A Writer’s Book of Days – 23 June 2016

Write About a Haircut

He ran his hand over his face, feeling the bristle and scruff of his beard scratch against his palm.

“Yeah, you’re looking pretty werewolfish,” she said as she set the towels on the chair in the corner. “Though the rest of you is in great shape.”

He felt his hair as it clung to his neck and face, greasy and slick. His shoulders slumped.

“Oh, stop that,” she said. She crouched down in front of him and set a hand on his knee. “We’ll get you in a presentable state in no time. Relax. Be glad you’re alive.”

He nodded.

She patted his knee and stood up. “Good. Now lean back.”

He tilted his head into her waiting palms. She lowered him into a basin of warm water and began kneading her fingers through the knots in his hair. Slowly at first, then with greater urgency as the knots came undone.

“There we go,” she said. “Now that that’s out of the way…”

A sharp scent of strong soap floated toward him, flooding his senses. He felt her fingers worming their way into his hair again, reaching toward his scalp.

The tugging sensations that had accompanied her efforts thus far gradually gave way as his hair loosened even more under the influence of the soap and conditioning agents.

He settled even deeper into her touch as she continued to work the soap into his scalp. All tension in his head bled away.

“Alright, sit up,” she said when she had finished rinsing his hair with another bath of warm water.

He heard the smooth scrape of metal against leather as she sharpened the shears.

“Time for the main event,” she said, holding the blades up for him to see.

He nodded. Resolute.

He winced at the first lock she cut away.

“Oh, I’m sorry. Are you okay? Did I nick you?”

He shook his head. Then, with some difficulty, he opened his mouth and spoke. “No. Just startled.”

“Wow,” she said, resting her hands on her hips with a smile. “So you can talk. That’s good. Makes all this a lot less dull for me.”

He stared at her, unblinking, for a long moment. “Oh,” he said at last. “You are funny. I see.”

“Damn straight I am,” she said with a laugh. “Now let’s get you made all presentable.”

As she clipped away length after length of once-mangy hair, she maintained a continuous stream of chatter, pausing only periodically to pepper him with a question. He would give a cursory reply, if he managed to get in a reply at all, before she started up with her chatter once again.

But they both fell silent when she had finished with his hair and moved on to his beard.

With careful strokes, inch by inch, she shaved away the tangled brush that had covered his face during his years in captivity.

For the first time since he went away, he felt the cool air clean against the bare skin of his face.

He smiled.

“Wow. You are quite a looker, aren’t you? What was the deal with keeping your gorgeous face covered up by all that bush?”

“Occupational neglect,” he said absently. Then he looked her square in the eye and said, with all seriousness and sincerity, “Thank you.”

She blushed and looked away as she absently fiddled with her instruments, tucking them away in her apron. “Of course. It’s my job.”

He reached for the hand mirror on the table beside him and held it up. The face that greeted him from its reflection was like meeting an old friend after years apart. Recognizable, yet clearly changed.

He smiled once more. The lost prince had returned.

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