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It was only a four hour plane ride, but it took Mercy Joel Underwood to a whole new world. A nice girl from Nashville, she was off to an elite liberal arts college in New England. Mercy Joel had dressed herself well in a French Connection coat over a neat black dress, tights and heels. She touched her hair nervously. It was half-up, half down, with the half up part done in a braid. It touched her shoulder blades and was perfectly straight, a chocolate tone. She hoped it wouldn?t look too blah in her new surroundings.

Mercy had been here a week and had been busy-downing alcohol, smoking her first cigarettes she bought herself, and meeting Ophelia. Ophelia was a beautiful girl, a year and a half older than Mercy and bright as could be. She was also witty, soulful and striking. And, the all important factor, Ophelia was gay. Ophelia was very gay. Ophelia had invited Mercy for tea in her room a few days ago, and now Mercy and Ophelia were sharing Ophelia?s blue futon. One morning, as Mercy was getting dressed, Ophelia turned to her.

?Merc??

?Yeah, Phelia??

?Have you ever given any thought to cutting your hair??

?M?hair?? Asked Mercy, pausing, half-dressed, her breasts beating in her lavender Victoria?s Secret bra. ?No?? She ran her fingers through the mane as she released it from her nighttime braid. ?Why??

?Oh, no reason. I was just curious. It?s so long, y?know?? Mercy nodded, slipping on a navy tank top and gliding a matching headband on.

All that day, Mercy kept on catching shadows of her hair. It did seem a little too long. She recalled a fleeting suggestion that her stylist at home had made about cutting her hair to her shoulders. She sat in front of Ophelia?s mirror, twisting the base of her hair and putting it up so it only appeared to her shoulders. It looked, well, different. Just then Ophelia sauntered in. A kiss was shared, and Ophelia ran her fingers through Mercy?s hair. Mercy gulped.

?Could you cut it?? She asked.

?Hello to you, too.? Laughed Ophelia. Her eyes danced deviously as she ran her fingers lovingly through Mercy?s mane. She twisted it up playfully too, until suddenly Mercy heard a screeching snip as she felt her hair tickle her neck, leaving her with a jagged jaw length bob.

?Holy mother of god?.? Mercy gaped. Ophelia tossed over two feet of hair in the trashcan.

?And now for the cut.? Ophelia grinned. Mercy just stood into front of the mirror, stunned at her face. Ophelia began skillfully in the back, picking out a few bobby pins as she went. Little did Mercy know that she would not need the bobby pins for a long, long time. ?Do you want to see what I?m doing or not??

?See.? Mercy said flatly. Ophelia began the cut by snipping longish bangs, easily swept to the side. She then began revealing one of Mercy?s small ears. ?Wait?how short are we going??

? Short.? Replied Ophelia. The icy scissors glid down Mercy?s neck, sending bits of hair to the floor. Ophelia began lightly layering the sides of Mercy?s head. She then began making passes at the back of her head. Then the other side of the head. Mercy observed herself in the mirror. She was absolutely stunning. But she felt?

?I feel so?naked.?

?That?s not a bad thing.? Replied Ophelia, kissing her.

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