face. “Oh, sweetie-pie, that’s all you had to say! Trust me, I’m the same way! Why do you think I still haven’t accepted my gray hair, hmm? I take it your mother wears it short and curly?” Lisa nodded, sniffing, and wiped her nose as Marietta handed her a tissue. “Well, while it’s a bit unusual for a woman to sit in my chair and NOT have her locks permed, there are alternatives. I do think you need a bit of a more mature look. I’m assuming you’d rather not have a roller set, hmm?” Lisa gave a small, faltering smile and shook her head. “No? That’s fine. You’re, well, frankly, and don’t take this as an insult, Lisa, but you don’t quite have the figure to pull off a short pixie, and I think we can do better than just a bob. Hmm, maybe we need to go overseas for some inspiration…”

 

Marietta retrieved a large, reddish brown accordion folder from the cupboard and set it on the cart with all the perm supplies. “Let’s see here, hmm. You liked your hair feathered, even if it was a little young for you, so let’s go back to last decade and see what those Brits were doing.” She pulled out a few magazine clippings that she had cut and glued to thick cardstock and had made little notes on all over. Marietta shook her head several times, mumbling to herself, evidently not satisfied with what she was seeing. Finally, she got to one sheet and said “Ah, now what do you think about this, dearie? This was in one of those style guides a few years back.”

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Lisa looked at the picture, and was instantly intrigued. “Her name was Joanna something. She was on a program over there, something to do with spies. It’s sort of like the Dorothy Hamill, but a bit more bowl-like and more womanly, less youthful, yet still striking and very, very alluring.” Lisa laughed, “Gee, when you put it like that, how could I say no?” Marietta smiled, “Well, hold on, darling. I’m not saying I can do this exactly, nor maybe even should, but I can certainly give you something like it. Trisha said you’re a mother?” Lisa’s smiles sank a little, “Um, yes. A five-year-old and an 11-month-old. Both girls!” Marietta smiled, “Oh, how wonderful. The good Lord gave me nothing but boys, and after the fifth, I decided to call it in, haha! So, a busy mother, too. Hmm, I think I’ll give you a more manageable version of this pageboy, then. Not quite so big. Now, your color, dearie. We need to change it.” Lisa’s expression stiffened, “Ah, we do?” Marietta walked back behind her. “Yes, without question. Dishwater blonde is fine when you’re younger, but I think you’re quite old enough to commit either to becoming brunette or blonde, or, if indecisive, I can add a little dash of red. You need a consistent color, though, not this variety.” Lisa was very unprepared for this question, and opened and closed her mouth a few times like a fish. “Of course, I can always decide for you, Lisa. If you want my opinion, I’d adopt a reddish brunette shade. It’ll be a nice autumn color, and certainly give you a more mature hue.” Lisa closed her eyes, feeling the weight of her situation double. “Ah, that sounds alright, I-I suppose. Just…just not TOO red, please.” Marietta gave a short laugh, “Excellent! Not too red, not a problem. Well, let’s start with the cut. I’ll be removing most of this bulk. Do you mind if I use the clippers?”

 

Lisa’s eyes bulged as Marietta carefully bound her hair into a single pony-tail. “Uh-hu, clippers?” Marietta chortled, “Oh, they’re not torture devices, dearie! If you were to have had your hair done like my sister wished, you would have become much better acquainted with them! Now, just hold still for me…” The air was soon filled with a loud hum as the hairdresser positioned her large, chrome instrument of change. Lisa closed her eyes and bit her lip as the teeth bit down into her hair, and an instant later, she could feel strands of hair brush against her cheeks. Then the tears came. Silent tears, but tears nonetheless. Marietta simpered, “Oh, Lisa my sweet, the hard part’s over! This is all for the best, trust me. Now, get it all out of your system. You’re hardly the first young woman to cry at losin’ her pride and joy, and you’ll not be the last. Here, let it all out.” Lisa stifled her sobbing in a few minutes and dabbed her eyes with several tissues. “I-I’m suh-sorry,” she said, trying to catch her breath. Marietta chuckled, rinsing a cleat washcloth in the shampoo sink and walking back over quickly. “Oh, never mind that. Here, let me wipe that face of yours. Your makeup’s quite runny.” A warm, wet washcloth later, and Lisa’ face was now tear and makeup-free.

 

Though her eyes were still red and puffy, Lisa was still clearly able to see the stark contrast from before, even with the minimal makeup. Her hair was now a slightly uneven bob that fell just below her ears. “Remarkable how much of a change a few minutes can make, hmm, sweetie-pie? You’re well on your way to fully embracing your true figure and age, Lisa. Now, let’s get this nice, clean, and stink-free. Actually, this will work out nicely for you, as I can mix your color while I let your hair soak.” Lisa thought it was both sad and surreal to walk over the masses of hair that used to be hers, but the warm water and divine shampoo lathering courtesy of Marietta eased her sadness. The shampoo smelled of lavender and mint, and was applied several times over. “There we are, darling dearie. Now, I’m going to let this soak for a few minutes while I ready the dye. I know you’re a bit uncomfortable with your neck like that, but just close your eyes and I’ll be just over here if you need me. Not too red, I remember!” Lisa gave her a modest smile and a half-hearted wave as she allowed herself to drift into a daze.

 

Marietta hummed quietly as she prepared the dye shade. Privately, she would have like to make her young mother client a dark brunette to truly knock her into motherhood, but she then recalled her own feelings of longing and resistance as her appearance changed with age. She absentmindedly patted her own, stiff, dyed curls, a reminder that she still wasn’t fully accepting even her own aging and grays! Even so, she’s still seeing herself as a younger woman, even if less than Trisha made her out to be. No, better to give her an even more subdued coif. Lisa needs to accept her new self. Brunette dye was mixed with a modest amount of red until a nice, dark orange color was achieved. A tad more brown made it less pronounced, but there would be no denying the slightly playful shade of red in this brunette hue. She is still a younger mother, I suppose, thought Marietta with a smile.

 

The hairdresser set the mixing bowl down on the table in front of the mirror and walked over to her client. “Lisa, are you still awake, dear?” Lisa’s eyes fluttered open. “Yes, barely,” she giggled. Marietta rinsed the aromatic shampoo again, then said, “Now, don’t be alarmed. This is the only way to tell if this soaked long enough.” Lisa gave her a serious expression, knowing what was coming, “Please, go ahead.” Marietta gently leaned her head down and took a deep inhale of the freshly washed locks. “Hmm, almost all gone. After I do your dye and give you one more shampooing, your little floral mishap will be a distant memory!” The towel that had been wrapped around her shoulders was now used to gently towel dry Lisa’s very fragrant tresses, or what remained of them, before being tied in a turban. As she sat down, Lisa noted with appreciation that Marietta had discreetly swept up and disposed of her hair. A few gentle pumps of the salon chair, and Lisa was looking at her reflection once again.

 

“One thing you’ll love about having short hair, sweetie-pie, is that, while you might have to see me a bit more often, you’ll be saving so much time getting ready and washing. Be honest, how long does it take you to really Farrah your hair?” Lisa smiled and looked down, bashfully, at the question. “30 or 40 minutes, usually. And that doesn’t include me putting rollers in before bed.” Marietta removed the towel and ruffled the short locks, smiling “Well, this will take half that time, and unless you want something more bouffant-like, I daresay rollers won’t be part of your nighttime routine any longer.” Lisa wasn’t quite sure how to respond, only saying “Yes, I-I guess that’s something to look forward to.” Marietta patted her reassuringly. “I know this is a big change, but it’s more than just ‘something to look forward to’, darling! I’ve mixed up your color just right, so let’s not dally any more with this hesitation!”

 

Lisa hadn’t felt that she was holding things up, but smiled at her stylist. Marietta put on some rubber gloves, picked up a brush, and got to work applying the dye. “So, dearie, tell me, are you going to want me to do your makeup today, too? I’m afraid I wiped all of yours away, so this would of course be on the house.” Lisa started, “Oh, Um, I suppose I hadn’t really thought about it. I’m, ah, actually trying to reduce the amount of makeup I wear, but I don’t think I’m, er, ready to fully commit to a completely makeup-free face.” Marietta chuckled, “Oh, that’s perfectly fine, darling! I’m not one of those wet blanket prudes who think makeup is only for ladies of the night. I will say, though, that a subtle, simpler pattern will be your new standard look, Lisa. You’re still quite young, after all, but you want to convey that you are not only married, but a mother, too. I’ll take care of your eyebrows, too.” With that, two dollops of dye were carefully brushed over Lisa’s naturally light brows. “I’ll shape them up after I rinse the rest of the dye out, naturally. Now, tell me about how it is working for my sister…”

 

Marietta brushed the color thoroughly over Lisa’s hair, and kept the conversation quite lively. Trisha, apparently, despite her current conservative, demure tastes and opinions on women’s fashion and behavior, was apparently quite a little pistol when she was a teenager! Lisa’s laughs combined with Marietta’s chuckles and cackling, and before Lisa knew it, her hair was completely covered by dye. “Well, let’s get this color cooked into this lovely hair of yours, and then all that’ll be left will be the cutting, shaping, and styling!” Lisa smiled wryly at her reflection, as she looked rather funny with two thick globs of dye above her eyes, and thick, dark orange and brown paste caked to her hair on top and above her ears. Marietta sat Lisa down at the same dryer Judy had occupied. It seemed so long ago that Lisa had observed her there. After the hood was lowered, but before the motor was turned on, Marietta walked over to the waiting area and held up the weather Better Homes & Garden magazine Lisa had been reading earlier. “Was this the one you were enjoying, sweetie-pie?” Lisa smiled, nodded, “Yes, thank you so much!” Marietta beamed, “Wonderful. Well, I’ll have you under here for about 35 or 40 minutes, so feel free to rest your eyes again, if you need.” Marietta produced two ear coverings from her smock, and placed them snuggly over Lisa’s ears. The switch was flipped, and soon warm air encircled Lisa’s head.

 

Lisa’s eyelids grew heavier as she flipped through the magazine. Normally, a change of this magnitude would send her heart racing, but the whole experience had, after the initial weeping, been more than pleasant, but there was something else, too, that she couldn’t quite place as to how she was feeling. The cut, the coloring, Marietta’s stressing of the words mother and married, the whole dated, simple atmosphere, it felt…familiar, not new. Her eyes did perk up when she could hear the muffled words of welcome as Marietta greeted a newcomer to her establishment. Another older woman, this time a tall, hunched, and very thin white-haired lady sporting, not the expected bouffant, but instead a true and proper beehive, a truly outdated style that somehow felt more appropriate here, than not. It looked slightly unkempt, but Lisa had no reservations that this would be sorted out soon. Marietta motioned to Lisa and the tall lady waved politely at Lisa before taking a seat in the styling chair and having a cape thrown around her.

 

Lisa’s drowsiness evaporated as she watched with rapt attention as Marietta removed the lady’s spectacles and proceeded to remove several pins from her towering hairdo. The beehive only budged slightly with the pin removal, surely a testament to the amount of spray and holding product likely present, and only started to change significantly as Marietta sprayed water on her white locks and began brushing it apart. Before long, Marietta had transformed the beehive into a large, full bob that reached the lady’s shoulders. Oddly, this full, almost youthful hairstyle looked more out of place than the two decade old beehive hairdo! Both women chatted animatedly as they headed over to the shampoo basin. Lisa couldn’t crane her head enough to comfortably see, so returned to her magazine. One article on curtains later, and Marietta had her client back in the chair, her white locks damp and brushed back from her face. The cart containing perm supplies was brought within Marietta’s reach, but instead of perm rods, the smiling hairdresser pulled out a yellow plastic box of rollers and a smaller tub of green gel that Lisa recognized as setting gel. Although she had not used it before, she recognized the same brand as what Helene used.

 

Scooping some into her fingers and brushing across a comb, Marietta ran the product through her client’s hair in long, even motions, clearly showing how she had mastered the task. Even on white hair, Lisa could tell how much shinier it had become under the ceiling and mirror lights. Starting from the front, Marietta carefully rolled sections of white hair tightly around a roller before pinning it in place. Lisa noted with a bit of amusement that Marietta had to step on her tippy-toes once or twice, as even with the chair lowered to the ground, this client was quite tall. More evidence of Marietta’s skill, a neat, perfectly arranged curler set graced the lady’s head, with even rows of purple and green covering her sides, back, and top, with two smaller yellow curlers wrapped around her bangs. A distant ringing suddenly filled Lisa’s ears. Confused, Lisa looked around, only to see a smiling Marietta setting down the small alarm clock. The tall lady stepped out of the chair and Marietta bustled around her, approaching the hooded dryer.

 

The hood was raised and Lisa’s ear coverings were quickly removed. “Lisa, dearie, this is Mrs. Roberta Hill. Roberta, Lisa here works for Trisha, and is actually being given quite the change today. A real ‘maturing’ transformation.” Roberta smiled broadly, “Oh, really? Well, I’ll enjoy seeing you finished out then, Lisa. And nice to meet you. Marietta has been doing my hair since 1968, and in practically the same style, too! You’re in very good hands.” Marietta blushed slightly and put a hand over her bosom, “Oh, Roberta! You’re too kind!” She then looked over at Lisa, her smile widening. “Well, we’re getting to the exciting part, dearie! Now, we’re going to have you and Roberta switch places, please!” Lisa stood up, clutching her magazine, smiling a bit awkwardly as Marietta situated Roberta under the dryer. A net was wrapped around her rollers, and clean ear coverings were likewise placed on Roberta, who asked if she could read the same magazine Lisa held. Lisa handed it over, and the dryer hood was lowered and flipped on. “Excellent!” huffed Marietta, her hands at her wide hips. “Now, if you’ll follow me to the shampoo bowl, darling, we’ll get that dye right out so you can see your new color!”

 

Lisa’s excitement now started to build, with a hint of nervousness. A fresh towel was placed around her shoulders and Lisa’s head was gently lowered into the shampoo basin. Before the water began running, though, a cool washcloth was wiped over her brows twice, with Marietta saying “Well, your brows, though I still have to shape them up a bit, turned out lovely, so this bodes well for your hair!” Lisa smiled, “O-oh, oh, good!”, not really certain as to what else she could say! As with before, Marietta treated Lisa to a luxurious shampooing, though this session was much more brief, but now less thorough. “Hmm, just perfect. You know, sweetie-pie, with your brows already done, this really looks quite natural. I think you’ll be real pleased with how the color looks for you!”  

 

Lisa was again towel dried and led back to the chair. Lisa stole a glance at Roberta, who, despite requesting the magazine, had dropped any sense of subtlety and was watching Marietta prepare her client intently. She smiled though, and Lisa smiled back. “Okay sweetie-pie, are you ready for your new color?” Lisa nodded, though her heart started racing. “Ta-da!” said Marietta, allowing herself to be a bit theatrical. Gone were her dishwater, youthfully colored locks; now, Lisa was sporting a dark orange brunette shade, uniformly colored throughout her entire hair. There was no variation in hue whatsoever. “Now, I know it’s maybe a little bit more red than you were expecting, but I think this is a lovely Fall shade, wouldn’t you say, Lisa?” Lisa’s eyes were widened in a stunned expression. “Uh, y-yes. Wow, I mean, it’s very nice, just a bit more different than I was expecting.” The new color aged her slightly, at least Lisa suspected. Although it had darkened slightly over the years, she had never experimented with different hair colors, not even while in college. Losing the length was an expected change, maybe even a welcomed one, but this truly felt like something alien. And yet, seeing her eyebrows now more pronounced thanks to their darker shade, and the way the light reflected off her hair, giving it an almost auburn sheen, her shock quickly transformed into delight. 

 

Marietta detected the shift, and patiently asked “Are you alright, dearie? We still have quite a more pronounced change to get through, but I can give you a moment if you need to collect yourself.” Lisa sniffled, but smiled, “No, no, I’m fine! I think that I’m really just starting to appreciate the change I’m undergoing!” Relief spread across Marietta’s face, and she replied “Oh, but it’s going to be a good change! You’ll see, if you haven’t already. Well, let’s not keep you waiting anymore. On to the cut, darling dearie!” Marietta’s zeal was now almost palpable, and her excitement manifested itself in a bout of happy humming as she began brushing and sectioning off Lisa’s hair. Lisa’ bit her bottom lip as Marietta retrieved a fresh set of shears from a drawer. She was well beyond the point of no return now, but apprehension still fluttered through her mind!

 

The cuts Marietta made were rapid, yet elegant. In the corner of the mirror, Lisa could see a curious Roberta observing her. The cool metal shears pressed against the sides of her head in a downward, sloping direction. Marietta used a small comb to lift up a tiny section, masterfully portioned the section between her fingers to cut the ends with even greater precision. Marietta used this technique all over, save for the hair that would inevitably become the fringe of the final style. As Marietta continued working, Lisa couldn’t help but be surprised by how…little was actually being taken off. Marietta smiled, “Ah, this is going to be just the perfect hairdo for you, Lisa. Suited just for a busy mother like you!” Lisa chuckled, “Well, I still think I’ll have to stay on top of the teasing and blow-drying, at least based on that picture you showed me, Marietta.” The stylist paused for a moment, and said delicately, “Well, I don’t think you’ll have to do quite as much as you might think, sweetie-pie. I’m using that picture as more of inspiration than a true reference. You’ll find this style very manageable, now don’t you worry.” Lisa opened her mouth to say something, but closed it, finding herself unable to articulate what she was feeling. If she wasn’t going to look like the picture, then how WAS she going to look?

 

Lisa was spun around to face Roberta, away from the mirror. Lisa’s cheeks reddened slightly as Roberta gave her a smiling, knowing, slightly haughty expression, as if she somehow knew that Lisa had suddenly become worried. “Please lean your head forward, dearie. I need to round out the back.” Lisa did so, closing her eyes and trying to keep herself calm. These sudden rush of nerves made no sense, and yet Lisa felt justified in the light panic that was setting in. On one hand, she had already experienced the hardest part: having most of her locks cut short. The color had been unexpected, sure, but much to her own surprise, she didn’t just accept the change in her natural color, she actually liked it! The style Marietta had shown her had, despite its unconventional shape and overtly dated appearance, called to her right away. The fact that she now knew she wasn’t going to end up with that exact style, but rather something similar, hopefully, shook her whole commitment to this change. Lisa’s swirl of thoughts was interrupted by Marietta gently raising her head with both of her hands and saying softly, “There we are. Lisa, is something bothering you? Where’d that smile go off to?” Lisa blinked several times, feeling a sudden swell of hot tears pool in her eyes. “Er, n-sorry. I was just-” Marietta tapped Lisa’s cheeks. “Just fully realizing how much your hair has been changed? I know that expression, darling. Believe me, I have had who knows how many gals come in over the years, excited for a new look and still have an emotional crisis. We’re almost done, though. I just need to shape these sides, your bangs, and then you can see the new you!” This reassurance pierced the doubts that Lisa was experiencing, and after blinking away a few more tears, found herself once again mostly comfortable with her situation.

 

Still, as Lisa felt her start to turn the chair slightly, she closed her eyes tightly. This, too, did not go unnoticed by the stylist. “Oh, do you not want to see yourself until I’m done?” Lisa peeked an eye open, and nodded. “Er, yes, please. I-I know that sounds a little stupid.” Marietta made an exaggerated wave and a dismissive noise with her mouth. “Oh, stop it! I do this more often than you might think. I actually kind of like it when ladies ask for this, as it means you get to see your hair when it’s ready to be unveiled, instead of the awkward stages leading up to it! Besides,” she then switched to a whisper, “I think you and I are giving Roberta a good show!” Roberta was indeed continuing to watch the transformation with keen interest! Roberta gave a more sincere smile as she and Lisa made eye contact, or perhaps the same smile as before thought Lisa, now that her own misgivings were not clouding her mind.   

 

Marietta was again attacking her sides, and Lisa couldn’t help but feel a bit preoccupied as the cool metal of the shears closed right next to the middle of her ears. Finally, the last clip in her hair was released, causing her dyed locks to tumble over her eyes. Marietta addressed this with rapid fashion, using the comb again in tandem with her shears. This time, however, she would instead brush down before snipping. Lisa was relieved that Marietta’s shears did not wander too far above her eyebrows, but still thought the sensation was a bit odd. Lisa had not worn bangs since she was in grade school, and hadn’t felt the inclination to try them again until today. Marietta brushed several loose hairs before retrieving the hairdryer and a round brush. “Keep your eyes closed, dearie. This will only take a moment or two.” Lisa nodded, then felt a blast of warm air hit her face and dozens of little hairs fly about. Marietta used a shaving brush tow gently wipe around her ears, cheeks, and nose, eliciting two sneezes from Lisa, before resuming her styling. Lisa kept here eyes closed, but felt Mareitta carefully curl the ends of her bangs, side, and back under. Once this was done, the shears came out again, and with Marietta humming happily, a few errant hairs were removed. 

 

Lisa was about to say she was ready to be turned around when the wind-up clock rang, causing Lisa to shriek in surprise. “Oh, so sorry, sweetie-pie!” said Marietta, trying and failing to suppress a few giggles. “Let me just go turn off Roberta’s dryer, and then I’ll be right back to finish you off, alright?” Lisa’s cheeks again flushed from embarrassment, but she giggled, too. Not having anywhere else to sit, Roberta remained in the dryer chair once the hood had been lifted, but as soon as she had her ear coverings removed, remarked “Sorry, hon. I know I’ve been staring at you, but Marietta’s given you QUITE the new look! I always enjoy a good, mumsy cut.” Before Lisa could ask what she meant by ‘mumsy’, Marietta was already back, now shaking a large can of hairspray. “Just a dash, dearie. As you’ll discover, this cut naturally holds its shape very, very well.” A small, plastic shield was placed over Lisa’s closed eyes as a cloud of hairspray filled the air. True to her word, Marietta didn’t apply a second coat, instead dispersing the air and saying “Ah, perfect. Speaking of which, are you ready to see the new, mature Lisa, my darling dearie?” Lisa took a deep breath, smiled, and said “Yes, please, Marietta!” With a quick movement, Lisa faced the mirror. 

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For a long, tenuous moment, all were silent. Although not a complete departure from the picture Marietta had shown her, Lisa would not exactly call her final style as closely resembling the source material. Instead of a full, larger shape like the picture, Lisa’s hair was much smaller with less body. It still recalled a mushroom shape, but one that had been pulled back. The rounded shape extended from her mostly straight bangs into a gradual, sloping arrangement that reached halfway through her ears, before ending midway down her neck in a bowled curve. It was paradoxical, resembling both a young boy’s cut, and yet recalling an elderly lady’s bubble bouffant, too. The uniform color, too, helped solidify it as an unquestionably mature style, and when coupled with her completely bare face, aged her significantly. Lisa now looked closer to 40, if not 40 flat out, than not. This was a no-frills, objectively demure and certainly not sexy hairstyle. And yet, as the ends of her lips twitched upward, Lisa couldn’t help but concede that her new hairstyle…felt right.

 

Marietta spoke in a slightly rushed, almost defensive tone, “You see, I figured a simpler, more motherly style would suit you more, dearie, and this is actually quite a feminine style from the right angle, and-” But now, it was Lisa’s turn to interrupt. “No, Marietta, I like it! No, I adore it! Yes, it’s, ah, different from what I was envisioning, but I’m fine with this.” She shook her head, seeing the cropped style flutter back into place. “I, er, I think this is what I needed. My style, my old one, well, it was stuck in the past. I was stuck in the past.” Marietta added in a more reflective tone, “You are a mother, after all, and that’s just what I was hoping to convey with this style. So, it’s safe to say you’re pleased?” Lisa gave her a very sincere look, “Marietta, this is the most significant haircut I’ve had. I will have to get used to it, but I am very happy with this new hairdo!” Roberta chimed in, “I know I’ve been a spectator for all of this, hon, but you wear it well. Marietta, aren’t you going to give this woman a new face, too?” 

 

Lisa was the one to respond, saying “Actually, Marietta, let’s take a raincheck on the new face. I don’t think I’m committing to being entirely makeup free, but, well, I want to try a more natural look today. Let my new hairstyle speak for itself.” Marietta looked shocked, but delighted, at the request, answering “Well of course, sweetie-pie! I think that’s a lovely, lovely thought. Well, it appears we’re done today, then! Here, let me take this cape off you, and you can be on your way.” The cape was whisked away, allowing Lisa yet another perspective of her new coiffure. Her hands were neatly folded in her lap, and with her flowery, simple pleated dress, she looked even more demure. After she flattened the creases on her outfit, she turned to see Marietta, a large smile spread across her plump cheeks. Without saying anything, they both moved in for a warm embrace. After a moment, Lisa pulled back, batting back a few tears. “You should be commended for accepting your new style and sensibility with such quiet grace, my friend,” beamed Marietta. Lisa blushed as she slipped on her sweater jacket and took her purse from her stylist. Lisa insisted on paying full price for her makeover, even giving Marietta a generous tip, despite her protests. However, Lisa was unable to leave the beauty parlor without accepting a paper bag full of shampoo, hairspray, brushes, and an appointment card for a trim four weeks later. Lisa gave a wave to Roberta before departing, but couldn’t leave without giving Marietta one more hug.

 

“Now, if my sister has one mean word to say about your hair, dearie, you let me know right away, understand?” said Marietta, wagging a pudgy finger threateningly. Lisa giggled, “Oh, I will! And, er, thank you, again. Really, for everything.” Marietta gave her one more smile before leaving. Lisa placed her bag of complimentary items in the car and left to run a few errands before returning home. As she drove, she couldn’t help but steal glances of herself in the rearview mirror or running her fingers through her dramatically shortened locks. The bank was the first stop, and would prove to be momentous. As Lisa waited in line to see a teller, she couldn’t help but stare at the reflection of herself in the windows. Without her long hair to cover some of her features, she noticed that her slightly pear-shaped figure was more pronounced in her floral dress. She chuckled to herself as she studied her face, which, when not expressing emotion, now carried a hint of severity. “Ma’am? I can take you over here.” She looked up. Ma’am? she thought, smiling inwardly. When she wasn’t running errands with the girls, she was almost never referred to as ‘Ma’am’, always ‘Miss’. 

 

The teller was a young man, no older than 25, merely 8 years younger than she was, and yet now, they seemed almost an entire generation apart! While not in a patronizing way, the young teller treated Lisa with greater courtesy than she was accustomed to, and seemed more patient when helping her as well. When Lisa turned over her driver’s license to accompany her withdrawal, the teller did a double take, though he refrained from making any comment. The post office was next, and Lisa, much to her unexpected delight, relished the improved deference with which she was treated. The flower shop was only a block away from the post office, which offered her a slight dilemma. She would after all, be reporting to work tomorrow morning, but she also felt compelled to flaunt her new look for Marcy and Trisha. Smiling, she made up her mind and headed over one street. Checking her reflection, which was most unnecessary due to not a hair being out of place and no makeup to touch up, Lisa opened the door of her employer.

 

“Good afternoon, how may I assist-Lisa!!?! Is that you?” shrieked Marcy, almost dropping the vase she was filling. Lisa giggled, walking up to Marcy. “It sure is! What do you think?” Lisa put her hand over her smock, “What do I think? Mercy, I barely recognized you, dumpling! Trisha, come here a minute!” Lisa put her hand over her mouth to keep from laughing. “Quickly!” barked Marcy. A few seconds later, Lisa could hear Trisha loudly bustling around the corner. “What? What? Marcy-oh. OH! Bless my heart, Lisa! You cut your hair!” Lisa now couldn’t contain herself any more and laughed loudly. “Well, actually, Trisha, your sister did the cutting. I hope this look is more to your liking?” Trisha nodded, like Marcy, she had placed one of her hands on her large, heaving breast. “Well, certainly! There’s no mistaking you for a young lady anymore! My, but she took you so short, too! You look just darling, though, very respectable.” Marcy nodded in agreement, then added, “I guess you won’t be needing that hairnet any longer, hmm?” All three laughed at this. After a few more minutes of Marcy and Trisha showering Lisa with praise, Lisa said it was time for her to leave. Trisha held onto Lisa’s arm briefly, though, and said “Wait, just a moment, dearie. Marce, can you grab that item from the back?” Marcy nodded, and returned a moment later, a bit winded.

 

In Marcy’s arms was a large, rounded vase with a beautiful autumn flower arrangement, and pinned to the top was a tiny card that said “We’re glad to have you here!”. Lisa took it from Marcy and said “Aww, really, for me?” Trisha said a bit shortly, “Well of COURSE for you, Lisa! We truly are glad to have you here with us, and you now look like you really belong as part of this little working family. Now, run along, dearie. We’ll see you bright and early tomorrow morning.” Lisa gave each of them a warm hug, something not even done when she had announced her pregnancies. Lisa was all smiles during the brief ride home. As she carefully carried the vase up to the front door, she braced herself for more reactions, the ones she was most concerned with.

 

She rang the doorbell, and could here Helene saying “Coming, coming!” The door opened a few seconds later, and she said “Why thank you, I’ll take these-oh, Lisa, you look fantastic!” Lisa primped the ends of her hair with her now free hands, saying “Really, you think so?” Helene set the flower arrangement on the washstand, and gave her daughter-in-law a kiss on the cheek and a warm embrace (so many in one day!). “I know so, honey. I was expecting a short perm, but this just fits you perfectly, Lisa. Your hair is more conservative than mine! And I have to say, foregoing makeup is a nice addition, er, subtraction, rather.” Lisa smiled, again running her hands through her hair. “I feel so much better, and not just because my hair doesn’t smell anymore.” Helene beamed, “You should! Now, I’ll hold my tongue, but have you thought about how Izzy will react?” Lisa chuckled, “Not until right now.” She then called into the other room, “Izzy, sweetie, can you come here for a minute and say hi to Mommy?”

 

Izzy was in the family room, having another tea party. “Coming, Mommy!” Izzy ran into the room, her arms already outstretched for a hug. “Hi Mommy! WOW, Mommy! Your hair is different!” Lisa picked up Izzy, putting her in her arms. “It sure is! And you know what? Mommy’s hair doesn’t smell stinky anymore, either! See?” Izzy leaned in, sniffing loudly. “No! It smells nice!” Lisa laughed, setting her oldest down. “I like it, Mommy!” said Izzy, putting her hands behind her back. “Thank you, baby! I like it, too. Now, have you had lunch yet? I’m starved!” The three of them enjoyed a nice lunch of ham and cheese sandwiches, after which Lisa went to collect Melanie from her nap. Although not able to formulate any words, baby Melanie gave her mother a very perplexed look when she saw her, whimpering slightly before recognizing her. I hope this is the most negative reaction I have today! Lisa nervously thought, now considering James for the first time.

 

Helene was invited to stay for not only the afternoon, but dinner as well. Izzy and Melanie ate sooner than Lisa and Helene, as Lisa had called James to tell him that she would wait to eat with him once he got home. When he asked how her hair appointment went, she coyly said “You’ll just have to wait and see!”. Helene helped prepare their dinner, sauteed chicken and vegetables with baked potatoes. Shortly after 7, Helene excused herself briefly while Lisa pulled the potatoes out of the oven. She lifted the tinfoil on one of them, and accidentally pulled it off the counter, causing it to hit and splatter against the floor. “Oh darn it!” she exclaimed. Lisa grabbed a washcloth and bent over to start wiping it up. “Hi, Mom. Have you seen Lisa?” Lisa bolted up, shocked that James was suddenly home. “I’m in the other room, sweetheart!” called Helene.

 

Lisa turned around to face James who was brick red in the face. James spluttered, putting a hand up in an almost defensive position, “Sorry, love, the dress, er, I mean, I thought-” Lisa smiled, putting a finger on his lips. “Shh, the old me would have taken that as a huge blow to her self-esteem. But now, well, what do you think?” James’ embarrassed expression shifted to relief and then to curiosity. “Wow, well, it’s really short, but not too short. Did she, did you, I mean, it IS a different color, right?” Lisa rolled her eyes, but smiled. “YES. But what else do you think? Do you…do you like it? And not just the hair, either. The dress, the no makeup and simple jewelry. All of it.” He picked up both of her hands. “Lisa, I told you I’d find you beautiful with whatever you had done to your hair, and that applies to the rest of you, too. Yes, I do like it. I’m still a little bit in shock, to be honest, but you look stunning. You look, well, you look like the mother of my children.” Lisa beamed at this. “Really? You mean it?” He ran his fingers through her short hair, “Mm, still fun. Yes, I do.” He leaned in, but of course, “Did you need something, oops!” said Helene, covering her mouth.

 

Lisa chuckled, but pecked James on the cheek. “No ‘oops’, Helene. Your son seems happy, so I’m happy. Will you help me serve plates?” Helene playfully slapped her son’s arm. “Well of COURSE he’d like it! I hope Jimmy didn’t cause you any doubt!” James sighed, “No, mom. I was completely honest; I love it!” Helene gave him a slightly skeptical look, but then said more softly to Lisa, “I hope you didn’t have any doubts either, honey. Seeing you here, neat hair, modest dress, serving what I’m sure will be an absolutely delicious dinner, well, I’m very blessed to have you as a daughter-in-law, Lisa.” Lisa grinned, giving Helene her second embrace of the day. “Thank you, Helene. Now, before this ‘delicious dinner’ gets cold, please, hold your plates out for me!” 

…… 

 

The weeks following Lisa’s makeover were full of shocked reactions to her new style from friends and acquaintances. Most were positive, but a few of her girlfriends didn’t quite understand. “Not to be rude, but don’t you want to even TRY to look good anymore?” said one such friend, Amy. Lisa was hurt a bit by the remark, but thankfully, another friend, Michelle, defended her, saying “She DOES look good, in a more traditional, classic sense. You’re not hiding the fact that you’re a mother, Lisa, and I really like that. If Vince and I weren’t trying for another one, I’d join you in the short hair club!” isa smiled, “Well, Michelle,” she then lowered her voice to just above a whisper, “James has actually, ah, well, he’s been much more receptive to my new look than I would have thought.” She then smiled, sitting back up in her, her eyebrows raised. “You should really should think about it, Michelle.” Amy rolled her eyes, “You two have a screw loose. Well, I have to go anyway. Talk to you two later.” They exchanged the obligatory good-byes, but Michelle hung back, making sure she was out of Amy’s ear-shot. Lisa grinned, slyly, “Amy’s not married. Maybe she’ll get it if she ever manages to land herself a husband.” Michelle sat back down at the table, smiling, but visibly perplexed. “Yeah, I think you’re right. I don’t know. I’ve had long hair, curly or otherwise, forever! I wouldn’t even know where to go to get something like yours!” Lisa chuckled. “Well, as it so happens, I actually have a spare card for the woman who did my hair…” 

6 responses to “The Motherly Metamorphosis

  1. HairJaned,

    This was a really fun story–you did such a great job describing Lisa’s emotional journey. Speaking as a married guy, you showed real insight into the feelings of a woman going through this transition. I was very intrigued by her emotional tumult, followed by happy acceptance.

    I loved having Marietta take charge and giving Lisa a drastic cut/color. Once Lisa made the decision to sit in her chair, it was all over. You did an excellent job describing the whole process.

    Please consider doing a follow up–Lisa does need a bouffant perm and plenty of lacquer. A weekly set would be the perfect “Mom’s day off” event!

    Again, great work.

    Bill

    1. Thanks a lot for your praise and insights, Bill!

      Maybe another chapter can be on the horizon, but I’d have to think about it. I’d welcome any ideas! I do like the idea of Lisa getting permed after all.

  2. It is, without a doubt, one of the best stories I have ever read. I enjoyed the introduction of the secondary characters and especially how you managed to convey all of Lisa’s emotions while having her haircut. It’s also very nice that the story doesn’t end with the haircut but you take it further and describe Lisa’s encounter with the rest of the characters and their reactions to the haircut.
    Regarding a continuation, I have the following idea: Lisa could be working at the flower shop and a customer handed her a brochure from a foundation that donates hair. Lisa might be interested and after much thought decide to shave her head. It could be in a public place (she could be the only woman shaved), or in the garden of her house surrounded by family and friends.
    In any case, I will be happy to read the continuation if you decide to write it.

    1. Thank you so much, topahoek! Your praise means the world, and I am flattered you enjoy it so much!

      I’m sorry to say that I have already started a sequel that is headed in a different direction than your idea, though I will confess I am somewhat intrigued by your vision! Maybe in the future, once her next hairdo has grown out, she can entertain this idea! Thanks again for the compliments!

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