Unmasked

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So much tragedy. So many ruined lives. No-one saw it coming. One minute you’re navigating life as always, the next you’re cowering behind closed doors, hiding from your fellow man. Plans ruined, dreams in tatters.

I’ve mellowed over the past months, but it’s been horrible. Only now is a sense of fatalism kicking in. I can either hide behind the sofa for the rest of my days or I can grab life by the throat and experience whatever comes my way. That’s not to say I have any thoughts about being reckless, but all of this time on my own has led me to reflect on things that I haven’t done and won’t get the chance to do unless I hurry up about it.

Having kids has never figured in my plans, but you never know what might come along. I’m 41, so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that Mr Right might appear and turn my life on its head. Quite why that should happen now though, I just don’t know. I’d been intending to take some time and travel, before the very notion became fantasy. I’m my own boss, financially independent, so why not? At least that was my thinking before all this happened. I was going to let my hair down, let myself get swept off my feet by some foreign hunk, all manner of things. And what have I been doing for the past however-many weeks? The same as everyone else. Watching films about a world that doesn’t exist anymore, watching porn when I never would’ve bothered before. Who knew all that stuff was there at the click of a mouse? Who knew just how absorbing it can be to watch other people do things to each other. Before all this started, I was generally too busy to get drawn into that world and if I needed an occasional release, I didn’t usually have any trouble in finding someone to scratch my itch. Travelling for work gave you that sort of freedom, that sort of anonymity.

Now I’d been home alone for too long, mouse and clit over-used. Thoughts about travel had been relegated to the far corners of my mind. It just wasn’t going to happen. Instead, a different world had coloured my thoughts. I’d discovered that my sex-life had been pedestrian, when I’d previously thought of it as adventurous enough. Now I knew better. I’d never had a threesome. Never licked pussy. Never been taken up the you-know-where. Never gone black…and that just seemed to be the mainstream stuff. Some of the other stuff I just couldn’t bring myself to watch.

I took a sip of wine, embarrassed at the empty TV dinner container still lying on the coffee table. Not so long ago, I would’ve put it on a plate to eat it, but now I couldn’t even be bothered to do that. Couldn’t even take the empty to the kitchen, even though I’d just got out of the shower and was about to settle down for some “me-time” (what other sort was there, these days?). I scrolled down the page on my laptop. What is it they say? So much porn, so little time. Have a thought for those of us that are starting late!

I closed my eyes, which was something that I’d started to do recently. I liked to be surprised by what I watched, so I closed my eyes, scrolled a little and then clicked at random. I’d made a promise to myself that whatever I selected, I’d watch, unless it turned my stomach or involved doing harm to someone. I clicked, a tingle of excitement welling up inside me. What delight would I be presented with tonight?

Lesbians.

Okay, not my favourite, but it made a change from sympathising with some poor woman getting impaled on something improbable. It looked like my resolve was going to be tested. Not much of a story. I liked to have a bit of scene-setting, get into the characters a little more, understand their motivation. I
know, maybe I’m looking in the wrong place. All I’m saying, is that I like to be warmed up a little before hands and mouths start to roam. Two minutes in and we have some full-scale tunnelling going on – with tools. I take a mouthful of wine and hope that it’ll be over soon. How many times have I said that for real, I thought!

Thankfully, those involved lost interest shortly after I did, at which point I realised that I’d forgotten to filter out the short, crappy ones. No wonder they got down to it so quickly. I set the bar high, over 40 minutes. The page refreshed, I closed my eyes and clicked again. This was better. I topped up my glass and got comfortable. Atmosphere, great. Sub-titles, okay, I could cope with those. Someone had gone to a bit of trouble to think about this one, unlike the previous mistake. Characters appeared, conversations were had. We all knew where it was going, but at least they were making the effort to create a little dramatic tension. Then my interest was piqued. A new character appeared. Older, elegant, but with the shortest hair you could imagine. Man-hair. Very short though, even for a man. I was captivated by her, my interest in the plot waning. I actually found myself fast-forwarding to find scenes that she was in. All my previous high-brow ideas about plot and character development were gone. I just wanted to look at this woman. But I didn’t know why.

I found myself stroking my own damp hair while I watched. I’d only towel-dried it when I came out of the shower. I wasn’t intending to go out tomorrow, so I didn’t really see the point. I could have blow-dried it into an obedient bob, but who would know? I’d rather spend the time “relaxing”, especially now that I’d discovered this vision of loveliness. I reached for my glass, feeling that I was on the cusp of something momentous. Until now, I’d regarded the women in these films as touchstones, something to measure myself against. How far short of their standards did I fall? Could I pretend to have better boobs than them, a firmer backside? What tips could I pick up? I’d never actually wanted to look like one of them. Until now, that is.

There was just something about this woman. She was striking, different. I paused the film, surprising myself that I was doing it to look at a woman who must have been pushing 50, when most other viewers would probably focus on her “daughter”, the one with the suspiciously-large tits. It impressed me that this woman could give me a run for my money in both the chest and backside departments. It would be a close run thing, but it probably shouldn’t be. I made a mental note to book in at the gym this week. Once I’d convinced myself that she’d got an enviable body for her age, I pressed ‘Play’ again. She turned towards the camera to show the male character what she’d got to offer. She was surprisingly flexible, generous with the preview. Not a hint of stubble on her well-defined mound. I’d let myself go during lockdown, let the strip flourish. That was going to be gone as soon as I went upstairs again. I kept coming back to her hair. What would make someone push the boundaries so hard? How I wished that I could ask her! I’d felt beyond-brave when I’d let my stylist bob me, separating me from my desperate-looking bra-strap hair. She’d been right; there comes a time when you have to acknowledge the passing of time and accept that you aren’t twenty anymore. I got used to it, told myself that I looked sophisticated with shorter hair. If I was sophisticated, what would you call that woman on screen, the one who had just taken a veritable salami without blinking. I copied the url for later viewing and let the film run.

The obvious thing for me to do was to fill my glass again, but I wanted to stay clear-headed. I had work to do.

I went into detective mode, trying to identify her, find more of her films. I succeeded and was rewarded with the sight of her with longer hair, never longer than her collar. She appeared to have come to her calling quite late as she only had a handful of films that I could find and in all of those she as what you’d call “mature”. She was attractive enough in those other films, but I didn’t spend too much time watching them. There was no point, since I knew that I preferred the other version of her. I returned to the original, watching it from the beginning, but knowing exactly which scene I was working up to. I paced myself, but by the time she appeared in corset and stockings, my robe was in a pile on the floor and my legs were as hinged as her own. She was accommodating a man half her age, which was probably more satisfying than a couple of fingers. My gaze wandered from the screen during a short scene where the “daughter” was spying on her, and fell on the wine bottle on my coffee table. No, I couldn’t. I did. I’ve been known to try the occasional toy, but this was the first time that I’ve looked down there and seen myself stretched by the neck of a bottle. I surprised myself. I disgusted myself. I excited myself more than I could remember.

I decided that I needed to go to bed. I turned everything off and called myself a slob for leaving an empty wine bottle and relics of dinner on the table.

They’d still be there in the morning. Unlike something else.

I stood naked in front of the bathroom mirror, thinking that I should’ve dragged myself up here sooner. The nail scissors were in the cabinet. They were in my hand. I brushed my free hand downwards, feeling horse-hair for the last time. That’s what an ex had called it. “Horse hair”. I bolted the stable door on him soon enough! Feeling it between my fingers like that though, he hadn’t been far wrong. Maybe I’d done him an injustice. Too late now, for him and the straggly tufts. The blades closed around the first strand, which was longer than I’d imagined. I hadn’t paid that much attention to what was growing down there in recent months, since no-one was going to be taking an interest. Now I knew that pubes grew pretty well under lockdown conditions. I ruthlessly severed another clump, trying not to drop it on the floor, but I knew that some would escape and I’d need to do some hoovering in the morning. I tugged and snipped, hoping that the only razor that I had in the house would be up to the task ahead of it. I’d meant to buy more, but had forgotten. I snipped as much as I could and then soaped up, taking my time, closing my eyes to let images of that actress join me in my task. This isn’t something that I’ve ever done, not all the way. I’ve trimmed for the beach and been reasonably severe, but there was no compassion now. It was all coming off, even if I was in danger of pulling a muscle during my contortions. I’d drunk too much wine, stayed up too late, but I just couldn’t go to bed hairy down there. I got in the shower and ran the water.

I woke early the next morning, smiling when I looked down at the total deforestation. Why hadn’t I done it before? Surely it was meant to be like this, I’d just never taken the wrapping off fully! I was all curves and folds, sexy and slutty. I needed to find an easier way to do it in future, but I didn’t ever want hair down there again. I didn’t want it on the bathroom floor either, so got the hand-held vacuum and cleaned up my carelessness from last night. I looked at my reflection in the mirror, my face framed by the slightly unkempt tendrils of my dark blonde bob. That was me. The me that had been intending to exit lockdown and return to normality. Now I was thinking more of a break out, Steve McQueen style.

I went downstairs and made breakfast. I had a choice of early morning news shows or re-acquainting myself with the lady from last night. I looked at the wine bottle still on the table and smiled. I wondered what it would say if I showed it this morning’s landscape. I reached for the laptop and dialled up “my” film. There she was, elegant, beautiful. Not a hair out of place. I smiled. I doubted that she ever had a bad hair day, not anymore, anyway. I actually found the scenes where she was at least partially-clothed clothed to be sexier than when she was being pummelled by her enthusiastic co-star. I drank my coffee leisurely, savouring both it and the film to the fullest.

I had nothing planned for the day. Work had tailed off for me as for most people and until my clients got back to something close to normality, I’d have plenty of time on my hands. I decided to head to town.

For some reason, it amused me to drive into town in the knowledge that my pubes weren’t accompanying me on the journey. I’d chosen a pair of snug-fitting knickers specially, so that I could walk around knowing that there was no room for anything between me and the material. I might be a late-comer to the bare pussy party, but I was determined to make the most of it. I parked the car and made my way to the High Street, giving a wide-berth to all other life-forms just in case. There weren’t many people to be honest though.

Shops just looked sad without the normal throngs of shoppers. How did some of the staff get through the day without going insane? Sneaky peeks at social media and porn probably. I passed a hair salon and looked in. The staff had visors on. How awkward would that be, for staff and client alike? I walked on aimlessly, just because I could.

I made it to the end of the street and cut down one of the side streets just to see what was actually still open. Not much by the looks of it. I passed another salon, saw the visors and walked on. Is that what we’re going to have to put up with from now on, I wondered. What would it be like to sit there while Darth Vader’s sister gave you a trim? I could do with finding out, but I didn’t fancy the idea at all. It would be a while before I was in front of a client, either in person or on a video call, so it didn’t matter if I looked a little ragged for a while. A stern face flashed across my mind. I paused to look in a shop window. There she was again. Lips not moving, but her message clear, even without sub-titles. It’s not about other people, it’s about pleasing yourself. That’s all very well, but I still have clients with expectations. Where? Point taken. I looked back down the street and turned on my heel.

I opened the door. Silent alarms appeared to go off.

‘Do you have an appointment?’

‘Not yet, that’s what I want to enquire about.’

‘You need an appointment.’

‘Okay, may I have an appointment?’

‘I can’t give you one. You need to call the salon.’

‘Never mind.’

It was over in seconds. I hadn’t got an appointment, didn’t want one, wouldn’t be ringing up for one. Not there anyway. Whatever happened to the way things used to be?

I walked on, trying to push that little confrontation out of my mind. There was something interesting about going to a salon now after seeing my film-woman, but I really didn’t want to be surrounded by people in welding masks. That would put me right off. As I walked, I mused about why I wanted to go into a salon. It certainly wasn’t for a porn star’s haircut, but there was some sort of pull there. I just didn’t know what it was. I cruised past another salon, small, difficult to see in to, but no doubt staffed by similarly-clad people. I paused after a few paces and dialled the number on their sign.

‘Hi’ I said in response to the breezy greeting.

‘What can we do for you?’ the friendly voice asked.

‘I’m not sure. I know it sounds stupid, but I’d just like a chat with someone. To see what my options are, you know’ I burbled.

‘We can do that. I do have to tell you about our precautionary measures’ she said, before launching into what sounded like a scripted piece.’I don’t suppose there’s any way around all that, is there? I just find it intimidating in some way.’

‘I’m afraid not. We try our best, but it is for everyone’s protection’ she explained.

‘Can I come in for a chat then?’ I asked.

‘Sure. When would suit?’

‘I’m actually outside right now’ I said.

‘Oh, right, well pop in and we’ll see what we can do’ the voice said.

I opened the door tentatively, immediately seeing a welcome smile behind a plastic visor.

‘I know, it’s horrible isn’t it?’ the woman said. She was as friendly as she could be in the circumstances and ushered me to a little area next to reception, a little plexi-glass fortress.

‘Sorry, I can’t offer you a coffee. We’re back to basics here’ she apologised.

We got the preliminary chat out of the way and there I was, sitting with my new friend Amy.

‘So Fiona, what can we help you with?’ Amy asked.

‘I’m probably just one more person who’s not been to a stylist for too long. I see it as an opportunity for a fresh start, new salon, new style, but I

think I need a push to actually do something different.’

‘But you’ve clearly been thinking about it, considering some things, ruling other things out. How about we start there?’

I paused for a moment, trying to decide the best way to broach the subject. Was I going to arrive at a destination that I wouldn’t actually like? Should I just sow a few seeds and see what popped up? There were all manner of awful management-speak phrases that popped into my mind, but then I said it.

‘I’ve thought about going short’ I said.

‘Okay. Tell me more’ she invited.

‘When I say short, I’ve thought about very short’ I clarified. She looked at me.

‘There are people who would say that your hair is already short’ she said with a smile. ‘Can you give me an idea what you consider “short”?’

I signed my answer with thumb and forefinger, not very far apart.

‘That is short’ she said, with an admiring expression. ‘Is it the case that you want to know that it’ll suit you before you sit in the chair or is it just something that you’ve vaguely toyed with? Where did the idea come from?’ she asked.

I couldn’t answer the final question truthfully.

‘Yes and yes to the first two questions. I saw a woman on TV with really short hair. That set me thinking’ I replied.

‘Okay. So you’re ready to get in the chair, but you’ve not really thought too much about it? Interesting’ she replied.

‘It sounds silly, I know. I’m overdue a cut. I’m probably overdue a new style. What I don’t want is to go to a new stylist and they pretty much do what I’ve always had, just because they think that’s what I want. I don’t know what I want, but there’s an adventurous side to me that’s telling me just to do it and be damned.’

She nodded appreciatively.

‘Well, it would look very dramatic if you went that short. One way to look at it is that it’ll grow again, so if you hate it, you won’t be stuck with it.

You could always wear a wig if you really hate it. But if you don’t do it, you’ll always wonder how you’d have felt, if you’d actually been brave enough to do it.’

‘That’s what I worry about. Lying on my death bed, with a load of “if only’s”.

‘I think you’re a good way off that yet’ she chuckled. ‘You’re the only one who can decide, but I think it would suit you. Whether you do it, is up to you.

I can’t tell you to do it’ she said.

‘I’d probably be more inclined if times were normal. There’s something about all of this mask business that puts me off. Is there any way that you could do it without the face mask?’

‘That’s a bit like your boyfriend asking if you’re okay with him not using anything, if you don’t mind me being indelicate’ she said uncertainly, trying to gauge my reaction.

‘You’re right. You don’t know where I’ve been’ I replied, trying to make light of the situation.

‘Thank you for understanding’ she said. ‘So, do you want me to book you in? Do you want me to be more persuasive? Would you like to look through some style

books to see if there’s something else that you’d like to try, not so short maybe? There’s always a change of colour. Maybe that would give you the lift

that you’re looking for without taking much off.’

‘Funny you should say that. The idea of going short and then dyeing it black had crossed my mind.’

‘You’re the one, aren’t you?’ she chuckled. ‘Now you’ll have me telling you to cut it off first and then see whether you want to colour it, once you’ve seen what it looks like’ she smiled.

‘I’d best not waste any more of your time’ I said. ‘You’ve been very helpful. I just need to get my head around the mask thing.’

She paused.

‘Give me a minute’ she said, patting my knee and standing up. She exited our protective cube and headed into the salon, out of sight. I took a deep breath, wishing that I could have a sly stroke of my bald mound through my knickers. Just talking about cutting my hair had started to get me all warmed up. I closed my eyes briefly to summon the image of my inspiration. I must have had them closed for longer than I thought, because I sensed a presence nearby. I opened my eyes to see that Amy had returned. She wasn’t alone. A second masked figure had joined her. Tall, lithe, elegant. Even through the mask, I could tell that she was what an old flame would’ve called “a looker”. She was dark-skinned and had shoulder-length electric blue hair. At a guess, I’d say that it was a wig.

‘Sorry to keep you Fiona. Can I introduce you to Caroline? She’s one of our senior stylists who has outside “interests”, if I can call it that. I’ll leave you two to have a chat, because it’s not something that the salon can be seen to be supporting.’

I looked at her. ‘Thanks so much, Amy. You’ve been such a help’ I replied.

‘Wait until you’ve heard what Caroline says before you thank me’ she laughed, leaving the cube once more.

I raised my eyebrows and looked at the new arrival.

‘I get the feeling that we shouldn’t be seen talking to each other’ I said.

‘You’re right. Amy could get into trouble for referring you to me privately. I’m due a break, so how about I meet you in the coffee shop across the street

in a few minutes?’

I want to talk about a haircut not hiring a hit-man, so why the secrecy?

‘Great’ I said. I asked her what I could get for her and made my way to the secret rendezvous point with an added thrill.

The coffee shop was large and mostly empty. An old guy was doing a crossword puzzle, but that was about it. I sat there with two coffees, looking greedy

for several minutes before I saw her come through the front door and look for me in a darkened corner.

‘Sorry about that’ she apologised, sitting opposite me. She was even more striking without the obstruction of the mask.

‘It’s fine. Thanks for giving up your break to talk to me. Did Amy tell you what I wanted?’

‘She said that you want to go short and you don’t want your stylist to wear a mask.’

‘It sounds so silly when I hear you say it’ I replied.

‘Believe me, I hate wearing it as much as you hate me wearing it. I’ve got plenty of clients who won’t come to the salon until we’re able to stop wearing them.’

‘So what do you do?’

‘There’s not much that I can do. It’s for everyone’s safety.’

‘But…?’

‘But, in certain circumstances, then I do what I can’ she replied.

‘I take it that I fall into that category’ I observed.

‘You might. I don’t know. That depends on you.’

All very cryptic.

‘So how do you decide?’

‘You make that decision.’

‘And how do I do that? I’ve said that I want my hair cut by a stylist who doesn’t look like someone out of a sci-fi movie. I’m prepared to take the risk of you not wearing a mask, if you’re happy to take the risk of me not wearing one. I’ll pay extra of course’ I clarified.

She looked at me over the brim of her over-sized cup. Why did they have to be so big? She put her cup carefully on the saucer, still looking at me.

‘Amy said you were adventurous’ she related.

‘Sometimes.’

She paused again.

‘I need to be getting back’ she said abruptly.

‘Wait’ I said urgently. I realised that my hand was gripping her forearm. I took it away apologetically. ‘Is that it, you can’t help me?’ She looked at me again, reaching in to her pocket.

She placed a business card on the table in front of me.

‘I decide the cut. My boyfriend films it. We’re all consenting adults.’

That was it. She got up and walked away, leaving me stunned. My gaze followed her out of the shop. Those few words tumbled over and over in my mind. My coffee was cold by the time I’d returned from wherever I’d just been. I pictured the woman from the film sitting opposite me. Then a woman came in with a push-chair and a grumpy toddler. I gathered my things and left, still musing about that extraordinary meeting.

I trailed round town for a while longer, before heading back home. I’d looked in whatever salons I passed during my ambling, but none of them enticed me the way that the one had where I’d had my strange encounter.

I had lunch when I got home and decided that I needed to consult my video friend for advice. She appeared unphased by the whole thing, going through the same routine as when I last watched her, hair staggeringly short. She didn’t know that I was watching. The afternoon ran away with me. I eventually got up to make tea, taking a detour via my handbag before I reached the kitchen. I stood watching the kettle, with phone in one hand and business card in the other. I dialled the number.

‘Hello’ I said. ‘Is that Caroline?’

‘This is she’ the voice said formally.

‘Hi Caroline, this is Fiona. We had coffee this morning’ I said, hoping that she’d place me. ‘Are you free for a minute to continue our conversation?’

‘I can’t really tell you more than I did this morning’ she replied. ‘If you’re interested, I’ll text you an address. If you don’t think it’s for you, then I’d be happy to see you in the salon, if you want to ring for an appointment.’

‘I just want to know what I’m letting myself in for. How much it’ll cost, you know.’

‘All I can tell you is that there’s no charge. As to what you’re letting yourself in for, think of it as an adventure. If you’re open-minded, it’s for you, if you’re not, well, as I said, I’ll see you in the salon.’

I paused.

‘I’ll see you in the salon then’ she said.

‘No, wait, give me the address.’ I looked frantically for a pen and something to write on. She waited while I wrote. ‘When?’ I asked.

It was her turn to pause.

‘Seven’ she replied.

‘Tonight?’

‘Seven’ she repeated. She was gone. I looked at my phone, not quite sure what I expected it to do. Seven. Less than two hours. What was I going to do? I had a choice of a microwave meal and an evening of random porn or turning up at an address given to me by a woman that I’d known for one cup of coffee, where she and her boyfriend would be. And here I was, wary of a plastic mask in a hairdressing salon!

I thought back to my death-bed scenarios, lying there full of regret at the end of my days. I headed upstairs to the shower.

A fraction before seven, I was parking my car just down the street from the address that Caroline had given me. I’d snatched a sandwich while getting ready and was now sitting in my favourite summer dress, shower-fresh. I’d felt the need to make my hair look as presentable as possible, although that was a fruitless effort these days. One final look in the rear-view mirror and I made my way to the unknown.

I made my way up to the second-floor apartment and barely had chance to ring the bell before the door swung open. There was Caroline in a cute white dress which made her dark skin appear to shine. She was wearing the same type of visor as she’d worn in the salon. I didn’t know what to say. My heart sank. I was wasting my time. She ushered me inside and I went in with the demeanour of a surly teenager.

She looked at my stony face and smiled, reaching up to take the visor off.

‘That better?’ she asked.

‘You’re terrible!’ I told her, relief coursing through me.

I looked around to see where her boyfriend was. She realised what I was doing.

‘Julian got caught up with something at work. He won’t be long, but it’ll give me a chance to do your make-up’ she said.

‘Make-up? Very posh’ I said. But then you didn’t really tell me very much.’

‘You still came, though’ she replied.

‘I was intrigued.’

She got me a glass of wine and led the way to a seating area that would struggle to be called a lounge. I had the impression that this wasn’t where anyone actually lived, it had the aura of a work-space rather than a home.

‘It’s a rental’ she acknowledged, picking up on my suspicions. ‘We both do private work and this suits both of us’ she added.

We chatted briefly about nothing of substance and then I could see that she wanted to get started.

‘It’s probably best that you slip your dress off, so that it doesn’t get ruined if I drop make-up on it’ she said. ‘There’s a robe in there that you can put on’ she said, pointing to what looked like a small bedroom. I took a quick sip of my wine and took the first step into the unknown.

The silky robe felt good, even if it was shorter than one that I would choose for myself. Above the knee by several inches. An indiscretion waiting to happen. It was still better than going out in just my bra and knickers, however expensive they were. I went out to face her, feeling a little ill-at-ease.

She smiled at me.

‘Have a seat’ she said, turning a styling chair to face me. I’m not sure where it had come from; it hadn’t been there when I went into the bedroom.

‘Are you going to tell me what I’m letting myself in for?’ I asked, as I made myself comfortable.

‘That would spoil it, don’t you think?’ she replied.

‘It would help me prepare myself for whatever it is.’

‘Maybe’ she replied cagily. I wasn’t going to get anything out of her. I tried to find a way to stop the robe falling open when I crossed my legs. My head was eased back and she went into make-up artist mode. I closed my eyes, telling myself that it was as innocuous as being in a department store, letting one of their dolly-birds do their thing. I wished that I hadn’t spent so much time trying to do it myself before I came out.

I settled back and enjoyed her ministrations, sensing the care that she was taking, eager to see what she was doing. I suspected that the lack of a mirror was deliberate. I at last felt able to relax and was probably not far off falling asleep while I was sitting there with my head tilted back. It was only the realisation that she wasn’t working on my face anymore that brought me back to the present.

‘Welcome back’ she said, noticing that I had emerged from hibernation. ‘Just a couple more minutes to do your hair and then we’ll be ready for Julian when

he gets here’ she said.

‘But you’re not going to tell me what you’re doing with my hair, are you?’ I said.

‘I’m not cutting it, if that’s what you’re worried about’ she said. I could feel her combing it through. I reduced my level of alert and let her do her thing.

‘Can I see?’ I asked when she said that I was done.

‘You could, but it’ll look odd without the dress.’

‘I don’t think my dress would make much difference’ I replied.

‘Oh, you’re not wearing that. I’ve picked something out for you’ she replied.

I nodded.

‘Just like a proper photo-shoot’ I said.

‘Julian likes to think so’ she replied with a smile.

She opened a closet and picked out one of the garments hanging there. I looked at it. I looked at her.

‘Please tell me that’s for you’ I said. She shook her head and pointed at me.

‘I’ve never worn PVC’ I objected, staring at the unlikely-looking black thing in her hand.

‘So? One thing though. You can’t wear underwear with it. It just doesn’t work’ she said, as if it was the most reasonable statement in the world.

‘I won’t be sitting down then’ I smiled.

‘You’ll be fine. I can help you with it, if you like.’

‘This isn’t one of your little jokes, like the visor, is it?’

‘Absolutely not. I need to get changed too, so you have the bedroom and if you get stuck, just shout’ she said. ‘Oh, and don’t touch your hair.’

I took the dress from her and went back into the little bedroom. It was only at that point that I realised that there was no mirror there either. I’d initially just thought that the decor was Spartan, but now knew that it was deliberate.

I examined the dress, wondering how I was going to get into it. I took a deep breath and shed my underwear. It took a couple of minutes of wriggling and tugging, but I got into it eventually, and even managed to do the zipper myself. I ran my hands over the front of the dress, trying to see if I could pull it down to cover my modesty better. It wasn’t going to play ball. I took a deep breath and went to show Caroline what she’d done to me.

I was confronted by an image from a seventies pop video. I can’t even remember who it was by, but think tight PVC dress, heavy make-up, slicked back hair.

Think slut. That was what I was looking at in the full-length mirror that Caroline had positioned just outside my door. At least no-one will recognise me in whatever pictures that Julian is going to take, I thought.

‘You look incredible’ Caroline said. ‘That dress fits you so well. Probably needs shoes with a decent heel to do it justice, but that won’t be a problem for what we’re doing.’

‘And you still won’t tell me?’

‘Don’t you find it more thrilling not knowing?’

‘Let’s just say that I have an active imagination’ I replied.

‘And had you imagined yourself looking like that?’

‘Point taken’ I replied trying to take in the vision of myself with slicked-back hair.

For the first time I looked beyond my own reflection to take in the PVC-clad arms that were holding the mirror. Caroline put it to one side, allowing me to see exactly what she had on. A catsuit, made out of black PVC, like my dress. Part of the same range? The zipper down the front was undone just enough to show that she wasn’t wearing a bra. Unlike me though, her important bits were fully covered. The electric blue hair was now a vibrant red, same style as before, confirming my initial suspicion that she was wearing a wig. She looked like a superhero.

‘Wow!’ I said. ‘You look stunning.’

‘This, just something that I threw on’ she replied. I smiled.

‘Any word from Julian?’

‘He texted. He’s going to be late’ she said.

I wrinkled my nose in disapproval. ‘So I’ve got to stand around like this until he gets here?’

‘Have a seat, might as well make yourself comfortable.’

‘Not an option in this. I could sit down, but who knows how high it’ll ride up. Not for the faint-hearted, that’s for sure’ I laughed.

She reached up to brush a bit of stray make-up or something from my cheek. ‘We don’t have to wait for him. I can take some pictures’ she said.

‘That would be good, before I get arrested for indecent exposure’ I laughed.

She took my hand and led me into another room, one that was set out as a photographic studio. There was the styling chair where I would get my hair cut. If she could get through the gloop that she’d put on, of course. There was an arm-chair and a chaise-longue or day-bed or whatever you called them. In the corner was a desk.

She had me stand in front of a photographer’s screen and do a few poses. All in the best possible taste and the sort of things that you could show your mother, once you’d both had a couple of drinks. Then it started to get interesting. She had me go over to the chaise-longue and asked me to sit down. I looked at her and reminded her of the impediment that I had to such a rash manoeuvre. She said that I could kneel on it and look back over my shoulder.

All very good. All very tasteful. Then she asked me to brace my arms on the raised back, just leaning forward slightly. Which I did. So far, so good.

The spread palm between my shoulder blades urged me to move my trunk forward.

‘That’s not a good idea’ I objected.

‘It’s a great idea’ she said softly. I went forward slightly, judging my pose still worthy of a PG certificate at worst. I hadn’t bargained for the hand on my calf, which was soon a hand behind my knee, in transit for a more exclusive destination.

‘No, that’s too much’ I said.

‘Okay, that’s fine. We’ve probably done enough pictures anyway’ she agreed. You could almost hear my relief. She placed the camera gently at the far end of the seat, but her hand remained stubbornly on my PVC-covered backside. She knelt on the seat next to me, her hand sliding around and around the shiny material covering my arse. She did a little shimmy, so that she was facing towards me and waited expectantly for me to re-align myself to her. We were kneeling, looking into each other’s eyes.

‘The door isn’t locked, if you want to leave’ she said softly. I looked into her eyes briefly and then closed mine as I felt first contact between her fingertips and my pussy.

‘I’ve never…’ I said.

‘Shhhhh’ she uttered softly. ‘Just enjoy.’

That wasn’t very difficult. Her fingers stroked me, teased me and then slid inside me, causing me to open my eyes again. She’d done this before. We were still looking into each other’s eyes when she leaned in and gave me the sexiest kiss that I think I’ve ever had. Deep and patient and probing. My eyes closed and my legs opened as much as they could within the confines of a tight PVC dress. I was actually kneeling on another woman’s sofa while she gently fingered me! I’d only come for a haircut! Her smile was delightful, her only interest seemed in making me happy and she was certainly doing that. Her smile broadened as she sensed that her task was nearly complete. I could see her willing me towards my goal. I was so close. Just a couple more. I was there.

She rocked on her heels and stood up. There was the outstretched hand again, inviting me to follow her wherever she might lead. I took it and hoped that my knees wouldn’t crack when I got down off my perch. Our destination was the styling chair. She raised our arms, ballroom dancing-style to twirl me into the
chair with suitable drama. Her hands on my shoulders helped me settle back and the sensation of them sliding down my front to cup my boobs distracted me from what was to come. Whatever that was to be. I hadn’t seen a basin in this room, so I didn’t know how she would deal with whatever product she’d put in my hair earlier. Patience, I told myself, all will become clear. She still had handfuls of boobs. My boobs. Previously untouched by any woman in a leisure setting.

‘Would you like me to wear the visor?’ she whispered in my ear.

‘Absolutely not!’ I replied, quite formally in the circumstances.

‘Would you like me to banish the soccer mom?’

‘I think it’s time for something different’ I said, angling my head so that my cheek brushed her forearm.

‘Can I make you beautiful?’ she whispered.

Analyse that question too much and you tie yourself up in knots. Was she saying that I wasn’t beautiful? Easier just to say “Yes”.

Her hands slid tantalisingly back up my shiny black torso and then disappeared. I heard a zipper. It wasn’t mine. I felt a hand on the top of my head, tilting my head backwards, the way that she had when she’d done my make-up. I was tingling with anticipation. The film-woman popped into my head. Was Caroline going to do that? I’d wanted to take a picture to the salon, but there’s something not right about showing a still from a porn film in a public setting. People might get the wrong idea! Did Caroline know that I’d been talking about going so short? Had Amy believed me when I’d done the thumb and forefinger thing? Did she think I was serious? So many questions.

‘It’s really important that you don’t move’ she said’ bending down to whisper in my ear.

‘Okay’ I said, wondering what would happen if I did. Surely any gunk on my head would wipe off the outfits that we were both wearing?

The steadying hand maintained its position. I sensed the other hand approaching, felt it at my forehead, stroking. There it went again, the lightest of touches. I was almost straining to get a better sense of what she was doing. Surely it would be better if she washed that stuff off me, brought me out of the seventies? She seemed to trust me to be still and removed her left hand from the top of my head, which made way for her to sweep her other hand all the way across the top. I was being stroked more than the family pet!

I sensed her moving from behind me, saw her move through my peripheral vision and then come round to stand in front of me. Three things were obvious: the sound of the zipper had been the one at her crotch, not that I looked there first, necessarily, but it was in my line of sight from a sitting position. Her catsuit was open and a hairless, dark mound was on display. Secondly, she wasn’t a redhead anymore. The wig was gone, revealing that her scalp was as bare as her pussy. Thirdly, in one hand she was holding a hank of my oiled hair, whilst in the other she was holding a cut-throat razor like my grandfather used to use. Oh fuck!

‘You haven’t…’ I said in a panic.

She placed the hank of hair in my lap. It didn’t look like my hair, didn’t have the texture of my hair. It was sleek and dark with oil.

‘If you’re going as short as Amy said you wanted, you may as well go all the way. Who knows, you might like it’ she said. She seemed to be trying to distract me from what she’d just done by presenting me with her bare mound.

So many things flew around my mind.

‘Why didn’t you tell me what you were going to do?’

‘Would you have let me?’

‘Maybe’ I replied.

‘Do you like that I’ve done it though?’

‘I think that I’d rather have known before you did it.’

I looked up at her, fascinated by the sight of her without a wig. Without hair. There was no hint of hair. Just bald. Just stunning. I wanted to stroke it, see what it felt like. I heard my mother’s voice in my head telling me that it’s rude to stare, but I couldn’t help myself. It was so unexpected. Even though I’d known that she was wearing a wig, I’d expected her to still have her own hair underneath. Short maybe, but still hair.

‘Why?’

‘Because just the thought of it would’ve made me wet’ I confessed. That was a bit more direct than I’d ever been with a stylist before, but then I’d never seen the ripe pussy lips of one of my stylists before.

‘Doing it without telling you made me wet’ she said, moving her pelvis just that little bit closer. She’d waxed away her “Welcome mat”, but the invitation was there all the same. I moved my right hand up hesitantly, middle finger extended.

‘It won’t bite’ Caroline said with a chuckle. I aimed for a point on her PVC-belly and trailed my finger down. Her suit was a marvel of craftsmanship, with a removable panel that show-cased her sex. I left PVC and moved onto that wonderful skin, hesitant, but curious. Everything in my head screamed that this was wrong, but I so wanted to do it. Seize the day and all that. My finger started its descent, slipping into her groove and then sliding into her moist softness.

‘You cut hair every day, but it still does this to you?’ I asked, looking up into her eyes.

‘That’s all you’ she replied. Good answer. My finger was swallowed by her warmth. Her hand covered mine.

‘How about we finish what we started, then we can relax’ she suggested. Fine by me.

‘Can I see?’ I asked, retrieving my finger.

‘Not yet. When I’m done’ she replied softly. She went back to her position behind me. I closed my eyes in anticipation of the stroking that I now knew was taking away my hair.

I was excited by what she was doing. At the same time it frightened me. Would it suit me? What would I tell people? Would I wear a wig? Why did she wear a wig? I’d have to ask her when she’d finished. She started her work again, angling my head with the fingers that I knew I wanted to tease me, touch me everywhere. I wanted to be bald.

The oil in my hair let the razor slide across my scalp effortlessly. Although the sight of someone wielding a bare razor should scare the living daylights out of you, I was at ease. If she hadn’t have stopped part way through, I’m sure that she could’ve shaved my whole head without me actually realising that

that was what she’d done. Of course, the idea of someone shaving your head uninvited isn’t the first thing that pops into your mind. I’d expected her to wash the oily stuff out, maybe have a little fun with an intermediate cut before the final cut. She could’ve dried it after washing it, used clippers like in barbershops. Surely that’s what my virtual friend would’ve had done. There’s no way that her hair was cut that short with scissors. Instead, my hair was being done with no washing, no intermediate cut, no clippers. Just a menacing-looking steel blade that caressed my scalp as it eased away convention.

Caroline moved around me gracefully while she worked. I looked, but didn’t touch. I told myself that it was a crash-course, a conversion course where I had only minutes to abandon all that I was meant to find attractive and embrace that which shouldn’t interest me. I looked at her enviously-long legs, the curve of her backside, the show-cased lower belly which gave way to the split of her lips. There were no hairy thighs, hard buns or determined cock with only one destination in mind. There was just anticipation of new experience, not least of which was seeing myself without hair for the first time.

I couldn’t see, but I could sense from the change in Caroline’s movements that she was nearing the end. She was stroking less, checking more. She moved in front of me, took a step back and crouched down to look at me. She smiled at what was in front of her. I took in the preview of what was in prospect for me: semi-concealed boobs, peek-a-boo pussy. I just knew that I would squelch if I moved.

‘Don’t move’ she commanded as if reading my thoughts. She stood up and went to the kitchen, returning only moments later with a bowl and a cloth. She draped the warm cloth across my scalp, letting it sit for a few moments before wiping my head with it. She was close. I couldn’t resist running my hand up the back of her leg to explore her buttocks. She took a step back, putting the bowl down and just stood there, silently announcing that she was finished. I looked down at the hair that had been mine, but didn’t look like mine. I eased forward on the chair, easing onto my knees so that I was supplicant before her. I leant in to her, planting a kiss of thanks on that sculpted mound. Her hands clasped the back of my head, pressing me in to her, guiding me lower.

My tongue found her groove and then I tasted her, lapped at her.

I heard the procession of zipper teeth as she drew down the main fastening to release herself from the confines of her suit. She stepped back to let me watch the PVC peel away from her. This wasn’t the first time she’d unwrapped herself for someone else’s pleasure. Her boobs were heavy and full, crowned with confirmation of her excitement. Her skin showed the benefits of a disciplined moisturising regime; she positively glowed. I wanted to see myself without hair, but couldn’t draw myself away.

She lay on the carpet, feet drawn up, knees apart. She smiled at me, opening herself with her index finger. Even for those with no previous inclination, it was impossible to resist. I was like a cat with a saucer of milk. I looked appreciatively along the length of her body and then started to lap at her, alternating from savouring liquid to nibbling delicate flesh. Her hands were exploring the contours of the back of my head while I feasted on her.

I didn’t react for a moment, but then I broke off, looking for confirmation. She wasn’t lying flat anymore. Her head was off the floor, neck tilted, watching me.

‘It’s okay’ she said softly. ‘Just let it happen’. She stroked my head. I started to look round. ‘Look at me’ she said. Things had changed. I looked at her. She was serene.

My backside was being caressed. Her arms weren’t long enough to do it. Fingers stroked my peach, peeled me apart, spread my wetness. My heart seemed to stop. I heard a new voice telling me to relax, which isn’t easy when someone hasn’t read the user-manual and is trying to get inside you via an undesignated route. My panic was over, but I was still looking intently at Caroline for confirmation that this was possible. Julian was introducing himself in more ways than one and using my excitement to ease his passage. Well, mine to be exact. I’ve never done this before, have declined on the only occasion that it had ever been suggested, yet here I was letting someone do it when I hadn’t even seen his face. That certainly puts a surprise headshave in perspective. Despite everything, he was considerate and gentle, in no hurry. I felt able to get back to what I’d been doing before I was so rudely interrupted. The only question in my mind was where he’d come from. He must’ve been here all along, because I would’ve heard the front door opening.

I’d been able to celebrate making my first woman cum by the time that Julian unleashed his load inside me. I wondered if it counted, if a guy hadn’t actually taken the traditional route. I raised myself from between Caroline’s legs and looked round at him.

‘Hi, I’m Julian’ this tall, athletic black man said with a beautiful smile. He was hairless, everywhere.

‘Pleased to meet you Julian’ I said. ‘Usually, I just shake hands when I meet someone’ I smiled.

‘It’s safer than shaking hands these days’ he replied.

‘I take it that you like women bald’ I asked.

‘Wouldn’t have them any other way.’

‘You’ve been here all the time, haven’t you’ I asked, glancing at a smiling Caroline.

‘Wouldn’t have missed it for the world.’

‘Well, everybody’s seen me bald except me, so will someone get me a mirror?’ I asked.

‘Let’s have a shower first’ Caroline suggested.

‘There’s a mirror in the bathroom, I hope.’

‘There is, but don’t look at it. Let’s get the make-up off, so you’re seeing you, nothing else.’

I nodded. She had a point. God knows what my face looked like now. Alice Cooper on a bad day, probably.

She showed me to a shower-room, where I managed to do what I needed to without peeking. I so wanted to look. I resisted and came out, still drying myself

with a towel, so that the two of them could go in without delay.

I sat in the studio on my own, looking at the wreckage of what used to be my hair. I stroked my smooth head. Caroline hadn’t forbidden that. What a day! My bucket list was shrinking more quickly than anyone could’ve expected and I was crossing things off that hadn’t even been on there. Who would’ve dreamt up the tableau that had taken place here tonight?

Caroline and Julian came back into the room, naked and beautiful. Julian was carrying the full-length mirror, glass facing towards him.

‘Ready?’ Caroline asked.

‘Yes.’

‘Nervous?’

‘A bit, but I’ve had other things to think about’ I replied. They both smiled.

Julian turned the mirror to face me.

There I was at last. Naked and hairless. My hairless pussy was a novelty to me, but anyone else probably thought that I’d sported one for years, like nearly every other woman. My eyes didn’t linger down there. They went upwards.

‘It’s so strange’ I said.

‘But do you like it?’ Caroline asked.

‘I don’t carry it off as well as you do’ I observed.

‘Nonsense’ Julian countered. ‘You’re made to be bald’ he added.

‘I hope everyone else is as enthusiastic as you’ I said, my attention still firmly on my reflection.

I tried to summon up the image of my inspiration, but she was reluctant to appear. Maybe her work was done and she’d moved on to influence someone else. I
nodded slowly. I was well on the way to accepting my new look.

‘Let me help you clear up’ I offered.

‘In a minute. One last thing to do though’ Caroline said. She headed back towards the styling chair and I followed, sitting down dutifully.

‘Can’t be hair, so must be make-up’ I ventured.

‘Sort of a finishing touch’ she replied cryptically.

There went my head back again under her gentle urging. She stroked my scalp unnecessarily and then I felt a finger brush the ridge of my right eyebrow.

‘You do threading as well?’ I asked. She didn’t reply. I felt the caress that had become so familiar this evening.

‘No, really?’ I objected, realising what must be happening.

‘Julian suggested a final tweak’ she explained.

‘You really need to get into the habit of asking a lady before you do things to her, you know, Julian’ I said, not knowing whether he was even in the room.

Caroline came round to the front to see what she’d done. I pulled a face at her to indicate my displeasure. It was only now that I noticed that her eyebrows weren’t her eyebrows, but the product of a steady hand.

‘I’ll draw them back on for you, don’t worry.’

‘You could’ve just left them as they were.’

‘I think you’ll find that it’s like the full stop at the end of a sentence. Just the headshave isn’t quite the end. This completes the look. It’s really bold, shows the world that you really mean it.’

‘If you say so, I just think it’ll look weird.’

‘Give it a chance’ she urged, repeating the wipe / stroke off process on the other side. She went over the delicate skin gently to make sure that she’d got everything. I looked at the sad little clumps that she’d wiped on the back of her hand. Not much to look at now, but I suspect that their impact on my overall look would be massive. She held out a small mirror that she’d conjured up from nowhere.

‘Fuck!’ I said. ‘I should be in a freak show!’

She reached across to stroke my bare ridge with the tip of her finger and then leaned forward to plant the lightest kiss above each eye. Her boobs were like fruit hanging from a branch, ripe for picking.

‘You’re beautiful’ she assured me.

‘Can you draw them back on, now that you’ve had your fun?’ I asked.

‘Pictures first’ she said.

Julian appeared with his camera.

‘Let me get dressed first, please’ I said, standing up.

‘Why?’ he asked.

‘I don’t want nude pictures of me, even though no-one would know that it’s me.’

‘Do you want to tell her?’ he asked, looking at Caroline.

She took a breath.

‘There are remote cameras in here. Everything you’ve done tonight has been filmed’ she said.

‘I want the film. And the negatives’ I demanded.

Caroline smiled. Photography has come on a bit since those days. It’s all digital. I assure you that it’s just for our private use. We never publish.

You’re welcome to have a copy, if you’d like’ she offered.

‘I didn’t consent’ I objected, annoyed rather than angry.

‘I did tell you. You still came. That’s consent enough’ she said, reaching out to touch my cheek.

I let out a sigh. ‘Maybe it would be interesting to watch on a dark, winter’s evening’ I conceded, trying to find a positive.

‘That’s the spirit’ she said, letting her fingers slide down until they reached my left boob. She held the nipple between thumb and forefinger, like it was

a delicate artefact. She looked deep into my eyes. Then the pressure started and she squeezed. Hard. I stared back at her.

‘I want to watch him fuck you’ she said quietly.

‘He’s already done that’ I replied, hoping that she’d get bored with the nipple-squeezing thing fairly soon.

‘I want him to do it again while he looks at you. Now that I’ve made you bald. Shaved your eyebrows off. Maybe he’d like me to cut your eyelashes too’ she said.

‘They’re fine as they are’ I replied quickly. She stopped tormenting my nipple, but kept her gaze fixed on me as her hand went lower, then started back up on a slightly different trajectory. That nipple-thing hurt, but it had made me wet again, as she was discovering. I was discovering more things about myself in one evening than I had for years. Everything that had happened tonight had excited me in a way that I hadn’t ever been excited. I’d thought that sex was good, but Caroline and Julian had showed me in a couple of hours what a sheltered life I’d led up until now.

‘Eat me’ I said quietly. She raised an artificial eyebrow.

‘That’s the spirit’ she said.

I probably shouldn’t tell you much more about what went on, although I could always show you the film if you want, once Julian’s edited it.

Caroline was kind enough to draw me some new eyebrows and to lend me a more conservative wig for the journey home. I’d drunk a glass of wine too many during our exertions, so it was a case of safety-first. I’d collect my car in the morning. When he arrived, the taxi driver had a good look at his prospective passenger, decided that no threat was posed and took me home without incident.

Although I’d showered again before I left the flat, it was my first port of call when I got in. I stood in front of the mirror, refreshed by the hot water, but still clearly bearing the signs of over-exuberance during the evening. I ran my hands over my whole body, now that I could do so without feeling self-conscious. It would probably be some time before I could accept the figure in the mirror as being me, but I could be patient. I’d wanted to be jolted out of my torpor and my comfort-zone and that had certainly happened. Indeed, “comfort” wasn’t a word that I could use in respect of my nether regions at the moment. Julian in particular had given me a thorough workout “below-deck”, not that Caroline hadn’t made her own contribution. I took a final look at the hairless reflection and went to bed.

The morning found me wide-eyed in front of the mirror again. Memories of Julian and Caroline filled my mind and made me smile. Who’d have thought that I’d do those things? I didn’t. Who’d have thought that I’d venture out wigless and knickerless after breakfast? Certainly not my neighbour, who remarked on the former. Awareness of the latter would’ve been too much for his heart, I’m sure. He was remarkably sanguine for a man in his early seventies, so passing muster with him put spring in my step to meet the world (bald) head-on. The taxi driver signalled his arrival and I returned to the scene of the crime to retrieve my car. I saw the lingering glance in the rear-view mirror. Was he a kindred spirit? Was he a sign of things to come?

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