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Kristy gathered up her long hair and put a scrunchie around it to keep it from falling all over. Her hair was blonde and poker straight and ended up well past her shoulders. Since starting as a freshman at college in New York, she had not cut it for three months. Back in Nebraska, right before she came here, she cut it to her shoulders, the shortest she had ever done. She was afraid of not looking sophisticated enough for the big city.

Now that she had pulled her hair out of the way, she concentrated on her roommate Nicole’s toes. She was painting them a dark maroon color, the same color Nicole just painted her nails. It was a Wednesday night in the freshman dorm room. This was their usual routine of nails and makeup after studying.

Nicole was from the New York suburbs. She had a fashionable brown bob haircut that ended in a perfect line just at the bottom of her ears. She went about every three weeks to the salon to keep it up. Her neck was clipped to a quarter inch, underneath the longer hair on the top. The first thing she thought when she saw Kristy was, “That hair has to go.” But she didn’t want to seem too forceful, like she was in high school with some of her ex-friends. She just figured to give Kristy time to adjust, and break her in with the nail polish and makeup stuff.

Nicole was the dorm’s resident hairstylist. A couple of times she would trim the hair of a few girls, but most of the time guys would stop by when their buzz cuts got too long for a touch-up. Kristy watched with interest and even got to do a few haircuts herself.

Nicole sat back and felt Kristy’s hand hold her feet in place while she painted her toes. She liked the feeling of this pampering. As Nicole worked her way on to her other foot, she became relaxed enough to bring up the subject. “Your hair’s getting long.”

Kristy looked up and took out her scrunchie. She nervously looked over at Nicole. “Yeah, I know. I got it cut before school, and now I don’t know what to do with it.”

“Did you ever think of having it short?”

Kristy sat back and ran her fingers through her long blonde hair. She had seen how easily Nicole’s hair dried when she came back from the women’s room. And Kristy would sit there with the hairdryer, then the curling iron, and then the spray… “Yeah. I think it’ll be easier. And everyone around here seems to have it shorter. But I always chicken out.”

Nicole tried to hold back her excitement. “Well, I think it’ll look really cute short. You know, I could do it.”

Kristy got nervous. What if she didn’t like it? Nicole was her closest friend, and she would be mad at her. And how would everyone treat her when she went back home for winter break. “I don’t know, Nicole.”

“Come on, girlie. Remember how I got you into those cool dresses we go clubbing in. And the pedicures? The lipstick? Have I ever misguided you in fashion?” “No.” The word slipped out before Kristy realized it.

“Just trust me on this.”

Suddenly, Kristy felt like the decision was made. She now felt excited about the change, and realized that her thoughts about cutting her hair like Nicole’s were coming true.

Nicole pulled out the chair from her desk and told Kristy to sit down. Kristy did so immediately while Nicole got her bath towel and the box with her haircutting stuff. She acted quickly, so that Kristy wouldn’t change her mind. “Here.” She draped the towel around Kristy and brushed her hair out quickly for the last time. “O.K. You ready?”

“Go for it, girlie!” Kristy was now feeling excited and relieved that she was finally taking the plunge. Nicole grabbed her hair as if to put it in a ponytail and started opening and closing the scissors close to her neck several times to break through. It didn’t take long, and the rest of her hair came loose and flopped into a messy bob on both sides of her face. Nicole took the long ponytail and put runner bands around it and handed it to Kristy, who looked shocked at first, but then she calmed down.

“There we go, that’s the hard part.”

“So what style are you going to do?”

“Just trust me,” Nicole said as she brushed through the now short hair. Kristy didn’t say anything. There were no mirrors in the room, so the suspense was actually exciting her.

Nicole started to grab some of the remaining hair on the back and made a few cuts very close to Kristy’s scalp. She couldn’t see this, but there were six-inch pieces of hair falling to the floor. Kristy felt the breeze on her neck as more hair was cut off, and she thought this was fine, since it would be just like Nicole’s short hair. She couldn’t understand it, but she got excited at the though of Nicole using the clippers on her neck.

Nicole started working her way around the sides, and Kristy knew that the haircut she was getting was going to be far shorter than Nicole’s. Nicole started working on the top as well. Kristy could feel her cutting it close, but was afraid to say anything. Nicole had actually meant to give her a long pixie cut, but she was getting carried away and the remaining pieces were just over an inch. She didn’t know even if she could brush it down. Still, Nicole was starting to get wet with excitement. Kristy looked very attractive with her spiky blonde hair.

After Nicole finished, Kristy thought that was it. She looked done and saw the mounds of hair that were cut off even after the ponytail. She then noticed Nicole plug in the clippers with the short attachment. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to shave your head. I just need to even out your neck, like mine.” “Yes.” Again, the word slipped out. Kristy was getting excited. This was so unlike her. She heard a pop followed by a soft burring noise. Then a tingly, vibrating feeling on her neck, that moved up, way up to the top of her head. She was transfixed. Then the vibrating on the sides. It felt great. She sat there, mesmerized.

“O.K., let me just finish the top.” Nicole quickly reduced most of the remaining hair on the top to about an inch, and combed it forward, adding some gel. It just qualified as a pixie cut. Any shorter, you would have to call it a buzz. Nicole ran her fingers over the stubble on the sides and back. “This looks so cool! You’ll love taking care of this, it’ll be so easy.”

Kristy was still excited from feeling the clippers for the first time that she had to rouse herself. Nicole held the mirror up, and suddenly she saw her big blue eyes better than ever before. She ran her fingers around the sides and the back and shouted in excitement. “I love it!” She had seen these styles in magazines but was always too shy to pull it off. She hugged Nicole. “Thanks!” “You look beautiful! I can’t resist touching the back.” Nicole again felt the 1/4 inch bristles that felt so cool against her soft hands. Just twenty minutes before, these same hairs reached down Kristy’s back.

Nicole cleaned up the remaining hair and Kristy tried on a dress and said she wanted to go out with Nicole.

“No prob. Even if it’s Wednesday!”

Just before they were ready to leave, Kristy handed her ponytail to Nicole. “Here, throw it out. It’s the old me. I have to leave the past behind.”

“O.K.” Nicole pretended to throw it away, but kept it at the bottom of a drawer as a remembrance of that Wednesday night. She thinks of it every time she touches up Kristy’s hair with the clippers.

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