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It was the first thing people commented on-not her sparkling blue eyes or her great, curvy body, but her hair. While that shade of sandy brown most dubbed mouse, hers was healthy and glossy. Jade?s was also thick-nearly 4 inches from her head if she wound it up into a jaw clip-and long, touching her bra strap and cascading a few inches past. She had, for most of her 21 years, enjoyed playing with it-buying fancy barrettes, braiding it, letting it flow. But lately it seemed-so consuming. Her younger sister had just chopped her equally long, equally thick mane (though hers was a glorious deep chocolate brown) to above her chin in an ?ber-sexy layered bob that fell over her face just right when she giggled. Her mother had shot her a knowing glance when Christie had come in, already expertly raking her bob out of her eyes. ?You?re almost done with school yet, Jade.? Her mother had reasoned with her, eyeing the ever-growing skein down her back. Jade had flashed her mother the super-sweet grin that had saved her pigtails during her childhood as she expertly fastened it back in a leather clip. But it did take so long to do-the blow-dryer, followed by the flat iron or the anti-frizz mousse, dozens of strokes with a paddle brush, followed by actually styling it. Christie had swapped this routine for a mere 15 minutes with some smoothing balm and a round brush and she was done.

Jade knew in her gut it was time. But she kept delaying it-too busy with school, no open appointment. She didn?t tell anyone she was planning though. She noticed, suddenly, how many people commented on the length and thickness of her hair. But finally she strutted into the salon. She?d been going there for trims since she was a pimple-faced 18 year old first year. ?Hey, Michael.? ?Hey, Jade. Haven?t seen you for a while. One or two?? He asked. Jade bit her lip. ?Twelve.? She said, placing a decisive hand on her shoulder. Michael laughed. ?I?d be lying if I didn?t say it was time.? He removed her elastic and smoothed his fingers through the mane. He neatly sectioned off the section that flowed down her nape and combed it through its fully glory once, twice and then the comb suddenly stopped on the third comb and Jade simultaneously felt an icy cold sensation against her neck and heard a loud snip!

?Souvenir?? Asked Michael. Jade shook her head. The process was repeated again and again until suddenly she could see his skillful hand reaching for the locks framing the right side of her face. For some reason her stomach churned as she saw the precise snip and fall of all those years of growth. She shook her head. The newly cut ends caressed her shoulders. She picked them up and absently rubbed them between her fingers. ?Feel naked?? Michael asked, positioning his scissors to create flawless layers. ?That?s not a bad thing.? Grinned Jade, as sheets of hair fell on her as he shaped the cut perfectly to her face. ?Use a little pomade for some texture to bring out the layers, or blow it smooth with some silk groom.? Michael admonished, smoothing the hair into place. On her way home, Jade could feel her new cut caressing her shoulders. She tossed her head flirtatiously as she entered her dorm.

?Jesus Christ!? exclaimed Jade?s best friend, Vivian. ?Your hair! I didn?t recognize you!? Vivian tucked her own jet bob behind her ears. ?It looks so good! Why didn?t you tell anyone you were doing it?? Jade just smiled. ?Hey, Christie?s upstairs, let?s show her.? They headed upstairs, Jade shaking her head every five seconds. Christie sat on a mutual friend?s bed, watching TV.

?Hey kid sister.?

?Hey.? Christie didn?t bother to look up. ?Jesse?s gone out for beer, he?ll be back soon.?

?Great.?

?So what did you do today??

?I went to poly sci, and then I went downtown to pick up some things.?

?Yeah? I had a philosophy test then I?holy crap! Your hair! It looks good!? Jade self-consciously tried to push her hair behind her shoulders, only to have it flop forward. Christie fingered the ends of it while expertly tossing her own bob out of her eyes. ?How do you feel??

?Yummy.? Jade moaned. She ran her fingers through the cut and was amazed at how easily it fell back into place. She tossed her head. It floated back easily. She turned over and picked up the phone. ?Hello, Mom??

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