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Diana was your stereotypical country girl; brought up in a well-sheltered home, and innocent to the real world. Upon graduation, she moved to the city to look for a job. Many things about the metropolitan life intrigued her. One of them was how many women wore their hair short. Where she came from, women were expected to wear their hair long. Any length above the shoulders was considered “short” and socially unacceptable. She observed bobs, pixies and buzzcuts, and wondered how any woman can possibly wear hair their hair that short.

Diana’s own hair was typical of her home town; her dark virgin hair completely covered her back, with the ends just below her bum. She usually wore them in braids or put them up in a bun. After many interviews, she failed to get any jobs, for she lacked the experience and skills required. Finally, when she was about to give up, she came across a sign in front of a huge mansion.

Maid required. Enquire within.

She prayed, and then knocked on the door. A middle-aged woman in a short bob hairstyle answered the door.

“Hi, my name is Diana. I’m looking for a job.”

“Come inside, dear. Let’s see what you can do.”

The interior of the mansion was even larger that it looked from outside. Expensive ware lined every corner of the house. The woman led Diana upstairs into her private quarters.

“I am Elizabeth, the caretaker of Mr Italiano’s property. Your job is simple. You will serve as Mr Italiano’s personal maid. You will serve him his meals and make his bed.”

“Who is Mr Italiano?”

“You must be joking, right? The mining magnate of this city?”

“Oh… right.”

“There is only one rule. Mr Italiano might be the owner of this property, but you are directly accountable to me. Fail to perform your duties to the highest standards as required by Mr Italiano, and you will face consequences from me. Understood?”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“Good. Here is your maid’s uniform. You must dress neatly like a maid. Your work starts tomorrow. Be punctual.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

Diana couldn’t believe she got the job! She skipped home happily, thinking how lucky she was to land such a simple, yet disproportionately highly paid job. She could finally stop worrying about her rent and bills.

What time is it? Good god! I’m going to be late for work!

Diana had forgotten to set her alarm clock the night before. She jumped out of bed, put on the maid uniform and rushed out of her apartment. Normally, she would take her time to pamper her long hair in her bathroom. However, since time was against her, she had to do it in the bus instead. Her fellow commuters stared at her while she brushed her butt length hair in the bus. Many of them had never seen hair as long as Diana’s!

Gosh, I forgot my hair tie and clips!

That meant Diana could not put her hair up into a bun or tie it. She had no choice but to wear her hair loose on her first day as a maid. Fortunately, no further mishaps got in her way and she managed to arrive at the mansion just in time. Elizabeth frowned when she saw Diana’s loose hair.

“Surely you’re not serving Mr Italiano with unkempt hair like that? Put it up!”

“Sorry Ma’am. I don’t have…”

“Elizabeth! Where’s my coffee?” A male voice was heard from the dining hall, temporarily interrupting them both.

“Coming, sir!” Elizabeth replied. Then, glaring at Diana, she continued her lecture.

“We will have a discussion after this. Now go and serve Mr Italiano his coffee!”

Diana gulped nervously as she walked out from the kitchen holding a tray with a hot cup of espresso on it. A burly man in his 60s sat at the end of the table before her, reading the day’s newspaper. He was oblivious to Diana’s presence.

So, that’s Mr Italiano.

Diana had barely just stepped out from the kitchen when she felt a tug on her hair. The door had closed abruptedly behind her, and her hair was caught in the doorway! Her momentum continued to carry her body forward, causing her head to jerk back unexpectedly. She lost her balance and dropped the tray to the floor!

Crash!

The cup shattered into a thousand pieces and Diana let out a muffled scream. Hot coffee and shards of porcelain spilled across the floor. Mr Italiano peered out from the side of his newspaper, saw the mess the new maid made, and frowned.

“Elizabeth! I asked for a maid, not a clumsy clown! Bring me a new cup of coffee, now!”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean…” Diana pleaded.

“Save it for later. I’ll take it from here!” Elizabeth snapped back. Within a minute, she prepared a fresh cup of espresso and served it to Mr Italiano. When she was done, she grabbed Diana’s arm forcefully and led her out to the back yard, away from Mr Italiano’s earshot. Diana was so afraid that tears started to well up in her eyes.

“What was that all about?”

“I’m sorry… I”

“Sorry isn’t good enough. Why didn’t you put your hair up like I instructed?”

“I forgot to…”

“I don’t want to hear any excuses. We should do something about that hair of yours. It is far too long!”

“You don’t mean to…”

“Yes, I mean cutting it off!”

“No! I love my hair long. Please don’t…”

But Elizabeth had already gone back inside the mansion, leaving Diana to sob. Soon, she was back with a comb and a pair of scissors.

“Now stand still!”

“Please, don’t!”

But Elizabeth ignored the poor girl’s desperate pleas. She combed Diana’s hair down its full length until it was even. Elizabeth levelled the scissors at the middle of Diana’s back and opened the blades. She hesitated for a while –perhaps reconsidering chopping off such beautiful virgin hair – then resolutely closed the blades.

Shick!

Diana gasped in horror as two feet of brunette locks dropped to the floor.

Shick!

Another two feet lock was severed from Diana’s head. She burst out in tears, weeping like never before.

Shick!

After one final snip, the last of her long locks fell before the cruel blades. Just like that, more than half her hair was hacked off. Her hair – still considered long by any standards – now hung just below her shoulder blades. Diana had never worn her hair that short before, except when she was little. It was a drastic change by her country standards, borderline unacceptable in her culture.

“There, that is much more manageable,” Elizabeth said, and walked away, leaving the crestfallen Diana to weep.

Needless to say, Diana made sure she performed her duties well from then on. She made sure she was punctual every day and wore her hair up in a bun when serving Mr Italiano. Many months passed by without incident and her hair had grown down to her waist.


 

One day, Elizabeth went away for a week long vacation, leaving Diana fully in charge of the household in her absence. Diana took advantage of the moment and decided to wear her hair loose for a change, using bangles to keep her hair from her face. All went well until one fateful day. While serving dinner to Mr Italiano, her bangle came loose! Both the bangles and Diana’s long front hair spilled into Mr Italiano’s bowl of mashed potatoes! She apologized, and served him a fresh bowl of mashed potatoes, but Mr Italiano later informed&
amp;nbsp;Elizabeth of the incident when she returned.

“I was away for just one week, and you stuffed up! I’m never leaving you alone again!”

“I’m sorry, Ma’am. Please forgive me.”

“There needs to be restitution. You know what must be done.”

Having gone under the scissors before, Diana knew exactly what Elizabeth meant. That incident was clearly her fault, and protested no further. Like a sheep before her shearer, she sat silently at the stool, awaiting her punishment.

Shick! Shick! Shick!

This time, Diana’s hair was cut shorter than it was before. When Elizabeth was done, her hair was just a few inches below her shoulders, at bra strap length. More than a foot of hair lay lifelessly on the floor. A small tear rolled down Diana’s cheek, which she quickly wiped away.

But Elizabeth was not finished. She stood in front of Diana and combed the front section of her hair down across her face.

Oh no, she’s giving me bangs! I’ve never had bangs!

Diana had always worn her hair one length without bangs until then. Elizabeth inserted the scissors into the dark curtain hanging over Diana’s face, and snapped the blades shut.

Shick!

In one nerve-wrecking snip, the long veil fell to Diana’s lap. She now sported blunt bangs at eyebrow level.

“This is what happens to you when you fail to keep your hair up and tidy!” Elizabeth warned.

When Elizabeth had left, Diana finally released the raw emotion bottled up inside her, and wept.


One year passed without incident. Diana’s hair grew out fast. Her hair was now waist length again, and her bangs had grown to her shoulders, easily blending in with the bulk length.

One day, Diana arrived at the mansion to find the place empty. Both Mr Italiano and Elizabeth were not there. Diana found that strange, but soon shrugged it off and started cleaning the house. She assumed that she was alone and decided that it would harm no one if she wore her hair loose, so she did. Diana was so engrossed vacuuming the rugs that she did not realise Mr Italiano entering the room. The whirring sound of the vacuum cleaner blocked out all other sounds.

Imagine the shock Diana got when Mr Italiano walked pass her! She jerked her head, and her waist length mane slapped across her master’s face! Mr Italiano was far from amused!

“That’s it!” he said, and grabbed Diana’s arm. This time, the master took it upon himself to discipline the young maid.

“Please! I didn’t know you…”

Mr Italiano ignored her pleas and sat her on the familiar punishment stool. He went back into the house and came back with a comb and a pair of scissors; the same ones which Elizabeth used on her. When Mr Italiano returned, Diana had resigned to her fate once again, and resisted no further.

Mr Italiano evened out Diana’s hair with the comb and sectioned it into four parts; front, sides and back. Without further delay, he inserted the scissors into the back section, this time far higher up than Elizabeth herself ever dared go. Diana shuddered as the cold steel blades touched her nape. It was then she realised how short Mr Italiano was going to cut her hair.

Shick!

Two feet of her dark brown hair slittered down her back, and lay coiled on the floor. Despite her admission of defeat, this was too much for Diana to take. She had never had hair cut that short before. She started to cry. Mr Italiano ignored her display of emotion and moved on to work on the right section.

Shick! Shick!

The right section was cut to just below chin length, severing another two feet section of hair from her head. Tears flowed freely down Diana’s cheeks now. Mr Italiano moved to the left section and cut off the waist length lock there to the same length as the other side.

Shick! Shick!

The last remaining lock was Diana’s grown out bangs, which hung down to her chest. Mr Italiano inserted the scissors into the final long lock, and snipped off the front section just below Diana’s eyebrows.

Shick! Shick!

When he was done, mounds of dark hair piled around her on the floor. Diana’s hair was now a chin length box bob. She looked like a china doll! Mr Italiano passed her a hand mirror, which Diana used to inspect her new haircut. Her tears gradually dissipated and a smile slowly made its way across her face.

I actually look kind of cute! She thought.

“Incidentally, Elizabeth had just retired. You will now take her place as the head caretaker of my property,” Mr Italiano said, much to Diana’s surprise. “As head caretaker, you will maintain this bob haircut, as a sign of your subordination to me.”

So that was why Elizabeth wore her bob hairstyle all those while! Diana thought.

Another year passed. Diana still wore her hair in a perfect chin length bob with bangs. Mr Italiano personally manicured the bob every month, trimming it with care and detail, like a bonsai tree.

“You need another maid to aid you. You know what needs to be done,” Mr Italiano said to Diana.

“Yes, master.”

A poster was placed outside the mansion’s gate. It did not take long for someone to respond to it. Just a few days later, a young woman appeared at Mr Italiano’s door, seeking to be a maid.

“Come in, dear.” Diana said to her.

Diana gazed upon the young woman’s magnificent waist length blonde locks, and was reminded of her earlier self those years ago. She smiled slyly to herself.

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