Pact

Pact

The Pact By Sabrina S

Ever since high school Nicola and Katie had shared hobbies and interests – their friendship had even survived Mike, a shared boyfriend who’d two-timed them mercilessly. They’d both got married at the same time, and Nicola had offered her chubby, pregnant shoulder for Katie to cry on when Katie’s husband, discovering Katie had fallen pregnant too, cleared out. Katie decided to put a curse on him, and set about learning how. Nicola, intrigued, sat in on the covert coven lectures too. Nicola had treated the witchcraft course as a bit of a giggle – something she and Katie did together when their daughters were babies which made a break from the endless rounds of nappies and feeds.

Katie had always taken it a little more seriously than Nicola. Katie fancied herself as a very New Age Woman, personification of the Earth Mother and all that. She wore cheap Indian cotton dresses, lots of dangly silver jewellery (which her daughter Sunshine tugged mercilessly on) and left her long hair parted dead in the middle and draping around her shoulders. She burnt incense candles incessantly which gave Sunshine a croupy cough, and increasingly spent time chanting to the Earth Mother.

Which Nicola, after a year, found just a li-i-t-t-tle scary. It was only supposed to be fun, wasn’t it? Even the curse on the absent husband was more hard talk than hard action, surely? Slowly her friendship with Katie became less strong. They no longer spoke on the phone each day or dropped in to see each other on the way to the shops. Katie kept the phone hooked to the answering machine much of the time, and, eschewing the local Tesco’s, trekked halfway across town to the health food store for groceries.

Nicola, her husband Jeff and their daughter Emily spiralled upwards over the next year when Jeff got a promotion, a 5 series Beemer and a detached mock Tudor house in a new development.

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Nicola, watching Emily giggle, grow and turn into an adorable, demanding toddler, had almost forgotten Katie. She had made new friends through Emmy’s playgroup and the equally spiralling families who’d moved into the pristine new street.

Until Emmy fell sick, and despite doctors, specialists, hospitals and a seemingly endless run of tests and antibiotics, seemed set to die.

“What do you mean, you don’t know what’s wrong with her?” Nicola was almost screaming at the paediatrician, and angrily shook away Jeff’s comforting hands on her shoulders.

“It’s a mystery,” the doctor told them. Seeing Nicola’s distress, and watching the fragile little girl lie grey and tube-ridden in the hospital bed in front of them, he felt near to tears himself. This was the most frustrating case he’d ever seen! Emily had tested negative to every major disease known to man. She didn’t have cancer or leukaemia. She didn’t appear to be allergic to anything.

“It’s as if she’d been cursed,” the doctor continued. “But that’s ridiculous! Even if we believed in such stupid superstitions, you haven’t been anywhere near Africa or Haiti, have you?”

“Absolutely not!” Jeff affirmed, getting annoyed. Cursed indeed! Couldn’t London’s best doctors come up with anything better than “cursed”?

Nicola’s heart plunged down to her stomach, up to her throat and began pounding. Dear God, those witchcraft lessons when Emmy was a baby! What if she’d accidentally cursed her own child?

“Let me call Katie!” she murmured, and ran to the phone.

Despite not having spoken to Katie much at all lately, her friend was delighted to hear from her.

“Nicola! What’s news?”

“Emmy. Oh Kate, I think she’s dying! The doctors can’t find what’s wrong and they’re joking about curses. But what if I HAD cursed her? Or you had, by accident?”

“Well, you couldn’t have,” Katie said kindly. “You were never a good enough witch. And I’m only just now gaining enough real belief in myself and the Earth Mother to cast basic, simple spells. I certainly couldn’t have done anything like that to Emmy. Nor would I want to. She’s my goddaughter. Or goddessdaughter, rather!”

“What can I do?”

“Can I let one of my friends come and visit her? Maybe bless her? Faith works miracles, Nicola sweetie. Believe it.”

Hesitantly, Nicola agreed, almost against her better judgement. They’d been praying for weeks and had had their daughter blessed by the priest, but to no avail.

The next day, Nicola met Katie and her friend Jocelyn outside the hospital. “I didn’t tell Jeff,” Nicola said, feeling very Sloane in her Gucci loafers, designer jeans, Italian sweater and shiny, well-cut blonde shoulder-length bob. The other two, despite a biting wind, were in the inevitable thin cotton dress and sandals. Jocelyn, solidly built with hairy legs, stank of body odour. Katie reeked more pleasantly of patchouli. “Jeff wouldn’t understand.”

“This is women’s work,” said Jocelyn. She had a deep voice, and had chosen to crop her brown hair into a crewcut. Dressed in such feminine clothing, she looked like a man in drag.

Not knowing whether or not she was doing the right thing, Nicola led them to Emmy’s isolated room. Her little daughter was breathing shallowly and her skin was almost transparent.

“Almost too late,” murmured Jocelyn, and, with a tender finger, stroked Emily’s sweaty blonde hair from her forehead. “Can you leave us for about fifteen minutes, Nicola? I promise we won’t hurt her, but we can’t have non-believers participate.”

Walking out of the room was the hardest thing Nicola had ever had to do, but this was her last hope. Emily was dying. Nicola sat on a seat outside the room and let the hot tears fall over her hands, her face, and the floor.

Then Katie tapped her shoulder. “Nic. Come and look.”

Nicola, disbelieving, saw the slightest hint of colour in Emmy’s cheeks. The little girl was breathing more deeply and slowly, and, when Nicola touched her daughter’s arm, Emily’s eyes opened and a cherubic smile spread across her face. “Mummy!”

Nicola felt the tears pricking again. “How can I ever thank you? Or repay you?”

Jocelyn smiled crookedly. “All things have a price,” she said gently. “I made a pact with the Earth Mother. On the day that Emily becomes a woman – that is, when she menstruates for the first time – you must shave her head, or the illness will return.”

“S-shave her? Bald?”

“Correct. She doesn’t have to stay bald, unless she wants to. She may grow her hair back, but it must be shaved off once. You must cut it off first with scissors. Use these, as they have been blessed by the Mother.” Jocelyn produced a pair of long-bladed sharp scissors and thrust them at Nicola. Still in a state of disbelief, Nicola dropped them into her bag. “Once you have cut her hair as close as you can with the scissors, you may then use a normal razor to shave it smooth. Bury the cut hair together with the scissors on the next night of the full moon. Wrap the hair in pure cotton, and as you bury it, light a while candle and say this.” Jocelyn handed Nicola a note.

“Wouldn’t you be better shaving, burying and … er… casting spells?” asked Nicola. “After all, you’re… er… trained.”

“You are the mother,” Jocelyn said, and it sounded rather ominous. Emmy’s mother or The Mother, mother of the earth? “As the mother, you must cut her hair and bury it.”

“Mummy, I’m hungry,” said Emily weakly.

Nicola thrust the note in her bag with the scissors, and put everything else out of her mind.

***

Of course, Emily’s rapid recovery was touted as a medical miracle by the doctors, who still didn’t know what they’d done right to make it happen. Nicola took her daughter home and contemplated the scissors and note. Was it all rubbish? She wasn’t game to test it, and wrapped the scissors and note together and hid them at the back of her desk until they were needed in years to come. She hid Jocelyn’s words at the back of her mind, but they came to haunt her over the next few years as she and Jeff watched Emily grow.

By the time she was eleven Emily had suffered most of the diseases, bumps and injuries healthy, active children are prone to, but there had never been any relapse of the mystery illness which had nearly killed her eight years ago. She wore her glorious blonde hair in a long plait down her back, and it reached to her waist.

Emily refused to have her hair cut, and it was all Nicola could do to persuade her to have half an inch trimmed off it twice a year. How was Nicola going to persuade Emily to part with her hair when the appropriate time came?

“You must do it,” Katie urged her. They were still friends, and Katie was now heavily involved in the coven. “You have to cut off her hair when she has her first period. She’ll relapse otherwise. Believe me. It was the only way to save her.”

“Oh, I believe you,” Nicola agreed. “But I still haven’t told Jeff. Emmy’s a real Daddy’s girl and he adores her hair.”

“You could say there was lice at the school,” Katie suggested.

“Yeah, but you can get shampoos these days which kill lice,” Nicola said glumly. “Can I tell him the truth? Is that allowed?”

“Of course it’s allowed. He probably won’t believe you anyway, though. He’s an accountant,” Katie giggled.

Nicola pondered her problems as Emily grew switfly towards puberty. Her heart sank the day Emily knocked on the bedroom door.

“Mum, Mum! Remember you told me about having periods? Well, guess what? I’ve got one! What do I do now?” Emily’s face was excited. Two other girls in her class had had their periods, and it was considered superior, grown up and desirable to be among the first to achieve womanhood. Emily’s stock would rise immeasurably with the cliquey girls…. Until she walked into school bald, thought Nicola sadly.

“Emmy, darling, there’s just one thing I haven’t told you about periods yet. Well, your periods in particular. Come and sit down.” She patted the bed beside her and took a deep breath.

Ten minutes later Emily was screaming.”No! No! I won’t let you cut off my hair! It’s all bullshit!”

“Emily!”

“Oh, if I’m a woman I can bloody well swear! It’s crap, Mother! Superstitious rubbish! I bet you wouldn’t shave YOUR head!” Emily looked defiantly at Nicola’s expensively tinted blonde bob.

“If I shaved mine, would you let me shave yours?” Nicola said unsteadily. “It’s that serious, Em. I don’t want you to die. And your hair will grow back.”

Emily was still sniffling away tears of rage and upset. She felt a pang of spite for her mother and her weirdo witchy friends. “It’s a deal, then. You shave your head completely bald and then you can shave mine.”

Nicola’s heart thudded. Emily, smart little Em, had called her bluff. God, she was going to lose her hair too! Jeff would be furious! Shakily, she stood up and fumbled for the special scissors. Could she use them on herself? Probably not wise. She found dressmaker’s scissors in her sewing nook, and, grabbing Emily’s hand firmly, dragged her to the bathroom and locked the door.

“Right. My hair then yours,” Nicola said unsteadily. She shook her lovely golden hair and fluffed it up with her fingers. What on earth would she look like bald? Only one way to find out!

Holding the lock in front of her left ear firmly away from her hair, Nicola placed the blades of the scissors as close to her scalp as possible and, with a crunch, cut off the first tendril of hair.

Emily gave her mother a terrified look and bolted for the door, but Nicola had locked it and hidden the key in her bra.

Nicola was grabbing more hair now, up near her temple, and sawing through it, trying not to cry. She watched her beautiful, well-tended hair float uselessly to the bathroom tiles, and savagely cut off her fringe, cropping it to a tufty quarter of an inch. Then she lifted away the hair on top of her head, and cropped it as close as she could, sliding the scissors against her skin and severing her hair. By the time she’d finished the top and it was hacked off to a ragged crew cut, her arms were aching.

“Help me, Emily,” Nicola suggested. “Cut off the back. Really close.”

Emily was hunched in the bath, disbelievingly watching her mother chop her own hair off and knowing there was no escape for her own soft tresses. Slowly she heaved herself up, climbed out of the bath, and took the scissors.

Nicola sat on the edge of the bath, silent, feeling Emily pick up locks of hair then crunch them off. Her head felt light where the hair had been cut away, and she said so, to reassure her daughter. “It feels rather good, Emmy. Neither of us has ever had short hair before. You get used to your head with all that weight of hair on it. Suddenly it feels light as a feather.”

“You can see your skin through it,” Emily said glumly, clipping off the hair at the crown of her mother’s head. “It’s super, super short.”

“Well, we’ll be shaving it next,” Nicola said brightly. “Anyway, I thought shaved heads were cool these days.” Her heart thudded at the mention of shaving her head. She found she was becoming rather excited about the whole thing. Firstly the feeling of her hair getting shorn away as close as Em could cut it with scissors was quite a turn on when she let herself go to the sensations. The thought of having her head lathered, then the stubble stroked off with a razor until her head was smooth made her squirm on the bath’s edge.

More and more hair fell away until the tiles were toe-deep in golden waves and Nicola’s head felt light and free.

She looked at herself in the mirror and saw an imp with cropped off hair and big blue eyes. “Em, can you get Dad’s shaving cream from the shower? Good girl. And my razor. That’s it. The pink one.”

Aware her hands were shaking with sexual anticipation, Nicola rubbed the shaving cream all over her scalp while Emily watched with wide eyes.

The girl took note of her mother’s slightly parted lips and enlarged pupils. While she was an innocent child, she wasn’t completely unaware of the signs of a turn-on. So… shaving your head could be a thrill, eh? Maybe she’d better try it after all! It might make the rite of passage into womanhood just that little bit more interesting!

Nicola put the razor at the back of her head and shaved forward. “It’s hard,” she said. “I need help. Em, can you shave the top for me? Shave it backwards from my forehead. You hold the razor like this…that’s it…. Put it against my head. You won’t cut me. At least I hope not! Now draw it back….great!”

The razor against her scalp felt wonderful, and Nicola closed her eyes and let her daughter shave her bald. Again and again Emmy stroked the razor along the top of Nicola’s head. “What about the back?

“Shave upwards,” suggested Nicola, bending her head forward so the skin would be taut and the hair shaved even closer. Emily started at the nape and the razor rasped through Nicola’s soft blonde stubble. Finally there were just the sides to do, and Nicola did them herself, shaving around her ears and feeling her scalp to see if she’d missed any. Finally she wiped her head with a damp flannel, and took a long, satisfied look in the mirror.

“Do you know, I rather like it?” she said. “And it didn’t hurt a bit. Let’s tidy my hair off the floor, as it can’t be buried with yours.” Emmy couldn’t take her eyes off her mother’s white, shining scalp as she helped pick up the locks of useless hair.

Hesitantly she touched it. “Wow, Mum! It feels really nice! All warm!”

Nicola grinned. “So you won’t really mind, then, having yours cut off too?”

“Well, I will, but seeing you bald isn’t too bad,” Emmy conceded, cleaning the last clippings up with the dustpan.

Then suddenly Emily was standing in front of the mirror with a towel around her shoulders and her long plait hanging down her back for the last time. It was all very well to see her Mum bald, but then reality hit home for Emmy: her own head was going to be shaved. She wouldn’t have her lovely long hair to play with any more. She wouldn’t have any hair at all!

Emmy began to cry. As she rubbed her eyes she felt tender fingers lift the long plait away from her neck. Then the cold blades of the scissors were against her nape.

“No!” cried Emily, rubbing her eyes frantically and squirming.

But squirming only made her mother grip the plait more tightly. Then the scissors were sawing through it, severing the plait until the cut hair swung free and the plait was cut off completely and swinging like a trophy – a fox’s brush? – in Nicola’s hand.

There was no going back. The fight went out of Emily, and she stood silently while her mother ran pitiful fingers through her ragged bob, lifting it away from her skin so the blades could lie close and cut the hair as near to the scalp as possible.

Emily closed her eyes and sniffed. She felt the right side of her head get colder as her hair was hacked away.

Shrrrrrk! Shrrrrk! She heard the scissors near her ears and then the hair at her temple fell to the ground.

Wordlessly Nicola slid the blades under Emily’s long, unkempt fringe and sentenced it to the tiles. Emily shuddered. She felt the stubbly ends of her fringe with one hand, running her fingers back and forth across it. It felt short and strange, like someone else’s hair. In fact, it felt rather nice.

Nicola was cutting the top off now, behind Emily’s fringe, where the hair was longest. Suddenly it went from over twenty inches to less than an inch, slithering snakelike down the little girl’s shoulders. The large-bladed shears could cut off quite a lot of hair at once, and, to make the task less onerous for Emily, Nicola did her best to cut the most hair off with each snick of the blades.

Emily rubbed the cropped top of her scalp. “Feels funny, Mum!” Stroking her newly shown hair, Emily felt a tingle between her legs. Her period? Nobody had said anything about a tingle when you got your period. Periods were supposed to be painful and this tingle was rather nice… Emily kept ruffling her cropped head gently, and the tingle increased with each feathery stroke of her fingers. Emily bit back a moan. So this was the becoming-a-woman stuff! Suddenly embarrassed, Emily left her hair alone, and tried to ignore the tingling.

Her head was suddenly pushed forwards, and Nicola was chopping off the hair at the back of her head. Emily was aware of the scissors against her delicate neck, and the cold rush of air as her nape and hairline were bared and shorn.

She watched in the mirror as the last long hair fell away in front of her ear. “I look like an urchin!” Patches of bare scalp showed through where Nicola had managed to get the blades really close to her daughter’s skin. Because her hair was so light, in a way Emily almost looked bald already.

Again she touched her barely-there hair, gently, gently, like a lover, and the tingle came back with a vengeance.

“Ready?” Nicola shook the can of shaving foam and squirted some onto Emily’s head. Rotating her fingers she gave her daughter a brief scalp massage, which almost tipped Emily into orgasm.

Emily closed her eyes in bliss. Nicola thought she was closing them in dread, and said, “It’s going to be fine. It won’t hurt.”

“I know,” Emily said in a voice that didn’t quite sound her own. Boyfriends in years to come would call it her bedroom voice, and would never guess that the memory of the day her head was shaved for the first time could bring it on.

Eyes still closed, she felt the razor blade on her forehead. Then it drew back into the hairline with a raspy sound, and a couple of inches on top of Emily’s head suddenly felt quite cold. Time and again the blade stroked gently back over Emily’s scalp, revealing white, white skin.

Then Nicola pushed her head forward. Eyes still closed, Emily felt utter rapture as the razor drew upwards along her nape, shaving her hair as close as possible. Up and up the back of her head, bit by bit, her scalp was rendered bald. The crown of her head was very sensitive, almost ticklish, and Emily nearly giggled as it was shaved clean. Then there were just the sides left to do

Nicola shaved carefully around her daughter’s ears, pushing them forward so she could remove every vestige of hair from the girl’s head.

Finally, Emily was as bald as a cue ball. Nicola wiped the remains of shaving cream off the little girl’s hairless scalp and felt a pang of pity for her shaven daughter. All that lovely hair – gone!

Emily kept stroking her head. “I like the way it feels, Mum! Can I keep it shaved?”

Nicola had been thinking the same thing about her own head. Now she was over the initial shock of seeing a bald women every time she glanced in the mirror, she decided she rather liked it.

Nicola grinned and rubbed her daughter’s smooth head. “I don’t have a problem, but I still haven’t found out how to tell your father!”

***

Nicola thought Jeff would be angry, and she wasn’t proved wrong.

“What the hell do you mean, shaving your head and shaving our daughter’s head just because of two loopy lesbian witches! Do you realise Emily is eleven years old and now BALD!? I loved her hair, and you’ve arbitrarily shaved it off to the skin because of some pact you’d made with bloody Katie, who’s several sarnies short of a picnic if you ask me! Pact with the Earth Mother indeed! As if Em would die if you didn’t shave her head!” Glass of Scotch in one hand, Jeff strode around the study making stabbing motions with the other.

“And look at you! Bald! My beautiful wife just decides to shave her own head as a means of getting our daughter to shave hers! How can I take you to the company dinner tomorrow? You’ll have to wear a wig!”

“Sssh!” Nicola walked over, picked up Jeff’s free hand and deliberately placed it on her head. “Doesn’t that feel nice? All warm and smooth?”

Hesitantly, and trying not to feel revolted, Jeff stroked his wife’s newly naked scalp. “Well…” To his surprise, he found he liked it. He tried not to remind himself that she had long hair that very morning, but to take her as she was. Still beautiful, still his wife, and with a smooth bald head he was finding sexier by the second.

Jeff put his Scotch down and shut the study door. “What time do you have to bury this hair, then?”

“When it’s dark.”

“We’ve got time to find out if your bald head really is a turn-on, then?”

“Absolutely.” Nicola melted at the feel of her husband’s hand on the back of her head.

***

Jocelyn and Katie lay tangled in their own bed, scented candles burning in a profuse mass of smells. Katie had just got off the phone from Nicola, who’d sounded all smouldery and sexy. Apparently Emily had menstruated and Nicola had kept her part of the bargain, shaving her daughter’s head smooth.

“Head?” Jocelyn jumped out of bed. “Did I tell her head, back at the hospital? Bugger, it’s so many years ago!’

“Yes, darling, you did. I remember. She’s one of my best friends.”

Jocelyn was muttering to herself, thumbing anxiously through an ominous-looking book with a battered black leather cover.

“Oh, Mother Earth! Bugger! Katie, I gave her the wrong cure! She should have shaved her daughter’s pubic hair, not her head!”

Katie looked horrified. “And she’s shaved her own head as well, just to jolly Em along! Oh, Jos, what’ve we done? Can we fix it?”

“Get her on the phone and I’ll explain…. I don’t half feel daft…!”

Jocelyn, contrite, apologetic and ready to have her head blown off, waited expectantly for the explosion when she’d explained herself to Katie’s snooty friend Nicola.

What she didn’t expect was the peals of laughter which rang down the line, and a muffled bumping sound, as if the handpiece was getting in the way of someone stroking and caressing a bald head…

The end

 

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