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Vicky had always dreamed of being a hairdresser and now the day had finally arrived. After a lengthy interview a few weeks earlier, the first day in her new job had arrived. The salon was owned by Dorothy, a middle-aged woman who owned several other shops spread around the outskirts of London and was rarely seen. The woman that ran the shop was called Leslie. She had short razor-cut hair – in fact, most of the girls working in the shop had their hair in a similar style to Leslie’s, even the receptionist. Vicky thought it rather strange but soon put it to the back of her mind. Leslie introduced herself and made comments about Vicky’s thick waist-length hair. It had taken her years to grow and she was very proud of it. When Vicky had been at the interview Dorothy told her it would be nice to get her hair cut into a nice short style now that she was going to work in a hairdresser’s. Vicky just smiled at her and said she preferred to keep it as it was. Leslie smiled obligingly at her and set her a few jobs to be getting on with.

Vicky was kept busy cleaning and sweeping hair from the floor until late afternoon. She had mentioned to the other girls that she was going out that evening to a pub with a friend. Suddenly she felt a tug on her hair from behind. It was Leslie. "Come on," she said. "If you’re going out tonight we had better make you look respectable. I’ll put your hair up for you." Leslie dragged Vicky to her cutting chair and pushed her gently back into the plush padded leather. Vicky looked at her own reflection in the mirror. She was beginning to feel anxious. She could feel a warmth spreading through her that she recognized as fear. Leslie broke the spell. "I know," she said, "we’ll cover the mirror and give you a surprise makeover." Vicky told her that she didn’t think that would be a good idea and started to get out of the chair. Leslie pulled her straight back into the waiting seat and told her she wasn’t being paid to think and told one of the other girls to cover the mirror. With this done a large cape was snapped around her neck, her hair was lifted and a rubber neck cape fitted. All was silent then Leslie instructed one of the girls to comb out her hair. "Right," she said. "You have two choices. You may leave now and we’ll call it quits or you can keep your job and let me get on with your makeover. What’s it to be, your choice?"

Vicky was dumbstruck. A tear rolled down her cheek. After a few minutes, she replied, "I’ll stay but don’t take too much off, will you?" she pleaded.

Leslie grinned. "I’ve got just the style for you, it’s really gonna suit you."

By now Vicky’s hair had been fully combed and was ready to be cut. Leslie told one of the other girls to fetch the clippers and guide combs and be quick. Vicky struggled to get out of the chair but a girl either side of her held her back in the chair. The clippers were plugged in and immediately sprang into life. She felt the warm sensation filling her body again but this time it wasn’t fear – she was actually enjoying the moment.

"Please let me watch. It’s my hair and I want to watch," she pleaded. The towel was taken down and Vicky looked in amazement at her predicament: fully caped and ready to be cropped.

"Pass me the number 7." Leslie announced, "That should do it." Spellbound Vicky just stared at her image in the mirror. With that her head was pushed forward so her chin was touching her chest. "There you go," said Leslie as she pushed the clippers grudgingly through the waist-length hair, lifting it as she cut it. Although Vicky couldn’t see the path of the clippers she could feel it. A coldness spread like a fire nearly to the top of her head. Leslie chucked a few handfuls of her hair into her lap. She couldn’t believe this was happening. Leslie said, "That’s not too painful now, is it?" and smiled warmly as she gently ran her hand through the hair on her left side. Vicky could see that she was in her element and really enjoying herself. Leslie lifted her hair and ran the clippers through the left-hand side. Hair fell to the floor, masses of thick waist-length hair on her lap – it was everywhere.

Vicky sat and watched silently. Her childhood was ended, she could see the woman appearing slowly but surely. Now hair on the other side was disappearing, cascading to the floor, slowly sliding down the cape into her lap. The other girls looked on in silence, touching their own hair. A couple picked up 30-inch lengths from the floor and played with Vicky’s locks, perhaps remembering their own initiation to the salon. The back and sides were now a mere 3/4 inch long Leslie now held the hair above her head and ran the clippers through the top sections. Vicky’s face was covered with hair.

The next time she saw herself the haircut was nearing its conclusion. All the while she had been sat quietly, not uttering a word. She went to get up. Leslie told her to stay where she was and quickly changed the guard to a no 4. "The haircut’s not finished until I say so!" With that she quickly finished the job in hand running the hot clippers methodically over Vicky’s already cropped hair.

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