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As soon as Sheila put the phone down to confirm her usual Friday appointment she knew it would be different. After all she had been through it would have to be- her divorce had finally come through after 3 acrimonious years. She was just grateful that the Crown had managed to successfully prosecuted her ex.

She brushed her knee-length straight chocolate-coloured hair, deep in thought about the damage he had done to her over the years. She shuddered as she remembered how good the first few months of marriage had been and his gradual nastiness.

There were tears in her eyes as revery took over and she continued to brush. How much her head had stang after he had dragged her across the kitchen-floor by her hair. The hair he loved so much, the irony was that she had been thinking about cutting it when she met him but he had stopped her.

Friday arrived. She had been in a good mood all day. Even the house-work had been slightly easier, she had never liked doing it especially when he was in her life. He insisted on a perfect house and if it wasn’t he would pick up whatever was available. She flinched as she remembered the pain of when he had picked up the bag of oranges and had proceeded to invisibly bruise her on her torso and face. She quickly popped into the chemist. They had what she wanted. This was going to be a good day.

She arrived early and was nervous by the time the young assistant asked her if she wanted refreshment as always.

Then it was her turn

“Hello Sheila. The usual?” her stylist said absently. “Er, well actually…. no. I want you to cut it off”
That woke him up. She’d been coming here every Friday for the last 11 years.
“Cut it off?” “Yes.”
She was sure and nodded furiously as she said it.
There’s a turn-up for the books. Mind you, it’d probably save her a fortune.

He whipped the cape around her as she sat down with her cup. He looked at her in the mirror as he played with the texture of her hair absent-mindedly.

“So, what do you want? He pointed at some of the short styles on the walls. Or a head-shave?” he said with a chuckle.
This irritated her.

She looked at him wide-eyed, with no trace of humour

“The last one- the head-shave please.”
He was shocked. “Well, OK”

He started, as always to comb it from the roots to the tips. He pumped the foot-pedal to get her at the right height.
“Right, can you sit back for me Sheila” as he tethered all of the hair which trailed down her back into her pony-tail and started to brush it with the big brush. He pulled it back tightly, reminding her of him. But, she reminded herself, this was in a good cause. No more memories of him.
He had her leaning back at an angle. Then she watched with trepidation as he picked up his scissors from the counter. She felt as she felt the scissors at the base of the nape of her neck and she heard it “Schink, schink, schink, schink, schink, schink schink” and he let the pony-tail fall.
“There, just removed the bulk of the weight”

She looked at her face in the mirror, it was short and she forced a smile. She felt elated as she felt her hair sway forward, her hair was now up to her cheek bones. She was going to like this.

“Now Sheila, I don’t mean to scare you-” Patronising git, she’d been coming here for years, clearly no respect for women like a man she knew. Her smile was now genuine.

He was confused as she smiled incongruously as he explained that he would continue with the clippers. She puzzled him and always had.
She took it in turns at staring at herself and watching him plug the clippers in next to the hair-dryer.
It happened in slow motion. “Head forward please Sheila.”

“Do you want to be properly bald, or do you want an attachment which cuts your hair slightly longer?”

“Bald please” and she obediently bowed her head. Inside she was in hysterics like never before. Some people must feel this on their wedding day but not her. She had known even then that things weren’t right but she could never put her finger on it so she shrugged it away till the first beating.

With her chin on her chest she could see the swathes of her hair on the floor in unusual formation. It gave her such a thrill she felt a chill go down her back, or was that the wire of the clippers close to the chair?

The engine revved and her stomach churned as she felt the cold metal blades on the back of her head as the hair fell forward over her crown. He carried on mowing till she felt the chair suddenly move, as if on a bumper-car and suddenly she had her chin in the air and she was facing her stylist, whose name after 8 years she still didn’t know.

She finally got a chance to look in the mirror but he blocked her view. She enjoyed feeling it as he ploughed the clippers into her forehead. She shivered as the remaining hair trickled past her cheeks and into her lap. This was pure joy. She felt her head being mowed until suddenly he stopped. She realised that he had done the circumference of her head and it was all over. She wanted to laugh but he already thought her strange.
She watched the junior sweep away her hair as she got up to pay. She could barely hear the stylist talking to her “Now, if you want to keep it this length be sure to regularly run a razor over it once a week, not a lady-shave as they cut you to ribbons…” She smiled mysteriously and answered in the affirmative. She couldn’t wait to get home and admire her head.

She ran up to the mirror by the window, where previously she had brushed her hair through to the ends. “No longer” and giggled to herself. Anybody watching would think she was mad.

Then she remembered………..

She opened up her hand-bag and there it was inside its’ small white paper-bag, a little bag of ointment. She read the box then put a tiny amount on the tip of her finger and started to rub it into her forehead and work her way back. It wasn’t enough as the strange aroma filled the room. She squeezed the rest into her hands as she rubbed her scalp and the burning began. She eyed the bottle. It was worth its’ price in gold for the freedom it would give her.


She laughed as she banished memories of his torture, with her hair from her life forever. No regrets.

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