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My Encounter with Amanda by Sean O'Hare

PART 1. ARRIVAL

As I turned the corner I was confronted by an unexpected sight. Gone was the familiar, slightly run-down appearance of Julie's.

The small windows with the faded paintwork, framed by the slightly yellowing net curtains which hid the activities occurring inside, have now gone.

It appeared so different. Bright red and white paintwork now surrounds the single large, unobscured window. I could see the inside had changed out of all recognition. All very bright - light wooden floors, pot plants, prints on the walls - very spacious.

I was shocked. Where had Julie gone? What was I to do now?

I had been there just six weeks earlier, after which I had made my appointment for today as usual.

I'm now sitting in a cafe a few doors down from Julie's - or HairRaisers as it now appears to be called - wondering what to do. I take another gulp of my wine and light another, infrequent cigarette. It had taken me some time to find a stylist I felt comfortable with. For the last 7 or 8 years it had been so easy just to pop along every 6 weeks and have the ends trimmed. Before then it had been so different.

I tried different salons and some were happy do as I ask, at least for a while. But eventually the stylists would suggest I try something different. And I would begin to experience that familiar, uncomfortable feeling. And have to try somewhere else.

But Julie always did as I asked. She never suggested cutting it shorter, and even discouraged me from cutting a fringe. She always said she enjoyed handling my hair and seeing me leave happy.

I smooth back the hair from my forehead with the palm of my hand. It's already perfectly smooth of course. Pulled tightly back into its customary neat topknot at the crown. Slicked back with gel to keep the flyaway strands under control and to give it the glossy look that I love so much.

I stub out the half smoked cigarette, feeling anxious. So what now? I take out my mobile phone, recall Julie's number and dial. I don't expect an answer. I'm slightly taken aback when a response comes.

"Good afternoon. This is HairRaisers, Mary speaking. How may I help you?"

"Oh er, hello." What to say? "Er, isn't that Julie's?"

"Julie has sold her business. We've now reopened as HairRaisers."

"Oh I see. Well I had an appointment this afternoon. I was checking to see that it was OK. I guess it isn't."

"Not at all. All existing appointments have been transferred. We'll be very happy to see you. You are...?"

"Er, Lesley Jameson. Well, I don't know...."

"Yes, we have you down to see Amanda in ten minutes. Please do come along."

Decision time. A slight stirring deep down inside. I begin to feel a little uncomfortable. I drain my glass. "Well OK then. Yes thanks. But I'll just want a trim. Is that OK?"

"Yes, of course. See you in 10 minutes." And the line goes dead.

I'm feeling anxious. I light another cigarette. I take a deep draw and cough. I stub it out. What have I done? I KNOW how I'm going to feel... in 10 minutes.

I gather my things, stand up and begin walking towards the salon. Should I go in? I can just walk past and that will be that. I approach the door.

The butterflies rise in my stomach as I take in the activities occurring behind the glass. Despite my anxiety I push the door open.

I expect to feel the traditional heat of a salon. The noise from the driers. But it's different. It's cool. Air conditioning? Very different from before.

"Hi there. May I help you?"

A young girl stands by a small desk just inside the door. Dressed simply in white jeans and T-shirt and her blonde hair in a longish, layered style. She smiles.

"Hello, I'm Lesley. We...."

"Ah yes, we spoke just now. I'm Mary. Welcome to HairRaisers. Please take a seat. Amanda is just over there." She points to a stylist towards the back of the salon, where she is attending to a client. "She'll be with you shortly. Can I get you a coffee?"

"Thanks." I sit down. And wait.

I look around. The interior has changed so much. So much lighter, airier, modern looking. The walls are adorned with large portraits of young models with well cut hair, different styles and colours, different lengths - all very modern and several very short.

I look towards Amanda. She is chatting earnestly to her client who wears one of these modern styles. Choppy layers on top, with longer lengths around the face and at the back. Thinned out quite a lot but reasonably attractive. It certainly suits her. I assume it has just been cut. Amanda is combing it through.

The talking stops and Amanda shrugs her shoulders - her own long, curly hair bounces on her shoulders - and she reaches down to the counter in front of her and withdraws an item with a power lead which she plugs into a nearby socket.

"Are you really sure about this? No 1?" The client nods her head and I hear a buzzing sound fill the air. I watch as a set of men's hairclippers are raised - do you know what they look like - I've seen them in films and on TV - never in Julie's! Women shouldn't have their hair cut with clippers, should they?

They are placed on the young woman's neck and pushed vigorously upwards. Their tone changes to more of a roar. I watch in disbelief as they glide up her neck. Under the bump at the back of the head. And then up a little further still. And then they are pulled away. I hear the tone revert to a buzz once more and watch spellbound as blonde tendrils are peeled off and fall away.

And Amanda is expecting me to let her loose on my hair!

My stomach turns right over as I watch. Never have I seen such a sight in Julie's! A mass of blonde hair collects on her shoulders as it is quickly removed.

I knew coming to a modern place like this was going to be a big mistake.

Again the clippers rise up and hair falls away. They are cutting her hair very short, leaving a blonde, fuzz behind. Her head is gently pushed to one side and the clippers continue their assault, this time removing the hair at her temple. Then the other side.

I can't turn away. I feel shocked, but at the same time drawn in, by what I am witnessing.

Hair has collected on her shoulders. In her lap. It seems to be everywhere... apart from on her head.

The clippers are replaced on the shelf. With comb and scissors I watch Amanda blend the remaining choppy layers in the crown with the clippered back and sides.

Amanda holds up a mirror so the client can see the back of her hair... or rather the absence of hair! It looks great of course on such a young woman - but so short. And it looked so lovely before.

The client's eyes widen and her mouth opens in a perfect 'O'. She doesn't speak but removes a hand from under the cape. She touches the nape where her blonde hair once reached her shoulders. "Phew!" I hear her exclaim.

"Well is that OK. It's what you asked for."

"It's very short! But I like it. Well, I'll get used to it I guess."

The client's cape is whisked away and the remaining hair falls to the ground. My stomach is churning. I want to go over to the chair. Pick the hair up. Examine it. Don't ask me why!

Haircutting has always fascinated me. Intrigued me. It causes this funny, uncomfortable feeling deep inside and I intentionally make sure I avoid situations where I have to see it, talk about it... and especially experience it, of course.

It was OK in Julie's. Little hair was cut. Mainly just trims and sets. But this was HairRaisers.

Amanda retires to the rear of the salon. I'm going to leave. Just say I made a mistake. After all they can't force me to stay. It isn't my fault Julie's not here any more. I feel hot and flustered.

As I start to get up I am inevitably drawn to look at the shorn nape of Amanda's client. She is at the desk chatting to the receptionist. I notice she is dressed similarly to many of stylists. Tight white jeans and T shirt.

I approach the desk, working out what to say. Suddenly the young woman spins round. I am drawn to admire the neatly shaved hair around her left ear as she holds out her hand. "Hello Lesley, I'm Amanda. Your stylist for today. Let's go and sit down."

What? I turn around and following the young woman - Amanda? - back to the sofa I had been sitting on.

My mind is in confusion. She is the stylist?

We sit. She smiles at me, looking straight into my eyes. "So, what are we going to do with your hair today, Lesley." She raises her eyes slightly, taking in the sleeked back hair disappearing into the large bun that sits at my crown.

"Er. But I thought that was... you." The stylist walks past as I speak. "They said...."

"Well even stylists have to get their hair cut some time!" She chuckles. "But not usually this much!" She runs her long fingers over one ear, through the layers at the crown and down the smooth nape. "Do you like it? My boyfriend's going to kill me!" She chuckles again.

"Yes of course you do. Yes it suits you. She's cut it very well. It is VERY short though."

"It'll be easy to look after and keep looking neat. I used to tie my hair back before that last style, so it would look neat and tidy. Like you prefer, I can see." She nods towards to my topknot. "But the girls here always said it was boring - not good for the image of the salon - and I should have it layered a little. Do you know I managed to keep it long and straight all through training college and then I start my first job and give in! It did look good - did you see it before Annie cut it?" I nod. "But it got in my way when loose and looked a mess when tied back. All the layers just flopped around." She grabbed some of the very short lengths at the sides. "No such problem now!" She chuckles once more.

"So when I came in this morning I said to Annie I wanted her to chop off all the layers. I think she was a bit miffed as she liked the cut. Customers had asked who did it and several have had similar cuts done. She said if I want all the layers gone then she would need to use clippers. I think she thought that might make me think again. It did, to tell you the truth! But I just said sure, a Number 1 should do it. That's the guard we use on the clippers to adjust the length. Not much of a guard as you can see, especially with fair hair!"

I was so much into this. I had felt uncomfortable but seem to be past that stage. I was perspiring a little - I could feel it on my back against my cool, black silk shirt. My jeans appeared to have tightened around my thighs. And were making me feel warm... down there. I remember these feelings from so long ago. Hidden feelings... but never forgotten feelings.

"But weren't you a little scared to lose so much hair?"

"Oh yes. Petrified! Several times today I thought about changing my mind. Talking to Annie and suggesting something just a little different. But I didn't want to back down... and I've always wanted to know how it would feel to have short hair. I never have. Have you?"

I shake my head vigorously. "I was surprised she used men's hairclippers on you. Isn't that unusual?"

"Not really. We're trained to use them in college - mainly for men of course, but many women's styles need them to. I have to say that I enjoy using them - there's something quite exciting about using them and the effect they have."

What effect? On the hair, the client... or the stylist? I knew what effect - just talking about it was having on me...!

"Especially when I get a guy in the chair who asks for a short back and sides. That's what he gets - we use different clippers for that and he gets a VERY short back and VERY short sides! Here's some of my work."

She hands me a binder - a portfolio, I guess - containing photos of haircuts. She has opened it a page of a good looking young guy. His crown hair sticks up like bristles, about half an inch long. But these fade into the sides... into nothing! Another view, from the back, shows that the hairline had been removed from the nape and appeared to start a couple of inches above the ears. The back of the head was bare.

"Oh my! You cut these styles?" She nods proudly. "You're very talented."

I flick through and I'm avidly trying to look at each page. There are women's styles too - different lengths, but a lot of them short... or very short. She is talented. But dare I let this crop-haired girl with a love of cutting hair very short loose on my long locks?

As if reading my mind she says "But I don't only cut hair short, so don't worry. Mary said you just want a trim. That's OK."

I relax a little. Although I still feel sort of light-headed. And damp, having admired these wonderful photos. I see a picture of a girl with a chin length, choppy bob. But a rear view shows it is angled up at the sides, and clipped short at the back. It looks wonderful. My pulse is racing.

"Look I am sorry to be jabbering on like this. You don't want to hear all this do you." I'm thinking no... well OK, yes I do actually. "Perhaps we could go over to my styling chair and I can have a look at your hair." I feel a little self conscious with a bun in a fashionable place like this - elegant I guess, but perhaps a little old-fashioned here.

We walk to her chair. Next to the one she had been sitting in a few minutes before. Her hair still litters the floor. She picks up a thick 15 inch lock, and I could swear there was a gleam of a tear in her eye.

She drops it, and it lands on the floor once more. "Donna, please could you clear all this up for me." How can she talk so dispassionately about it? This is her hair. Well it was. The thought sends a shiver down my spine.

I sit down in the chair, still carrying the portfolio and Amanda begins to remove the grips and lets down my hair. Clearly she isn't used to this. She removes the final grip and the tail spins down from the crown and hits the back of the chair with a loud Thwack!

"Wow, your hair's so long Lesley! I never imagined it was that long." I notice a few other eyes turn my way too. Hair like mine is clearly an alien sight in HairRaisers.

Amanda lifts my ponytail and inspects its length and then the ends. "Great condition too. It does need a trim though." I know, that's why I've come here!

She removes the band gripping my hair at the crown and it my hair cascades down over my shoulders and down the back of the chair. Amanda retrieves a hairbrush and begins to brush it through, starting at the ends and working her way through. She clearly was enjoying the experience.

"It's quite unusual for me to have the opportunity to work with such long hair, you know Lesley. It's lovely. Now, it was just a trim you wanted was it? I see you're still looking through my portfolio. For ideas?"

"Er, well, I was just looking. But...." I look at Amanda's eyes in the mirror. I look at her shorn hair. Of course I just want mine trimmed.

"Fine. I just need to pop out the back. Look through and we'll discuss exactly what you want when I return."

She turned around and I saw her shorn neck and I shiver once more. It looks so fresh. So sleek. So neat.

PART II. IN THE CHAIR

I randomly open the folder on my lap once more, still looking in the mirror at the smooth hair that cascade down the sides of my face, onto my shoulders and down, down, down the back of the chair. I only want it trimmed... don't I?

I look down at the photos. A precisely cut bob style. Hair at the back and sides not much longer than the deep fringe. On black hair too, like mine. It looks so sleek and glossy. I feel myself shaking. Oh, why did I come here? Why did this long-hidden feeling have to rise in me?

I turn the page once more. My jaw drops. A young good-looking guy stares out of the page at me. His hair is very short at the back and sides - the SHORT back and SHORT sides that Amanda so enjoys cutting. The top is longer, finely layered, but not blended in at the back and sides. There is an abrupt step between the longer top and the clipped back and sides. Almost like a cap. Well just like a cap really.

My heart is racing once more. I feel the perspiration form down my spine once more. The binder is digging into my warm thighs. I find myself applying a little more pressure. OHHHH! I let out a little gasp and quickly look around to make sure no one heard.

A young girl is nearby sweeping up the remains of Amanda's shorn locks. She is paying more attention to mine until her gaze is drawn to the binder that lies open in my lap.

I feel flustered. Slightly out of control. Light-headed, almost as if I was a little drunk. The girl appears about to say something. I quickly flick the page, trying to appear casual, which is far from how I feel. A long, permed style. Long... and messy. Hard to manage. "That's a lovely style. It would really suit you," I hear the young girl say as she peers over my shoulder.

"No, I don't think so. I prefer to keep my hair neat." My throat has gone dry and my voice sounds a little strained. "Yes, it needs to be nice and neat." The young girl shrugs and pours the dustpan full of Amanda's long locks into bin.

All that hair just going in the trash. My stomach turns over. I remember back to it being peeled away from Amanda's head with those hairclippers. I flick back the page to the guy's short style. Once again my heartbeat starts to rise.

In a couple of the photos the longer hair was slicked back - glossy and neat - almost like my own when it is in its customary bun. I shouldn't be here

"So Lesley, what have we decided?" Amanda's returned without my noticing and gently places her hands on my shoulders, slightly pulling on my hair as she peers over. "Yes, he's lovely isn't he. My favourite model. Unfortunately he's taken. So, your hair... just a trim is it? I'll do that dry as it will allow me to get a more even line. Is that how Julie did it."

I try to speak but can't. I give a little cough. "Er... yes. Yes that's how she cut it. But...."

"Hmmmm? Just stand up and put this cape on please. But what, Lesley?" I remain seated.

"I was thinking that, well... I like my hair neat and tidy... not all over the place... I think it suits me better like that. And, er...." My mind is in confusion and the words coming out weren't much better. "Well I was wondering if... well something like it... might be sensible... you know, a good idea?"

"Sorry?"

I take a deep breath. "I like this style. It looks neat, tidy. Much like my own when I wear it up."

"Yes, it does look good. But you're not thinking...?"

I am. I don't know how the feelings that were coursing through my body had materialised into this thought. It was in the centre of my mind. Nagging at me. Just say it!

"Yes Amanda. I would like you to cut my hair just like in this photo!"

"B...b...but that's a man's haircut. It's so short. You are just joking, right?"

My resolve was starting to go. "But your hair's short. Is there a problem with it being a man's style? Can't it be adapted, or something?"

"No, no problem. And yes I know mine's short. But...."

OK, so it wasn't going to happen. I feel sort of relieved as my body begins to recover a little. But I guess I look a little disappointed.

"...but if you're sure then of course I will cut your hair for you. And it will be exactly like the photo." She puts down the gown, and retrieves her hairbrush. I look down again at the photos and start to wonder if this was such a good as I feel Amanda brushing through my hair. The last time I am going to feel this?

She's brushing it all back and gathering it into the ponytail. A lot of it had fallen forward, over my shoulders and rested in my lap. It looks so long and alive. And she's scooping it all back. And she fixes it in a ponytail at my nape.

She picks up a haircutting cape rather than the customary gown I wear. I feel her fasten it securely behind me. It billows over me, and seems to swamp me. Its whiteness nearly dazzles me.

She lifts my sleek ponytail and lays it in front of my right shoulder. It flows like silk over my shoulder, over my breast, and coils into my lap. Its blackness contrasts startlingly with the whiteness of the cape.

She fixes a rubber mat over my shoulders, and around my neck. It feels heavy and seems to weigh me down further. I look at her enquiringly. "That's to stop the clippings going down your neck. Annie didn't use it for me and now I have all these itchy clippings down my T shirt. That's why I had to go out the back." She chuckles. "You don't what that do you?"

Not really a question but I shake my head and I am rewarded by seeing my silky long hair slide back and forth across the cape. I am wondering if perhaps that I have been a little quick off the mark. The thought of clippings of my lovely long hair sliding down my neck make me shiver.

I continue to stare in the mirror, taking in the sight of my hair. It is so long. Why do I never wear it loose to show the world how good it looks?

I look at Amanda in the mirror and I am startled to see that she how has a large pair of scissors in her hand. She lifts the base of my ponytail with her other hand. A ripple flows down my hair like a waterfall. I can feel it on my lap. On my thighs. Between my thighs? A shudder starts deep inside and courses right through me, adding to the waterfall effect.

She chuckles again. "A bit scared I guess?"

Yes, petrified! "A little I suppose. Weren't you."

"I was. But don't worry, it won't take long to remove all this so that we can then get started." She holds up my hair. "Although it is thick isn't it. But still, won't take too long. Now I'm going to chop this all off with scissors - not the hairclippers." I let out a little sigh. Perhaps she thinks it is a sigh of relief that she wouldn't be using the hairclippers. "But I will be using the clippers on you later of course." She lets go of my hair and I feel it fall with a reassuring pull on my nape.

She looks at me in the mirror and purposefully runs a hand over her own clippered hair - the short sides, the shorn back. "So, ready for this Lesley?"

I can't find my voice. My stomach turns over... and over... and over. My heartbeat is through the roof. I nod.

I watch as her hand lifts my ponytail once more. It appears in slow motion. The scissors approach the back of my head and are lost to view.

I feel a tug on my hair. I see the points of the scissors in the mirror. They begin to close.

I hear a soft noise. A crunching sound. I see the blades open again.

"Phew, it's very thick. Not many women have hair this long and thick. One less soon," she chuckles.

I feel her pull my hair taut. I watch the scissors close once more. Crunch!

"That's better. Now I'm getting through it. Soon be off." I feel a tear escape and slide down my cheek. Why am I doing this? Why? "Are you OK, Lesley?"

"Er, yes. I'm fine." Whatever that means. My stomach is turning somersaults, my throat is as dry as a bone... and I am getting turned on like you would not believe. My panties feel soaked through. I want to move my hands which are on the armrests. But any movement under the cape may appear obvious.

"That's good. Can't stick it back on now." And surprise, surprise... she chuckles!

Crunch! Crunch! CRUNCH! "Last one Lesley." Crunch! My head shoots forward as the tension is released. I had no idea I was pulling so hard or, indeed, that Amanda was. I feel unfamiliar short lengths of hair brushing my cheeks. I move back in my chair, slipping my hands off the arms, and see my face framed by a short bob. I gasp quite loudly!

"There, wasn't too bad was it? And look at this." She holds up a ponytail. My ponytail! "Must be nearly three feet long. Do you know it would take you well over 6 years to get it this long again. Much longer to have it in this condition. Oh well." I didn't believe it, she tossed it to the floor.

Oh well! What do you mean? I've had that all my life I wanted to say. "Er, Amanda do you think I could keep it. My ponytail I mean?"

"Keep it?" She asked questioningly. "Well it is yours. Well it was." She chuckles, with that annoying laugh of hers. She retrieves it from the floor and places it in my lap. Its weight and closeness is somehow comforting. I swear I can feel its silky softness through the cape... on my hands, on my thighs...

She combs the hair at my crown. Sort of parts it all around my head and pins it up.

As she does this I am lost in my thoughts and emotions as I stare down at the mass of hair that once adorned my head. And then I hear a loud buzzing sound. Almost a roar.

I look up and Amanda is holding the hairclippers in her hand. I'm having difficulty controlling my feelings. Controlling myself, as I slowly move my hands.

"OK Lesley, time to remove all this." She fingers the remaining lengths, some of which were still quite long. "I'm going to clipper off everything below this," she explains, pointing at the crown hair. She's parted the hair at least two inches above my ear... just like in the photos.

I'm going to use a Number 1 if you're interested. Remember?" She runs her other hand up the back of her nape where she used to have hair. I remember! My hands are resting in my lap. I can feel a dampness in my jeans. I can't help my hands exploring underneath the confines of the cape.

"Please do." Please do! What am I saying! "I want it neat." I let out a gasp as I say 'neat', as my nerves seem to be on fire.

"Oh, don't worry, it will be neat. Number 1 is just a starting point for the style you've selected." I gulp.

She places her free hand on my crown. I feel a sudden coldness on my neck. The buzzing roar sounds loud in my ears. The coldness creeps up my neck. So slowly. The roar then changes - it slows down. And I feel my hair being chewed by the teeth of the clippers. I begin to see chunks of hair falling. More and more. And then the clippers roar resumes as she pulls them away.

Again I feel the clipper blades vibrate at my neck and slowly rise once more. And more hair falls. This time a large chunk falls forward on to my shoulders, and then bounces into my lap. My hands jump guiltily, and I watch it slide to the floor.

Again they rise. And hair falls. There is a rhythm to this, and my hand moves slowly in concert with it. I close my eyes and feel a smile forming on my lips.

Again and again the clippers rise. And from the sound there appears to be little resistance there now. It must be all gone - shaved to an eighth of an inch. An uncontrollable shudder courses through my body at the thought.

I open my eyes. Amanda is smiling. She murmurs, "Ah, I see," and tactfully says no more. She moves to one side and I feel her ease my head over and slides the clippers up my cheek and into the mass of hair that still frames my face. She pulls them away, flicks off the hair that has collected on the blades, which tumbles into my lap to join the pile that is building there. So much hair, even with the bulk of it already gone.

I see my first clippered hair. It looks like black velvet. So short. Is this how the back of my head now looks, I wonder?

Again and again the clippers are passed around my ear. Vibrating, chattering, chewing off all my hair. Amanda moves to the other side. I see the contrast between the longish lengths on one side contrasting with the clippered fuzz on the other. Pretty extreme! But not for long as Amanda now repeats the exercise.

She stops. The clippers are turned off after what seems like ages. She lets down the crown hair. She sprays it with water. And combs it back. Like this it looks little different from my normal style!

She begins to layer it, snipping it off to a couple of inches. Fine clippings rain down as she carefully adjusts each layer to the previous one. Gradually the step forms. It covers a little of the buzzed hair at the sides, but not much.

Amanda combs it through. Checks it. Adjusts it. It takes time and concentration.

And then she puts down her scissors and comb.

It's all combed flat. Straight down. It looks like I'm wearing a glossy cap.

A turn slightly to one side and it looks like the step has been cut with a knife. So straight and precise. It was looking good. Very good. I love the appearance of the velvet like fuzz.

I hear a high pitched buzzing sound. "OK Lesley, now to finish off. Remember what I said for MEN'S cuts."

Men's cut? I guess I chose a men's style. What did she say? My mind was racing through the confusion caused by my highly charged emotional state. I gulped... and gulped again. "We use different clippers. He gets a VERY short back and VERY short sides." I hear a chuckle.

Oh no! My calming body once more kicked into gear. My heart missed a beat as Amanda very purposefully placed the clippers on my cheek and eased them through the black velvet. As she took them whiteness remained. She was shaving it off... to the skin. I'm trying to think - although my body has other ideas - I'm thinking can't men's styles be adapted? That's what I asked isn't it?

But it's too late, the hair over one ear has already gone. And she starts on the other. I feel the teeth of these clippers digging in - almost daring any hair to remain.

"Head down please so I can get the back nice and neat too."

I put my head right forward and feel the blades of the clippers sliding up the back of my head. I'm looking straight at my long ponytail, still resting in my lap. Trying to imagine it still attached to where all traces of hair are probably now being removed. Just like in the photos!

I lose it totally, but remain in apparent control... to the outside world! I feel the weight of the ponytail in my lap, the rasping of the clippers on my neck... and the warmth of my hands...

"I said that I've finished. You can come up now. You are OK aren't you?"

I slowly raise my head. It hadn't taken that long but felt like forever - so many changing emotions had passed through my mind and body during that short period.

"A little gel I think." She squeezes a dollop into her hands and works it through my hair... the cap of hair... my remaining hair. And then slicks it back with a comb.

Looking straight on one could wonder if there had been any change at all. the hair was still sleek and neat, and perhaps the hair was pulled back behind me.

Turning slightly the whiteness of my temples shows... or should that be glows. It looks as though my hairline has been raised... two inches!

Amanda then holds up a mirror. I audibly gasp as I see the back of my head.

"SHORT back and SHORT sides you wanted didn't you?"

I gasp again. I was used to seeing my neck when I put my hair up. But not this much! The hair is slicked back from the front and just seems to stop, just below where the bulge of the curves in. Below that the hair is simply gone. What appears to be a vast expanse of bare skin now shines brightly.

As the mirror is moved I take in the lines of the cut better. The curve of my neck looks stunning though. But it is SO short. What HAVE I done!

I can't speak. Amanda removes the rubber mat from around my neck, lifts the ponytail and whisks away the cape. I hastily pull down the tails of my long silk shirt to cover the tops of my jeans!

"So Lesley, is that neat enough for you?"

I raise a hand to feel the back of my neck. The smoothness and coolness are shocking and at the same time... well exciting.

"Er, it is. Yes. And it looks and feels wonderful. You ARE very talented Amanda. Thank you."

"Glad you like it." She hands me the ponytail. I look at it and consider just throwing it to the floor. But I think on a little, and push it into my bag.

We walk to the desk. "I hope you've enjoyed your first visit to HairRaisers Lesley."

"Well it's all come as a surprise! But, yes. I normally make my next appointment for a trim every six weeks. Can I do that please?"

"I'm afraid not." Why? I wonder. "You must come at least every 3 weeks for a style like this. And if you're passing then I will be quite happy to clipper the back and sides for you. If you would like that?"

I smooth down my shirt and take a look at myself in the mirror. "Yes I think I might rather like that."

Amanda chuckles... and I join in!

THE END