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The school year was finally over. When they came back she would no longer be a student and Jacquie was looking forward to her first posting as a fully-qualified teacher.

She knew that she could be fierce when she wanted but most of the kids knew her as a soft touch. Jacquie was determined to change all that. Her trouble was, that at 27 she still looked 17 but then maybe it was her fault. She cleansed, toned and moisteurised every day and kept her straight brown hair to her tummy-button. Maybe it was genetic, her 58 year old mother barely looked 45. Sometimes, especially in her job it was a curse.

Since splitting up with Will her career had become more important to her than ever. If she was ever to suceed she would have to make herself over and the hair was the first thing to go.

Armed with a credit card and all the energy she could muster Jacquie went shopping to make herself over. She’d made an appointment at the local hair salon she passed everyday on the way to work. But first she needed to get out of these sweatshirts and jeans. Maybe that was the problem, her outfits made her trendy and the kids saw themselves in the way she dressed. New school, new attitude. She’d still be a soft touch but she wouldn’t let them know that until she absolutely had to. She admired the teachers who were feared first and foremost then liked or respected. She wanted to be like that.

Her card had been in constant use River Island, Donna Karan, Chanel. Gone were the jeans and in were the jacket suits and floral skirts with polar necks and tee-shirts. She would be respected next year if it killed her. She just wondered if the clothes would still suit her after she’d had her hair done. Her eyes were very expressive, she knew that she could wear any hair-style. It would only accentuate them anyway.

YIKES! Her appointment at the hair salon was at 3:20pm and it was already 3:15pm and she was a good 10 minute walk away, quick pay now. Out came the card. She smiled to herself. She had done well.

She tried not to look that she’d been running as she breezed into the salon. She needn’t have bothered their time appeared to be crawling past very slowly. She relaxed.

“I’ve an appointment at 3:20pm”

“Ah yes, you’re with Trixie, is that ok?”
Jacquie was baffled and showed it.
“You were with Barry but he has got delayed on a home appointment.” “Oh, OK. Doesn’t matter to me.”
A woman she assumed correctly was Trixie came over “Let us get you settled.” Jacquie put her shopping bags and hand-bag down for the receptionist to put in the cloak-room. Trixie grabbed a cape and whipped it around her neck picking up her hair so it flowed over the cape. “Take a seat.” Right in the window.

Jacquie sat down as she was ordered. “So, what are we doing today?”

“I’m a newly-qualified teacher but I’ve always looked too young and the kids are starting to get away with it. I want them to know I mean business.”

“So something sensible. Have you ever gone short? I think it would really suit you– I have some books if you’d like”

Jacquie’s eyes looked where she’d motioned. Trixie picked them up for her. They were big glossy catalogues full of women’s hair-styles in a hard-back folder. She flicked past layered cuts for long hair, through bobs to the back sections with all the short hair till she reached the back. How shocking would that be if she got a buzz-cut, then they’d take her seriously. “That’s the one!” Trixie raised one eye-brow- it was the 1/4 inch buzz-cut, she was brave.

“Are you sure? I mean, I prefer short hair and it would suit you, it’s just if you’ve never had short hair it’s going to be one helluvan adjustment- who am I to talk?!” referring to her own pony-tails which covered her head. Jacquie and Trixie smiled at each other. A bond had been formed.

“Would madam like her hair to be washed?”
Jacquie grinned as she nodded.
“It’ll be your last chance…..”

She felt the warm water flow to the full length of her mane all gathered in the sink. It would be most peculiar to have short hair. But it’d be worth it. She’d needed to blow away the cob-webs for a long time now. She should’ve done this after her split with Will but it had been term-time. The senior staff would be impressed.

Trixie dried her hair then led her back over to her chair removing the towel. Trixie started to comb her hair to the ends.
“Now, you’re sure about this?” “Yes. It’ll be an experience to have short hair- I may even like it.”
“OK” as Trixie started to focus on the job at hand, still combing.

“Right,……..” Trixie abruptly stopped, and plugged in the clippers as Jacquie looked at her worried reflection in the mirror with wet hair. Had she made the right decision? Of course she had, she remembered the almost-nasty comments some of the teenagers had made last term. They’d take her seriously now- new kids, new reputation. Jacquie hadn’t even heard the noise of the clippers when she realised that Trixie was in front of her plowing something into her forehead.

It was a peculiar sensation as the clippers mowed from her forehead to the back of her ear. Then she felt the hair flow off her head and land wet on her lap, some sticking to her cheeks. Trixie started another row from her forehead, then another and another. As Trixie moved around her Jacquie caught herself in the mirror, there was virtually no hair on the top of her head. It looked funny to see the hair still lying on her shoulders over the cape. My word, her eyes looked pretty.

She felt a breeze on the top of her head. The vibrations were making her feel wet inside. Suddenly the catholic side of her got an overwhelming sense of guilt- is she doing the right thing? Cutting her hair for her career? Both things- the haircut and her job gave her great pleasure. She would have to confess.

It felt weird having such a light head. Suddenly the clippers were switched off and placed to one side. She watched in one of the mirrors on the opposing wall as Trixie gathered up her former pony-tail and pulled it as far away from her head as possible before cutting upwards, the crushing metal blades tickled her neck as her hair was sawn upwards free of her head.

All that hair gone, as she watched Trixie throw it into the pile of her hair accumulating on the floor. So this was what it was like having short hair.

Everything seemed to go in slow motion as she became more acutely aware of everything- the radio playing “How Does It Feel” by the Rolling Stones in the background, the little boy licking a lollipop barely holding his mum’s hand as they walked past, the colour of the floor, the smell of shampoos and other concoctions. Trixie put her head to the back of Jacquie’s head and said “Keep your chin on your chest as I remove the rest. How do you feel?”

“Great.” and she meant it. She should have done this years ago but she was scared of being viewed as a lesbian.
She heard the clippers being switched back on. She looked at the floor and caught a glance at how much of her hair (her hair?!) was there. Jacquie took a deep breath and closed her eyes as she imagined the motion of the clippers. She dozed off to the sound of the buzz- from her nape up her neck over and over then again from the forehead back. Then there was silence again.

“Well?” as she felt Trixie’s hand leave her neck.

Jacquie looked in the mirror. Was that her?! She had never seen herself without long hair before- the person looking back looked like an adult- she’d never get checked for ID again?!

Her eyes, she’d definitely get herself a boyfriend again now after Will. It looked so smart but there was something not quite right as she felt the peculiar sensation of touching her head at the back.

“The back’s too long-“

Trixie smiled. “Do you want it to be as short as where you used to have a pony-tail, say here?”

“That will do nicely.” Trixie removed the 1/4 inch attachment and circled Jacquie with the clippers buzzing. Jacquie watched in the mir
ror as Trixie ran the bare clippers up her nape up to half of her ear then proceeded with another line up.

Jacquie was watching herself. She practiced facial expressions “OK, I’ll give you an extension but don’t tell everyone or they’ll all want one” “NO RUNNING IN THE HALL” She smiled at herself. This amused Trixie greatly as she pretended not to see.

Then Trixie came round the sidesand shaved off Jacquie’s already 1/4 of an inch side-burns This really was a short back and sides?! Jacquie watched as her hair continued to get shorter, the person who came in with the long hair and cute face was long-gone. This was a grown-up and she liked it. Trixie dusted the dry hairs off her neck, her top tickled a bit where the hair had flown into her top but her morale was boosted immeasurably as she thought about the discrimination she’d gone through with bouncers, newsagents when she’d wanted to buy cigarettes.

“I’m done.”

Jacquie smiled. She’d pull looking like this, and maybe a man who wouldn’t walk all over her-

Jacquie went to pay. Her friends and family would have to get used to the new no-nonsense Miss Jacqueline Tait.

She picked up her shopping bags and rushed home to try on her new clothes to see how they looked with her new hair.

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