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Summers last forever when you’re young. No school..just endless days of fun, larking about, doing odd jobs for spending money or even being bored and coming up with zany ideas with your friends.

Which is what happened.

The friends in question were Roberta – or Bob, as everyone called her, as she was rather a tomboy and the short form of her name suited her much better – and Madeline, who had been called Pixie by her family since she was a toddler with an impish smile.

We lay in the long grass at Bob’s farm, our backs against the warm stone of Hadrian’s Wall. It had been a quiet tourist day – we’d counted seven hikers and one dog marching resolutely along the wall, rabbiting on about Roman times and camps and remains. At fourteen, we had history rammed down our throats at school, and while our teacher was in raptures when she found Bob’s family lived `on the wall’, we didn’t give a bugger. It was somewhere to escape to where Bob’s dad couldn’t rope her into helping with the sheep. We’d spent the last two weeks working shifts at the local shops, and had money. Now we were thinking about how to spend it.

We’d bought a supply of hair magazines with us, because the holidays were half over and we’d all decided we wanted a change of image before heading back to the local comprehensive in September. Comparing styles had killed the morning already today.

Pixie was chewing the ends of her long, chocolate coloured hair and contemplating what looked to be a modern, feminine version of a mullet, with long tendrils escaping from a chopped head. “Could work, couldn’t it? That way I’d still have some of my length but I could try short hair too, and if I hated it, I’d get it all cut off short.” Pixie’s mum, it must be said, was rather obsessive about Pixie’s locks and insisted she only ever get half an inch trimmed from the ends. Pixie was sick of having long hair and had been begging for a year to be allowed get it cut. What her mum’d say about the Modern Mullet kept us giggling for ages.

Bob’s ash blonde hair wasn’t quite as long as Pixie’s, but she wasn’t really growing it on purpose. She was growing it because her Mum insisted on home haircuts, and Bob hated that. Her mum wasn’t a hairdresser by any means, and a haircut for Bob usually meant a couple of inches whacked crookedly off the ends by the kitchen scissors. In a struggling farming family, posh haircuts at a salon were out of the question. There was a rumour at school that Bob’s brothers had their hair cut by the sheep shears, and Bob insisted it was true. At least, she said, their haircuts were even on the ends as a result. Bob usually kept her hair tied back in a tight ponytail; loose, it flopped heavily forward and she kept flicking it back impatiently.

And me? I had mousy midlength hair that wasn’t quite long enough to tie back without a bunch of hairclips in the sides. I’d had a choppy, layered style a few months back that was in real need of a trim, and I was actually thinking about going short. My mum, my sole parent, was in favour of short hair. She was a legal secretary in town, and her own hair was short and neat and quite boring. Practical hair. Hmmph. If I went short, it would be radical and messy and wild and full of different colours and anything BUT boring! I flicked through my magazine and found a couple of styles that fitted my criteria. I was about to show them to Bob and Pixie, when Bob gave a yelp.

“Here, listen to this! It’s an article on short haircuts. `Trends for this season for short hair include the timeless bob, especially inverted and cut high at the nape, the elegant pixie, tousled and alluringly feminine, and the radical Chelsea, the ultimate disconnected look for the girl who wants to be seen as a bold headturner.'” Bob looked at Pixie and I. “Isn’t that funny? Our three names – and they’re all haircuts!”

Pixie and I looked at the magazine over her shoulder. I’d never heard of a haircut called the Chelsea, but as that was my name, and it was described as radical, it sounded like I’d found my style – I rather like the disconnected look with a short back and long front. I read the article through for a description of the Chelsea, but there was none to be found. Photos of the inverted bob and the tousled pixie sat nestled in between paragraphs, but the Chelsea didn’t rate a photo, so I was still none the wiser.

“Let’s do it!” said Pixie. “I’ll get a pixie, Bob can have a bob, and Chelsea can have a Chelsea.”

“Your mum’ll kill you,” Bob grinned.

“Don’t care. LOOK at that photo. That’s a gorgeous hairstyle,” Pixie moaned, caressing the magazine and imagining herself with that short, crisp crop.

Bob sighed over the bob photo, too. “Look at the way it just falls into place. My hair’s dead straight just like her’s – I’d look great. Is it shaved in the back do you think?” Bob idly ran her hands up the back of her neck. “That’d be fun. Something different. I’ve even got enough put by to dye the underneath dark brown.”

Overhead the sun was high and warm – a promise of many hours of sunshine still left today. We had all afternoon to catch a bus into the nearest town, find a salon that could take all three of us, and return home in time for dinner with superb new looks that would make us seem sophisticated and older and interesting.

We grabbed the magazines and ran down the hill, whooping like hooligans, past the farmhouse and onto the road, just in time to catch the noon bus.

Bumping along, we did the best we could with makeup, although Pixie’s eyeliner looked a bit ropy as a result of a pothole. Decanted in the High Street, our eyes scanned the shops for a salon.

The first one we went to seemed to be a pensioner’s haven, and stank of setting lotion, so we gave it a miss and kept hunting. Past the market square, we found it. Hairlooms. Lots of funky photos in the window, and a delicious smell of shampoo and expensive products wafting through the door.

“I wonder how much they charge,” Bob mused, as we peeked in. The place was empty, and a stylist was busying herself stacking conditioner on the shelves. Cool downlights and aqua coloured walls, trendy black leather chairs..I sighed. Bugger the cost! If I was going for a radical change, it would be here. “If you don’t enough I’d lend you some,” I whispered. It had been my birthday three weeks ago and two aunts had been generous with their cheques.

So we walked in. The stylist turned with a smile. She was young, like in her twenties, and had great hair – all funky and short, and about five different shades of red and brown and gold. “Hi there, what can I do for you?”

“Can you ..can you give us haircuts? Like now?” Pixie said, her voice squeaky and nervous. I think the spectre of her mum was hanging over her head and she was rather hoping the woman would say no.

“I’ve had a cancellation on some foils, so yes, I can. All three of you?”

We nodded, like those dogs people put on the back parcel shelf of their cars.

“Okay, then. My name is Sable. And you are?”

I sighed. Sable. What a trendy name. Bet she was christened Eileen or something though. Nobody round these parts is called Sable from birth. Even me with Chelsea, I’m different. “Chelsea, Bob and Pixie,” I offered, pointing to each of us.

Sable’s mouth twitched. “How funny, they’re all haircuts!”

“We know,” said Bob, “and that’s what we want. I want a bob -”

“I want a pixie -”

“And I want a Chelsea,” I finished proudly.

Sable’s elegant eyebrows arched, and I wondered exactly what a Chelsea was. I supposed I’d find out sooner or later.

“We’ve got photos,” Bob said. “That’s the bob I want.” She showed Sable the mag. “And Pixie wants that pixie cut. We can’t find a Chelsea photo.”

“I know what a Chelsea looks like,” Sable assured us. “Now, who’s first?” Her eyes lighted on Pixie, who was chewing her lip. Was she thinking, best get the nervous one done first? Bet she was. She led Pixie to the chair. Bob and I sat down at the stations on eit
her side, getting a ringside seat of the action.

“Your hair is nice and clean. We probably won’t have to wash it.” She gently eased Pixie into the chair and had a cape around her neck in a blur. “It’ll be a big change for you, though. Your hair is almost waist length.” Expertly she brushed it, and Pixie’s locks crackled.

“I’ve always wanted short hair,” Pixie said loudly. I think she knew we knew she was nervous, and didn’t want us to laugh at her.

“You’ll soon have it,” Sable promised, and fastened the thick skein of hair into a low ponytail. “Best thing to do is cut the bulk of the length off first.” Still holding the ponytail – maybe so Pixie couldn’t escape! – Sable reached for a large pair of scissors, and as Pixie’s eyes widened, she began hacking the ponytail off in large, expert swipes. One, two, three, four, five, six..Pixie’s head nodded back and forth as Sable sawed away. Then the ponytail – two feet of it – was placed on Pixie’s lap. Pixie gulped.

Bob and I were transfixed by the sight of Pixie’s long hair being so swiftly shortened. We’d known her and her long hair since we were five years old.

“That’s better,” Sable said approvingly, and began to spray what was left of Pixie’s hair – a ragged bob – with water, and combed it through. Pixie’s eyes were huge in her face as she contemplated herself in the mirror.

Sable glanced again at the photo. “It’s quite choppy and freehand. Should look marvellous with your oval face shape.”

Pixie gave a more confident smile, and then Sable was all flying fingers. No sectioning – she simply combed and cropped, combed and cropped, or, for a change, grabbed locks of hair, twisted them, and drove the points of the scissors in. Hair rained from Pixie’s head as Sable chopped the back to two inches at most, with varying lengths throughout.

She then pushed Pixie’s head forward and began to cut the hair at her hairline with the points of the scissors, drawing them down through the hair until all that was left were angular spikes about an inch long.

Pixie must have had no idea what had gone on at the back of her head, as her eyes widened when Sable began going through the same motions on the side, seemingly cutting hair off at random in clumps, twisting and snipping, cutting it quite short around her ears. “Spiky sideburns,” Sable said to anyone listening, and proceeded to cut them, slicing the hair away. Again and again she ran her hands up the side of Pixie’s head, snipping away at hair that stuck out through her cupped fingers. “Nice,” she pronounced, and moved to the other side.

This time Bob got the best view of Pixie’s transformation. I merely saw locks falling rapidly down the front of Pixie’s shiny cape. Already she looked both younger and older, gamine yet sophisticated, and Sable hadn’t even started on the top.

“It looks smashing, Pix,” I reassured her when Sable finished the side.

Pixie grinned. “It does. I’m glad I did it. Even though it’s a bit scary watching it all get cut off.”

“After you’ve had short hair, you’ll never want long hair again,” said Sable. “Now, let’s get the top sorted.”

And sorted it got. Sable started with Pixie’s long fringe, combing in down over her face and then snipping it halfway up her forehead, again with that slicing motion, leaving a ragged, funky fringe in its place. She ruffled it up with her fingers and it stood up of its own accord. Nodding happily, Sable then chopped into the top, combing and snipping and twisting until Pixie’s hair stood up in spikes.

“Almost done,” Sable promised. “I’ll just tidy up your neck.”

Pixie was so enraptured with her new, cropped look in the mirror she didn’t notice Sable get a small pair of clippers out, and jumped when the stylist turned them on. “What the -?”

“Head down for me, Pixie,” Sable commanded. “We’ll just get rid of these stray hairs.”

With that she shaved Pixie’s neck to the skin, like a boy’s, so no stray hairs lurked beneath the spikes. A muffled, “That tickles,” came from Pixie, whose chin was tucked into her chest as Sable pressed the clippers against her skin.

Sable finally turned them off – was it just me, or did she seem to clip Pixie’s neck for a long time to get rid of just a few hairs? – and began instead to massage some product into Pixie’s funky cut. Blasting it with the blowdryer, she used her fingers to pick out strands, or rubbed the whole lot in a circular motion. Five minutes later, the cape was whisked from Pixie’s neck and our friend sat touching her new short hair with one hand and clutching the redundant ponytail with the other.

“Like it?” Sable smiled.

“Love it,” sighed Pixie, caressing her head. “God, it’s short! So nice and short.”

“Give over and let me have a haircut,” grinned Bob, pulling Pixie out of the chair. “It looks great, Pix. Really great.”

“Fantastic,” I agreed. It did, too. With Pixie’s heavy eye makeup she looked like an androgynous beauty. Whoever would have thought she’d go from schoolgirl to sexy in twenty minutes?

Bob was swiftly caped, and Sable studied the photo. “There’s an undercut there. That means I’ll be clipping your nape quite close, with the bob coming down over the top of some of it.” It seemed to me Sable said that with quite a bit of relish. Not for this stylist any pity about cutting long hair short!

She swiftly sectioned up Bob’s hair, leaving only the hair from the top of Bob’s ear level down. “I think we’ll undercut all the way around, if you want to look really fashionable,” she said to Bob. “That means I’ll clip in front of your ear as well, and probably half an inch above the top of your ear. You’ve got lots of hair and it’ll look stunning if you tuck it behind your ears with that undercut.”

Bob simply said, “I’m in your hands.” It was clear she was enjoying the luxury of a salon cut with a proper cape instead of an old towel flung around her shoulders.

With that, Sable picked up a bigger pair of clippers and attached a bit of plastic over the blades. “Head down, then, Bob.”

Bob stared at her knees, and Sable switched the clippers on. They hummed more politely than the smaller pair, but when she drove them into the hair at the middle of Bob’s neck, they growled and howled and crackled.

I watched them peel away the hair up the back of Bob’s head, shearing it to barely half an inch long. I was tempted to make a joke about Bob being able to get the same cut from her sheep-shearing Dad, but then remembered I was next for a cut, and I was still none the wiser about what a Chelsea looked like.

“Bloody heck, that’s short!” gasped Pixie, as Bob’s long locks fell away and the back of her neck was left in a pelt-like state.

“It’s an undercut,” Sable said patiently. “It has to be short. Bob has a lovely hairline, too, and this will make the most of it. In fact, we could even go a bit shorter.” With that she switched off the clippers, changed plastic attachments, and began on Bob’s neck all over again. This time it was significantly shorter, so short that with Bob’s head forward like that, you could see her skin through her clipped hair.

Tiny clippings flew in the air as Bob’s neck was denuded. Her hair, as I said, was ash blonde, and cut so very short it almost looked like her nape had been shaved bald.

“It feels cold back there,” Bob giggled. “Have I got any hair left?”

“About a quarter of an inch,” Sable replied calmly, and boisterous Bob fell silent.

Sable bent one of Bob’s ears forward and the clippers continued their eager path up behind it. Long locks fell onto Bob’s knees as Sable clipped away a little path above Bob’s ears on either side. “Head up now.”

Bob looked anxiously in the mirror, but for now she looked the same as always, long hair down either side of her face. Not for long, though. Sable, smiling, reduced Bob’s left sideburn to stubble with two expert passes of the clippers, then did the same to the right. Bob’s eyes widened. “I’ve got ears like my brothers’. I never noticed before.”

to trim your neck. Head down again,” ordered Sable, and picked up the little clippers. She placed them low on Bob’s vulnerable neck, and shaved carefully up to the hairline, then used them to define the hairline into sharp points. I wondered what it felt like and had a feeling I’d get to find out for myself if Sable had her way.

“There, that’s the clipping done,” Sable announced, and started letting down Bob’s hair and wetting it. Bob jumped. “That feels cold on my neck!”

Sable contemplated Bob’s head for a moment, then got the comb and scissors out. “An inverted bob..let’s make this a fairly radical one. Nice and high at the back. What do you think, Bob?”

“Radical’s fine with me,” Bob replied, so Sable started cutting half way up the back of Bob’s head, leaving close to two inches of the shaved hair visible. On either side of that first dramatic snip the angle of the bob fell in wicked downward slants. Bob was going to be bobbed to perfection; no 1920s flapper could have got a better cut.

The floor under the chair began to get covered in a pile of Bob’s soft blonde hair as it was reduced to a stark, superb cut.

Sable started work on the sides, and Bob’s bob fell to her earlobes. The first snip sent about an acre of hair onto Bob’s lap, and Bob grinned. “Won’t need another haircut for months now!”

“Oh, you will,” Sable said, “If you want to keep it looking sharp. I’d recommend a monthly trim. Especially on the undercut.”

“You’ll have to get a part time job,” giggled Pixie.

“You too,” advised Sable. “Short hair needs regular cutting to keep its shape.”

We were all silent as we wondered how we’d maintain our new looks. Sable, meanwhile, kept snipping at Bob’s head until the bob was complete on both sides. “What about this fringe?” She flicked it with her comb. “The model in the photo has a very short, thick fringe. Do you want the same?”

Bob studied the photo. In for a penny, in for a pound; we could see her thinking. “Aye, cut it off.”

Sable needed no encouraging. She slid the scissors into Bob’s fringe barely an inch from the hairline, and revealed Bob’s white forehead to the world as six inches of hair fell away. No hiding behind her fringe now!

“Now, I’ll blowdry this for you. Do you ever blowdry your hair at home?”

“Not often,” said Bob. A hairdryer was something else she’d have to spend her pocket money on.

Bob’s sleek bob, when it was dried, lay close to her head, shining and beautiful. “Wow,” Bob gasped when Sable took away the cape. With her black and red t shirt and that magnificent hair, Bob had blossomed like the ugly duckling.

“Now, Chelsea,” Sable commanded. “Your turn. How do you want the hairline? An inch or so?”

I had no idea what she meant as she clipped the cape tightly around my neck. “Um, yes, if that’s what you recommend.”

“That would suit you. Your hair has a bit of a curl, so it would look good I think. There are more radical versions but I think we’ll try this first. You can always go shorter later.” Shorter than one inch? I wondered what on earth I’d look like! “Now, the rest.” she mused, running her fingers through my hair. “Perhaps a number four for starters..” I was still in the dark! Maybe Chelsea styles had numbers; perhaps there were standard variations. I wished I’d done a bit more research!

“Right, let’s get started!” Sable had her back to me, and I heard a plastic clicking noise. When she turned around she was brandishing the clippers.

I thought of the back of Bob’s head, and felt a twinge of fear. But Bob looked wonderful! I was sure I’d look wonderful too, and bravely prepared myself for whatever Sable had in store.

What she did, however, took me completely by surprise. Combing down my fringe with one hand and holding it flat to my head, she put the clippers just behind and pushed them back into my hair, ploughing over the top of my head before I even had the chance to gasp. She stood between me and the mirror, so I had no idea at all what was happening to my hair.

I could hear Pixie shriek and Bob catch her breath, and I cringed. Was I being shaved bald? I know I wanted radical, but – !

Sable hummed to herself as she brought the clippers to the front again and mowed down my head in a path next to the first. “Nice thick hair,” she said, “You’ll wear this well.”

My shorn scalp felt all tight and funny where the clippers had been, but I had little time to think about that, as Sable sheared a third path over the top. I didn’t think I had much hair there left to cut, but she buzzed over it again and again, and I heard more sad little hairs crackle as they were bitten off.

Sable brushed the top of my head with her fingers, and I shivered all over. It felt weird.nice.but weird! Then she stood to one side, and I saw myself.

My hair lay in a close pelt on the top of my head, clipped to about half an inch, with my long fringe still curling over my forehead. I gulped. I was being shorn like a boy! Or one of Bob’s dad’s sheep!

“Now for the rest,” smiled Sable. “It’s not often I get a request for a cut like this around these parts. Brightens up my day, this does.” With that she combed some of my hair forward onto one cheek, and ominously lifted up the rest with one hand and brought the clippers closer with the other.

Unable to move, I watched her place the clippers carefully above my ears and then pull them up through my hair, leaving a fringe around my face. Up and up she went, until there was no hair left to cut and she’d shorn up to the top of my head. Because she was holding it up, no hair fell onto my lap. It swung, captive, from her hand as she laid the guard against my head again and began to cut off more hair.

I was both horrified and intrigued. I was clearly getting one of the ugliest haircuts in all creation, but the clippers felt nice against my head, all sort of tingly and throbby. Wide eyed, I watched as the rest of one side was relentlessly shortened apart from the ridiculous long hair left at my hairline.

Sable threw the handful of hair to the floor dispassionately, and pushed my head forward. Again the careful combing of hair around my hairline at the back, then a tug as what was left was gripped firmly in her long fingers. Midlength hair had never felt so long, so secure, as it was held tight waiting for the clippers to reduce it to what appeared to be half an inch.

I shuddered as Sable began clipping the back of my head. I’d never realized the nape of my neck was so sensitive until the clippers hummed and throbbed against it. Unable to see what was happening, the clippers felt like they were moving ever so slowly and ever so high up my head. My head started to feel cold where the hair had been cut, and the coolness spread across the back of my head under Sable’s pitiless shearing.

I knew the back was finished when Sable dropped my hair onto my lap; it landed in a clump near my knees and slid to the floor. “Head up again, Chelsea.”

“Bloody hell, Chels, what DID you ask for?” gasped Pixie. “It’s like a crew cut!”

“It’s a Chelsea,” said Sable smoothly as she pushed the clippers up behind my ears and sent my hair tumbling around my back and shoulders. “Very short all over, except for a fringe of hair around the hairline. More radical Chelsea cuts – hold very still now, please – have a completely shaved head apart from a fringe on the forehead and perhaps around the side of the face.” Speaking of which, with a flourish she clipped away the last of my hair.

I sat looking like a freak with long tendrils hanging around a closely clipped head. I couldn’t cry – I couldn’t! They’d laugh!

Sable put her hands on her hips and contemplated me. “I’ll cut the hairline and then we’ll see about the rest of it. You may well be able to go shorter, it’ll look very funky if you do.”

Funky? Freaky more like! I stammered, “It’s short enough, really, it is!”

“We’ll see,” said Sable enigmatically, picking up her comb and scissors. She began at the back, and I could f
eel her cutting the long tendrils with that slicing motion. Compared to what was left on the rest of my head, the one inch seemed long, I thought, as I watched her happily cut off my sideburns and the hair around my temple. It curled quite sweetly once she’d finished, almost like a halo around my shorn head. She combed through my fringe, and then stood in front of me and began to slice it away. I watched seemingly lots of hair fall in front of my eyes.

“Now, Chelsea.” Sable stood back. “What do you think?”

I regarded myself. I looked like Sinead O’Connor in a growing out phase, but had to admit it did wonders for my eyes and cheekbones. I’d always been one of the soft kids in class, one of the goody two-shoes. Now I looked bad-girl. Don’t mess with me.

Tentatively I brought a shaking hand out from under the cape and touched my clipped head. It was so soft! It looked spiky, but, oh, it was wonderful! I gasped.

Sable stood behind me. “You’ll get more definition out of the fringe of hair around your hairline if I cut the rest shorter,” she said persuasively.

“H-how short?”

“Your friend Bob. The back of her head. That short.”

Bob grinned and rubbed her clipped nape. “Feels nice, Chels. And you’ve come this far, what’s a bit more?”

“Do I look stupid?” I asked my friends.

Bob grinned even more broadly. Bitch, I thought. “Not really. Different. Boyish. Punky.”

“Your Mum’ll kill you too,” said Pixie.

“My Mum likes short hair, remember?” I said archly. “Well, she’ll certainly like this. It’s short.”

“Shorter?” encouraged Sable. “You can get away with it. You’ve a lovely face.”

I rubbed my head. “Bob, can I feel your head?”

Bob obligingly bent down and let me rub her nape up and down. It, too, felt velvety. I could see her scalp through it when it was rubbed the wrong way, but there was something bewitching about touching hair that was THAT short. Like a little pelt, like a fledgling’s feathers.

“Okay,” I sighed to Sable. “Shorter.”

Sable smiled and wordlessly switched the guard on her clippers.

This time she stood to one side as she advanced to the top of my head, and I could see myself in the mirror, with the clippers looming closer. Then they were in my hair, shearing it down to a quarter inch. My eyes widened. It looked MUCH shorter now, lighter in colour because of the white of my scalp. Too late to turn back, though. And besides, the clippers felt nice as they buzzed me.

Sable seemed to be getting a kick out of it, too. Again and again she drew them over the top when there couldn’t possibly be any hair left longer than a quarter of an inch. Then she revved them up the side of my head, over and over, as tiny hairs swam around my face like a cloud of midges. I looked almost bald where she’d clipped me, and funnily enough, wasn’t horrified at what I saw. The contrast between the curls left around my hairline and the harsh clip of the rest of my hair was captivating me.

Now Sable was pushing my head down to shear the back, her hand on top of my head where it felt so warm against my skin with so little hair left. The clippers against my nape were hypnotic. I could have sat in that chair for hours with Sable shaving my hair closer and closer until there was none left.

Gently she clipped above my ears, and I could watch in the mirror again as the clippers made their final passes up the side of my head. My face and neck itched with clippings.

“That’s better,” Sable approved. “Now, one last thing, I’ll shave your neck and get rid of stray hairs.”

I put my head down without being asked, and this time felt the bare blades vibrating against my skin. It made me gasp.

Tantalisingly slowly, Sable nuzzled them up my nape. “Does that feel nice?” she said softly.

“Yes,” I whispered.

“Want me to go higher?” She hesitated with the blades poised below my hairline, and I knew what she meant. A radical Chelsea, with the entire head shaved save for some hair around my face.

“Don’t!” yelped Pixie.

“I’d do it,” said Bob. “In fact, if you do, I’ll have my undercut shaved bald as well, so you won’t be alone.”

Shaved bald..I must be mad even thinking about it. But I simply said, “Yes,” and sighed as the clippers recommenced their path up the back of my head, nuzzling and trembling.

Now this DID feel weird! My scalp instantly felt cold where the clippers had shaved me to the skin, but I bent my head even further forward so Sable could shave every hair even closer over my taut skin.

When she reached the crown of my head the tingling sensation made me gasp. No matter what punishment I got at home for shaving my head, it would be worth it for this amazing moment, this freedom of feeling the clippers running over my head like live things biting off every hair in their path.

I felt the one inch tendrils stop tickling my skin as Sable buzzed carefully up behind my ears.

“Head up,” said Sable, “I’ve finished the back.”

I watched in the mirror as she shaved the sides of my scalp, leaving the fringe around my face. White skin appeared like magic in the path of the clippers. Sable went over each area several times until the skin turned pink and not even stubble could be found. It was the most amazing sensation I’ve ever had.

“Now, the top. Want to touch your hair for the last time?”

I wrestled my hands from under the cape and firstly touched the shaved parts of my head. It felt smooth and alien and sensitive – wonderful! Then I caressed the little buzzcut left on top. “Goodbye, hair!” I said cheerfully. “Take it all off,” I commanded Sable, who needed no urging.

I watched with excitement in the mirror as she pushed the clippers in behind my fringe and bared my scalp. This was insane, this was fun! More and more of my scalp turned white until there was only a little patch left, which Sable briskly shaved off with a flick of her wrist.

“Now that, my friends, is the perfect Chelsea,” Sable sighed, dusting my scalp, face and neck with a brush.

“Can I touch it?” said Bob, and without waiting for an answer stroked my shaven scalp. Her hands felt wonderful on it. “That’s it, I’m sold. Sable, can you do my undercut?”

Pixie had a tentative stroke, too. “Oh, Chelsea! That feels so weird. This little bit of hair here -” she ruffled what was left of my fringe “- and all of this shaved bald. It’s so warm, too.” She stroked my scalp more confidently. “What does it feel like?”

“Incredible,” I said truthfully, getting out of the chair and letting Bob sit down.

I was wearing a shoestring top and denim skirt, and with my shaved scalp looked funky as hell.

Sable swiftly pinned up Bob’s bob, and fired up the clippers. “It’s so nice to see girls getting into hard edged hair fashion,” she commented as she pushed Bob’s head forward.

On my head you could see a dark patch where the hair lay under the skin, ready to grow probably all too quickly. With Bob’s light hair, her scalp was truly pink where Sable had shaved it clean, and it looked like she was born with a bald nape.

It was a matter of only a couple of minutes before Bob’s undercut was turned into an undershave, and she gasped when her hair was let down over it. “Oh, that tickles!”

We both turned to Pixie. “What about you?”

Pixie backed away. “No. NO! Let me get through this with my Mum first! I’m going to be in enough trouble with my haircut as it is.”

“Maybe next time,” said Sable smoothly, and all three of us instinctively knew we’d be returning.

She took our money cheerfully, and told me to come back often if I wanted to stay shaved; she’d even do a discount for me.

As we left, each of us fingering our new haircuts – or in my case, my scalp – I turned to look back into the salon.

Sable was playing with her own hair. In fact, as I watched, she lifted it off her head. The multicoloured crop was a wig, and underneath Sable was cleanshaven, totally bald. I should have known. We’d been done over by a cli
pper-happy maniac. And was I complaining? Nope!

Of course, we all copped a punishment when we arrived at our respective houses. Pixie, obviously, just for cutting her hair, although her parents conceded it was rather nice after a couple of days of grounding her. Bob got yelled at for wasting good money on a haircut that could have been achieved with a pudding bowl and her dad’s razor, if only she’d have spoken up and said she wanted it.

And me? I wasn’t allowed out of the house for a week and after that only with my mother and only if I was wearing a hat. Mum was clearly horrified at her shaven daughter. I’d obviously taken short hair too far, young lady. With a week left before school, though, my hair had grown back into a short buzz and I gradually got my freedom back too.

Finally I met up with Pixie and Bob two days before the end of the holidays, and we agreed to meet in town for a coffee and some retail therapy with whatever money we had left.

Bob’s shaved nape had grown out to a pale fuzz, and she contemplated my head. “What if, for a lark, we all got haircuts like yours? What’s the worst that can happen? We’ve all been punished once.”

“We might get suspended from school,” said Pixie nervously.

“We should be so lucky,” grinned Bob. “Come on, Pix, you’re only young once. And it’ll grow back. Look how fast Chelsea’s has grown already.”

Hairlooms was just around the corner. “I need a trim,” I said bravely. “Anyone else joining me?”

When I looked around, Bob and Pixie were hard on my heels.

The end

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