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The days until Thursday flew by. Christine phoned her Mum a few times, and asked her to bring up some nice outfits for her, as she had very few smart clothes with her. Mum asked about her hair, and Christine promised that she would do ‘something’ with it, and might need to ‘borrow’ some hair lacquer.

Christine woke up early on Thursday morning, with butterflies in her stomach. She tied her long hair back before going to the sink to wash. As she did, she realised that this morning ritual wouldn’t be required after today. She scrubbed her face thoroughly, conscious of the fact that a short haircut would leave her nothing to hide behind, and her skin would be on show as never before. She got dressed quickly in the same skirt and blouse as she’d worn to the salon previously, but left the jacket off, as she thought it would get in the way. She brushed her hair out, and left it down. Christine had been undecided as to whether to wear makeup today. She didn’t wear it very often, and wasn’t sure how it would go with her new look, but eventually she had decided that it was a special day, and she should wear some. She applied it in her usual way, and checked herself in the mirror. She still wasn’t sure whether she looked too ‘tarty’, as her usual make up didn’t really go with her smart, conservative clothes, but consoled herself with the thought that it would be easy enough to wash off later if she wanted to. She slipped out of her hall quickly, seeing no-one on the way out.

She was at the salon before she knew it. Oddly enough, her nervousness had completely gone. She was completely at ease with her decision to adopt a short, conservative hairstyle, and could only think of how happy her Mum would be when she saw the results of the next few hours.

‘Ah, I wondered if you would keep your appointment.’ said Audrey, the hairdresser.

‘Of course.’ replied Christine.

‘Hmmm… Your hair _is_ long. Well we’ll soon get that sorted out and have you looking neat and tidy for Mum.’

Christine followed the hairdresser across the shop, and slipped into the chair as indicated. The hairdresser picked up a comb and scissors and briskly combed through Christine’s hair. ‘Right, there’s no point washing all of this if it’s going to end up on the floor.’ And with that, she closed the scissors level with Christine’s chin and eighteen inches of hair fell to the floor. Audrey quickly continued around Christine’s head, snipping away, and in a matter of seconds Christine was left with a rough, chin length bob. Christine looked in the mirror and swallowed. She hadn’t had hair this short since she was a very little girl.

‘I think we’ll cut the layers in dry’ said Audrey, mostly to herself.

‘Um..’ said Christine timidly, ‘should we discuss styles?’

‘I don’t think that’s necessary’ replied Audrey. ‘You told me you wanted a short, neat, head of curls, so that you looked nice and smart for your Mum, and that’s what I’m going to do.’

While this exchange had been going on, Audrey had already been snipping away efficiently at Christine’s hair, and Christine realised that she really had no choice now. She was undoubtedly going to leave the salon with an extremely smart, conservative hairstyle, and knowing this, she relaxed and decided to enjoy the experience as much as she could.

Before long, Audrey stopped cutting, and Christine looked in the mirror to see a respectable looking young lady with a very plain and simple, short layered haircut. It had been cut so that her ears were almost completely exposed, and was clearly above the collar of her blouse. A short straight fringe rested well above her eyebrows.

‘That’s much better already,’ said Audrey, ‘Now let’s get some rollers in and give you a proper style.’

‘Christine’s chair was turned around and leaned back, and her hair was washed by Audrey. She was brisk and thorough, and Christine enjoyed the lack of tangles and snarls that had always happened when she shampooed her long hair. Her hair was quickly towelled, and she was sat back up. Audrey then picked up a bottle with a long nozzle. Explaining to Christine that this was setting lotion, and that she only ever used traditional styling products, as they held the hair more firmly than the modern ones, she applied this all over Christine’s brand new short layers. Christine’s hair was then rolled up on small pink rods, making tight, neat, even rows all over her head, and she was popped under one of the row of old-fashioned hood dryers that filled one wall of the shop.

Christine went off in a daze under the dryer. Part of her couldn’t quite believe what she had just done. Even though she knew that her curly style would wash out easily enough, she was certainly stuck with the short layered cut for some considerable time. She had only had a quick look at it in the mirror, but that had been enough to be sure that there was no way of making the cut look at all funky or trendy. The other part of her was thrilled. Now that her hair was nice and short, there would be no fussing with it in the mornings, and no worrying about whether to wear it up or down, or whether she had time to wash it! There was also the warm and pleasant feeling that came from anticipating her Mum’s reaction to her daughter having not only chopped off her long, fussy hair into a short, sensible style, but also had it shampooed and set into a neat, conservative head of curls.

Before Christine knew it, she was out from under the dryer and back in the styling chair. Audrey removed the pink rollers and surveyed her handiwork so far.

‘Well, your hair takes a curl very well,’ she said, ‘Now we just need to get you combed out and neatly styled.’

With these words she picked up a rat-tail comb, and gently teased Christine’s hair out, leaving tight, neat curls in her wake. When she had finished, Christine looked to see that her ears were now fully exposed, and her tightly curled fringe rode high on her forehead.

‘Hold your breath now,’ said Audrey. ‘Finishing touches.’

Christine did so, and Audrey picked up a large can of hair lacquer – the same brand that Christine’s mother used – and the familiar scent surrounded Christine as Audrey gave her curls a thorough coating. Audrey gave it a few moments to settle, and then repeated the procedure.

‘We certainly don’t want those nice smart curls to get messed up today now, do we?’ she said with a gentle smile.

Christine took a final look in the mirror, and hardly recognised herself. She could now see that her hair was in a very traditional style. In fact, old-fashioned might be a better term. It was certainly similar to the style that her neighbour in halls, Helen, had ended up with a year ago, or, come to that, her own mother when she had her hair set for a special occasion. There was little doubt that Mum would have had an appointment at her hairdressers that morning, and would be arriving with a very similar style to Christine, and this thought comforted her. The hair sat perfectly with the smart blouse she was wearing, but there was one jarring note. It took a few moments for Christine to work out what it was, but then she realised that her makeup really did look ‘tarty’ now, when framed by the smart clothes and the immaculate hair. Just as Christine realised this, Audrey made a comment of her own.

‘All you need to do now is scrub all of that muck off your face, and you’ll look like a nice, respectable young lady.’ Audrey’s words seemed harsh, but her tone was gentle, and Christine knew that she was right.

‘Yes, ma’am,’ said Christine, suddenly feeling like a little girl again. ‘Do you have some makeup remover?’

Audrey instead handed Christine a bar of soap, and gestured to a door at the back of the salon, with a ‘ladies’ sign on it.

‘This will get your face a lot cleaner, young lady.’ she said, a little more sternly. ‘Now don’t come back out until your face is properly scrubbed!’

Christine meekly went through the door, and bent over the sink. As she did, she automatically reached up to push her long
hair back, and then realised that her short, tightly curled hair needed no such attention. She lathered up her hands, and gave her face a thorough scrub. There was no mirror over the sink, so she repeated the procedure, to ensure that there would be no trace of make up left. As she dried her face, she wondered at the dominating attitude Audrey had adopted, and her own submissive response. It seemed as though her confident, sassy personality had been removed along with her long hair. She didn’t think that she would just be ordered around by anyone now, and was sure that her confidence hadn’t vanished completely, but she certainly felt gentler, and more feminine now, and more ready to adopt the appearance which she felt was expected of a conservative young woman.

She went back into the salon, and a quick glance in the mirror was enough to confirm that a well-scrubbed face was the correct appearance for a smartly dressed young lady with short, neatly-set hair.

‘Now that really is better,’ enthused Audrey ‘and I’m quite sure that your mother will be very pleased indeed to have such a smart, respectable looking daughter. You can feel very proud of yourself.’

‘Thank you,’ replied Christine, ‘I’m a bit shocked, but very pleased with how I look now. And yes, I’m sure Mum will be delighted to finally see me with a neat and tidy, traditional hairstyle.’

Reaching into her pocket, Christine applied the final touch – a neatly-folded headscarf which she tied over her curls. This was partly to protect her style from the weather, but also to preserve the surprise for Mum a little longer.


Author’s note: Please send feedback to the email address at the top, especially if you like the story. I’d love to hear what you would like to see happen to Christine.

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