The cat cruised across the lawn, a lion’s stroll as it surveyed its domain, but then froze as a shadowed form passed across the glitter of the kitchen window.
Alisia turned the mail on the kitchen counter-top over and spread it under her idle fingers. She never actually read the mail – yet another of the chores she usually left to her ‘Significant Other’, like replacing light bulbs or the empty toilet rolls. She stopped her casual disarray of the mail and fingered a pink envelope that was actually addressed by hand .. and carried real stamps. With a tinge of guilt she slid the envelope out from the untidy stack, and looked for a return address. None, but she saw it was already opened. So she took it out and began to read it, with pure guilt now flushing her cheeks. Hastily she pushed the folded sheet back into the envelope, her face as pink as the paper. What was she doing –reading her lover’s mail. She paused, then slid the sheet out again, and again began to read the strange letter.
Jealousy — unfounded by the letter’s contents, but real for all that– now battled with her guilty curiosity. It was obviously a woman’s hand, simply signed with formal regards. The paper still held a perfume, alien and yet tantalizing Alisia with a further surge of jealous anger. But the contents were innocuous, if very strange.
“CREWCUT: Flat at the front top, possible as far back as the center of the ears, the rest (sides and back) clipped to follow the contours of the head.
FLATTOP: The entire top cut flat, the sides and back cut close, and maybe also flat to create a “boxy” look on at the top.
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BUZZCUT or BUTCH: Hair is buzzed to the same length all over, 1/2″ or less.
BRUSHCUT: So short the hair stands on end, (clipped with the 1″ attachment), but still very fluffy, enough hair left to run your fingers through although just barely.
HIGH & TIGHT: Short clippered hair (either flat or “butch” but less than 1/2″ for sure), with the sides and back clipped to bare stubble up to about 2″ above the tops of the ears, where the flat sides of the skull begin to curve into the rounded top……. ”
There was more, along the same lines but then her heart thumped as she read..
“.. several of my readers have asked for the same guidance on getting a loved one to crop off their hair. All I can say is that love works best – explain your needs to ‘your sweet Alisia’ as you call her – you obviously have a solid relationship as your tender feelings and caring for HER reaction show. Ask her to give you her hair – let her offer you the sacrifice in a ‘giving’ moment. Most of these ‘boyish’ styles look ….. ”
Alisia heart thumped, the only motion in her stiffened body until she gasped for air and sat down. Her trembling fingers slid the paper back into the pink envelope, and she sat stunned and reached out for an understanding. Her attempt was defeated, but she grew calmer. She took up the letter and read it through again.
What did it mean ?
A dawning realization nagged at her, as she thought about the many comments of her lover – – always on the subject of shorter hair styles — whenever Alisia returned from the Beauty Salon. The causal — but now suddenly and deeply significant — compliments on the short cuts sported by other women they sometimes saw. These never failed to generate the little sparks of jealousy and resentment in Alisia, who experienced them anew as she sought to understand what she had read. Alisia took up the letter yet again, turned and crossed to the living room and, tucking her legs under her in an enchanting poise that always pleased her mate, read the words again. And again.
She looked up from the pink page and stared at the wall, her fingers tangling her dark, thick and shiny straight hair, in her typical pose of deep thought. She grew conscious of her hand twirling the side piece of her hair into an untidy ringlet and pulled her hand to her lap suddenly, as though her tresses were scalding. She crossed her hands in her lap, and wriggled in discomfort. The letter, she had concluded, was a reply to questions asked of the writer about HER … and, puzzling, about short haircuts for men. And how to persuade her to crop her own locks off to one of the described, brutally short styles.
But why; what did it mean ?
“…. So short the hair stands on end, (clipped with the 1” attachment), but still very fluffy, enough hair left to run your fingers through although just barely.
HIGH & TIGHT: Short clippered hair (either flat or “butch” but less than 1/2″ for sure), with the sides and back clipped to bare stubble up to….”
Such strangely clear terms. Such deep detail, almost .. obsessive, excited .. almost a sexual use of words she realized. Alisia flushed. Her lover was kinky.
She rejected the thought as unworthy and cruel. But it came back to nibble at her consciousness, flooded up into her thoughts as a strong answer. She turned again to the letter, then out of her childhood came her Mother’s voice chastising her for eavesdropping, for peeping — for treading on another’s privacy. She untangled her long legs and stood up in one fluid movement, to cross to the kitchen, to re-insert the envelope among the stack of bills and circulars, hasty and guilty. “Nosy-peepers never find good of themselves”
She actually ‘heard’ her mom’s voice as she stood there, looking down in her still stunned state at the pink corner peeping from under the junk. She felt a protest bubble in her heart. It was not her fault, not her wrong – the ‘bad’ thing she had found was not her sin. A perversion. A tear welled in each corner of her brown eyes. Then a hiccup of surprised amusement… who was she to call Dan a pervert, her fantasies drove them both. Her mind confused, whirling and spinning exhausted her, she returned to the sofa and cuddled her feet under her and sat. Thinking.
What did it all mean?
The letter’s pulling power was almost tactile, calling her, wanting to fly again to her fingers. She cast a guilty look at the clock, it was only noon, hours yet before Dan would bounce, bubbling and cheerfully loving, through the front door. Slowly she let the pull draw her back to the kitchen. She read again.
“Most of these ‘boyish’ styles look very good on a small featured and neat head. Even if her ears were a little prominent, they would be balanced by the seemingly enlarged eyes and elongated neck – particularly if “your sweet Alisia” is as pretty as you say! So, keep explaining your need in a loving way, and I am sure she will understand and offer you some gesture of love in return. Good luck! ”
Boyish. Strange choice of words. Alisia gazed out the kitchen window, her sight, if not her attention, caught by a red-throated blackbird at the feeding bowl on the old oak stump. Suddenly she saw her cat behind the elephant ear plant, back arched, and she leant forward to the window glass to rap out a warning to both bird and stalker. The cat sat back and began to wash his paws and behind his ears as though this was all that he had in mind – the blue-black wings of the bird fluttered as it went back to the watermelon seeds that Dan had laid out on the feeder that morning. Boyish ?
The black slacks had set off her slimness nicely, she mused. That white shirt of Dan’s had bulked a bit in them, the tails being so long, but she had smoothed out the sight-lines, as best she could and with the heavy ‘Doc-Martins’ the overall effect was good. She recalled both the surprise and the delight Dan had shown when she had finished tucking up her shoulder length dark hair into the baseball cap and had ‘strode’ into the bedroom in her outfit. Boyish.
Their love making was almost violent on that occasion she recalled, still watching the cat in his ‘Mr. Cool’ display of unconcerned grooming in the garden. Her fingers were in her hair again. Dan thought she was pretty and had even told the writer so. She smiled. The silly. What was that bit about prominent ears? Alisia turned and crossed to the bathroom, pulling her hair back from her ears with both hands to peer uncertain and with a tremble of butterflies into the mirror.
The cat stopped washing and slowly hunkered down in the long grass, and began to creep forward towards the hungry bird.
Alisia’s eyes grew huge as she opened them as large as she could, her eyebrows curving darkly and the tight elastic skin on her forehead wrinkled into three sharp lines. Her ears were prominent, she thought. Then argued that no, perhaps not. But she was decidedly, firm now, ‘boyish’. Her soft mouth was ever slightly open, the two slightly prominent front teeth, large and white, and this squareness was complimented by her neat chin. She did have a ‘neat head’ after all. She turned her head to one side and saw the dark tresses bunched at her neck and gasped at a tiny secret thought that popped suddenly into her mirrored musings. Her dark hair spilled down from her slack fingers to swing in a glistening cape over her white T-shirted shoulders again. Alisia looked at it, her hands now at her sides. She swung her head sharply over her left shoulder and back again to watch the shining hair swirl, spin, and settle. A soft perfume was creeping into her nostrils. She spun her dark locks again and inhaled this fragrance as the squeaky clean cape settled, gently releasing the smell of her shampoo. Boyish. The word stirred the tiny secret thought again and it wriggled and crawled, and she trembled.
She crossed to their bedroom and sat, strangely breathless as though puffed with exertion, on the satin covered bed. Her thoughts returned to the letter and she fought anew the conclusion she had drawn from its puzzle. She blushed again at her nosy intrusion into the privacy of her loved one. But the idea that caused this flush remained and she slowly stood and went into the closet. Standing on tiptoe her fingers could, just, reach under a corner of the brown cardboard box on the top shelf. She pushed up and scrambled until the box slid off the wire shelf, catching it with both hands as it began to tip. She drew it down and crossed again to the bed, her heart thumping with excited guilt. She heard and grinned at, her mother’s re-heard voice in her head and carefully picked at the sticky-tape that sealed Dan’s “papers” in the box. Folding back the flaps she leant over to peer into the box, her hair swinging down in two dark wings to cover her blushing cheeks.
Alisia ‘hid’ under the wings of her dark hair and closing her eyes, grew very still. Soon she grew calm and carefully took up the thick layer of the magazines, tied with ribbon, and placed them on the bed. She gave a cursory glance at the rest of the contents – they were just ‘papers’. The magazines however were different to again, rather than just dreaming, she gave a start of surprise. She quickly caught at the bunch of her hair at her nape, with that practiced yet unconscious twist of the skilful, and knotted it into a dark, damp bun.
She crossed into the bedroom, kicking her discarded clothes along in front until she bundled them up into the wicker basket. Her long slim frame, glowing with a youthful bloom, was sprinkled with jeweled droplets in the high sun that slid under the blinds. Alisia crossed to Dan’s dresser drawers and slid open the bottom one, slowly as though she was scared at what her inquisitiveness this day would reveal now. She found the black silk ‘jock’ underwear and tossed them onto the bed. She slid the top drawer open, knowing its contents well as she had washed, ironed, folded and placed them there. She picked dark blue socks, three handkerchiefs and a crisp white shirt to join the silk thong on the bed.
Closing the drawer she turned and took up two of the handkerchiefs, knotting the corner of one to the other. She bent at the waist, puffing a little, and knotted them around her slim frame. She stood in front of the full mirror and struggled the tight band of cloth up over the butting buds of her breasts, squashing their soft plumpness, spreading the handkerchiefs across them, flattening her usually taut and up-thrusting profile. She giggled at the slim white reflection, who returned an impish glitter from dark eyes. She stepped into the cool sack of the briefs, wriggling them up to comfort. Bending over the bed she rolled the remaining handkerchief into a firm sausage of cloth. She bent her head down onto her chest, doubling her chins. Peering, sucking in her already flat tummy, arching – she lodged the roll into the briefs, tucked up into her groin. A further giggle at the reflection, and a further answering of devilish glee from the reflected eyes. The shirt was cool and crisp, the collar biting her soft nape as she buttoned it all the way to the top. The socks felt, somehow, ‘unfinished’ ending so much shorter than her usual hose. The tight black slacks were next, and finally, with the aid a further pair of socks stuffed into the toes, a pair of black lace-up brogues. Boyish.
As she left the house, the cat slid around the edge of the feeder’s base and froze as the blackbird, startled but unknowing of what, leapt up in a flutter of shining darkness.
Alisia found the shop, its location recovered from some dark corner of her memory and was able to park almost outside. She sat in thought, steeling and caressing her decision. She recalled the letter’s advice effortlessly “.. I am sure she will understand and offer you some gesture of love in return..” A warmth flooded her tummy and crept into her loins as she felt, in her mind, the love she had for her partner, and the little, un-important seeming gestures they shared that made the love strong. Overwhelmingly strong, stronger than fear, than timid reactions to the expected scorn of others. She felt suddenly secure and content and more than a little excited in anticipation of the response the gift she was about to procure for Dan would create. She got out of her car quickly, an idea, an added perfection of detail, coursing in her excited mind.
The answering machine picked up at the third ring, as she knew it would, and she listened with a soft sweet smile to Dan’s message. She said who was calling, restated their love with the usual silly words that real couples invent as their own secret code and then suggested she had not been loving enough in return lately and asked that Dan “cut short” the working day and be at home by noon. She, she explained with an uncontrollable bubble of laughter, would be there as soon as she in turn, could “cut something short”.
Taking the letter from her purse, and wondering fleetingly if its absence would be noted on Dan’s arrival home, she tore across the page, stuffing the rest back into her purse, which she locked in the glove compartment. Locking her car, taking in a deep breath – more from deep anticipation now, rather than nervous fear – she started towards the shop. The stiff roll in her briefs reminded her lengthen her stride, to hunch her shoulders a little, to act with even more confidence that she actually felt.
The shop was nearly empty, only one client and he paying at the register. The owner peered at her curiously but just nodded and waited for her to speak. Alisia waited until the previous customer had left, then passed over the torn letter. She then told him she wanted her hair cut all off – just like the note. The barber puffed up his cheeks, expelling the air in a wheezy groan, but turned and went back to his chair, snapped the cloth free of the sharp dark bristles his clipper had stripped from other clients and nodded her into the old black chair. The note fluttered to the floor as tucked the still itching cutting sheet at her nape, and she peered down to read its torn, truncated message again as he reached for the still damp bun at her neck….
” …. eate a “boxy” look on at the top.
BUZZCUT or BUTCH: Hair is buzzed to the same length all over, 1/2″ or less.”
Still fighting the little lump of disappointment that Alisia was not yet home, but aware of the swelling excitement at the mysterious summons, Dan’s long stride led to the kitchen. The cat sat on the window sill, meowing for attention. Dan’s roving glance took in the old mail, the cat – then locked on the patio, seen through the kitchen window. Dashing outside, careful to push the cat away with a distasteful foot, Dan stood and looked sadly at the ground around the bird feeder. The blackbird’s dark feathers were spilled and scattered, clumping like tufts of cropped dark hair.
Bad, bad boy ! Aren’t you? Mamma’s Bad Bad boy !
The cat was un-impressed as Daniella took a broom and began to sweep up the dark feathers, she was musing that their glossy softness was just like Alisia’s own dark wings of hair when she heard the front door slam. She turned and muttered a further imprecation as she hurried to greet her love.