Thursday, November 11, 2010


The sign across the street winked neon: Walk-ins Welcome. Bells jingled when I pushed the glass door. A sleepy-looking woman looked up from a magazine.

“Is it too late for a haircut?”

“I can take you now,” she said.

I followed her to the back. Chairs reclined against industrial sinks. She lowered the heft of my hair into the tub. Warm water pulsed over my scalp and her gentle hands worked soap into lather. Head wrapped in terry, I trailed her to the front window and perched in a chair before the large mirror. She unwound the towel and my hair, au-lait brown from the shampooing, cascaded down my back.

“Just a trim?”

“Cut it off.”

“All of it?”

“To my shoulders.”

“But you have beautiful hair,” she said.

I shrugged; time for something new. She combed with care, starting from the bottom. Shears rasped through the strands. I closed my eyes. With each snip, I remembered: Ben slowly unbraiding my hair, kissing my bared neck, sending shivers down my spine.

But he was gone. The blow-dryer seared my cheeks, scattering small bristles down my neckline. On the radio Elton John wailed about yellow brick roads. She swiveled me around to face my reflection.

Long clumps of gold covered the scuffed linoleum floor, my lap, the tips of my shoes peeking beneath the nylon smock. Piles and piles of my hair. My chest filled with unexpected pressure.

For some reason, I thought I would feel lighter.

Inspired by the 52-250 Flash-A-Year Challenge theme -- 'bad haircut'.

I admit; I cheated a bit. This is an extension of a scene from BRIGHTER THAN BRIGHT, which is undergoing major surgery. So the words are only semi-fresh.

Peace y'all! Linda


  1. Excellent story! Things don't always turn out how we expect them, do they? Especially when it involves strong emotions.

  2. Fantastic story (excerpt). Cutting that much hair is a life-changing experience, but not always for the best.

  3. Oh, Linda, this really touched me deep down. It is my favorite excerpt out of all of them. Is this new? Excellent.

  4. Cutting your hair short is never a good idea. At least for me. And obviously for the heroine of this lovely 'short.'

  5. Cheating? Naw. grand words are grand words wherever they land..

  6. "For some reason, I thought I would feel lighter."


  7. This is so well done - I definitely related to it as I did the same thing with mine way back when - felt the same too!

  8. You did such a great job with the prompt, and I love how the title fits the story. Great work!

  9. I remember when I had my foot and a half of hair sheered off for Locks of Love. I did actually feel remarkably lighter, but I wasn't trying to shrug a lover off my shoulders. Just clippings. That will take more than scissors, I'm afraid.

  10. An Indian friend of mine told me that in a time of great personal crisis - grief, bereavement, depression - it's a custom in Madras to shave one's head. Lots of "fresh start" symbolism there; I always wondered if it worked.

    Reading your story, I don't think it would have the kind of permanent effect desired. It's not the hair on the head, it's the head under the hair.

    Thanks, Linda.

  11. It's such a real thing that women do - get a haircut when they go through a breakup. I can't think of one woman I know who hasn't done it at some point.

    I love the imagery here. Great work.


  12. Wonderful sense detail through all this - and that ending! The unexpected pressure in her chest...unexpected for the reader and for the character.

    There's a lot unsaid in this, leaving the reader interested in more.

    Very well done.

  13. You've really captured this emotional connection we have with our hair. I've certainly been there.

  14. Interesting how common this is, almost like a tradition, and you nailed that "after" feeling. Fantastic stuff Linda!

  15. It's interesting how some people deal with grief. "Time for something new." What a powerful line when the reader realizes the backstory. Good piece, Linda.

  16. We still carry the same baggage inside, no matter how we change the outside...

  17. Hey Linda, taking a much needed break from chemistry homework (quantum mechanics is the topic) to catch up on your blog.

    GREAT PIECE. I see that BTB has really changed and that you are continuing to change it - good for you, sounds like you are making great progress. I admire how much you've stuck with BTB. I would love to read it when you're finished, if you would be willing to share. I would love to see where it is now compared to where it was. And you still have me hanging at a cliffhanger in PURE :)

    Good work! I think you are making such good use of november even if you are whitening the page instead of blackening it. Really, really loved this scene!


  18. I don't mind the recycling at all, Linda. I guess that her symbolic change didn't quite cut it (sorry 'bout that). Nicely descibed.

  19. Breezy and chock full of so many different memories and emotions... I really dug this, Linda...

  20. Really enjoyed this - especially the ending which has all the more punch for being understated. The things we do to cope...