‘Should be on this street somewhere’ Gabriela said to herself as she turned the corner. She had lived in London for the last 3 years but wasn’t familiar with this part of the city. She peered up the street until something caught her eye. A pole with red and white strips protruded from one of the store fronts about 30 metres ahead. ‘Well that must be it’ she thought and began walking towards it.
Gabriela had to admit she was apprehensive at the thought of working at a barbershop, even though her Aunt had clarified it was unisex. But she was willing to give it a shot. The last salon she worked at was simply not a good fit for her. After a few months giving trims and highlights to middle aged Chelsea mums Gabriela had grown restless. She graduated from her hairdressers academy just 6 months ago. Just 2 weeks ago she had met her mum and aunt for dinner in the city. After voicing her dissatisfaction with her current job her aunt had suggested working with her daughter, Heather, who had recently opened her own place. Gabriela hadn’t been especially close to her mums side of the family despite her moving to London for her academy, where that side of the family lived. She hadn’t seen Heather since she was 15, 7 years ago now. She was 4 years older than her and had been the cooler, older but slightly distant cousin. Her aunt had contacted Heather, who was looking for help and Heather has called her later that day.
And now here she was, about to start her first day. For the first few days she was going to shadow Heather, and was gonna get trained on how to properly use the clippers. Despite her slight reluctance to the idea at first, Gabriela realised this could be just what she wanted, something new and exciting, nothing like her previous workplace.
She reached the store. It had a large floor to ceiling window which let people passing by to peer in. She glanced inside. To the left side was a small desk, the reception she guessed. Then facing the right wall 3 large red leather barber chairs, the kind you would see at a classic barbershop. The whole right wall was a massive mirror. The back wall looked like a jungle, completely covered in plants and vines. ‘Very cool touch’ Gabriela noted. Against the window was a bench with a small coffee table with magazines scattered across it. There were only 2 people working and no one in the waiting area. The barber at the first chair was a man but the other chair wasn’t in her view just yet.
Gabriela pushed the door open. The girl at the second chair looked back. Gabriela realises it was Heather. When she last saw her her hair was a pretty regular shoulder-length style. Now her blonde hair had been cropped short. In fact extremely short Gabriela noticed as she looked more closely. The sides had been buzzed short with the top somewhat longer spiked up in a mohawk like style.
“Gabriela?” she asked momentarily stopping with the man in her chair.
“Hey” she replied, giving a slight wave.
“Just take a seat, I’m almost done okay?”
She moved towards the black leather bench and sat herself down. The barber at the first chair had a sleeve of tattoos and a buzzcut. She acknowledged how different this was to the posh salon she worked at just 2 weeks ago. He was busy trimming a girls bob with scissors, bringing up to her chin. She was relieved to see that they still did somewhat normal styles here.
After another minute or so the man Heather was working on got up, inspected himself in the mirror, before paying and leaving.
Heather walked over to her.
“Long time no see?” she said with a smile and opened up her arms.
Gabriela got up and gave her a hug “It’s good to finally see you again. I love the aesthetic of this store I gotta say”
“Naww, thanks Gaby. I’m pretty proud of it myself I gotta say”
The girls caught up for the next few minutes. Heather then explained the idea behind her store. “It’s a no fuss unisex barbershop” she explained. “We probably specialise with shorter cuts but some people come just for trims and stuff too. We kinda do it all” she said with a smile
Gabriela was liking her new salon already. She was introduced to the other barber there, Aaron and told that another girl Vanessa, normally works there too.
Gabriela was trained with clippers at her academy but Heather was clearly a pro. She spent the rest of the day watching her expertly manoeuvre then around clients heads.
After a couple hours Gabriela had her first client. A women she estimated to be about 30 wanting a couple inches taken off her shoulder length hair. Heather watched as she efficiently snipped away the desired length and complete the cut.
“Well you know what you’re doing with the scissors I can tell” she said afterwards “Think you’ll be up to scratch with the clippers by the end of the week honestly”
Gabriela gleamed back. She had thoroughly enjoyed her first day. Heather was easy going and great to work with. Already she could tell she was going to love this job.
The next day she met Vanessa. She was dark skinned and had short curly hair with a side shave. So far she got on well with the others, Aaron and Vanessa, who both were both easily likeable and energetic.
One day later that week she started her shift in the afternoon. She walked in to see Vanessa working on a man and Heather on a woman. She took a double take when she looked at the floor around the woman Heather was working on. It was covered in long blonde hair and she watched as Heather finished up her new closely cropped hairstyle. At least 15 inches lay on the floor and her hair was now only a couple inches at its longest.
After the client left Gabriela couldn’t help but ask Heather “How long was that girls hair before?”
Heather shrugged nonchalantly “To her bra strap or so”
“Woah. Why did she want to cut it?”
Heather shrugged again “Just wanted a change I guess”
Gabriela nodded slowly. She couldn’t imagine someone with such long hair suddenly deciding to commit to such a radical transformation.
“You’re gonna be next one day” Heather added cheekily “You gotta match the rest of us”
Gabriela’s cheeks turned red and she instinctively touched her dark brown hair.
“I’m joking” Heather said with a chuckle
Gabriela looked at her hair in the mirror. It was thick with a slight wave and it fell to a few inches past her collarbone. ‘It was pretty boring compared to the others’ she said to herself.
“Maybe one day” she said absentmindedly, not really meaning the words to come out.
“Oh really?” Heather replied enthusiastically “You would look amazing with something short I can tell”
Gabriela suddenly felt her mouth go dry.
“Maybe one day” she stammered again.
When she got home that night she still couldn’t shake the image of that girl at the store. Her long hair limp on the floor as Heather used her clippers to crop it short. ‘How could someone be so brave’ she thought to herself. She walked to her bathroom and looked at herself in the mirror. Despite being a hairdresser she had never done anything interesting to her hair. She looked at it as it covered her shoulders. She then pulled it up behind her head, attempting to see what it would look like off her face. She shuddered at the thought of how terrifying that would be so receive such a short haircut, tried to push the thought to the back of her mind and went to bed.
The next day was a Saturday, their busiest day of the week. Gabriela worked tirelessly barely having a moment to rest the whole day. The day finally wound to a close. Vanessa has left an hour before closing, meaning it was just her and Heather left in the store.
At 6:57 the last customer left and Heather flicked the sign on the door to close.
“That has to be one of the busiest days we’ve ever had” Heather said as she fell back into one of the chairs.
“I’m wiped” Gabriela said nodding in agreement.
She took a seat in one of the chairs next to her cousin. Heather got up and began sweeping away the loose hair from the floor.
Gabriela looked at herself in the reflection. Her mind went back to the thoughts she had last night. She decided she needed a change. Her hair bore her, especially after seeing all the trendy exciting cuts many customers here sported.
“Heather?” she said with a touch of uncertainty
“Hmm” she said while still sweeping
“You really think I would look good with a shorter haircut?”
This peaked her interest. She stopped her sweeping and walked back to the chair looking at Gabriela through the mirror.
“Oh without a doubt. Your face shape is perfect and it would make those gorgeous eyes of yours pop”
Gabriela contemplated what she said.
“You want me to give you something short?” she placed her hands on the back of the chair.
“Um well maybe another time, I’m still considering it”
“I know you want to” Heather said coyly “You wouldn’t ask me otherwise would you?”
Gabriela didn’t know what to say. She wanted a change, that she knew, but was too scared to boldly ask for a short cut.
“Maybe something to my shoulders?” she countered. Maybe she could escape with only a few inches cut off for today, until she built up more courage.
“How about you leave it to me?” Heather placed her hands on her shoulders “You trust me right?”
Gabriela found herself nodding “Yeah” she said, her voice suddenly sounding very faint.
“Great!” she said cheerfully.
Without wasting a second, Heather produced a clip and gathered up all her hair before clipping it loosely to the top of her head. She tore off a piece of neck tissue and placed it snugly around her neck. This sensation was foreign to Gabriela. Her mind began to race. Just how short would she cut her hair she pondered. She couldn’t believe how easily she had given her full control over her hair. She then gathered a black and white striped cape which she tossed over her body before securing around her neck. Gabriela felt trapped.
Suddenly the chair was pumped upwards. The clip was removed and Gabriela’s hair fell down past her shoulders.
“I think this should be a surprise” Heather announced as she turned the chair to now face the window. Gabriela took one final look at her hair, acknowledging it would probably be much shorter when she was done with it.
“This is gonna be dramatic but believe me you’re gonna look amazing okay?”
“Okay” was all Gabriela could muster in reply. She could feel her stomach in her throat as she gripped
the armrests tightly and stared out the window. She then felt Heather begin to brush out her hair before sectioning off the top of her head with a clip, letting the rest of her hair fall normally.
Suddenly she heard the buzz of the clippers. Gabriela almost jumped in fright. Never had she expected clippers to be used on her hair but suddenly here was Heather brandishing them to her right side. Gabriela’s body locked up and she continued staring straight ahead.
“I’ll use the #4 attachment“ she announced. Gabriela bit her lip nervously. That would reduce her hair to half an inch she realised. This was going to be a severe cropping.
“Um maybe it’s better…”
“Shshsh, trust me, trust me” Heather cut her off.
Gabriela fell quiet. Her mind was racing. She knew she wanted a change but having her scissor (or in this case clipper) happy cousin in complete control maybe wasn’t the best idea on her behalf. She continued looking out at the street hoping no one would stop to watch. Suddenly she felt Heathers hand on top of her head. She pushed her head down so her chin was against her chest.
“You ready cuz?” she said with a playful tone.
“Yeahh” she said barely believing those words came out of her mouth.
Without further warning Gabriela felt the clippers placed at her nape. Slowly the humming machine ran up the back of her neck. She bit her tongue to stop her making any noise. She felt the clippers make another pass up her nape. The feeling was foreign but somewhat exciting to Gabriela. She longed to see just how short she was being clippered but her view was only of the pin striped cape.
The clippers continued to make pass after pass on her nape as Gabriela sat there silently. She could feel the clippers moving towards her right side and suddenly a chunk of her hair slid down the front of her cape. She let out an audible gasp at the sight. The hair was at least 12 inches long and Gabriela could hardly believe just how long the hair that was being sheared off was.
“You should see how much hair is on the floor back here” Heather chortled, clearly entertained by her cousins discomfort.
Gabriela struggled to reply, her mind flooding with images of masses of her hair laying on the hard floor. Heather brought her head back to an upright position before angling it slightly to the left.
The clippers were now running up her right side, the noise being almost excruciatingly loud. An even larger chunk of her dark hair slowly snaked down the cape finding its resting place on Gabriela’s lap. She felt completely powerless as she watched the pile of her hair grow on her lap. She was still in shock at how fast this had all happened, how her long haired days had ended in just a few minutes. However a feeling of almost excitement was also coming over her. Maybe this haircut was more dramatic than she had envisioned but it was the change she so desperately wanted.
Heather folded over her ear and ran the clippers around it, Gabriela couldn’t help but get the shivers as the vibrating machine tickled her skin. More hair rained down onto her lap, she could feel the weight of it through the fabric.
Heather then moved to her left side. Her head was now tilted to the right. She felt the clippers placed at the temples before running up her skin. The hair plopped onto her shoulder before Heather nonchalantly swiped it away so it fell into her lap. Outside 2 girls a few years older than Gabriela stopped at the window. They peered in curiously, obviously surprised to see a girl receiving such a short haircut. Gabriela blushed, wishing she wasn’t in such a prime viewing for the public and was glad that they only stayed for a few seconds before heading down the street.
Heather did not seem to notice them at all, and she continued moving her clippers swiftly. The pile of soft dark hair on her lap was growing. After another few passes the clippers were finally switched off. The store went silent and Gabriela let out a breath she didn’t realise she was holding in.
“The sides are all done” Heather announced as she ran her fingers up the now cropped hair. Gabriela could feel her hand almost completely against her skin, revealing just how close to the skin she had been shaved.
Gabriela nodded in reply, unsure of what to say.
Heather moved to the counter and placed the clippers down before picking up a pair of scissors. She then unclipped the top section of her hair letting it fall down. It was still at its original length and some fell down across her face. She felt her hair be pulled up as Heather made a makeshift ponytail. Then the scissors were clicked together a few times before the hair was pulled taunt.
Snip, Snip, Snip, Snip. There was a pull on her hair that ended with the final snip. Heather nonchalantly dropped the mass of hair in Gabriela’s lap. Again her mouth was agape after seeing so much of her hair now lying lifelessly in front of her. Heather gave her head a tousle and some hairs fell across Gabriela’s eyes. Now the hair barely covered her nose, instead of to her shoulders.
Heather then began combing out her bangs and snipping off a few inches so they fell around her eyebrows. She then went behind her and began combing up the hair from her crown before snipping her scissors and sending another 4 inches to the floor. ‘At least the top wasn’t being sheared away too’ Gabriela thought to herself. After another few minutes of snipping away, the cutting stopped.
“You wanna see it?” Heather asked
Gabriela nodded enthusiastically, desperate to see what had become of her hair. Heather turned the chair back to face the mirror. Gabriela’s mouth dropped open again. She almost looked unrecognisable, her former plain and long hair was now cropped unbelievably short. She could not deny that she loved it. The sides were almost short enough to see skin while the top was still long enough to style.
“I’m just gonna style it a bit okay?”
Heather reached for some hair product which she used to tousle her hair. She made it look slightly messy and gave the top more volume. Gabriela loved it even more now.
“Sooo? Whatca thinking?” Heather asked with her hands on her hips surveying her work.
“I can’t lie, I love it!” she replied turning her head to inspect it further. ‘Its so stylish and trendy’ she remarked ‘a much better fit for my new job’.
“Yesss i knew you would” She replied with a smile and a squeeze of her shoulders
“Lemme take this off you” she said as she unclipped the cape, sending the hair from her lap to the floor
Gabriela’s hands went up to her head and she gasped. It felt incredible. The back and sides were prickly and she gave herself tingles as she ran her hands across it.
“Pretty sick right?” Heather said smiling
Gabriela nodded in reply. She stood up from the chair to study herself closely in the mirror. Her eyes widened when she noticed how much hair was laying around the chair, the dark hair contrasting the white floor.
“Are you glad you trusted me?”
“Oh my gosh yes!” she said as she pulled her cousin into a hug.