Anniversary Cut

Anniversary Cut

This story is dedicated to Stormi whose inspiration and comments and thoughts in the chat room made it possible. Thank you Stormi.

Anniversary Cut – CB

A perfect day. The brisk cool autumn air with the brilliant colors still on the leaves remaining on the trees. A day on which a hot glass of cider would be welcome. For several this lovely autumn day had a very special meaning. Frank and Melissa were celebrating their first anniversary. Only a year ago they were wed in the nearby church – a colder, starker day then with dark storm clouds gathering as they left the church to start on their new life. And now they were heading to celebrate in a unique way with their close friend and high school classmate, Rose.

Frank still looked very much like he did when he was the high school football star. A solid muscular frame of 205 pounds standing 6′ 1″. As he strolled down Columbus Avenue, the main street of Sandusky, holding Melissa’s hand firmly, little had changed. With Frank’s cleanly shaven head, he stood out in any sized crowd in this small town. And as you looked at the glint in his eyes and Melissa’s Madonna like smile it was evident to all that their fresh love was as intent the day they were wed.

Melissa, as always, seemed to be perpetually young. The radiant glow in her cheeks and the intense beam emitting from her lovely blue eyes. Her lean oval face, with some residual sun tan from the summer, her mouth with delicate thin lips and her strawberry blonde hair. Although Melissa had her hair formally coiled atop her head and fastened firmly on her crown one would say her features had changed only slightly over the 15 years since their exultant high school graduation. Certainly with her massive long tresses well hidden in the coil others on the street today, unless they were local natives, were unaware of the real length of Melissa’s hair. Oftentimes she would go with Frank to civic events with her thick long strawberry blonde tresses brushed extensively so they shined to the utmost – and carefully and smoothly arranged to cascade down to their entire length. Why only last month at the annual Grape Festival parade Frank and Melissa were honorary co-chairs of the event – in part due to the townsfolk wanting to see Melissa’s hair. For in Sandusky Melissa in some ways was the modern day Lady Godiva. The difference being that the local people came out openly to see Melissa’s hair. On that day Melissa’s hair was noted to carefully caress her posterior at least 4″ below her belt line. Everyone knew that Melissa’s hair was a family treasure for both Melissa and Frank as it was for **** and **** in “The Gift of the Magi”.

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Frank and Melissa were planning a private celebration of this first anniversary later that day in the evening. So now was an even more special occasion in union with their dear friend of many years since high school days. Rose remained in the hometown and never married. Whispers by the town gossips alluded that Rose’s lifestyle was different from the other young women. Certainly Rose had shown courage remaining in Sandusky in this milieu but it was definitely home to her. Frank and Melissa thought the whispers to be extremely cruel and were very open in their close friendship with Rose over the years. Thus the very special celebration today was not a surprise to those that knew the trio. Yet the change that would occur would have a deep positive lasting impact on the town and perhaps help Sandusky go to the next step of community maturity.

Now as Frank and Melissa walked hand in hand, softly gazing deeply into each other’s eyes, they neared Rose’s salon. Only two blocks away was the waterfront where the ferry dock and the pier for the daily boat to Canada during the summer were visible. As they neared Rose’s Salon they looked at the bay in the distance – how peaceful the quiet blue waters looked today – yet many times dark gathering storm clouds could be seen from this vantage point too. Today it is the brisk cool breeze of autumn that brushes their cheeks as they continue down Columbus Avenue and then, stopping and looking up, they realize that they are standing before Rose’s door.

Momentarily they pause – their hands together – and realize the increasing tensions within as the special moment nears. Always they knew this was what they wanted to do – talked long into the night many times – called Rose and hesitantly with intense emotion discussed their wishes with her – and made what they hoped were the perfect plans desired by all. Then Melissa turned and leaned against Frank feeling how his heart raced within. Looking intently into his azure eyes she neared and softly kissed. “Frank,” she said, “this is what we both want and what we have been waiting for. Frank, you know I love you and, dear, this is all for you.” As Melissa stepped back she noticed the solitary tear that slowly slid down Frank’s cheek. Then, turning together and tightly holding hands, they entered the door of Rose’s Salon.

At the break of day Rose knew this one was special. From when the cock crowed at sunrise on the farm before she awoke and then later as she drove into Sandusky from the farm she shared with her companion, a creative hair stylist in a neighboring town. Rose was deeply touched that Frank and Melissa wanted to share this special anniversary with her – though when they talked with her about their plans she was unaware of the true reason. As this emerged in later talk Rose became so committed she was nearly a crusader. After all Melissa and Frank were the singular friends from high school that remained true to Rose when her lifestyle preferences became more public. Today Rose made sure that the end of the day was unscheduled. In the morning she had a number of wash and sets from the “blue haired” set that still existed in this town. Then at noon the younger women started to appear but most asked for very conventional stylings. Thus Rose’s emotional focus was still virgin for the scene at the end of the day.

Looking at Rose, you realized she could be a model. She kept her thick, jet-black locks closely cropped in a precise flat top. Rose’s appearance was quite a contrast with the traditional aura of her small salon. Rose’s Salon was a small one-room shop on Columbus Avenue in a building that was registered as a historical landmark. A simple barber chair with black leather seat and back and white porcelain arms. A marble counter top was nearby with Rose’s haircutting tools neatly arranged. Several clippers of different sizes were in their holders at the edge of the counter top. The striking items that caught your eyes when you first entered Rose’s place were the full sized oil paintings on the wall. These were Rose’s works since her true love was being an artist. Yes, most of her clients knew of her hair artistry but Rose during her quiet times let her intense inner feelings come forth in a more expressive way. Each portrait represented a person whose artistic work had touched Rose in some way and thus this was Rose’s way of repaying them for the benefits she had received from them. Most of these subjects were never aware of Rose’s creations though on a few occasions she did send the final portrait to them as her gift. And the surprised thank you notes from those times were carefully framed and mounted on her wall.

After the last customer left, Rose could feel the autumn chill outside and knew some of the chill was within too from the anticipation of Frank and Melissa’s visit. She sat in her chair trying to relax – yet she couldn’t. Getting up from the chair she slowly paced the room feeling her pulse quicken at the thought of what soon would take place. Finally Rose walked over to the door and looked outside. There was still no sign of her friends. The cool breeze coming up the avenue from the bay brushed against her cheeks and now the tension within her was mounting as she looked at the tiny tremors in her hands. Then she saw them – the two lovers, hand in hand, walking slowly around the corner and headed to her door. Rose watched them every step of the way as they neared, noticing that Melissa had carefully coiled her long hair into a mass securely fastened atop her head. As they neared the door Rose stepped back inside to wait. In total silence Frank and Melissa crossed the threshold somewhat nervously. Then Rose approached and the trio embraced. The hugs were long and deep as misty eyes appeared. Then as they affectionately kissed expressing their deep love and respect for one another, Rose took Melissa’s hand and led her to the chair. A little nervous, Melissa followed – stepped up into the chair – and sat down gripping the white porcelain arms firmly. Quickly Rose draped her with a light blue cape and slowly turned the chair so Melissa faced the mirror. Frank, slowly wringing his hands, stood close by. Rose took a deep breath, relaxed and reached up to start unpinning Melissa’s coil. Frank held the tray for Rose to put the pins in. Soon the heavy coil became free and Rose slowly unwound her dark brown hair. Then Rose took Melissa’s heavy mass into her hands and slowly finger combed through the tresses to their ends, feeling their softness for one last time. With each long pass of her fingers though the strands Rose lay them over the back of the chair watching them fall down to their full length. Any other time Rose would ask Melissa to stand so they could gaze in awe, as others watching in the salon would too, at the length and beauty of Melissa’s hair. Today was different – and though not spoken yet – the three knew that the emotional intensity of this session was greater than any feelings they all had experienced before. The silence – stark – bleak – and yet no one wanted to violate it as each of the trio were silently wrestling with their own thoughts and emotions now.

Then Rose breathed deeply, reached over and picked up the tortoiseshell brush from the counter top. Turning with a little smile, she handed it to Frank and nodded. Holding the brush, Frank paused, looked longingly at the cascading tresses down the back of the chair – realizing they were Melissa’s treasure – his hand twitched, slowly breathed in deeply, and touched the brush to Melissa’s forehead. Then he ran the brush slowly over the long strands of hair, watching how they fell smoothly into place with shine, noticing how soft they felt in his hands and – a tear crossed his cheek – knowing this would be the last time. Fighting back the tears, his eyes blinking rapidly, Frank placed the brush back on the counter, nodded to Rose and stepped close to the chair reaching beneath the cape for Melissa’s hand. As he felt Melissa slip her tiny warm hand into his, they gripped tightly and looked at Rose and slowly nodded.

Rose walked over to the counter top and selected her large-toothed tortoiseshell comb. Then, moving behind the chair, she slowly ran the comb across the top of Melissa’s head, parting her hair down the middle. Then with several quick passes of the comb she had the back and sides all in place. Carefully Rose sectioned off a large strand of hair from Melissa’s right side. As she held it high in her hand, she handed the golden scissors to Frank – and with a finger, showed him where the first cut should be. Carefully Frank parted the blades of the shears, aligned them with Rose’s finger, and closed the blades. Snick, snick, snick – with each closing the sound broke the silence. As the length came free Rose lifted it away and gently laid it in a tray nearby – handling the tress as though it were part of the royal jewels – and knowing that to Frank and Melissa her hair really was. Frank trembled – though Rose would have like him to continue he was now so misty eyed he shook his head and handed the scissors back. He looked deeply into Melissa’s beautiful blue eyes that were now misty too and tightly held her hand beneath the cape. Rose knew now for the rare moment to occur she was the one who would have to bring it about. Thus taking the scissors she lifted up another section of hair from Melissa’s head. Sliding the open blades into the hair she closed them – again and again and again. As Rose, Melissa and Frank looked into the mirror at each other they simultaneously felt as if in a trance – where what was happening was not really happening – yet knowing it really was and, even more intense, knowing this was a session that would be memorable forever. As the three watched silently in the mirror, Rose’s hands seemed to fly. Usually Rose would have soft classical music playing in the background but not today. Though Frank and Melissa were sharing their own music internally as they watched Rose’s artistic hands create another masterpiece – they seemed to fly as she lifted section after section of Melissa’s hair and the blades of the golden shears flashed in the light as they sliced the hair away. The tray nearby had a mound of lengths of hair that continued to mount. With each slice – watching the severed strand being lifted away and laid to rest in the tray – the tears began to flow from Melissa’s eyes and perhaps even more from Frank’s. At one point Rose had to pause and take a deep breath. Even though knowing and understanding the meaning of this ritual, the intense emotions had come over her too. A final strand remained in back. Rose paused, looked at Frank to see if he would like to remove the final one. Frank, looking away, shook his head no. Thus Rose slowly combed out the final long strand, slid the scissors in, and snick. Laying it carefully on the pile in the tray, Rose lightly touched her hand to Melissa’s head and half-heartedly tousled her new crop of hair – now 3″ in length all over her head.

Although they would have liked to pause – and let the intensity of their emotions recede – they all knew there was no turning back now and they should proceed. Thus Rose moved to the counter top and removed one of the clippers from its holder. Checking its guard she adjusted it and moved behind the chair. Again she looked at Frank and, seeing the look of reluctance on his face, Rose reached over and took his hand and slowly put the clippers in it. By now Rose, Melissa and Frank had bonded so closely it was though they were moving in unison. Guiding Frank’s hand, Rose moved it so the cold steel blades were touching Melissa’s newly exposed neck. Melissa leapt in the chair at the cold touch. As she settled back Rose turned the switch – CLICK – the sound of the starting clippers startled all. Melissa jumped again. With Rose’s hand guiding him, Frank slowly moved the clippers up the back watching in disbelief as her hair peeled off. All the way to the top of the ear went the whirring blades. And a strange smile appeared on Melissa’s face. Frank and Rose paused, understanding, and pleased that Melissa felt some arousal too in this highly-charged emotional setting. Again and again the clippers moved up the back with the hair peeling away and soon the back of Melissa’s head was clippered close in a man’s style to the top of the ear. Then Rose took the clippers and quickly did the sides to the same level. The firm hums of the clippers as their strongly vibrating blades hungered to feast on the hair. And how quickly and painlessly the hair peeled away. Knowing that the end was near all three breathed deeply – and relaxed. Rose put the clippers back into their holder. Frank and Melissa stared silently into the mirror. Rose took a fine tapered comb and began to comb Melissa’s hair back across the top. With a little gel in one hand she moussed Melissa’s hair and slowly combed it back pressing, with her fingers, a slight wave into it. Then removing the cape – tossing it aside – she slowly turned the chair for Melissa to see.

While Frank and Melissa – teary eyed – held hands tightly, Rose went into the back room for a moment. Soon she reappeared with a long white box and a book in hand. Handing the box to Frank she whispered in his ear. Nodding quietly he went to Melissa, opened the box and handed it to her. She removed the lid. There inside were Melissa’s long tresses carefully tied in one precious ponytail with a yellow ribbon, and a card from Frank saying simply “I love you”. The moment reached its peak as the violent emotions held within now surfaced. Melissa and Frank cried freely as they intensely hugged each other. Rose, holding her feelings in too, openly cried too. And all three clustered close together holding each other. If one were to peer into the salon now from outside seeing three people weeping unashamedly and shaking as they closely held each other, one would not really know the intense personal love they were sharing for each other.

Then Rose, regaining her composure, stepped away and picked up the book she had brought with her from the back room. Waiting for Frank and Melissa to gather about, she slowly opened it. It was their high school yearbook. Their friends had always commented on how similar Frank and Melissa’s facial features were. Not knowing, one might think they were brother and sister. They looked at the page and yes, it was true. Though now Rose and Frank stepped back and looked at Melissa. YES, it was true – for Melissa, with her new cut, looked exactly like Frank’s picture in the yearbook!

Looking outside they noticed the light was getting dim as sunset approached. Rose knew that Frank and Melissa needed some time alone. Thus she approached, gave each a hug in turn, a gentle kiss, and said it was time for her to close the shop. Frank and Melissa understood. They took the white box and walked to the door. Slowly they walked out and turned to walk toward the bay. As she watched them walk away Rose fought back the tears. Why them? All the years she had lived here, Frank and Melissa had always been accepting and supportive of her and her interests. Others in town never truly understood Rose’s style – yet Frank and Melissa were always there in time of need. Why now? It seemed so unfair. Rose closed the door and put out the CLOSED sign and sat back in the chair. As she sat there she silently shook her head as she began to nod. Never understanding why.

Feeling the cool air of autumn, especially when nightfall neared, Frank and Melissa huddled close as they walked the two blocks to the bay. Soon they reach the point on the pier where not too long ago Frank in a stuttering way had proposed to Melissa. They both trembled as they stood there – this site brought back many intense memories. Sliding hands around each other they held each other closely. Though not shivering they were nervous – then Frank took the white box and, bending down, placed it on the water. As they quietly watched the box slowly float away the tears streamed down their cheeks. Slowly they turned to face each other. As Frank leant close and deeply kissed Melissa, her hands slowly rubbed his smooth head and his fingers softly finger combed her new short style. As the box disappeared in the distance the sun had set and the brisk cool – nearly cold – air of autumn enveloped them.

For you see, six months ago Frank received the devastating news that he had a brain tumor. Although he went through chemotherapy, for both it is day by day now. In those happy high school days Frank and Melissa had read O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi” together and marveled at the ultimate way of expressing one’s love when it was so intense. And yet not knowing they too would live that experience – very intensely – with the same depth of love, and in a way that they had never envisioned.


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